West Belfast Gaeltacht wins official status

Belfast City Council has voted to officially designate part of the largely nationalist Falls Road as a Gaeltacht area.

Neww maps show Belfast's Gaeltacht running along the Falls Road as far as Milltown Cemetery.

A guide will be available from tourist information bureaux across the city.

Jake MacSiacais, Director of the Forbairt Feirste and and organization which promotes the use of Irish in business, said:

``The development of the Gaeltacht Quarter is one of the great challenges and opportunities for Belfast, offering us the opportunity to capitalise on the riches of the Irish language and culture for all the citizens of this great city of ours.''

The pamphlet produced by Forbairt Feirste describes the attractions around the lower Falls Road.

These include An Chulturlann arts and cultural centre and the Conway Mill craftsmen's facility which produces wood carvings, metal work and jewellery.

Political tours of west Belfast are also a tourist attraction.

The area includes seven Irish primary schools, a newly built second level college and nine nurseries which feed into the primary schools .

Sinn Fein councillor Paul Maskey welcomed the development.

``Here the ancient language of Gaelic thrives in modern times in an area renowned for its community festivals and hospitality.

``As a council we are committed to developing the cultural quarters in our city and enhancing their availability to everyone.

``Our aim is to raise awareness of the diversity and all that is on offer in Belfast.''

The designation is part of the Celebrate Belfast initiative advertising Belfast's cultural quarters and festivals.

However, unionists criticised the idea. Nelson McCausland of the DUP said it was an attempt to promote a republican agenda in Belfast.


Meanwhile, formal recognition that the name of Derry has been changed back from Londonderry is expected to come on December 6.

A hearing before the High Court will decide whether the name of the city automatically changed in 1984 when the city's council voted to switch its own name back to the city's traditional name in English.

The hearing should bring to an end one of the longest-running disputes in Derry's history. British colonists first used the name 'Londonderry', found on most maps and still considered the city's official name by the London government.

Irish speakers prefer the native 'Doire Cholmcille' [the oak grove of St Colmcille] or simply 'Doire'.

Many organisations in the city currently avoid choosing one of the names, opting instead for titles incorporating the name of the Foyle river or even more ambiguous names.

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© 2006 Irish Republican News