DUP-headed department criticised for changing boat's Irish name
- Please note that the Department of Argriculture have since clarified that the updated signage cost £302 to change the name of the fisheries patrol boat from Irish to English.
IT cost almost £7,000 for a DUP-headed Stormont department to change the name of a fisheries patrol boat from Irish into English.
Nationalists reacted angrily last month after new agriculture minister Michelle McIlveen revealed the name of the Irish Sea vessel had been translated from 'Banríon Uladh' to 'Queen of Ulster'.
The DUP minister said the decision was taken because the department has a "single language policy".
She also said the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs - previously the Department of Agriculture - had a “fresh identity”.
Irish language group Pobal said at the time it "deplored" the name change.
Mid Ulster SDLP assembly member Patsy McGlone last night said he had now learned that the cost of changing the name was £6,835.
Details were revealed in a response to an assembly question.
“It was petty in the first place to go about changing the name of a boat but to waste taxpayers' money makes it even more ridiculous," he said.
“Aside from the slight it is to Irish speakers, it says a lot for parity of esteem for other people’s culture and languages around Stormont and government in general.”
A department spokesman said: “The change of lettering was carried out at a scheduled annual maintenance event involving repairs, repainting and antifouling.”
The boat was originally named by former Sinn Fein agriculture minister Michelle Gildernew after it was bought in 2010.