West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Council Adopt Bilingual approach to branding

Published: 4 December, 2014

At their monthly meeting on Wednesday evening the members of the Fermanagh and Omagh Shadow Council have adopted a bilingual approach towards the main aspects of branding for the new Council area. This will see the English and Irish language being used on Council vehicles, such as bin-lorries and vans as well as external signage and letterheads. Also adopted was that policies be drafted for the promotion of the Irish language, as well as Ulster Scots.

The bilingual proposal was ratified at the meeting as were a raft of proposals to promote languages commonly used in the district, including Irish. The proposal was backed by the Sinn Féin grouping on the council and was also supported by an independent and by individual SDLP councillors.

One of those who sat on the languages working group which looked at the issue was Sinn Féin Mid Tyrone Councillor Barry McNally. Speaking after the monthly meeting Cllr McNally said:

"We are delighted to see the Council adopt this bilingual approach being taken towards the branding. The Fermanagh and Omagh District is a rich area when it comes to the Irish language. In line with this we have received a significant lobby from a number of groups and individuals who wish to see the promotion of the Irish Language in the area. We felt that, in line with the European Charter of Regional and Minority languages, this could be achieved and was certainly something we would support.

"Part three of the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages (ECRML) calls for measures to promote the use of Regional and Minority Languages in public life. Part three relates only to a few languages, including Irish, and asks for detailed undertakings to support and promote languages. By adopting this bilingual policy we as a council have embraced this fully. Indeed in very early discussions we established the ECRML as the cornerstone of our linguistic diversity policy.

"In the most recent census figures nearly 20% of the population in the Omagh area supported the promotion of the Irish Language. Similarly, in Fermanagh the figure is in the region of 15%. Therefore we, as a council, believed it was imperative that we reflected this as a local public authority. The figures will no doubt continue to grow in the coming years given the huge development and increase in the use of the Irish language, most notably within the Education system where the Irish Medium is the fastest growing sector.

"It is also worth noting that our council area takes in the area of Creggan in my own Mid Tyrone constituency. Creggan was a Gaeltacht area where the Irish was the first spoken language until very recently and where the last native Irish speaker only died in recent years.

"In addition to the ECRML, there are also undertakings specific to Irish outlined in the Good Friday and St Andrew's Agreements, which have largely been ignored. We as a council have undertaken to be representative of the people in our areas and have reflected this in our practices and policies. We feel that we have done that with this policy by helping to progress and develop the Irish language within the local government setting." CRÍOCH