Row erupts over Dungiven street signs

Four bi-lingual street signs, which caused a row between Limavady councillors last month, are to be put up in Dungiven.

The Notice of Motion submitted by Councillor Anne Brolly, Councillor cathal Ó hOisín, Councillor Paddy Butcher and Councillor Brenda Chivers stated: “That this Council rescinds the proposal adopted at the Environmental Services meeting of the 25th January 2011 in relation to the erection of bi-lingual street names requested by the majority of respondents in the following areas of Dungiven: Pellipar Park. Tracey’s Way, Lackagh Park and Chapel Road.

“The proposal on the above date was carried and is incompatible with street-naming legislation and in particular the European Charter on minority and regional languages, and with Council policy. The Council should go ahead and erect the signs in accordance with the law and policy in this regard and on foot of the results of the surveys conducted with the residents in the above named areas.”

During discussion on the motion on Tuesday, unionist councillor Boyd Douglas claimed the move was a “political stunt” by Sinn Fein, but Anne Brolly hit back saying if that was the case Sinn Fein had been doing it for the last nine years.

“Nearly every housing development in Dungiven has a gaelic name because it is a right,” said SF Colr. Brolly.

SDLP Colr Michael Coyle supported the motion saying: “It is right to have signs in other languages other than English as laid down by our policy and by the Assembly. I don’t have a difficulty with it. We have a clearly defined criteria and we must stick by them. I will be supporting the motion.”

Speaking after the meeting, Dungiven Sinn Féin Councillor Cathal Ó hOisín welcomed the move.

“This motion was opposed by the Unionists earlier in the year and I am glad that it has now been passed,” he said. “The Irish language threatens no one and the decision to endorse the erection of signs in both Irish and English will add to the cultural identity of the area.

“Not only is the Irish language now a vibrant part of the community but it also adds to the culture in the marking of ancient town lands and place names that have disappeared. This decision is an extension of the equality that Irish language users are entitled to.”

Independent Unionist Leslie Cubitt said the signs, which are thought could cost hundreds of pounds to place, were “a complete and utter waste of money.”