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  1. ITV Report

Irish spoken inside the House of Commons for the first time since records began

In what is believed to be a first in modern times, a Welsh member of parliament addressed the House of Commons in Irish on Wednesday.

During a parliamentary debate on the introduction of powers to allow civil servants to take decisions on the governing of Northern Ireland, MP Liz Saville Roberts rose to ask a question starting off in the Celtic language.

Ms Saville Roberts told parliamentarians that the Irish speaking community in Northern Ireland deserved equal treatment.

Speaking in the chamber, the Plaid Cymru member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd said: "Is cearta daonna iad cearta teanga agus tá cothrom na féinne tuilte ag lucht labhartha na Gaeilge."

This translates to: "Language rights are human rights and the Irish speakers of Ireland deserve fair play."

Liz Saville-Roberts addressed the House of Commons in Irish on Wednesday Credit: Parliament TV

Ms Saville Roberts reverted back to English and pressed Northern Ireland secretary Karen Bradley to uphold the British government’s commitment to introduce language legislation as outlined under the St Andrew’s Agreement - a deal struck between the Irish and British governments and Northern Ireland’s political parties in 2006.

Efforts to introduce language legislation have been met with stern opposition from unionist politicians and a refusal by the DUP to sign off on a stand-alone Irish Language Act.

Ms Saville Roberts, who studied the language at university in Aberystwyth, told ITV News she was was happy to be the first to introduce the language to the Houses of Parliament.

"I was very proud to be able to do it and proud to be able to make some use of the Irish that I learnt a while ago," she said.

"But think it would have been preferable if there had been somebody from one of the communities in Northern Ireland, for whom this was significant, who may have presented it in a better way, rather than someone from Plaid Cymru getting up to do it."

Hansard, the official report of what is said in Parliament, said to the best of its knowledge it had no record of Irish being used inside the Houses of Parliament after 1909, when speeches were first documented.

The devolved administration at Stormont has not sat for months in a row over identity issues like the place of the Irish language. Credit: PA

The MP said she was keen to show her support for the bill and to highlight the issues which have divided Northern Ireland.

She said: "Although I'm very much aware that Irish language and language issues are devolved to Northern Ireland as they are to Wales but it's been allowed to become more of a controversial issue than, in all honesty, it should have been.

"Coming at this from the Welsh language experience, there is no need for it to be divisive, it's very unfortunate when languages do become highly politicised issues because it never gives people the opportunity to take part in different cultural experiences with all the advantages of being bilingual."

Ms Bradley said the introduction of a language bill for Northern Ireland was a devolved matter Credit: Parliament TV

Ms Bradley said the introduction of a language bill for Northern Ireland was a devolved matter after the restoration of power sharing in 2008.

"I am sure she, in her position as leader in this house of Plaid Cymru would not want to see this house undermining the constitutional devolution arrangements that exist across the UK and cherry-picking those points that honourable and right honourable members may feel very, very strongly," the minister said.