An Cumann Gaelach QUB has today spearheaded the collection and submission of up to a thousand responses agus signatures on the QUB consultation process on its ‘Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Policy’, all calling on the University to implement bilingual signage across the campus that was removed in 1997.
Naoise Ó Cuilín, An Cumann Gaelach QUB, commented today:
Despite the QUB consultation process only lasting 2 weeks, and therefore falling considerably short of its own 12 week consultation structure recommended in its own Equality scheme, An Cumann Gaelach has today handed in up to 1,000 signed submissions and petitions. We have also been working with a wide range of societies and groups across the University to ensure widespread engagement with this consultation and support for Irish language signage on our campus, which was removed back in 1997.
There was previously little of note within the QUB Equality and Diversity Policy to promote or protect linguistic equality or diversity regarding the Irish language community on campus. We have challenged that today, and will continue to do so going forward. QUB must finally implement the recommendations from The Equality Commission, from the European Charter on Regional and Minority Languages and indeed from the supervisory body for the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for National Minorities (FCNM), which made observations expressing concern at how Good Relations has been previously misconstrued to prevent measures being taken to protect Irish. In 2011, their Third Opinion on the UK stated that: “The Advisory Committee was disconcerted to hear that some representatives of the authorities consider that promoting the use of the Irish language is discriminating against persons belonging to the majority population. Such statements are not in line with the principles of the Framework Convention... It also reiterates that... implementation of minority rights protected under the Framework Convention [is] not be considered as discriminating against other persons.” (Paragraph 28)
An Cumann Gaelach congratulates the students of QUB as they lobby for change within the University. Bilingual signage was in place in QUB until it was removed in 1997 and it is now time for the University, given the huge growth of the language community here in Belfast and the international commitments regarding the language and visibility of the language here, to get up to speed and facilitate equality and language rights. Last year USI (Union for Students Ireland) ran motion supporting the introduction and implementation of an Irish language Act here. Furthermore, the Students Union in Queens itself also ran a motion last year supporting an Irish language Act and the community campaign for language rights. It is clear that the demand for increased visibility of the Irish language on campus comes directly from the university community itself and it’s students. It is now time the University listened to their concerns and implemented the necessary change.