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Ballymoney Council ‘wide open to legal challenge’

29 March, 2010

Ballymoney Sinn Féin Councillor Anita Cavlan has slammed DUP Councillors John Finlay and Frank Campbell for their continuing efforts to deny local communities the right to erect Irish streetsigns and for going against the Council’s own policy. Cllr Cavlan said that some of those affected are now taking legal advice and said that the council should brace itself for such a challenge. She labelled both DUP Councillors as ‘sectarian bigots’.

Ms Cavlan said

“Ballymoney Council has in place a policy for the erection of street nameplates in a language other than English. This policy accommodates those who want their street or road names displayed in the Irish language.

“For the past year the DUP has deferred the decision to erect Irish street-signage even though those who have requested it have abided by the Council’s policy to the letter. For the council to continue to defy its own policy is an untenable position and has left the council open to legal challenge.

“I believe that given the length of time that these decisions have been deferred that a legal challenge is much more likely to succeed and I hope that the sectarian bigots who made these decisions, chiefly Frank Campbell and John Finlay, will pay the legal costs themselves rather than forcing ratepayers to foot the bill.

“John Finlay proposed that the council write to the Equality Commission about the matter and their response has strengthened the argument that I have already put forward that the Council must abide by its own policies. The Commission has recommended consistency with the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages which was signed up to by the British Government. It also states that Irish street names “should be provided where there is a local demand”.

“I will be flagging up to the Equality Commission that this policy isn’t being applied because the council is discriminating against those who made the applications because of their religious and political background – an extremely serious breach of the Section 75 equality legislation. As a result of the council’s stance of not implementing its own policy community relations are being damaged further in the district, something the Equality Commission also refers to. No-one in this council has interfered with council policy when it comes to Ulster Scots and they probably never will. The likes of Frank Campbell and John Finlay have interfered however in the councils policies when it involves members of the Irish language community and they have left this council wide open to legal action by their foolish decisions. It is the height of stupidity.” ENDS

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