Dr Stephen Farry stated: “The Alliance Party have strongly supported a comprehensive approach to languages, covering the promotion and protection of Irish, and addressing the needs of all residents of Northern Ireland who have a range of different first languages. We are working to find common ground in the Assembly to deliver this.
“However, the draft legislation tabled by the SDLP is divisive and counter-productive. It is probably more an attempt to outflank Sinn Fein than a genuine attempt to provide a realistic basis on which to move forward.
“Their proposals would impose a draconian set of duties on not only public bodies and the private sector. These would carry significant cost implications. This is the last thing we need with tight public spending and an economic downturn.
“We are fed up with parties turning Irish into a political football – it is much more important than that. There are alternative ways forward on languages based around the language scheme approach drawing on positive lessons from what has been done in Scotland and Wales, without any further burden on hard-pressed rate payers.”