The Irish language was spoken in the House of Commons for the first time in more than a century this afternoon.

Welsh MP Liz Saville-Roberts spoke in Irish during a debate on the introduction of an Irish Language Act in Northern Ireland.

A dispute over the introduction of an Irish Language Act at Stormont contributed to the collapse of the devolved administration in early 2017.

Ms Saville-Roberts, Plaid Cymru's leader in Westminster, urged Northern Secretary Karen Bradley to implement the act as part of the British government's commitments under the 2006 St Andrews Agreement. 

"Is cearta daonna iad cearta teanga agus tá cothrom na Féinne tuillte ag lucht labhartha na Gaeilge," she said.

The Plaid Cymru politician asked Ms Bradley if she would introduce an Irish Language Act if power-sharing is not restored within six months.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow queried what the Irish sentence meant, to which Ms Saville-Roberts replied: "Language rights are human rights and the Irish speakers of Ireland deserve fair play."

In response, Ms Bradley said that while the St Andrews Agreement does include a political agreement to legislate for an Irish Language Act, it is also clear that once devolved government restarted at Stormont in 2008 that power became a matter for Stormont to legislate on.

Ms Bradley added that she was sure Ms Saville-Roberts would not want to see the House of Commons undermine the constitutional devolution arrangements in place across the UK.

West Kerry MP admonished for use of Irish

The last recorded use of Irish in the House of Commons was by Thomas O'Donnell, an Irish Parliamentary Party MP for West Kerry, in February 1901.

On that occasion Mr Bercow's predecessor as Speaker, William Gully, ruled that Mr O'Donnell was out of order.

The official transcript, which does not contain Mr O'Donnell's remarks, shows Mr Gully said: "The honourable member is proposing to address the House in a language with which I am not familiar, but which I presume is Irish, and he will not be in order in doing so.

"It is an unknown practice in this House, and I must ask the honourable member to address the House in English."

Mr O'Donnell again tried to address the House as Gaeilge, at which point Mr Gully said: "The honourable member is disregarding my ruling, and I cannot allow him to address the House in any other language but English."

Irish Parliamentary Party leader John Redmond queried the precedent for Mr Gully's decision, before advising his party colleague to bow to the ruling, but to refuse to address the House in English on that occasion as means of protest.