Michelle Gildernew brands decision to change fisheries vessel's name from Irish to English as 'retrograde step'
THE decision to change a fisheries protection vessel's name from Irish to its English equivalent was last night branded as a "retrograde step".
The Banríon Uladh, which patrols the Irish Sea, has been renamed to Queen of Ulster by the DUP's Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister, Michelle McIlveen.
Ms McIlveen said the vessel had its Irish name replaced to its English translation because the executive department which owns it has a "single language policy".
She added that it had been renamed as her department had a "fresh identity".
But Sinn Féin's Michelle Gildernew, who named the ship when it was bought in 2010 during her time as Stormont agriculture minister, said the move was "petty in the extreme".
"It's the most retrograde step I have heard in a long time," she said.
"It's racism towards the Irish language and towards the Irish community.
"There are very many people upset by this step taken, it's a clear example of the contempt felt towards the Irish community who have been left highly offended by this.
"When this ship was named, I did discuss a lot of names and there were other names that were far more Irish that I could have went with, but I didn't."