What is going on with Irish language legislation in the North?

The UK government has committed to legislating at Westminster on the Irish language and other cultural provisions if they are not dealt with in Stormont by October.

But what is the background to the impasse over the Irish language and other cultural judgments that the UK government may end up stepping in to address this fall? And why is it so controversial?

First, what does this move mean for the Irish language?

The big change is that there is now a time limit attached to the introduction of the Irish language and other measures, often referred to as the Cultural Package, which the Irish and British governments and the five parties to the Northern Executive have agreed to as part of the New Deal, the New Approach Agreement (NDNA) which brought back the Assembly after the absence of It lasted three years in January 2020.

After several days of negotiations, the North’s secretary announced early on Thursday that if the executive had not made progress on the legislation by the end of September, it would be introduced in the UK Parliament in Westminster in October.

What are the provisions?

At the NDNA, the First Minister and First Deputy Minister committed “to foster and oversee a new framework for recognizing and celebrating the diversity of identities and culture in Northern Ireland, and accommodating cultural difference”.

This includes the creation of an Office of Cultural Identity and Expression and legislation to create a commissioner to «recognise, support, protect and promote the Irish language in Northern Ireland.»

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