Northern Ireland

Proposals announced for Irish language traffic signs in Belfast’s Gaeltacht Quarter

Infrastructure minister requests pilot scheme for multi-lingual traffic signs in west of the city

West Belfast is home to the city's Gaeltacht Quarter. Picture: Mal McCann
West Belfast is home to the city's Gaeltacht Quarter. PICTURE: MAL MCCANN

Plans are underway for traffic signs featuring the Irish language to be installed at roads in Belfast’s Gaeltacht Quarter, it has been revealed.

Stormont’s infrastructure minister John O’Dowd said he has requested the development of proposals for the multi-lingual signage to be used in a pilot scheme in west Belfast.

He revealed the plans following a meeting on Wednesday with Irish language campaign group Conradh na Gaeilge, and spoke of other successful initiatives to increase the use of Irish in the Gaeltacht Quarter.

“I want to see more visibility and promotion of Irish Language across public services and in our society. The bi-lingual display of passenger information on Glider and Metro services by Translink is a positive initiative,” he said.

Irish language signage was installed on Glider buses along the west Belfast route in 2021, ahead of Irish language audio announcements the following year.

“My Department has in place a long-standing policy guide for the Irish Language which was developed under the European Charter for Regional Minority Languages and is reviewed annually. This Charter also applies to all public authorities.

I encourage them to live up to their obligations under this Charter by promoting Irish and other minority languages. And the recently passed Identity and Language Act which recognises Irish as an official language.”

Infrastructure Minister, John O’Dowd has welcomed the introduction of Irish language audio announcements on the west Belfast Glider route. He is pictured with (left to right) Damian Bannon, Translink Belfast Area Manager; Piarais MacAlastair of Forbairt Feirste, and the RNIB's Colum Boyle. Picture by Brian Morrison
Infrastructure minister John O'Dowd (second from left) pictured with others during the launch of Irish language audio announcements on the west Belfast Glider service in 2022.

Speaking of the Gaeltacht Quarter plans, the minister said: “I am committed to advancing the Irish language within my remit. So, I have asked officials to develop proposals for a project that would see the use of multi-lingual traffic signs piloted in the Gaeltacht Quarter in Belfast, which is a growing and thriving Irish language community.

“Departments and public bodies all have a role to play in supporting and promoting the use of the Irish language. I accept there is more we can do, and I pledge to continue to promote the Irish language as widely as possible.”

Last November saw proposals agreed at Belfast City Council for the blanket installing of bi-lingual street signs across the Gaeltacht Quarter.

The area has 417 streets in total, with 108 already having bilingual signs in place.