SDLP Mid Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone has said that it is disappointing that two years after proposals to grant Irish and British Sign Language official recognition were consulted upon, these proposals have been stopped in their tracks due to the political deadlock. The SDLP MLA said that the current political standoff is not delivering language rights for anyone.
Mr McGlone said, “The Sign Language Framework Consultation in March 2016 was about ensuring that Irish and British Sign Language users had the same rights, responsibilities, opportunities and quality of life as those in the hearing community. The consultation was about developing and enacting legislation that would bring equality and social inclusion for Sign Language users and their families, which was widely endorsed by those who responded to the consultation.
“It is disappointing that two years after this consultation, the Deaf community are being left to wait. We are once again faced with a situation where people are being denied their rights and needs due to the ongoing political infighting between the DUP and Sinn Féin. People are being left to suffer due to the lack of a functioning Assembly and Executive and the failure to make and implement decisions. The political impasse is preventing equality for Irish Language speakers, as well as equality for those in our community who use Irish and British Sign Language.
“This political standoff is not delivering language rights or equality for anyone. Those people who use British or Irish Sign Language as well as those who speak Irish should not be left to wait while the DUP and Sinn Féin continue to argue amongst themselves. For too long, language has been used as a political weapon and it cannot continue. It is time for an Irish Language Act and it is time for a Sign Language Act to ensure that those people in our community who use British and Irish Sign Language will be able to gain more respect, equality and inclusion.”