A statement by the TUV leader has said that the acceptance of a draft agreement, released yesterday evening, ‘requires craven climbdown,.
Jim Allister issued the following statement following the release of the draft text by the NIO, saying :
“A most telling aspect of joint UK/ROI proposal is exactly that, it is a joint agreement on Strand One issues. Thus, it fundamentally flouts the supposed sanctity of Strand One issues as internal U.K. matters. Clearly, with no sign of a whimper from the Unionist participants, it proclaims in lights constitutional surrender to joint stewardship with Dublin. This of itself is abhorrent and unacceptable.
“In content on the key issues it is a rehash of the February 2018 which the DUP at that time repudiated.
Speaking specifically about the ‘Irish Language legislation’, Mr Alastair said that ‘concealed reality’ is an ‘Irish language bill’
“Though it seeks to conceal the reality, by causing the Irish language legislation to perfect amendment of the NI Act 1998, the inescapable fact is that Irish language legislation is being introduced. It is explicit in Annex E para 5.23 that the long title of the NI Act 1992 Amendment No. 2 Bill is “To make provisions for the Irish language.” This, therefore, is an Irish Language Bill.
“But, it is its content which really matters. The massive concession of an Irish language enforcer with significant powers is the key issue. The Irish Language Commissioner with statutory powers is the means whereby Northern Ireland will be de-Briticised. He is appointed to “enhance” the “use of the Irish language by public authorities” (Annex E para 5.6). He will develop and enforce “best practice standards” for the use of Irish by public authorities (Annex E para 5.8). His focus (Annex E para 5.11) will be on facilitating “interaction” between those insisting on the use of Irish and public bodies, with resulting requirements on public bodies to correspond in Irish. The built in advantage for Irish speakers in recruitment to public bodies is obvious. Irish will now have official recognition of its status in Northern Ireland (para 27).
“Irish will now be accommodated in our courts (Annex E para 5.13) and the Assembly will become bi-lingual with wasteful three-way translation.
“None of this, of course, has been costed, but clearly the priority was placating Sinn Fein at any cost.
“The pretence that this is different from that rejected in February 2018 is a fable and a deceit. Yet, it seems, Arlene Foster, who famously promised no Irish language legislation on her watch, has now somersaulted to be a cheerleader for these proposals. The lure of power, at any price, is clearly too much for some!
“Overall, once more, it is Unionism that is required to roll over. What is Sinn Fein giving? Nothing.”