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More Irish street signs planned for Mid-Ulster.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Disagreement at Mid-Ulster Council over dual language signage could become a recurring theme as more requests have been made from across the district for signs to be erected in Irish.

The first such street sign to have dual language signage ratified was approved at last week's meeting of the Nationalist - controlled Council's Environment Committee.

Beaghmore Road in Cookstown will be the first in Mid-Ulster featuring signs bearing the place name in both English and Irish with, in accordance with the Council's policy on its own branding, Irish to feature above the English and in a different colour.

Following receipt of the request, a survey was carried out with residents.

A total of 37 letters were issued, with 30 respondents, 29 of which were valid. For the additional language to be included, 51 per cent of residents must respond in favour.

All of the respondents on Beaghmore Road were in favour of adding Irish to the sign.

This means signs will state, above the English, the Irish translation Bóthar na Beithí Móire, and the townland Beaghmore will be rendered An Bheitheach Mhór.

Three further requests have officially been made to the Council for Irish to be added on to street signs, two of which are in Dungannon and the other in Cookstown.

In Dungannon, a request has been made for Irish to be introduced alongside English in both Castleview Heights and The Milestone, both of which are located off the Mullaghmore Road.

The request in Cookstown is at Burnbank, located off Orritor Street in the town.

Surveys are expected to be issued shortly to householders in all three areas.

The Council's Environment Committee also heard there has been in the region of 20 informal enquiries in relation to the inclusion of Irish on more street signs.

However, the DUP's Clement Cuthbertson, a Dungannon representative who sits on the Council's Environment Committee, criticised the potential cost of such work linked to surveying for and then potentially installing new signs.

In a statement, Cllr Cuthbertson said: "At a time of financial uncertainty for everyone, Mid-Ulster District Council yet again has chosen to follow the route of non-inclusive politics by using a policy that was forced on the minorities in Mid Ulster, despite the cost.

"I questioned officers at the Environment Committee meeting about what the financial implications of the decision were, only to be told there was no break down of costs available.

"I stated this was not good value for money for all the residents of Mid-Ulster and proposed that a financial contribution be sought from the residents requesting this signage and that, failing this, we don't proceed.

"Regrettably, yet again, as is now the norm in Mid-Ulster, the decision was forced through." Cllr Cuthbertson's claims were rejected by Deputy Chair of the committee, Malachy Quinn of the SDLP.

He stated his belief it is a "fair system" and accused the DUP of trying to "shore up their own support to oppose the sign simply because it was Irish".

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