A SINN Féin candidate has slammed Antrim and Newtownabbey Council over its policy on Irish language street signage.
Maighréad Ní Chonghaile is standing for the party in the Mallusk and Hightown areas in the upcoming Council elections in May.
Maighréad had submitted a petition on behalf of local residents in Cashelton Manor in Glengormley in September 2021 for Irish to be included on their street sign.
At last month's Council meeting, Irish language signage for Cashelton Manor was rejected, despite a majority of residents responding to the canvas being in favour.
Thirty-four responses were received from the 67 residents on the Electoral Roll. Twenty-five responses indicated a preference for yes, 37.3 per cent of residents.
As the canvas for Cashelton Manor had failed to achieve the required two-thirds of residents canvassed, further applications will not be considered until February 2026.
Maighréad, who submitted the original petition on behalf of local residents, said: “The response to a petition by local residents requesting the inclusion of Irish on their street sign is pathetic and screams of just another move by this Council, which sees the Irish language as something to be ignored. This policy must be changed.
“The original application for a bilingual street sign for Cashelton Manor in Glengormley was submitted by myself as a resident, in an email to a senior Council official in September of 2021.
“It took over a full year for the Council to respond and send out the canvas documentation to residents. When it did come it was days away from Christmas, in the middle of a series of postal strikes, and with a deadline for return in early January.
“To compound the matter residents who did not respond were counted as a ‘No’ vote in the application process, a further sign that Antrim and Newtownabbey Council will do anything to oppose the erection of bilingual street signs. Could you imagine if crucial votes at Council meetings counted absent councillors as a ‘No’ vote.
“When the final decision came, despite being the applicant I wasn’t even informed. I saw it in the news first. Not only is this process entirely flawed and shambolic but the processes surrounding it are unprofessional and designed to frustrate residents and rate payers in this council area from applying for Irish street signs.
“As a Gaeilgeoir and principal of a Gaelscoil I am extremely frustrated and angry.
"If elected in the forthcoming council election I will work tirelessly to overturn this discriminatory policy and fight for the rights of Irish language speakers in Council.”