[lg policy] Northern Ireland town council reverses 'English only' street-name policy

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Sat Sep 8 11:20:46 EDT 2018

 Northern Ireland town council reverses 'English only' street-name policy

It followed a legal challenge by some residents
News <https://www.newstalk.com/reader/47.301/-/>
[image: Northern Ireland town council reverses 'English only'
street-name policy]

File photo

*A town council in Northern Ireland has reversed its 'English only'
street-naming policy.*

It follows a legal challenge in the Belfast High Court from Irish language
residents in Antrim and Newtownabbey.

The policy was only introduced back in February this year.

It was brought forward by the council following a request by local
residents prohibited any language other than English to be displayed on
official council street-signage.

Conradh na Gaeilge say this was "in clear contravention of international
and domestic legislation and guidance, namely the European Charter for
Regional and Minority languages".

It also says this move went against the Good Friday Agreement.

At a judicial review hearing, taken by a local resident, the council
rescinded their policy and agreed to pay the full costs of the applicant.

A previous ban on Irish-language dual signage was removed in 1995.
'Need for clear legislation'

Dr Niall Comer is president of Conradh na Gaeilge.

He says: "Huge credit must go to the Irish-speaking community in the Antrim
and Newtownabbey Council for the fantastic campaign that has ultimately
overturned this policy.

"Conradh na Gaeilge have consistently called for a uniformed approach to
street-signage based on a local plebiscite whereby a simple majority of
respondents in any given street can trigger the erection of bilingual

"This case, like many others, highlights the need for clear legislation to
direct and inform councils on signage and Irish-language policies.

"Any incoming Irish language Act must include clear instruction and
provision regarding signage, as is considered a central part of language
legislation around the world.

"Let's not forget also that bilingual signage as proposed by Conradh na
Gaeilge would include the corresponding English placenames as you would see
in Wales, Scotland, Canada, and many other countries throughout the world."

Gráinne Ní Ghilín is a local resident involved with the campaign.

She says: "Following a complaint by local residents, including myself, upon
seeing the implications of this policy, the chief executive of the council
recently directly responded claiming that the policy in question was both
'lawful and proportionate'.

"It seems, several weeks later as the case reaches its legal conclusion
that this is no longer the case.

"Whilst we welcome the wise decision to revoke this policy, concerns remain
that the views and wishes of Irish-speaking rate payers in this council
were and may again be ignored when the new policy is being formulated"


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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