Police officers and even Loyalist politicians are signing up to learn Irish in Northern Ireland.
More than a hundred policemen and women have signed on for Irish lessons as part of a new effort to promote the language in Ulster.
The officers were among the first to commit to learn Irish thanks to a new project – Liofa 2015 – designed to boost the language.
A bid to create a thousand new Irish speakers has been launched by the Province’s Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin at an event in Stormont.
Ulster Unionist politicians Basil McCrea also attended the launch of Liofa 2015 as the Northern Ireland government looks to take the language away from the political divisions of the past.
At the launch, McCrea highlighted that while the language is most closely associated with nationalism, history points to its cross-community roots.
“We are keen that it is de-politicized,” said McCrea. “The only way to do that is through engagement, which is why we are here.
“It is worth saying that in the past there were lots of Presbyterians, Church of Ireland, a lot of Scots that were involved in the whole thing as well.”
Ulster’s Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie said the police force want to reach out to all communities.
“Around 150 officers have now expressed interest in learning Irish and we are holding internal classes,” said DCC Gillespie who also revealed that she had learned Irish from CDs and books.
Northern Ireland’s Culture Minister Ni Chuilin said: “I recognize that some have over many years sought to portray the promotion of Gaelic culture and the Irish language as in some way threatening and as the preserve of one section of our community. This approach needs to be challenged.
“I want us to reach a position where the Irish language is learnt, spoken and enjoyed by people of all backgrounds and traditions.”
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