During the passage of the Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Act 2022, the Government committed to provide updates to Parliament on the implementation of the Act every six months from commencement. I am pleased to share the first such update today.
The Act received Royal Assent on 6 December 2022, upon which part 3 of the Act came into force. Since the passage of the Act, the Government have worked closely with the relevant Northern Ireland Departments on its implementation.
On 22 May, the Government made the Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Act 2022 (Commencement) Regulations 2023. This brought into force the provision of the Act for the purposes of establishing the Office of Identity and Cultural Expression, the Irish Language Commissioner and the Commissioner for the Ulster Scots and the Ulster British Tradition. This also brought into force the concurrent powers and powers of direction of the Secretary of State in relation to the Act.
In the Government’s view, the Act provides a framework for all of Northern Ireland’s identities, languages and cultures to be accommodated, protected and respected. This includes those who define themselves as “other” and those who form Northern Ireland’s ethnic and newcomer communities, consistent with the vision set out in New Decade, New Approach.
For these reasons, the Government remain committed to seeing the implementation of these New Decade, New Approach undertakings and will continue to work closely with Northern Ireland Departments on these matters. The Government will also continue to keep Parliament updated, in line with the assurances that we have made.