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Newry, Mourne and Down council to use the Irish equivalent of its name first on its new logo

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Newry, Mourne and Down council is to use the Irish equivalent of its name first on its new logo, followed by the English version

Newry, Mourne and Down council is to use the Irish equivalent of its name first on its new logo, followed by the English version

Brendan Curran

Brendan Curran

Newry, Mourne and Down council is to use the Irish equivalent of its name first on its new logo, followed by the English version

An Irish-speaking councillor has accused nationalist parties of "grandstanding" over making it the first language on a new council logo.

Yesterday, it was revealed that the shadow Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has agreed to have the Irish version of its name appear above the English name on its new logo.

SDLP and Sinn Fein are also backing plans to implement the policy throughout Northern Ireland. It could see three new nationalist super councils - Fermanagh and Omagh, Derry and Strabane, and Mid Ulster - adopting the same policy for their logo for corporate stationary and vehicles.

Independent Newry councillor Brendan Curran said that he did not mind what the cost of making the Irish language more accessible to ratepayers would be to the council, as long as it helped people use it more.

However, he cautioned: "The SDLP and Sinn Fein are grandstanding and using it as a political football as I know that they are not too active in organising and supporting Irish language classes in the area. The introduction of the Irish language into the council has to be done in a sensitive way, it shouldn't be shoved down people's throats."

Irish language development officer Linda Ervine was also critical of the move and the unionist reaction to it.

"This is such a load of nonsense with people squabbling over absolutely nothing," she said.

"I can read both names equally well and my eye is naturally drawn to the English version."

However, DUP MLA Nelson McCausland said: "The 'Irish-first' policy of the new Newry, Mourne and Down council is another attempt by nationalists and republicans to assert their dominance in that area.

"Whilst some would like to present this as a petty argument over a letterhead, it is actually a deeper issue about a council and whether it values all its citizens equally or whether it will use the promotion of one language as a tool to exclude others."

However, Sinn Fein councillor Barra O Muiri told the Nolan Show yesterday: "Both languages are protected and recognised by the council and we were given a chance to consider it and decided to change.

"It's not Sinn Fein who owns the Irish language, it's the speakers and they canvass us to put their rights first."

Jerome Mullan, honorary consul of the Polish Consulate of Northern Ireland, said that the decision was unlikely to impact on the 3,000-strong Polish community in the Newry area.

Background

Sinn Fein councillor Barra O Muiri brought forward the motion for the shadow Newry, Mourne and Down council which proposed that, in regard to its positioning of Irish and English in its bilingual procedure, that the Irish language should be above the English, and when side by side, the Irish language should be to the left of the English. It was passed by 14 votes for to five votes against.

Belfast Telegraph