Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD has reiterated his party’s support for the Irish Language Act in the north of Ireland.

Teachta Tóibín stated:

“The Irish language is central to who we are as a party. Our party has the strongest Irish language policy of any party throughout Ireland. I know this because I wrote a significant amount of the policy for both Aontú and Sinn Féin.

“I also negotiated on behalf of Sinn Féin with the former Secretary of State James Brokenshire in Stormont. At that time I was surprised that Michelle O’Neill would not give Brokenshire a copy of the proposed Irish Language Act in order to break the deadlock.

“The Irish Language Act is not a threat to anyone. It would simply allow Irish speakers the right to live their lives in our language. The St Andrew’s Agreement stated that the British would implement the Act. That this has not happened to date has contributed significantly to the stalemate in the north.

“Faced with the imposition of an extreme abortion bill or accepting the Irish Language Act the DUP chose to accept the extreme abortion bill. Many people, including people from the unionist community, were shocked that the DUP’s hatred of the Irish language trumped their opposition to abortion.

“We have been to thousands of doors throughout the north of Ireland. The vast majority of people have raised the fact that there are 300,000 people in poverty in the north, that 36,000 people received food parcels last year, that there are 20,000 households in homelessness, that the suicide rate in the north is through the roof, that farmers’ income is sliding, that the economy in the north is teetering on recession and that mental health funding is on the floor.

“People have also raised the fact that Michelle O’Neill is standing in selfies on the picket lines with nurses while at the same time refusing to enter into Stormont to improve their pay and conditions. They have raised that fact that decisions on key infrastructure such as the A5 and the Derry Medical School are on hold until Stormont gets it act together. People have raised the fact that throughout all of this, MLAs are drawing down millions in salaries and expenses. People are furious with the establishment.

“It is clear that the people want an end to the stalemate and decisions made. There is a hierarchy of need. People need to be able to feed their families, house them, get access to health care and education. They are fed up of the never-ending political deadlock. They want their politicians to fix the bread and butter issues, but also to implement the Irish Language Act. We in Aontú seek to break the deadlock. We seek to tackle the bread and butter issues and implement the Irish Language act in Stormont now.