Belfast Telegraph

Irish-speaking PSNI officers on all-Ireland fleadh patrol

BY DONNA DEENEY

A TEAM of PSNI officers fluent in the Irish language will be taking to the streets of Londonderry during the all-Ireland fleadh when it begins this week.

With the city population expected to double in size during the 10-day festival, additional officers will be drafted in from the rest of Northern Ireland and possibly other parts of the UK as well.

Chief Inspector Jon Burrows, who is spearheading the policing of the fleadh, is expecting dozens of fluent officers to be in Derry.

This is the first time in its 60-year history that the All-Ireland fleadh will be held in Northern Ireland and it is expected to attract crowds of 300,000 and generate around £30m for the local economy.

The key areas of concern for Mr Burrows will be around alcohol abuse and traffic management but also making sure visitors to the city feel welcome, have a good time and go home with the right impression of Derry.

"We are determined to make the fleadh safe and successful for everyone and we will be adopting a light touch, keeping a friendly, visible presence but with the capability to deal with any disorder or difficulty that presents itself," he said.

"We have been working tirelessly along with the fleadh organisers, Derry City Council, to make sure we are ready to deal with every issue from missing persons, campsite safety and traffic management.

"I have requested additional officers to help and have made a special request for officers who can speak the Irish language, so that we can engage with the huge number of Irish speakers that will come to the city.

"We will have an information centre at the Diamond where we will have Irish-speaking officers which was one of the first aspects we wanted to include when we were planning the policing of the fleadh."

Additional resources have also been set aside to deal with anyone who breaks the licensing laws which have been relaxed for some parts of the city.

Mr Burrows continued: "An incredible amount of planning has gone into policing the Fleadh and while we are ready for every and any eventuality or aim is to make sure that everyone enjoys themselves."

FACTFILE

The fleadh will mark the first time a PSNI patrol has put the Irish language to use. One officer in Derry recently gave one reveller -- who was the worse for wear from alcohol and shouting abuse -- a shock when he responded in better Irish than the drunken lout.

The most notable Irish speaker in the PSNI is the Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie.

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