Tuesday 20 February 2018

Language barrier blocks Stormont progress

Steadfast: DUP leader Arlene Foster
Steadfast: DUP leader Arlene Foster

David Young

The prospects of an imminent breakthrough in power-sharing talks at Stormont appear to have receded after an impasse over the Irish language deepened.

The Democratic Unionists (DUP) and Sinn Féin set out public positions that suggested a meeting of minds on the crucial Stormont sticking point was still a long way off.

DUP leader Arlene Foster made clear she would not sign off on a standalone Irish Language Act - a key Sinn Féin demand throughout the 13 months Northern Ireland has been without devolved government.

She also ruled out any legislation that would affect road signs or workforce quotas of Irish speakers within the civil service.

Sinn Féin insists an Irish-language act was a prerequisite of any deal.

Party president Mary Lou McDonald, meanwhile, told the DUP to show leadership and to ignore the hardline critics who were opposed to any settlement.

Irish Independent

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