Today 8 Irish language groups, An Droichead, Cultúrlann Mac Adam Ó Fiaich, Glór na Móna, Ionad Uibh Eachach, Cumann Cultúrtha Mhic Reachtain, Cumann Gaelach QUB, Conradh na Gaeilge and Forbairt Feirste submitted their consultation responses in favor of Belfast City Council’s proposed bilingual street signage policy.
Belfast City Council first adopted a policy for the erection of bilingual street signs in 1998. The policy is being revised to reflect a decision taken by the SP&R committee on 23rd October 2020 (ratified by the full council on 7th January 2021) to adopt a revised policy position.
This new proposed policy is now based on international best practice and is minority rights compliant, based on expert guidance from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Languages. When Belfast City Council took this decision, it was the first council in the north to promote such a minority-rights compliant approach. It represented a significant change in how the council viewed the language and a shift in how the language can and should be promoted and protected by local councils.
Belfast City Council began the consultation process on 22nd November and will end on the 28th February 2022. The proposed policy and consultation process can be viewed here; https://www.google.com/url?q=https://yoursay.belfastcity.gov.uk/dual-language-street-sign-policy&source=gmail&ust=1645868413348000&usg=AOvVaw3wIW2HukMrOJ0ohvqdgKwn">https://yoursay.belfastcity.
Cuisle Nic Liam, language rights coordinator from Conradh na Gaeilge, commented today,
“Today Irish language groups gathered outside Belfast City Hall to submit their consultation responses in favour of Council’s proposed bilingual street naming policy and encouraging the wider Irish language community to take part in the consultation before Monday’s deadline. If successful, the updated policy would remove many of the obstacles which currently stand in the way of applications for bilingual street signs in Belfast being successful. There would no longer be a responsibility on the resident applying for the bilingual street to gather a petition of 33% of residents in the street to initiate the process; the threshold of support required for an application to be successful would be lowered from the current 66% of residents to a much more minority compliant 15%; and residents who do not respond to the council’s street survey would no longer be considered to be in opposition to the erection of the bilingual street sign.”
President of Conradh na Gaeilge, Dr Niall Comer, said:
“The Irish language belongs to us all, and increased visibility of minority languages leads to increased normalisation, and in turn, increased tolerance and acceptance of the language. Incoming legislation should ensure the Irish language is protected and increased visibility of the language in our shared spaces must be enshrined in law. More than 2 decades on since the Good Friday Agreement committed to taking "resolute action" for the Irish language, our community stands tall and says 'being invisible is no longer an option.”
Conradh na Gaeilge is the democratic forum for the Irish-speaking community. The Conradh has over 180 branches and numerous individual members registered around the world, members that work hard to promote the use of Irish in their own areas. Conradh na Gaeilge’s main aim is to promote the use of Irish as the standard language in Ireland. Conradh na Gaeilge was established by Douglas Hyde, Eoin Mac Néill, and their colleagues on the 31st of July 1893. The organisation runs Irish-language courses; advocates for the language rights of Irish-speakers; raises awareness about the language; hosts the international Irish-language festivalhttps://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.snag.ie/&source=gmail&ust=1645868413348000&usg=AOvVaw2IKaiFZdqs-ojEBFXP8hLI"> Seachtain na Gaeilge; manages the Irish-language information hubhttps://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.peig.ie/&source=gmail&ust=1645868413348000&usg=AOvVaw3m2W-8T3vwT5lVaIQuxabu"> PEIG.ie and the Irish-language bookshophttps://www.google.com/url?q=http://cnag.ie/siopa&source=gmail&ust=1645868413348000&usg=AOvVaw0PV9FtPbFPOGDm26iTtsdy"> An Siopa Leabhar; supportshttps://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.rrr.ie/&source=gmail&ust=1645868413348000&usg=AOvVaw1HoLO2OqV3XT9Rj2PXViMs"> Raidió Rí-Rá; and much more. More information:https://www.google.com/url?q=http://cnag.ie/&source=gmail&ust=1645868413348000&usg=AOvVaw1GLXNDAzQAJ3zHFuxrNS_G"> www.cnag.ie
Advocacy Manager, Conradh na Gaeilge