Unionist party uses Irish in election poster

Sinn Féin defends its language record

Basil McCrea and John Mc Allister from NI21 – Irish is ‘shared heritage’. photograph: cyril byrne/the irish times

Basil McCrea and John Mc Allister from NI21 – Irish is ‘shared heritage’. photograph: cyril byrne/the irish times

Tue, Apr 22, 2014, 12:35

Unionist party, NI21, is using the Irish language to promote its candidate in the European elections, Ms Tina McKenzie. Ms McKenzie’s billboard posters say: “Is é seo freshpolitics. Vótáil Tina McKenzie do Eoraip.” Speaking to the Belfast-based Irish News, NI21’s leader, Mr Basil McCrea, said his party wanted to show that Irish was part of a “shared heritage” and that it belonged to everyone. Ms McKenzie is originally from West Belfast and her father was well known in the republican movement but she is running as a unionist candidate.

In addition, Sinn Féin’s cultural minister in the Northern Ireland Assembly, Ms Carál Ní Chuilín, wrote to the Irish News yesterday to defend her party’s record on the Irish language. She was responding to criticism of her party’s participation in the recent Lá Dearg march in Belfast.

She wrote that her commitment was shown by her refusal to endorse the current budget for the North/South Language Body: “I am particularly concerned how the reduction imposed on the 2013 budget will impact on the 2014 budget given that the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht in the South is again seeking an increased saving in the budget over and above the minimum efficiency savings agreed by the finance departments in both jurisdictions.

“Unless I can get agreement from the DAHG ministers that they will not increase the efficiency savings beyond the minimum agreed by finance departments, I intend to raise this issue at the next plenary meeting of the NSMC in June this year.”