Wednesday, January 12, 2011

DUP to block bilingual signs plan in North

I read with interest in Tuesday January 11th's Irish Times that the DUP (are) to block bilingual signs plan. Northern Ireland Assembly Minister, Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy, proposes a "public consultation on allowing council welcome signs in towns or villages, plus signs at schools or tourist sites, to be in English as well as either Irish or Ulster-Scots". What's the harm in that I hear you say? Now I am not a Unionist by any stretch of the imagination (I'm not a republican either) - but I find that I am in partial agreement with the DUP on this. One of the pleasures in driving through Northern Ireland, England, and on the Continent, is that road signs are easier to read than the bi-lingual ones we have here. Bigger letters, and no confusion over names. The DUP are principally opposing this on waste rounds and also that local councils have the authority to do this anyway - there are more important things to be dealing with right now. The Alliance Party think the signage idea could be divisive, with "tribal demarcations in areas" and that signs would be an "institutionalised mark of tribalism”.

I have written on this blog before about when I agreed with Dr. Ed Walsh who proposed that the "€1.2bn a year spent on teaching the Irish language in schools should be halved". Should precious resources be devoted to Irish signage - you guessed it, my answer would be "No". 

Why do I say this? Well you will end up with ludicrous signs like the one below on the Stillorgan Road near Foxrock church from Google Street View. You will notice that the sign cleverly places a "fada" over the "u" in the Irish version of the name for Dún Laoghaire. But wait - there is no English version in use (for those of you who are not familiar with Irish - "Dún Laoghaire" translates into "Leary's Fort"). In fact the town was formerly called "Kingstown" in English.

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So what's the point in having a bi-lingual sign? Bullshit procedures, EU regulations, council bye-laws, are to blame in the South - and some "jobs-worth" cannot see the silliness of the above sign. The DUP might be right on this - imagine someone on Craigavon Borough Council trying to come up with a translation for Craigavon - "Fáilte go Craigavon". In Belfast, how long would a sign stating "Welcome to Shankill/Fáilte go Seanchill" last?

Conor Murphy - have you nothing better to do?

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