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Anger after bigots target Irish language signs in Enniskillen


Hate crime: Bilingual sign in Crannog Way with the Irish translation sprayed over

Hate crime: Bilingual sign in Crannog Way with the Irish translation sprayed over

Hate crime: Bilingual sign in Crannog Way with the Irish translation sprayed over

Politicians have reacted angrily after Irish language road signs were vandalised in Co Fermanagh.

Two bilingual signs at Crannog Way in Enniskillen were targeted by black paint in a sectarian attack.

Sinn Fein councillor Tommy Maguire told the Belfast Telegraph it was an isolated incident as such signs had been in place in the town for many years without incident.

Mr Maguire said: "We in Fermanagh and Omagh District Council have recently responded to demands from Irish language groups to make it easier for bilingual signs to be erected.

"This is due to the ever-increasing demands for our district to reflect the cultural history and position of Irish as equal to English.

"Unfortunately, this latest vandalism of bilingual signs is indicative of the attitude of some in society who show a complete disregard and lack of respect for the Irish identity."

SDLP councillor Paul Blake said: "This is appalling and shows a complete lack of respect for the language.

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"What we're seeing at the moment is Northern Ireland in a very precarious position with a lot of ongoing tensions, so when we see incidents like this, an attempt to erase someone's culture, that isn't helping matters at all in terms of building community relations.

"In a town like Enniskillen, where people get on, this is not the type of behaviour we want to see."

Local Alliance Party representative Matthew Beaumont described what happened as "pathetic".

He said: "It is disappointing to see these signs graffitied and I call on anyone with information on those behind it to contact police.

"Thankfully, incidents such as these are relatively rare across Fermanagh and South Tyrone, and I appeal to those who carried it out to think twice before sending out this view of our area, which is welcoming and open to all."

The PSNI said the vandalism had not been reported to it.

The incident comes after a recent Ulster Unionist-led challenge to a motion passed by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council to change policy around the erection of bilingual signage failed.

Legal opinion was obtained, but this found insufficient evidence of a disproportionately adverse impact on a section of the community.

During the February council meeting the Sinn Fein motion was passed by a majority to change the current policy on bilingual signage process, meaning consultation would be initiated and deemed adequate by an expression of interest by a resident or residents, or by a councillor.

A percentage of 15% or more of residents positively responding to erect a second sign/nameplate would be sufficient, subject to residual discretion, and protections and mitigations.

Ulster Unionist Party members later submitted a challenge through the 'call-in' procedure, seeking reconsideration of the decision with legal opinion obtained.

A report was brought before this month's meeting by council chief executive Alison McCullagh, who told members legal opinion had concluded the challenge did not have merit, and there was insufficient evidence of an adverse impact.

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