Northern Ireland news

Donegal councillor defends defacing of English language road signs

English place names have been painted over on road signs in Donegal. Picture by Highland Radio.
Seamus McKinney

A Donegal councillor has defended the defacing of English place names on bilingual road signs in the county.

In recent weeks, English place names have been covered with paint, leaving only the Irish language version visible. Place names have been defaced in a number of areas although the practice has been particularly prevalent in the west Donegal Gaeltacht.

While one independent councillor in the area has condemned the practice, a fellow independent council member has not only refused to condemn it but has encouraged those behind the incidents to continue.

Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig, who is chairman of Donegal council’s Irish language committee, said he was delighted the issue has been brought to light.

Mr Mac Giolla Easbuig said signs should only be in Irish.

“All signs in Donegal should only ever be in Irish in an effort to encourage the Irish language which is being eroded day after day. Gaelic is used by our councils and governments merely as a gesture and in a patronising way and it never gets the first place it deserves,” he said.

The west Donegal councillor also criticised many of the English translations of Irish place names, saying they did not make sense.

However, his fellow councillor, Michael McClafferty said the practice was “not appropriate”.

Mr McClafferty told Donegal’s Highland Radio: “Obviously people have taken an issue here because the signs are not in the Irish language as they would like them to be but this is a trend I wouldn’t like to see going forward.

“I fully respect the reasons, respect the language and all the rest but if people want to make a statement this is not the way to do it because, at the end of the day, damaging property, vandalism, is never the way to go forward.”

Mr McClafferty said if people had issues with English language signs they should raise them with local councillors.

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