Attacks on streets signs condemned as ‘racism’

Members of Mid Ulster District Council’s development committee have condemned continued “anti-Irish racism” in the form of attacks on Irish language street signs throughout the district.

Monday, 17th May 2021, 3:58 pm

The issue was raised during a discussion of Council’s regional and minority languages bursary programme and Irish language activity funding programme for 2021/22.

Carntogher councillor Cora Corry proposed both programmes were recommended for approval.

Councillor Barry Monteith seconded the proposal and sought to highlight the issue of attacks on signs he described as “anti-Irish racism”.

“There are continual attacks on the Irish language signage across the community,” he said, “It does, thankfully, seem to be confined to certain areas but we don’t want to see it spreading.

“There seems to be a small determined bunch of folk who are determined to attack Irish culture at every opportunity and I think we need to send out the message that this will not deter promotion of the Irish language.

“I think this Council has done a good job promoting the Irish language, obviously I would like to see Council do more but I appreciate it is important to strike the right balance and I think we have done that.

“It is important that at every opportunity we send out the message the hatred, which is all it can be described as, that fuels these attacks needs to be called out and it will not win.”

Councillor Dan Kerr agreed with Cllr Monteith’s comments and told the meeting he was contacted on a “weekly basis about dual language signs being attacked”.

“You can almost guess which signs are going to be attacked as it seems to be a concentrated effort and I think there needs to be a bit of maturity shown,” said Cllr Kerr.

“At the end of the day it is only a language it is not a threat to anyone. If I was to be offended by the English language I wouldn’t be able to leave the house.

“I would call on the people responsible to desist immediately and consider contributing something positive to society and instead of attacking signs, grow up.”

Councillor Dominic Molloy said having “travelled extensively” in Scotland and Wales signs in Gaelic and Welsh are present everywhere and are heavily promoted and called on those attacking signs in the district to be prosecuted.

“There has to be an acceptance of the Irish language culture within this area,” said Cllr Molloy.

“Rate payers are paying to replace and repair signage will not be tolerated any longer, it has to be stopped.

“I want to see prosecutions coming from this.”

The Chair of the committee, Councillor John McNamee said that all attacks on signs are reported to police.

“Anybody on the PCSP will be able to tell you that criminal damage figures are up, because of the damage to signs right across Mid Ulster and it needs to stop,” he said.