Mid and East Antrim Borough Council backing for Ulster-Scots language event

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has been accused of “disparity” over an Ulster-Scots language event.

Friday, 11th June 2021, 5:13 pm
The Braid, Ballymena
The Braid, Ballymena

Speaking at a meeting of the council on Monday evening, Larne Lough Alliance Councillor Danny Donnelly said he believed it had been stated previously that when it came to language submission requests to the local authority, the mayor should decide rather than bring it to full council.

Cllr Donnelly was commenting on a request by the Ulster-Scots Agency for the council to participate in Ulster-Scotch Leid Week in November.

He said: “I seem to remember Cllr Gaston making a proposal that in language submissions requests like this that the mayor should decide themselves rather than bring it to full council when it came to the Irish language request last time, so it does not appear that we are being treated the same. There seems to be a disparity there.”

The council officer’s recommendation was that the authority provides approval to host an event as part of the Ulster Scotch Leid Week and direct the organisation to the council’s grants scheme.

Chief executive Anne Donaghy stated: “I can confirm it is the exact same approach. He said the Mayor would host an event for the Irish language and the same approach is taken here. It will be up to the Mayor to provide that and then will go to the grant as well. Basically, it is exactly the same.”

A report to councillors says that the organisation believes it is “essential that there is more understanding of the Ulster-Scots language”.

Suggestions for a community event include an introductory language session in one of the council’s community centres, a musical performance by an Ulster-Scots group, a social media campaign around Ulster Scotch Leid Week and a photocall with the mayor.

A request to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council in January seeking direct financial support for Irish Language Week was referred to the authority’s community grants scheme.

Conradh naGaelige asked the council to provide a specific fund for local Irish language groups to support them to organise their own events and to “promote and showcase the Irish language within the borough” during Irish Language Week in March.

Bannside Sinn Fein Councllor Ian Friary commented: “Conradh naGaelige were looking to be sponsored by the council. Is this the same thing basically – and it was referred to the grants.”

The chief executive said: “The exact same process has been applied to Ulster Scotch Leid Week as to the Irish Language Week.”

Larne Lough Ulster Unionist Cllr Keith Turner stated: “No problem, as we in the Ulster Unionist Party have supported Irish Language Week, which we did,  but we make it quite clear that whilst we support the learning and teaching of languages, we do not see the need to put in place legislation that promotes commissioners or overseers that have the power to ensure that there has to be special provisions put in place to promote the use of any language other than sign language.”

TUV Bannside Cllr Timothy Gaston said: “I certainly read it the same. My comment on the night was it is up to the Mayor if they wish to host it. I  certainly treat the Ulster-Scots the same as we have done in the past  for other languages. I am happy that the direction of travel is the same so we should move on.”

Meanwhile, 68 Ulster-Scots signs have been installed at one of the council’s key tourist attractions, The Gobbins, in Islandmagee at a cost of £30,000, funded by the Ulster-Scots Agency, with 30 for the wooden fencing along the upper path and 38 on the handrails along the path to signpost sightseers to heritage sites in the borough.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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Click here to read: Mid and East Antrim Council recommendation to host Irish Language Week event

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