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 Poots in Vanguard of anti-Irish Reaction

22/01/08

The civil rights of Irish citizens in the Six Counties haEdwin Pootsve received yet another regressive blow in the past week with the announcement by Stormont minister for culture Edwin Poots that he intends to cease state assistance to the Irish Language Broadcast Fund.

The current funding for the ILBF expires in March 2009 and there are no plans in the Stormont administration's budget for a new round of funding.

The budget was signed off on by all the parties in the Six County executive today (Tuesday).

The ILBF is responsible for giving financial support to Irish language films and television programmes produced in the Six Counties.

The body has been in a state of financial and organisational crisis since its chairperson Peter Quinn resigned in the summer of last year.  Since then no one else has been named in relation to the job and, on January 14, Poots said that a successor to the post was still being considered.

Poots has claimed that there is no money for the Broadcast Fund, nor for the promotion and protection of the Irish language, nor for the strategy to promote the national tongue that he announced when he scuppered the proposed Irish Language Act last year.  The DUP MLA cites financial restrictions as the reason for the cuts, despite his own department under-spending by the figure of £10 million (13.5 million euro) last year (the ILBF was funded previously at £12 million (16 million euro) over a four-year period).

Poots further insulted the cultural traditions of the Irish people last week when he turned up 10 minutes late to his first GAA game to avoid the playing of the national anthem and stated that he would not attend any GAA stadium “named after a terrorist”.

éirígí spokesperson Dáithí Mac an Mháistír criticised Poots and outlined the pit falls of the unionist veto at Stormont.

"Edwin Poots clearly uses every facet of his ministerial office to marginalise and denigrate the Irish identity and culture.  His positions on the Irish language are the modern equivalent of the Penal Laws and the Flags and Emblems Act, which sought to nullify Irish identity with a view to pacifying and ruling the country.

"I am ultimately confident that the risen Irish language community will not stand for such bigotry.  Having weathered institutional discrimination from the inception of the state, the Irish language community will, as always, develop imaginative and innovative ways of circumventing pro-British attempts at cultural annihilation.  This however, in no way lessens the gravity of the offence.

"How, in a scenario where the British government has been forced to pass acts granting protection and financial assistance to Scots Gaelic and Welsh, can the Irish language community remain so abused?

"In this, as in all other aspects of Britain’s Six County administration, it is clear that the unionist veto solidifies British control however it sees fit, that promises from the British government are worthless and that attempts at delivering progressive policies within such a framework are fruitless.

"It is wholly unacceptable that people can remain in government whilst harbouring such anti-democratic and racist viewpoints and, furthermore, use their office to perpetuate their anti-Irish policies.  It is only through grass roots campaigning and pressure that the Irish language community in occupied Ireland can expose, challenge and change the culturally repressive conditions under which they live, work and learn."

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