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Sign of the times sums up language of Alliance

As someone with a long-standing interest in the Irish language, I treat with amusement the current sectarian brouhaha surrounding Conor Murphy's proposal that signs be erected in English, Irish and Ulster Scots.

Sectarianism has deep roots in Irish history and the Irish language in its history has been hijacked by sectarian Catholic republicans for political reasons, so the Irish language is now perceived as being the language of Catholic republicans.

Similarly, in recent times, Ulster Scots was hijacked by reactionary Protestant unionists for political reasons, so Ulster Scots is now perceived as the language of Protestant unionists.

But, in truth, both languages are sophisticated and versatile.The languages are non-sectarian.

The Alliance Party is at the forefront of the brouhaha, asserting that multilingual signs will exacerbate sectarian division.

When it comes to sectarianism, the Alliance Party is not without blemish since it does well in Protestant unionist East Belfast, but poorly in Catholic republican West Belfast. If Alliance is truly non-sectarian the party should make it its policy to transform the sectarian ghettos of east and west Belfast into mixed communities. Come that day, it won't matter whether the signs are in Irish, Ulster Scots or double Dutch.

MICHAEL GILLESPIE

Derry

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