AN application for Irish signage for a South Belfast street has been approved despite opposition from the DUP.
At the People and Communities Committee this week, Councillors were asked to approve eight dual-language signs – including Cranmore Gardens, off the Lisburn Road.
The Council’s policy on the erection of a second street nameplate requires that at least 15 per cent of the households surveyed be in favour of the proposal to erect a second street sign in order for it to progress to Committee for consideration.
A residents' survey for Cranmore Gardens found a 50/50 split with 35 occupiers (28.23 per cent) in favour of the erection of a second street name plate and the same number against. Four occupiers (3.23 per cent) had no preference either way.
DUP Councillor Sarah Bunting told the Committee there are strong feelings on both sides about the application.
“We have no issue with the majority of these applications," she said. "The only one we want to raise concern with is Cranmore Gardens. From 124 people surveyed four said they had no preference either way, which leaves 120 people; 70 replied with strong feelings, and 50 didn’t reply or didn’t open their post.
“From those who did reply, it was split evenly 35 to 35. The high response rate, compared to the number we normally get from most streets, shows that there are strong feelings on both sides about this proposal.
“We do have a problem with installing dual language signs in mixed areas with settled communities where there are a close number of responses, or as in this case, it is a 50/50 split. I do think this increases community tensions and is counter-productive to this council’s Good Relations Strategy.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Geraldine McAteer spoke in favour of the dual-language signage.
“We should go ahead with the application as it stands," she said. "It has achieved the requisite percentage, and is in fact over that, so it is only fair we go ahead with it.”
Following a proposal not to progress with the Cranmore Gardens application, five DUP councillors voted for with 13 votes against – from Sinn Féin, Alliance, the SDLP and the Green Party.
The remaining applications for dual-language street signs were approved: Stewartstown Mews, Bingnian Drive, Mizen Gardens and Dermott Hill Road in West Belfast; Mountainview Parade and Mountainview Gardens in North Belfast; and Marcus Ward Street in South Belfast.
All decisions at Committee are subject to ratification at next month's full Council meeting.