Sunday 22 April 2018

'Polish has stronger case than Irish for language act' - DUP's fighting talk at launch

Arlene Foster launches the DUP election campaign in Lurgan, Co Armagh, yesterday. Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne
Arlene Foster launches the DUP election campaign in Lurgan, Co Armagh, yesterday. Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne

Noel McAdam

Arlene Foster has said she will never agree to an Irish language act, saying that Polish people have a stronger case.

Political parties in Northern Ireland formally launched their campaigns yesterday ahead of the March 2 election.

DUP leader Mrs Foster used the opportunity to outline that she would not be supporting the introduction of an Irish Language Act and she warned that Gerry Adams is "front and centre".

"If we have an Irish language act, maybe we should have a Polish language act as well because there are more people in Northern Ireland who speak Polish," Mrs Foster said.

In a no-holds-barred attack, she said: "If you feed the crocodile, they just come back for more."

Mrs Foster said Sinn Féin's new leader in the North, Michelle O'Neill, had been "handpicked" by Mr Adams - who is no longer "in the shadows" - to do his bidding.

"Come election day, Sinn Féin could have enough seats to be the biggest party, capture the First Minister's post and push to implement Gerry Adams's agenda for Northern Ireland. Just imagine what that would mean for our way of life," she said.

Separately, at the Sinn Féin launch, Ms O'Neill bluntly challenged Secretary of State James Brokenshire's rejection of 'special status' for Northern Ireland post-Brexit.

"I have got news for you, James, it won't be your decision," she told the event at the Belfast Waterfront Hall. "It will be the other member states who decide the terms of Brexit.

"That is why Sinn Féin is on a diplomatic offensive across the length and breadth of Europe, where there is a hell of a lot more sympathy for our case than for the right-wing, anti-immigrant agenda which has fuelled the Brexit fiasco in the first place."

Mr Brokenshire last week dashed nationalist hopes for special status, insisting it would be the wrong approach.

Meanwhile, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood asked for a second chance for an Executive led by his party and the Ulster Unionists. Promising to "co-operate and compromise" with the UUP, he argued the two parties would come together "to make Northern Ireland work".

Facing his second election test as leader in little over a year, Mr Eastwood argued that the "Irish political equation" always returns to the same solution - the place "only works if nationalism and unionism works together".

"We are asking people to choose between two parties who have shown they can't work together or take the chance to choose differently - choose those of us who have shown that we can work together," he said.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section