Wednesday 13 November 2019

Irish is spoken in House of Commons for first time in a century

Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell

The Irish language was spoken in the House of Commons by a Welsh MP for the first time in over 100 years yesterday.

Irish was spoken by Welsh MP Liz Saville-Roberts during a debate on the introduction of an Irish Language Act in Northern Ireland.

Ms Saville-Roberts, who is a graduate of Celtic studies, called on the British government to introduce legislation to protect the rights of Irish speakers.

"Is cearta daonna iad cearta teanga agus tá cothrom na féinne tuilte ag lucht labhartha na Gaeilge," she said - which translates to:

"Language rights are human rights and the Irish speaking community are entitled to equality."

She added; "The British government pledged to introduce an Irish language act based on the experiences of Wales and the Republic of Ireland."

It is understood that this is the first time Irish has been spoken by a sitting MP in the House of Commons since 1901.

Irish Parliamentary Party MP for West Kerry Thomas O’Donnell spoke in Irish in 1901, delivering a "maiden speech", the Pall Mall Gazette reported at the time.

"Mr Thomas O’Donnell rose in the House last night to make his maiden speech, and addressed the Speaker in the Erse language.

"As a joke it was the feeblest performance that even Mr O’Donnell can have perpetrated, and by this time he ought to be consumed by his own blushes," the paper said.

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