Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has insisted that there will be no resolution to the political deadlock in the North without Irish language rights.
Deputy Adams made the comments as politicians from five political parties gathered in support of an Acht na Gaeilge (Irish Language Act).
The issue of a stand-alone act proved to be a sticking point between parties when talks broke down prior to the summer recess.
Northern Ireland has been without a power-sharing government since the collapse of the Stormont Executive in January amid the renewable heating scandal.
The main parties are expected to get back around the negotiating table in the next two weeks to try and overcome the current sticking points.
Acht na Gaeilge
This afternoon, representatives of the Alliance Party, Green Party, People Before Profit, the SDLP and Sinn Féin joined the president of Conradh na Gaeilge for an event calling for the introduction of a stand-alone act.
Speaking at the event, Deputy Adams said all sides are well aware that there will be no future Executive without the legislation:
“The difficulty for unionism is to come to terms with the fact that this state has to embrace everybody,” he said.
“You don’t have to agree with everybody, in fact you can oppose everybody if you want – but that does not mean you can deny people their rights.
“The DUP know there is going to be legislative rights on lots of issues but particularly on this issue of a stand-alone Irish Language Act and they would be better off getting on with it as opposed to what they are doing at the moment.”
The politicians present at the event noted that a “historic majority” of Northern Irish political representatives now support the introduction of the act.
Conradh na Gaeilge President Dr Niall Comer said there is “widespread, cross-party, majority support for a stand-alone Irish Language Act.”
“Given this majority, we now call on those who continue to oppose a stand-alone Irish-language Act to reflect on their position and to acknowledge that the time for change is now,” he said.
DUP support for devolution
The DUP leader Arlene Foster is expected to set out her views on the prospects for a restoration of the Executive in a speech tomorrow.
Speaking last night, she insisted comments made by some of her party members relating to the negotiations had been misinterpreted.
It comes after members of her party tweeted this week saying devolution is dead, and that direct rule from London is almost inevitable.
Ms Foster insisted her colleagues still support devolution – but are simply frustrated at the ongoing stalemate.
“That is not what they said – what they said was of course devolution is the best option but if devolution is not going to happen, we need decisions taken,” she said.
“Of course that is right, we do need decisions taken.
“People are now in a very difficult situation where we haven’t had government since January and of course decisions have to be taken.”