Long: Language policy is positive step for Belfast

The Alliance Party has backed plans for a new Belfast-wide language policy, a significant move after weeks of negative headlines put the spotlight on language issues at the Stormont talks.

Describing the move as a ‘positive step’, Councillor Michael Long added the strategy aimed to deliver a lasting strategy for the range of languages and dialects heard across the city, but added his disappointment that no Unionist Councillors present were able to support the scheme.

The strategy focuses on the Irish Language, Ulster Scots and minority languages, including sign language.

Councillor Michael Long, Alliance Group Leader, said: “This is a positive announcement, with Belfast Councillors showing how a joint-up approach can deliver an inclusive outcome for everyone.

“Language defines who we are and as a multi-cultural city it is fantastic to see a driven approach aimed at inclusion, despite the disappointing approach taken by Unionist Councillors present who again failed to support the diverse nature of Belfast.

“When it comes to the Irish language, Belfast City Council is delivering where Stormont has failed and despite the political football the issue has become in recent weeks and months, it is worth remembering it is not simply for one of our community, but remains part of our shared culture and heritage.

“Whilst the scheme initially includes employing an Irish language officer, Alliance has ensured the consultation will also include the option for additional officers from other language backgrounds to be put in place.”

“Many other languages have a place in our city and Alliance will be pushing to establish an ethnic minority language forum to hear directly from speakers how we can best serve them.

“Language and culture plays an important role in our city. As our recently launched language policy for the city states -Tús maith, leath na hoibre – good start is half the work – and I look forward to hearing what local people have to say when the document goes out to public consultation.”

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