A war of words has erupted between the SDLP and Sinn Fein in Limavady after a “vital” vote about having bilingual signs in the Dungiven area failed.
In a statement sent to local media on Friday, the SDLP claimed a “vital vote which would have meant bilingual signs in the Dungiven area was lost because four of the six Sinn Fein councillors left a council meeting while it was still in session”.
“SDLP councillors have accused the SF members of not taking their work seriously preferring instead to skive off early,” the statement said, referring to the vote at last Tuesday’s Council meeting.
SDLP Alderman Michael Coyle said: “Sinn Fein has been caught napping; sleeping at the wheel if you like and yet again they have allowed the unionists to wheel out their bigotry and intolerance. Unionists know very well that they are ignoring legal advice. Indeed, at one stage in history the Irish language was kept alive by Presbyterians.
“Bilingual signs threaten no one and help to preserve the history of areas where they are requested. Ninety-five per cent of place names are derived directly from the Irish language so I can’t for the life of me understand why my unionist colleagues behave in the way they do. However what mystified me even more if the fact that Sinn Fein facilitated them in the way that they did.”
However, Sinn Fein Colr. Cathal O’hOisin hit back at the accusations, explaining: “Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, several of the Sinn Fein councillors left the meeting before the vote on the bilingual signs was taken. Sinn Fein has been to the forefront of the campaign of bringing equality for the Irish language.
“Sinn Fein will hopefully address the situation with Limavady Borough Council on this issue in the weeks and months ahead.”
He added: “The main issue is to address the inequality of how the Irish language is treated in our society amd for the SDLP to be petty in attempting to politically point score on this issue shows how interested they are in the actual subject.”