Unionists have demanded that Irish language words be removed from manhole covers in Ballymena, County Antrim.
Timothy Gaston, the deputy mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, a member of Jim Allister’s Traditional Unionist Voice party, wants the offending words removed.
He said: “I hope this is an oversight and I encourage the contractor to get these changed as soon as possible.
“Constituents have contacted me to raise questions over the use of the Irish water hydrant covers on the ratepayer-funded public realm project in Ballymena town centre.”
There are frequent controversies over the use of the Irish language in the north of Ireland. Last year, DUP MP Gregory Campbell created a furore when he mocked the Irish language at the Stormont Assembly. To imitate the langiuage used by some nationalist Assembly members of: “Go raibh maith agat, Ceann Comhairle” [meaning] “Thank you, Chairperson”, he said: “Curry my yoghurt can coca coalyer”.
And residents in west Belfast recently erected their own Irish language street sign as a three-year battle with the city council rumbles on.
Out of 92 residents on the street canvassed by the council when the proposal was first made, 52 said they wanted Irish signs, with only one opposed, but unionists on Belfast city council still successfully opposed the application.
A sign in both languages appeared on Ballymurphy Drive last month after language enthusiasts said they had decided to take matters into their own hands.
NOT A RACIST
In a separate development, DUP leader and First Minster Arlene Foster has defended her party colleague, East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson, insisting he is not a racist after a documentary appeared to prove otherwise earlier this month.
On Tuesday March 1, BBC Spotlight broadcast a programme in which Wilson agreed with a member of the public after he was urged to “get the ethnics [foreigners] out”. The DUP MP later said the remarks had been taken out of context, and Mrs Foster said she supported him.
“Sammy’s made his position very clear. I know Sammy very well. He’s not a racist. He’s far from it and therefore I think that’s an end to the matter.”