Dungannon could soon be the town where the streets have new names under new council plans to improve equality.
In a move that might cut to the heart of the town’s identity, street signs in languages from Polish to Portuguese may soon be seen on local roads .
Mid Ulster council has put forward the plans to allow for multilingual street signs across the district to reflect the preference of local residents.
The council has already mocked up new street names for the town, renaming Cunningham’s Lane ‘Beco Cunningham’ with the English version in smaller lettering below. The controversial plans have provoked strong opinions even in Portugal, with some news sites picking up on the story after it first appeared in the Irish News.
“Completely absurd” was the response of one Portuguese reader to the story. “No way. As has already been said here: migrants adapt themselves, not the other way round.”
Another commentator said: “It’s a stupidity in 50 different ways but above all I think it makes no sense to be creating ghettos for migrants. They then complain that there is a lack of integration.” Other respondents were also alarmed at the implication that certain streets in the town could be populated by one set of nationals.
“Adapting to your residents does not necessarily entail packing them in a demarcated area”, said one.
Mid Ulster Council said: “The council is currently developing a dual language policy which will allow residents to request that street name signage carries another language alongside English. Each request will be assessed using criteria which are under consideration.”