07 April 2005

Irelandclick.com

Bilingual battle is still being fought

A new campaign which aims to promote the Irish language in the greater Poleglass and Twinbrook areas has been launched this week as part of the 25th Anniversary celebrations of the erection of the first Irish street signs in the area.

Launching the campaign, Máiréad Uí Adhmaill, Sinn Féin local election candidate for Dunmurry Cross, and an Irish language enthusiast, said that she wished to call upon Lisburn City Council and other statutory bodies to support the campaign and added that she hoped the Council would do this by officially recognising the streets that first went bilingual in Twinbrook in 1980.

“In the past, of course, people did it for themselves regardless of the intolerance and hostility of the state.

“However, if we are now living in a new era we have a right to expect support from statutory bodies and the local Council for our efforts,” said Máiréad.

“For example, we now have a Naíscoil, a Bunscoil and Irish classes all situated on Bothar Chnoc an tSamhraidh /Summerhill Road, a road whose Irish version erected in 1980 isn't even officially recognised by the Housing Executive or Lisburn City Council.”

Paying special tribute to all those Irish language activists in Twinbrook who, with the support of the local community, paid for, made and erected the first bilingual signs, Máiréad said, “It was a time when draconian laws existed against the use of Irish.

“Irish speakers had no legal protection whatsoever. In fact, the campaigners incurred the wrath of both the then Lisburn Borough Council and the RUC, and a number of the Committee were arrested and interrogated in the infamous Castlereagh Barracks,” explained Máiréad.

“It was also a time when Irish speakers could be arrested and in fact jailed for refusing to give English translations of their names.

‘We are now supposedly living in changed times.

“The Good Friday Agreement, the signing of the European Charter on Regional and Minority Languages and the 1995 Local Government Order all give varying degrees of official recognition to the language,” concluded Máiréad.

In support of the community campaign, Councillor Paul Butler also called upon local people to help by using the existing legislation to get bilingual signs erected on their streets. ‘This campaign will assist local people who wish to do this,” he said.

Anyone wishing to support the campaign to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of bilingual signs in Twinbrook can contact Máiréad at 028 90 611176 or cumanngaelach@hotmail.com

Journalist:: Ciara McGuigan

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