Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland pensioner threatened with court action over Irish language 'advertisement'

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said a complaint was made about the sign.
Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said a complaint was made about the sign.

A Northern Ireland council has threatened to take a pensioner to court over an Irish language sign on her property.

The council said an "authorised advertisement" was an offence and if convicted the resident could face a £2,500 maximum court fine and daily £250 penalties for each day the sign was displayed after judgment.

It pointed out that the law allows it to erect street signs, but not residents.

The DUP said if the sign - irrespective of its content - needs planning permission, it should go through the correct procedure.

The Irish News reports the 85-year-old Randalstown resident received a letter about a "Gleann na Fuinseoige" sign on railings outside her Ashdale development home.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council wrote to the woman saying the "unauthorised sign" had to be removed as it had not planning permission.

It said unless it was removed within a week of the letter it could prosecute after the sign was brought to its attention. The council said it received a complaint from the public and the sign "breached planning control".

The resident's family described the move as an "outrageous response and an abuse of power".

DUP councillor for the area Linda Clarke told the Belfast Telegraph that if the sign was unauthorised then it should not be in place.

"Not matter what the sign is about if it needs planning permission then it has go through the correct process," she said.

Last year the council rescinded its English-only street sign policy after a legal challenge after one resident claimed it amounted to discrimination.

In a statement, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said: "The letter referred to was sent by the council’s planning enforcement team following receipt of a complaint from a member of the public.

"The erection of the sign constitutes a breach of planning control and in line with normal procedures the council issued a warning letter to the householder to have the sign removed.

"The display of signage is governed by the Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations (NI) 2015 and it is an offence, liable to prosecution, for signage to be displayed without the requisite consent in place.

"The council receives a large number of complaints regarding alleged unauthorised signage in the Borough and in the last 12 months has issued warning letters in approximately 80 cases.

"It should be noted that the advertisement regulations make provision for the council to erect street signs, but does not permit residents to erect their own street signs."

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