Northern Ireland

Public to be consulted on possible bilingual Belfast City Council logo

Council plans for its new Irish language policy

Given the results of the latest opinion poll in The Irish News, the day may well arrive when bilingual – or rather trilingual, to include Ulster Scots – notices become near-universal in the north.  Picture by Hugh Russell.
Belfast City Council is consulting on its Irish language policy. PICTURE: HUGH RUSSELL

The public will be invited to have their say on Belfast City Council’s new Irish language policy - including plans for the north’s biggest local authority’s logo to be bilingual.

A public consultation on the council’s draft Irish language policy was agreed at a meeting on Friday.

First presented to the council’s strategic policy and resources committee in February, the draft policy includes plans to print information leaflets, marketing and promotional materials bilingually, as well as online content.

Councillors discussed potential cost implications, including the adoption of a new bilingual logo, where the typeface and font-size for the Irish text “will be as visible and legible as the English text.”

An ‘English-only’ version of the logo will be available upon request.

Belfast city council has launched a consultation on proposals to erect bilingual/multilingual signage at leisure centre sites
Belfast City Council is consulting on a bilingual logo

Another amendment commits the council to publishing regular bilingual English/Irish content across all social media platforms, while information posts, marketing initiatives, community service announcements will take place in Irish and in English.

The policy also commits to develop and maintain a functioning bilingual website in Irish and English, with a choice to be made on entering the site. The website will also host and regularly update a specific Irish language page, with information about the Irish language services available from the council, as well as information on classes throughout the city and on Irish medium education.

Elected representatives at the committee meeting on Friday voted for council officers to prepare a draft consultation document and associated questionnaire to issue alongside a draft equality impact assessment for formal public consultation.

They also voted that staff will be consulted through the council’s industrial relations framework as part of the consultation process, and for officers to develop indicative costs.

On a raised hand vote, 14 voted for the draft consultation document going to the public, and five against. Those voting against were from the unionist parties.

Sinn Féin councillor Clíodhna Nic Bhranair said: “The whole purpose of a consultation is to get the public’s opinion on things. If we get the consultation, then we can look at the costing.

“My understanding is the European Charter does not deal with the Irish language and Ulster Scots in exactly the same way. But in terms of the practicality of this, consultation should go ahead.”

She proposed the consultation go ahead.