Since its collapse three years ago, the Irish language has been one of the main obstacles to an agreement on the restoration of Stormont. Northern Minister Julian Smith warned that if no agreement is reached, he would call a general election by Monday, while Minister Simon Coveney said the two governments would publish a text next week that they believe would be a fair deal. The British and Irish governments, as well as the five main parties in the North, were very close to a deal to restore the power-sharing institutions in February 2018, but that chance failed because the DUP could not accept a deal on the Irish language or sell it to its grassroots supporters. So why the controversy? Political unionism has for many years had an uncomfortable relationship with Denirisch and his spokesmen. The idea of an Irish Language Act is controversial because language is at the heart of culture and identity. The agreement proposed in 2018 contained a form of cross-sectional cultural legislation applicable to the Irish language, Ulster Scots and identity issues, and it is assumed that the current proposals are in the same direction. In this debate in Parliament in 2007, Edwin Poots explains why the DUP opposes an ILA and says that it could possibly cost more than 291 million euros over the next ten years and that it would not necessarily help the language: “This was part of the terms of the St Andrews agreement. They signed this agreement and they have not been able to implement it. Foster, head of the DUP, declined to say whether there would be an Irish language act, but criticised Sinn Féin`s deputy leader. Unlike language laws in other jurisdictions, there are no direct Irish obligations in the Stormont Convention. For example, the Commissioner will understand monitoring the implementation of standards and reviewing complaints if they are not met, but there is no obvious mechanism to achieve them.

The agreement remains silent on the Commissioner`s power to ensure that language standards are applied or even accepted by public authorities. Even in the case of the weak Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005, public bodies are required to develop a Gaelic language plan when required by the Gaelic Language Agency, by law.