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£7,000 maintenance cost to change boat's name from Irish to English

Published 19/10/2016

The fisheries vessel with its name in Irish on the hull
The fisheries vessel with its name in Irish on the hull
The Fishery Protection boat that has been renamed Queen of Ulster, seen here at Bangor Marina.
The DUP's Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Michelle McIlveen
Then Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew

Maintenance on a government-owned boat - which saw its name changed from Irish to English - cost the public £7,000.

Last month a row erupted over a DUP decision to change the name of the fisheries protection boat from Irish to English.

Banrion Uladh was the name of the vessel that patrols the Irish Sea as far south as Anglesey and as far north as Lough Foyle.

It transports officials with powers to board fishing boats to check if they are complying with EU quotas.

It was launched in 2010 by then Sinn Fein Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew, and its Irish name, which translates as Queen of Ulster, sparked annoyance among DUP MLAs.

Michelle McIlveen - the DUP's Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Minister - changed the boat's name to Queen of Ulster after she took up the post, leading to Sinn Fein fury.

The decision was taken, the department said, as it had a single language policy and the change was made as part of annual scheduled maintenance involving repairs, repainting and anti-fouling.

That work, the Irish News reported on Wednesday, cost £6,835.

A DAERA spokesperson said: "The change of lettering was carried out at a scheduled annual maintenance event involving repairs, repainting and antifouling. The total cost of these works was £6,835. This included a cost of £302 for updated signage."

Patsy McGlone told the paper it was "petty" to change the name describing it as a "waste of taxpayers' money".

The Fishery Protection boat that has been renamed Queen of Ulster, seen here at Bangor Marina.
The Fishery Protection boat that has been renamed Queen of Ulster, seen here at Bangor Marina.
The fisheries vessel with its name in Irish on the hull
The DUP's Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Michelle McIlveen
Then Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew

There have been a range of approaches to language since new ministers were appointed earlier this year. Within hours of his appointment as Education Minister - a department that had been controlled by Sinn Fein - the DUP's Peter Weir appeared to already be moving away from a dual language policy, with many Irish language references removed from the website.

The Department of Finance under Sinn Fein's Mairtin O Muilleoir appears to have retained the DUP's single language policy with its website predominantly in English. However, a biography of the minister appears in both English and Irish.

The Department for Infrastructure under Sinn Fein's Chris Hazzard has adopted a dual language policy. The Department of Health under Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill appears to have a triple language policy with the department's name appearing in English, Irish and Ulster-Scots on the front of its website. However, Press releases refer to Northern Ireland as the "north of Ireland".

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