Council urged to lift threat of prosecution

Declan Kearney MLA. Cllr Michael Goodman, Cllr Henry Cushinan and Cllr Taylor McGrann.
Declan Kearney MLA. Cllr Michael Goodman, Cllr Henry Cushinan and Cllr Taylor McGrann.

A Sinn Fein delegation has met with Antrim and Newtownabbey Council’s chief executive to voice concern at the local authority’s threat to prosecute if an Irish language street sign is not removed from outside a resident’s home.

Last month, the council warned a householder in Randalstown they could face a fine of up to £2,500 if they fail to remove an “unauthorised” Irish language street sign erected on their property.

It wrote to the occupier of the house in the Ashdale area of the town warning them the ‘Gleann na Fuinseoige’ sign was erected on the fence of the property without the appropriate consent and should be removed within one week. However, it is understood the sign was not taken down.

The Sinn Fein delegation, made up of South Antrim MLA Declan Kearney and councillors Henry Cushinan, Michael Goodman and Taylor McGrann, met with Mrs Jacqui Dixon at Mossley Mill on Friday.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Kearney said: “We sought an explanation from the council CEO in relation to how this decision had been arrived at.

“Our delegation strongly argued that the council should now rescind the letter threatening legal action against this ratepayer, and reflect on what measures need to be taken to mitigate the significant offence caused to the Irish language community in the borough and moreover, the large number of ratepayers who identify as Irish citizens.”

Asked for a response, a spokesperson for the local authority said the council “is currently taking legal advice on this matter”.