Last week the DUP leader and Joint First Minister Peter Robinson made an “outreach” at his party conference to Roman Catholic voters in the North of Ireland (or rather British Unionist voters who also happen to be Roman Catholic) with lots of feel-good stuff about acceptance, sharing, equality and suchlike. At the same time murmurs emanated from political circles within the British ethnic minority indicating a willingness to recognise the Irish identity of the community they share the north-eastern part of Ireland with, and a new preparedness to work towards a constructive future of equals. Or so the optimists and apologists proclaimed.
“A row has erupted between Belfast City councillors after a motion was passed to allow a Happy Christmas sign in the Irish language to hang outside the City Hall. A motion regarding the festive sign, which says Nollaig Shona Duit, was passed by a majority vote at Thursday night’s monthly meeting.
Sinn Féin said that ratepayers will not have to pay for the sign as it is being donated by the west Belfast based Irish language arts and culture centre, An Chultúrlann.
However, Unionists are not happy with the decision.
Sinn Féin councillor, Jim McVeigh, told UTV that it was “a fantastic development.”
He said: “It’s a great Nollaig Shona for the Irish language community to decide to have a sign over the City Hall and indeed, for inclusiveness for the whole of the city.”
Cllr McVeigh said the motion had been passed by “a majority vote.”
Councillor David Browne, who referred to the language as gobbledegook at that night’s council meeting, said he was “very disappointed” at the decision.
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand it,” he told UTV, adding that he didn’t care how much is spent on the language as long as it wasn’t paid for by the ratepayers of the city.
“I look at the language in the same way as I look at Ulster Scots. It’s a foreign language as such like French, German or whatever and if people want to learn how to speak it or want to practice it – they should pay for it.”
He said Sinn Féin, supported by the Alliance party, took the opportunity to push the motion through and Unionists were “outvoted.””
Funny the way the British Unionist minority in Ireland scream about the primacy of the ballot box and democracy – until it gives them a decision they don’t like or agree with. Ahhh, its 1914 all over again. Or is that 1918? 1921? 1968?
Hey-ho and off we go to wee Droim Mór – OOOPS! I should of course write Dromore. Gotta mind those sensitivities before the “Protestants explode”. And we don’t want that now, do we? From the Dromore Leader:
“DROMORE Councillor Olive Mercer is one of two Ulster Unionists embroiled in controversy this week over a vote on the proposed erection of Irish language signage in the district.
Mrs. Mercer is known to have abstained when the Sinn Fein proposal was put to the vote at a recent council committee meeting and The Leader understands party colleague and council chairman, Joan Baird, likewise sat out the show of hands.
The precise outcome of the vote, which would in any event have to win ratification by the full council, has not been made public, but the DUP has responded to news of Ulster Unionist abstentions with disappointment and concern.
A perceived lack of Unionist unity on what was described as a costly and divisive proposal was the chief concern to emerge when The Leader contacted the DUP.
A source said, “Two proposals were made to the committee; the first, from Sinn Fein, would have meant that Irish language signs could be erected if two-thirds of the local residents agreed.
“This would have been costly. It would also have been divisive.”
What? Two-thirds of the people living in an area voting to erect signs in the language they identify with? This democracy thing really is mad altogether, isn’t? Poor wee Billy McLilly. His head does be fairly bursting with it.
Ho-hum, so back to normal then.