AN Irish language organisation in South Belfast has welcomed the news that the First Minister designate will be the guest of honour at their prestigious gala dinner in March. 

Michelle O’Neill will be the guest speaker at An Droichead’s gala dinner celebrating the 30th anniversary of the organisation. 

The evening entitled Gala 23 will take place on Saturday 4 March at Belfast City Hall, during Seachtain na Gaeilge, Irish language week 2023.

The popular folk band Pólca 4 will be performing on the night and providing entertainment after the dinner. Speakers at the gala dinner in the past have included Uachtarán na hÉireann, Michael D Higgins. 

Michelle O’Neill, First Minister designate said: “I am delighted to have been invited to speak at one of the foremost events in the national Seachtain na Gaeilge calendar and to help celebrate the work of An Droichead in promoting the development of Irish language and culture through education, arts, family and community services.”  

Pól Deeds, Chief Executive of An Droichead added: “The 2023 Gala marks the highpoint of celebrations for our 30th year. We are delighted that Michelle O'Neill will be joining us to mark this milestone event, to celebrate the efforts of those who established and have sustained An Droichead.  

“It is fitting that the First Minister designate will be our guest speaker in the year that we mark the delivery of Acht na Gaeilge. She is known as being an ardent advocate and campaigner for rights for the Irish language community.  

“The Gala dinner falls during Seachtain na Gaeilge and is one of the highlights in the national calendar of events to mark the week. As well as being ten years from the first dinner, it will be the first of these celebratory gatherings since the Covid pandemic.” 

The dinner also raises funds for a scholarship that An Droichead provides to third level Irish language students in Ulster University. Praising the partnership with an Droichead, Dr Gearóid Ó Domagáin, lecturer in Irish and course director for Ulster University's Diploma Programmes, said: “This partnership initiative between Ulster University and An Droichead epitomises our commitment to community engagement and widening participation, supporting the study of Irish language, and enhancing the opportunities for students to avail of third level courses. The scholarship has made a material difference since its inception in 2016, ensuring that students can avail of this financial assistance at a time when it is greatly needed.”

The Gala dinner, or Mórdhinnéar, will be held on Saturday March 4th at Belfast City Hall at 7pm.  Tickets are available here