Following on from BDA's meeting with local political parties in Northern Ireland, the SDLP's Deputy Leader, Nicola Mallon, has issued a press release to reaffirm her party's support for "legislative protection and support for the language rights of deaf people in the north"
A copy of the press release, issued in today's North Belfast News, follows below:
Mallon: 'Our deaf community must not be forgotten'
SDLP Deputy Leader Nichola has reiterated the party's support for legislative protection and support for the language rights of deaf people in the north.
Speaking after a meeting in North Belfast with representatives of the British Deaf Association and members of the deaf community, Nichola said:
"The SDLP remains consistent in our support for legislative protections for sign language. The lack of language rights has been at the forefront of the current political crisis. As those I met with today powerfully said to me, 'sign language is not a need it is a necessity; a right, and without language rights I have no human rights'.
"Progress was beginning to be made on this issue and a consultation on a legislative framework had been completed. Frustratingly this has all been halted with the collapse of the Executive.
"It's important that our deaf community are not forgotten about when it comes to language rights. They've been forgotten about for far too long and we all have a duty to correct that and to do so as a matter of urgency".
Chairman of the BDA, Dr Terry Riley OBE who was at this meeting said: “We were impressed with the openness of the political parties in Northern Ireland to listen to our evidence and apply their significant political experience.
"We are glad to see that the political parties have expressly accepted that BSL / ISL recognition be on the statue book of the Northern Ireland Assembly, thus finally legislating to protect the language rights of Deaf people. Deaf people have been passed over too long; there can now be no doubt that the Northern Ireland government has been taken to task. "Without language rights, we have no human rights.”