“Today marks a defining moment as legislation passes to give historic official recognition of the Irish language in this State.
“After many years of campaigning to guarantee Irish language rights and protections in law, today belongs to the grassroots activists who have delivered Acht Gaeilge.
“Resistance to equality and rights has failed. Those Irish speakers who have been discriminated against, excluded and ignored in the past by the State have now secured the promise of the Good Friday Agreement for today’s generation of gaelgeoirí.
“Irish speakers at last will be able to access public services and use Irish in the courts as archaic laws banning its use have been repealed and consigned to history.
“An Irish language commissioner will be appointed with statutory powers to ensure compliance with new public service standards.
“The official recognition of Irish in this State represents meaningful parity of esteem for the nationalist community who want to build a society grounded in fairness, inclusion and respect with those who are British and those of an Ulster-Scots cultural tradition.
“The legislation facilitates both identities and cultures and is welcome.
“I hope that we can open a new chapter that allows us all to celebrate and express our equally legitimate cultures, and recognise our differences as something to be valued, not diminished.”