NI should have Irish Language Act says new bishop

NI should have Irish Language Act says new bishop Bishop Alan McGuckian

The newly ordained Bishop of Raphoe has urged Stormont to support an Irish Language Act – a contentious issue in Northern Ireland.

Bishop Alan McGuckian, a fluent Irish speaker and scholar who translated a biography of St Ignatius of Layola into Irish, called on politicians to agree on the act.

“Given the support there is for the local national languages of Wales and Scotland, it is obvious that there should be the same support for the traditional Irish language here,” he told The Belfast Telegraph.


“There is a great richness in the Irish language and I would like to see the Stormont politicians working together to make the Irish Language Act a reality.

He said that he would like to see DUP supporters, and other people, beginning to find “some affinity with the Irish language and not to see it as a threat”.

Bishop McGuckian attended a Gaeltacht in Donegal as a teenager, where he first developed a passion for the language. In later life he served as a chaplain for many of the Gaelscoileanna in Belfast, in the Diocese of Down and Connor.


At Bishop McGuckian’s ordination earlier this month Archbishop Eamon Martin said he hoped the new bishop would encourage more Sunday worship “in our native language”.

A strong supporter of power sharing in the North, the new bishop also said that the Good Friday Agreement was “a wonderful achievement” and that it’s important “we do not let it slip”.

As battle plans are laid out for Brexit by the British government the new bishop is also very aware of the trials a border county like Donegal face, and said it could have implications on the peace process.

“It could have huge consequences both socially and economically in both parts of Ireland, and there’s always a danger of what a huge change would have for our still sensitive peace process,” he told The Irish Catholic before his ordination.