A SINN FEIN Councillor has downplayed a row that has erupted over an Irish speaking receptionist at Dungannon Council.
DUP MLA Maurice Morrow had accused the council of sending a very bad signal for the Unionist community, after it emerged that the receptionist was greeting callers with “Dia Duit”,
Coalisland representative Padraig Quinn said the council had no policy over how receptionists greeted phonecallers.
“The receptionist in question is Irish-speaking and had decided to do this on his own initiative.
“This is not a council or Sinn Fein policy. In fact, I was not aware of this myself. We do have a strong policy of supporting the Irish language and an excellent Irish language development officer in place who actively encourages the use of Irish where possible.
“I would understand people having concerns if the whole greeting was in Irish, but it was only two words.
“The offer is there for the caller to continue in English or speak in Irish if he or she wishes to.
Lord Morrow said he had been contacted by members of the public who had been answered in Irish when contacting the council.
“I immediately contacted the council for a response and it appears a member of staff took the liberty of addressing callers in Irish, which of course, is not council policy.
“I have been assured this matter has been duly noted. However, this sort of behaviour throws out a very bad signal for the Unionist/Protestant community, who represent over 40% of the borough population.
“I want to ensure DSTBC does not become a cold house for Protestants and to that end I have asked for a full report into this whole episode, which will include an enquiry if any employment laws have been infringed.”