Thanks to the Community Foundation NI, our ‘Between Street and State’ project launched in May of last year. The project aims to empower the Irish language community to understand, design and access language rights in an era of new Irish language legislation. The project is coordinated by Conradh na Gaeilge, in partnership with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. It will also draw on expert advice from CAJ and PPR, as well as the key stakeholder group, Glór na Móna.
Since 2016, An Dream Dearg have played a central role in embedding Irish in the political discourse of this country. The ‘New Decade, New Approach’ agreement of January 2020 was a result of a lengthy display of grassroots activism; it is only right that that same community have the opportunity to play an active role in holding decision-makers to account in the implementation of the Irish language legislation. We wish to inform the community of the implications of the incoming legislation for them; in turn, they will have the ability to challenge any aspect of that legislation that prevents Irish speakers from playing an equal part in society, or which infringes upon their language rights.
This project will bridge the gap between people and policy, and will build upon the infrastructure of grassroots activism that is very much in place today. It will provide communities with an opportunity to influence and develop those rights that we have fought for for so long.
Aims of the project:
This project will aimes to gice people access to spaces which enable them to learn more about language rights and, in conjunction with the newly appointed Language Commissioner, play an active role in ensuring the language standards cater to the needs of the community.
How will we achieve this?
- We have produced a language rights handbook which gives an insight into the concept of language rights, and which will scrutinise the new legislation in the context of language rights. The handbook also examines the challenges and opportunities of the incoming legislation which is currently going through Westminster. The language rights handbook can be accessed by clicking here.
- We have created a new digital space which gives communities the opportunity to engage and interact, as well as to connect them directly with decision-makers. The site charts the history and development of the #AchtAnois campaign, and places community voice at the fore. The site has developed transformational tools which enable residents in any of the 11 council areas of the north to put pressure on their council. The site can be accessed at this link.
- We will continue to lobby for the implementation of the long-awaited Irish language legislation, and to ensure that each of the new offices is equipped with civic engagement forums to put community voice to the fore. The Identity and Language bill (NI) is currently going through its legislative journey at Westminster, and Conradh na Gaeilge's team are working on putting forward amendments which will strengthen that legislation. All information regarding the bill, including the amendments and the stages which remain, are available here.
- The project seeks to create new spaces for community input regarding the language standards. We will hold information and consultation sessions throughout the project, not only to give people a voice, but to encourage them to use that voice. As a result, they will have greater understanding of policy formation.
- In conjunction with CAJ, we are currently undertaking comprehensive research to identify gaps in government policies. This will enable communities to gain a deeper understanding of the current provisions, as well as contributing to permanent solutions to the gaps identified.
We have a real opportunity, through this project, to inform our active and vocal community on the key elements of the Irish language legislation. We hope that they will understand the importance of using their voice, particularly when it comes to policy formation, and that they become more informed and more confident around the concept of language rights. We are really looking forward to this next step in the journey towards obtaining full language rights, and we want to thank the Community Foundation NI for their help and support in the development and funding of the project.
Cuisle Nic Liam - Language rights co-ordinator
G: +447 851 024 581