Sinn Fein has been accused of using the Irish language as a 'political football' after bilingual street signs were erected across the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon area.
The signs, stating ‘Slow Go Mall’ were erected by various Sinn Fein councillors and were described as road safety signs by the party.
However DUP Cllr Darryn Causby accused Sinn Fein of using the Irish language as a political football and said: “Sinn Fein were complaining several weeks ago about what they called ‘divisive’ banners.
“We know in this country that nothing has been made more divisive by Sinn Fein than the Irish language. Whilst I am not offended by the Irish language, the way it is being used and has been politicised, has made it a very divisive thing.
"Essentially I view the Sinn Fein stunt, because that is what it is, a political stunt, in putting these signs up. I view it as an attempt by Sinn Fein to mark out territory to say, this is our area, this is Irish, this is who lives here and if you don’t agree with us, I think it is designed to make the place more uncomfortable for those who don’t see it as part of their culture.
"It is a sad attempt by them to further politicise and polarise the issue of the Irish language which is a rich part of the culture of one section of the community."
DUP Councillor Lavelle McIlwrath said: ‘Once again we see Sinn Fein trying to increase community tension in the town by conducting what in essence is another stunt over the Irish language. The truth is if Sinn Fein were serious about road safety in these areas the signage would include Portugese, Lithuanian and scores of other languages that the majority of residents in the area could understand."
"Sinn Fein’s agenda is clear, while hospitals and schools continue to suffer as a result of their boycott of the Assembly, they are going to continue to persist with weaponising the Irish Language for their own selfish ends and continue to antagonise and create tension within Portadown."
A Sinn Féin spokesperson said: “This is a road a safety issue and if Councillor Lavelle McIlwrath has a problem with this then he should catch himself on.” “This is a road a safety issue and if the DUP has a problem with this then they should catch themselves on.
“The only people using the Irish language as a political football is the DUP with their continued refusal to recognise rights and implement previous agreements.”