Northern Ireland news

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir unaware of council's Irish language phone service during time as Belfast mayor

Sinn Féin's Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said he was unaware an Irish language telephone service was in operation during his time as Belfast Lord Mayor

SINN Féin's Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has said he was unaware that an Irish language telephone service was in operation during his time as Belfast lord mayor.

It was revealed that the service, which was set up by Belfast City Council, has not been used once since it was put in place more than a decade ago.

Established in September 2006, members of the public can leave inquiries in Irish which are then passed to the council's translation service for response.

But figures obtained by the News Letter showed no-one has used the service at all.

Mr Ó Muilleoir, a fluent Irish speaker who served as mayor from 2013 to 2014, said on social media yesterday: "When Belfast mayor never knew of any Irish language voicemail 'service'. Do know Invest NI has similar useless 'service' no Gaeilgeoir wants."

It comes as Belfast council endorsed the appointment of two new language officers, one focussing on Irish and the other on other languages spoken in the city, during a meeting on Monday night.

Both officers will be responsible for language promotion as well as some translation and education services.

The appointments came after an eight-week public consultation, with around two-thirds of respondents in favour of an Irish language officer.

Just over half backed two officers, including one specifically for the Irish language.

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