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> No, no, no.>> Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin didn't grow up speaking Irish, but he's raising his own children to be bilingual. And he helped found this Irish-language Gaelic football team here in a mainly nationalist area of Belfast, Northern Ireland's capital. The province is preparing for a snap election on Thursday after its power-sharing government collapsed earlier this year.
The status of Irish has become a contentious issue that could derail coalition talks between Nationalists and Unionists. Although only a tiny minority of Northern Irish speak Gaelic at home, the language is experiencing a revival after almost dying out.>> Well, we have a thriving young Irish-speaking population here in Belfast.
Many of them are already playing Gaelic football for their own clubs. We decided to, I suppose, to strengthen the social use of the language by forming a club to allow all those Irish speakers and Gaelic players to come together.>>
]>> Irish!>> In Newry on the border, a raucous call for Irish to become a state language.
>> Ahead of this year's election, the Irish language has become a bit of a political football. But for many people here, it's much, much more than that. I'm Lucy Fielder, reporting for Reuters from Newry, where a protest is happening in support of the Irish Language Act.>> The act is a key demand of the republican Sinn Féin party.
Nationalists value Gaelic as part of their Irish heritage. Many unionists resisted, to assert their bond with the UK mainland.>> We've suffered centuries of political persecution. Marginalization, officially, from the state, at social, economic and cultural levels. And, despite all that, the language has survived. And we're now at a stage where the language is flourishing.
And what we're asking for, clearly, of the state is to remove the obstacles.>> But the main unionists' party, the DUP, says it will never agree to such a law. With neither side ready to back down, language rights could be a stumbling block to ending the political crisis.