‘No place for attacks on Irish signage’

Vandals defaced road sign at The Loup
Vandals defaced road sign at The Loup

A Mid Ulster councillor has said there must be a zero tolerance of attacks on bi-lingual road signs in the area.

Sinn Féin councillor Sean Clarke was speaking after a spate of attacks on signage in the Loup area of south Derry.

The incidents are the latest in a series of similar attacks on the often controversial dual language signs across the district, costing ratepayers thousands of pounds to replace, although one local DUP representative has accused Sinn Fein of not being concerned about attacks on other signs not featuring the Irish language.

In recent months there have been attacks on dual language signage at various locations in the district including Fivemiletown, Caledon and Portglenone.

Councillor Clarke said he has been “inundated” with calls from local residents concerning the blatant damage to road signs.

“These signs have been erected at the behest of local residents following a process whereby residents follow the democratic process to have their road or street named bi-lingually,” he told the Mail this week.

“Defacing and destroying this signage is therefore attacking the legitimate aspirations and demands of these local communities.

“It is also an absolute waste of ratepayers money because these signs will be replaced as necessary.”

The recent meeting of the council’s environment committee heard approximately £13,000 was spent on dual language signage which included the removal of any old signage.

Unionist members of the council have strongly opposed the erection of bi-lingual signs on the basis of cost.

Continuing, Councillor Clarke said: “There must be zero tolerance for criminal behaviour of this type.

“Now is the time for strong leadership across the political spectrum.

“The message from Mid Ulster must be that there is no place for vandalism and lack of respect for local residents within this Council area.”

DUP councillor Clement Cuthbertson claimed the vast majority of signs either vandalised, broken, or missing are not dual language signs.

“SF don’t seem interested in any of these signs when they complain about perhaps one sign which has been painted over,” he said.

“The amount of money squandered by SF on replacing signs, which after erecting, decided were incorrect is scandalous.

“They have no respect for the ratepayers of Mid Ulster, something I trust the electorate will consider come the Local Government Elections.”