The below timeline demonstrates the major milestones in our long-standing campaign for language rights. An Dream Dearg’s #AchtAnois campaign has empowered an entire community and inspired them to take ownership of the language and to demand better from those in power. It has highlighted the pressing need for a rights-based, standalone Irish language act, through an inspiring display of grassroots activism.
The #AchtAnois campaign has forced the question of Irish language rights into the heart of the political discourse here. It has shown that there is no question which cannot be asked, no inequality which cannot be challenged and no demand that cannot be made. The future is ours. Despite continuous attempts to marginalise and exclude our language and community, the language has survived and blossomed where its community-led campaign continues to draw national and international attention. Get involved!
1998The Good Friday Agreement
The aspirational commitments to the Irish language contained in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 were to herald a new era of equality for the Irish language community. The British Government promised to take ‘resolute action’ to promote the Irish language.
2001The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
The British Government ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages for the Irish language in 2001. This meant that they were duty-bound to implement certain commitments to the Irish language in social, cultural and economic life, as well as within administrative authorities, in the media, education and transfrontier exchanges.
2006The St. Andrew’s Agreement
Eight years of unfulfilled commitments of the Good Friday Agreement preceded the St. Andrew’s Agreement.
2014The First Lá Dearg
In 2014, there was plenty of talk around the concept of an Irish Language Act. The absence of domestic legislation had long enabled certain Unionists to disrespect and ignore the Irish language community, and this kept us on the edge of society.
2016Elections and Líofa Bursary Scheme
In the 2016 election, a DUP MLA (Peter Weir) was appointed as Minister for Education for the first time. Immediately after his appointment, all Irish text was removed from the Department’s website; this set a clear precedent for the treatment of Irish and the Irish language community that year.
2017Foundation of An Dream Dearg
The way in which the Líofa decision was delivered was no accident. It was done directly before Christmas, with the hope that people would have forgotten about it over the Christmas break, and that this would avoid any confrontation.
2020New Decade, New Approach
The publication of the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ legislation in January 2020 was hugely significant, and it was a result of long-standing campaigning at grassroots level.
2021Public commitment from the British Government
In June 2021, the British Government publicly committed to implement the language legislation that was promised in January of 2020 through Westminster in October 2021, if the NI Executive failed to do so by September.