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Pobal on the march

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Pobal is a representative partnership that provides strategic direction and a democratic forum for the groups who have created Belfast's thriving range of social, economic, artistic and educational projects for the Irish speaking community.
Janet Muller, head of Pobal, the Irish language umbrella body in the north of Ireland, says she is saddened by the recent negative comments from a few politicians about Irish speakers and the Irish language.
Janet Muller's comment comes as Pobal prepares for a march in Befast city centre to celebrate the Irish language and to press home their demand for for a comprehensive rights-based Irish Language act.
Pobal says the 2001 Census shows that 10.4% of the population of the north of Ireland has a knowledge of Irish.
The march in Belfast starts at 1pm from Cultúrlann McÁdhamh Ó Fiaich on the Falls Road.
Pobal say that the Bill of Rights threat to Irish language rights
Proposals by the NI Human Rights Commission could present a serious threat to the rights of Irish speakers, has been one of the key conclusions of local people at public meetings of Irish language enthusiasts, community workers, politicians and Church representatives throughout the north.
Pobal organised the public meetings to encourage discussion on the proposals for a Bill of Rights.
Spokesperson for POBAL, Janet Muller, said, ‘POBAL has been holding a series of meetings throughout the north to find out what people think of the Human Rights Commission’s proposals on language rights. The response throughout the north reflected the real anger that is felt. A Bill of Rights could set out in law the exact responsibility of public and government bodies to provide services for our community. It could guarantee our community widespread rights which English speakers take for granted at present. People are asking why the Commission does not recognise the unique importance of Irish to the culture, self esteem and identity of the people of this country. Throughout the world, it is recognised that native languages must be given special protection and promotion in their own countries. But the Human Rights Commission has reversed this and given more importance to ethnic minority languages. POBAL believes that ethnic minority communities should be able to get access to services and that their rights must be respected. But we must also ask, if Irish is not fully protected in the legislation of a part of Ireland, where will it be protected? ‘
She went on to say that the meetings had been a good opportunity for the group to gather the opinions of local people on what should be in a Bill of Rights. ‘POBAL has now put a report together to show the Commission the strength of feeling throughout the north. But it is important that everyone with an interest in the Irish language should get in touch with the Human Rights Commission straight away. Although the official closing date for submissions is over, the Commission is behind in its work and has indicated that it is will accept submissions for some weeks yet. Irish language enthusiasts must let the Commission know that they believe a Bill of Rights should do much more to protect and promote the Irish language. We need new, comprehensive legislation to ensure that our rights are upheld. ’ Eventually, the Commission will be sending off their proposals to the Secretary of State who will make the final decisions on what will be in the Bill. Irish language en

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