Reacting to the news that the Department for Communities failed to carry out necessary equality tests before cutting the Líofa funding bursary, SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone has said that Ministers and Departments should not play party politics with people’s lives and languages.
The Mid Ulster MLA said, “When the Líofa bursary was cut, it was clear that this was not simply about financial constraints as the money to reinstate the scheme was quickly found following a series of protests.
“Ministers, and Departments, should not play party politics with people’s lives and languages. Ministers, when they are in place, are there to represent all communities, not simply one community. They should never evaluate the needs of one community over the other.
“This is another reminder about why it is imperative that the institutions are restored so that there is an Assembly in place to scrutinise decisions and ensure that the correct assessments are carried out. It is also an example as to why we need an Irish Language Act with an Independent Commissioner at its core to oversee policy development and to ensure that rights based legislation is delivered upon, independent of politicians.
“The Irish Language should not be a political issue and it should never be a weapon or used as leverage against other communities. In the absence of political generosity from across the spectrum, it is clear that the only way to protect the language, and those who cherish it, is through legislation.”