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Sinn Féin delegation meets Council over Irish language sign dispute

TALKS: Declan Kearney MLA, Councillor Michael Goodman (Glengormley Urban), Councillor Henry Cushinan (Dunsilly) and Councillor Taylor McGrann (Macedon) attended the meeting TALKS: Declan Kearney MLA, Councillor Michael Goodman (Glengormley Urban), Councillor Henry Cushinan (Dunsilly) and Councillor Taylor McGrann (Macedon) attended the meeting
By Conor McParland

A SINN Féin delegation has called on Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council to immediately rescind a legal threat on an Irish language sign.
Last month, a pensioner in Randalstown was issued with a warning over an Irish language sign erected on their property.
The Council wrote to the occupier of the house in the Ashdale area of Randalstown claiming the ‘Gleann na Fuinseoige’ was erected on the fence of the property without the appropriate consent.
The resident was also told to remove the signage within one week of the letter being sent on June 12 or be fined £2,500 and possible conviction for non-compliance.
This week, Sinn Féin South Antrim MLA Declan Kearney led a party delegation of local councillors in a meeting with Antrim and Newtownabbey Council’s CEO and Deputy CEO to discuss the fallout from the warning.
Glengormley Councillor Michael Goodman and Macedon representative Taylor McGrann were also present at the meeting.
Speaking after the meeting, Declan Kearney MLA explained: “We sought an explanation from the Council CEO in relation to how this decision had been arrived at. We pointed out that it was a huge mistake for Council not to apply appropriate sensitivity and due discretion in relation to the approach taken.
“I made it clear to the Council officials that the mishandling of this situation has resulted in significant reputational damage for the Council, following the anger caused by the adoption of the unlawful ‘English only’ policy in 2018, and abject disrespect shown towards the Irish language and Irish identity.
“I told the Council CEO that she and her officers must now act to address the negative consequences and perceptions created by the demand to remove this Irish language sign.
“Our delegation strongly argued that the Council should now rescind the letter threatening legal action against this ratepayer, and reflect on what measures need to be taken to mitigate the significant offence caused to the Irish language community in the borough and moreover, the large number of ratepayers who identify as Irish citizens.
“We said that going forward, it is now essential for Antrim and Newtownabbey Council to positively regularise its policy towards Irish language and bi-lingual signage on the basis of equality and parity of esteem, and ensure that the growing perception that this Council is a cold house for Irish citizens is constructively, and finally addressed.”

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