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Alliance backs public call for two language officers

September 22, 2017 12:51 PM

CASTLEREAGH: CASTLEREAGH CENTRAL: Cllr Michael LongAlliance Councillor Michael Long has welcomed the creation of two language officers for Belfast City Council, after a consultation showed the majority of the public favoured that approach.

The consultation, which started in May, found the favoured option amongst the citizens of Belfast was for an Irish language officer, alongside an additional officer for other languages, including Ulster-Scots and more.

It found 61 per cent of respondents were in favour of the idea of an Irish language officer, with 53 per cent in favour of and 40 per cent against having two officers, including one specifically for the Irish language. Only 28 per cent was in favour of one officer for all languages, with 49 per cent against that option.

The proposal was brought forward at today's (Friday) Strategic Policy and Resources Committee at the Council. Alliance Group Leader Mr Long said the approach was an inclusive one which would save ratepayers money.

"Belfast is a multicultural city which is growing in its diversity. With that diversity, new languages take their place in our city and they all have an important role to play. Alliance recognises that and we were happy for this matter to go to public consultation.

"Unfortunately, despite attempts to get agreement from the unionist parties on the issue, they instead attempted to have two general language officers for the Council, instead of one for the Irish language and one for others. This approach would actually cost the public purse more, as Irish language group Conradh na Gaeilge has indicated they will fund half of an Irish language officer themselves.

"However, we have listened to what the people of Belfast have said and it's quite clear - they want to have an Irish language officer, along with an additional officer for other languages. Alliance is happy to support that. Other parties should have backed what the public have said supported that inclusive approach."

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