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Kearney calls on Council CEO to immediately rescind legal threat on Irish language sign

5 July, 2019 - by Declan Kearney

Sinn Féin MLA Declan Kearney led a party delegation of local Councillors in a meeting with Antrim and Newtownabbey Council’s CEO, and Deputy CEO this morning to discuss the negative fallout from a decision to threaten a local pensioner with legal proceedings for erecting an Irish language sign on her property.

The South Antrim MLA said:

“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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