'Thousands' expected at Irish Language parade in Belfast

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By David Hunter

Thousands of Irish language speakers are set to protest in Belfast City Centre calling for protection under the law.

An Dream Dearg has organised a parade from the Falls Road towards City Hall.

Several speakers will take to the stage for a 'carnival' atmosphere in an event scheduled to last around one hour.

The Parades Commission has granted permission for the event and no restrictions have been imposed.

Up to 5,000 people are expected to take part from across the country.

Organiser, Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin, says it's not designed to be intimidating towards other cultures.

"No, Not at all, rather the contrary" he told QRadio.

"What we'll see here today is a very large and diverse crowd.

"The Irish language community is a very young community and it'll be a young parade, where youth is at the front and centre.

"It's worth recognising, since the formation of the state, the Journey we have been on."

Today's event has been labelled 'Dearg le Fearg' which translates as 'Red with anger'.

Mr. Mac Giolla Bhéin said "The Irish language has been undergoing a renewal and a revival, but we're saying, 'this is our city as much as anyone else's.’

"Everyone is welcome to come along. It will be a very inclusive, open and a very vibrant day but we also have a very clear political demand that we will articulate.

"That's around an Irish Language act but we seek and encourage support from all quarters and all traditions."#

A 'Lack of respect' for the Irish Language was one reason cited by Martin McGuinness when he resigned as Deputy First Minister of the Northern Ireland Executive in January.

Since then political parties have failed to deal with the issue as the DUP promised not to fold to Sinn Fein's demand for an Irish language act.

Unionists wanted Ulster Scots and other languages to be offered similar protections by law.

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