Today in Northern Ireland's oldest and largest gaelscoil, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary, the students all wore red in support of the 'An Dream Dearg’ campaign calling for the implementation of the Irish language Act.

Séamus Ó Tuama, Principal of Bunscoil Phobal Feirste, said the implementation of the Irish Language Act would be "massive" for the Irish-speaking community in Northern Ireland.

"It would be recognition psychologically for the Irish language community that they're loved, that they're protected, that they're recognised. We've been battling and fighting from day one," he said.

Séamus Ó Tuama, Principal of Bunscoil Phobal Feirste

"It's about time that it was officially recognised and given that wee bit of extra protection that it deserves"

He added: "The Irish language now has 95 different schools throughout the North, over 7,000 pupils learning through the Irish medium.

"It's about time that that was recognised properly and not fobbed off, that the language was protected and that the children's rights to a proper education on is on a par with anything.

"It's about time that it was officially recognised and given that wee bit of extra protection that it deserves".

The British government has pledged they will implement the Irish language legislation by October if the Assembly fails to implement it by then. But that promise has caused concern among some in the unionist community.

Orange Order Grand Secretary Mervyn Gibson (file image)

Mervyn Gibson, Grand Secretary of the Orange Order, said members of his community would be disappointed if Westminster tries to introduce it, adding that he hopes the Act falls because of what he believes it could mean for the unionist community.

"We've only 3-4% of people speaking the language here in this country and the money that we spend on it I think could be used in better ways"

"We have no difficulty with the Irish language at all, over £30 million is put into the language every year, so we're not against the language per se, what we are is how it would be used," he said.

He added: "It was once said during the troubles that every word spoken in Irish is a bullet for the cause and we believe that would still be the case in the sense of it'd be used for job creation schemes.

"If the legislation was introduced it would be judicially reviewed, and more and more places would be required to speak Irish, that means that you have to get a translator in, and we believe thats solely for political purposes, rather than pure linguistic purposes".

"We've only 3-4% of people speaking the language here in this country and the money that we spend on it I think could be used in better ways. Ordinary people have concerns. We've seen so many cases in the past where Republicans have asked for something and when they've got it and they'll agree to it then they want more.

Mr Gibson said the Act "could be used as a political tool by Republicans for identity purposes".

"They could demand us use translators in post offices or in other local places like chemists and then we'd have to supply that service. Now the act might not say that initially but we believe that's the trajectory it would take. The way it'd be used and pushed down your throat as an Irish identity as opposed to a language".

Linda Ervine of the Turas project (file image)

"I've spoken to groups and explained to them what the legislation consists of and the reactions from most are 'Oh right, I didn't really understand that, sure if I'd known that, it's not really a big deal'

Linda Ervine of the Turas project, which teaches Irish classes in the heart of a unionist community, says the language issue has become too politicised.

"It's like a boiling pot for a long time. There were promises made, promises not kept, and now our latest agreement doesn't look like it's going to happen either. It's very unfortunate," she said.

She added: "There's been a lot of misinformation around the Irish language legislation that's been put out over a number of years, which has got people very concerned and really there's no reason for concern if you're not an Irish speaker. This legislation isn't really going to have much impact on you".

"I've spoken to groups over the last number of years, and actually explained to them what the legislation consists of and the reactions from most people are 'Oh right, I didn't really understand that, sure if I'd known that, it's not really a big deal'."

She continued: "But because of sensationalism in the media, because of gossip and innuendo and all sorts of things, they have this perception that everybody's going to be forced to speak Irish, it's going to be compulsory, there's going to be millions spent on it, the health service is going to suffer because of it, just things that aren't actually true. There's going to be street signs of everywhere, you won't be able to go to your doctor's unless you have Irish. It's not good for the language, it's not good for the work that I do.

"And the sooner it gets settled, it gets done, and we all deal with the important things the better".

The debate about the Irish language here is long running, and for now it appears for from over.