ABC Council approve bi-lingual sign policy in secret vote

Cllr Liam Mackle
Cllr Liam Mackle

A tight majority voted for bi-lingual street signs across Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council during a behind-closed-doors meeting last night (Monday).

Sinn Fein welcomed the introduction of a bi-lingual street sign policy in the ABC Council area although it is understood it may face a challenge from unionist councillors.

On Monday night the press and public to leave ABC Council meeting as they went into ‘Confidential Business’, however it is understood that, following legal advice, a vote was taken on the bi-lingual signage issue.

The vote narrowly carried by 19 votes for and 18 votes against.

It is understood there are at least two applications for bi-lingual street signage in the pipeline, including one in Portadown.

Sinn Fein Cllr Liam Mackle said: “The new policy brings council into line with its legal obligations.”

Cllr Mackle claimed some unionist councillors had been attempting to block the introduction of a bi-lingual signage and welcomed the new policy.

He added: “This now clears the way for residents who wish to have official bi-lingual signage in their street or development to make applications.

“It marks a new respect for the Irish Language within the Borough and hopefully increased visibility for our native language.

“All fair minded ratepayers will welcome this important development in ABC as a welcome sign of progress on language rights,” he said.

However sources in the DUP have voiced serious concerns about the introduction of a bi-lingual signage policy.

A DUP source said: “We will be taking legal advice and considering a ‘Call In’ on the issue.”

Nationalist politicians have voiced concerns about any ‘Call In’ as it could lead to legal issues.