Signs damaged in anti-Irish hate attacks
Signs damaged in anti-Irish hate attacks


There have been calls for action to combat a cycle of sectarian vandalism targeting bilingual street signs in Belfast.

It follows the latest destruction of two signs off the Ormeau Road in the Ballynafeigh area.

SDLP representative Gary McKeown says proactive steps are needed to tackle the spate of attacks on signage in the city.

“We seem to have entered a cycle of vandalism and replacement of bilingual signs in particular locations,” Mr McKeown said.

“While it’s really important that these signs are reinstalled when they are destroyed, proactive steps now need to be taken to try to prevent these hate crimes from happening again and to identify those responsible,” he said.

“These are something which the community wants and which reflect the diversity of this area, so those responsible are just demonstrating their own intolerance.”

One sign was damaged in south Belfast on St Patrick’s Day. A photograph of the sign on St Jude’s Square showed a section had been broken off.

Last month here were several attacks which caused damage to a bilingual sign on nearby Haypark Avenue.

Mr McKeown said signs should be left alone once installed as the criteria for approving them has been met.

“As it happens, in the case of these particular signs, there was actually an exceptionally high level of community support for their installation,” he said.

“The Haypark Avenue sign which has been attacked repeatedly was supported by over 88% of residents who responded to the council’s community survey on the matter, and for the sign at St Jude’s Square, which has been destroyed for the first time, the figure was 100%.

“I will be calling for a meeting with the police and council officers to find out what can be done to deter those responsible from doing it again.

“Aside from the fact that these acts of vandalism are wrong and against the law, it is also costing the ratepayer additional money every time they have to be replaced.

“We will always make sure that they are replaced, but I would prefer that they weren’t attacked in the first place.”

The destruction of the sign on Haypark Avenue is the second time it has been vandalised in less than two months. The sign was completely removed from its posts in the latest incident.

At nearby St Judes Square, the metal sign was cut in half with the apparent use of a power tool.

Four Irish language signs have been damaged in the Ormeau area since January, and a similar number were targeted in the north of the city late last year. The signs costs around £1,000 each to replace.

Sinn Féin Botanic councillor Conor McKay said he was disappointed at the latest vandalism, and said in a social media post he believed it was a “hate crime”.

“I have spoken to the police and relayed our concerns of continued acts of this kind and have asked them to ensure those responsible are brought to account,” he said.

“These signs are placed there at the consent of the community and such senseless acts are an attack on their identity.”


Meanwhile, a post office in Belfast has been condemned after it refused to send a parcel because the address was written in Irish.

Musician Gráinne Holland,went to the post office on High Street in Belfast city centre to send a parcel to Letterkenny, County Donegal.

The package had the correct post code on it but Ms Holland was told that it could not be accepted because the address was in Irish.

She was asked to translate the address and the worker in the post office wrote an English version on the parcel.

“This has never happened me before,” Ms Holland said.

“I have worked for Irish language companies since I left university. I’ve posted countless, hundreds of letters over the years.

“It has got me thinking that this was something that I took for granted and I know our parents’ generation have faced problems like this before but we never had and I always felt lucky like it’s no big deal.

“I just knew we post our post in Irish and that’s it. This is the first time it’s happened and I feel shocked and surprised.”

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