CAJ welcomes the opportunity to respond to the February 2015 Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) consultation on the Irish language bill. CAJ responded to two previous consultations on the legislation in 2007.
International obligations to legislate to protect Irish
The treaty-based commitment to legislate for the Irish language is provided for in the bilateral (UK-Ireland) St Andrews Agreement 2006. This states that:
The [British] Government will introduce an Irish Language Act reflecting on the experience of Wales and Ireland and work with the incoming Executive to enhance and protect the development of the Irish language.
CAJ has been concerned for some time that this and other human rights provisions committed to in international instruments as part of the peace settlement have not been implemented by the state party. CAJ welcomes that the consultation document makes reference to relevant international human rights standards. Legislating for the Irish language also engages the UK’s human rights commitments to the United Nations and Council of Europe. A succession of oversight committees of treaties the UK is party to have called for the implementation of the Irish language Act.