Belfast Telegraph

Council row over Irish language street signs

A row has erupted over a dual language street sign scheme at the Mid-Ulster District Council meeting.

The scheme, which allows members of the public to apply to have their street signs in Irish and English, kicked up a fuss during Tuesday's council's environment committee meeting.

To change signs to dual language, the council must receive a request from a resident living in the district. A survey is then carried out. If two thirds or more residents in a particular road or street want to have bilingual signs then the council will put them up.

At the meeting on Tuesday night, members were asked to consider the street naming of new residential Housing Developments within Mid-Ulster.

Councillor Clement Cuthbertson proposed that residents should be asked to make a contribution to the cost of dual language signage. The proposal was put to a vote, and with three voting for and 10 against, the proposal fell.

Accusing the council of following the route of "non inclusive politics," Mr Cuthbertson said that "the dual language street signs had been forced amongst the minorities in Mid Ulster".

In an interview with U105, SDLP Councillor, Malachy Quinn said: "This isn't the first time the dual language signs scheme has come about.

"It's not a case we're going to put them everywhere, or say in a particular dominant unionist area if they like it or lump it."

Mr Quinn added: "This is a case of an individual, a resident can apply to have one of these signs on their street. This has been adopted because people do want to see Irish on their street signs."

Sinn Fein has welcomed the dual language signage and said that it is "fair, inclusive and an agreed Council policy in Mid-Ulster".

Sinn Fein councillor John McNamee said: "I welcome the rolling out of the dual language street scheme and would encourage all our residents who want to have their street names in Irish and English to get in contact with us to have it facilitated.

"This was a policy brought forward due to demand from those who live and pay rates within the council area."

The Mid-Ulster councillor condemned the DUP's opposition to the scheme by describing their views as both "ludicrous" and "short sighted."

He continued: "How can using both English and Irish possibly be described as 'non-inclusive'. The dual language street sign process is only initiated when requested.

"What this appears to be is yet another example of stubborn opposition to anything that reflects the Irish identity."

He added: "Sinn Fein have always worked with all parties in Mid Ulster, and will continue to do so. The development of the street name scheme was an inclusive process, with all parties able to attend and contribute."

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