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Unionists on Ballymoney Council exposed by Council of Europe Report

12 October, 2006

Ballymoney Council has been singled out for criticism in a report to the Council of Europe. The report which was submitted by the Irish Language Group Pobal, cites Ballymoney Council as a prime example of how the UK Government is failing to make their commitments under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. The failure relates to the Council's decision last year not to act on a public request for bi-lingual signage in Carnfinton Park, Rasharkin.


Other local councils have not escaped the notice of the Irish Language Group either. Pobal contacted all 26 Councils to ascertain whether they accepted oral or written correspondence in Irish. Ballymena, Antrim and Moyle Councils are singled out for not even answering Pobal's query.


Ballymoney Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí McKay has said that it was evident that the DUP stance on the issue was clearly damaging the image of the Council both home and abroad.


Cllr McKay said:


"Ballymoney Council has never had a great reputation in the eyes of nationalists in this area, and it is hardly surprising that the Council and a copy of a proposal by DUP MLA Mervyn Storey has been listed in this report as good examples of how European law is being flouted.


"The efforts by the DUP to try and get the Council to ignore requests from residents for bi-lingual signage could have resulted in the Council being brought to court - and it still could. What it has resulted in is Ballymoney being made an example of at the Council of Europe.


"It is also clear that other Councils in the North-East not only have trouble dealing with requests in Irish, in the cases of Antrim, Ballymena and Moyle Councils, they never even bothered responding to a Gaelic speaker! Commitments were made in both European legislation and the Good Friday Agreement to uphold the rights of the Irish speaking community and it is quite clear that many Councils here are in breach of those." ENDS

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