Ulster Students’ Union new Irish Language signage policy ‘makes the university a cold house for unionists and Protestants.’

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A new bilingual signage policy which includes Irish language has been approved by Ulster University Students’ Union (UUSU).

Announcing the new policy on Twitter yesterday, UUSU tweeted: “Council Update: The Bilingual Signage policy, to include the Irish language on all Union signage, has been approved. More information to follow.”

The motion agreed by the UUSU Council states: “Student council resolves that the Students’ Union provides for bilingual signage on all directional, facilitating and welcoming signs in the Students’ Union to replace existing signage over time. And that UUSU executive lobbies the University authorities for Irish language signage on all four campuses.”

Branding the move “utterly unnecessary”, TUV leader Jim Allister said: “There is no need for it, so it is clearly motivated by the intent to make the university a cold house for unionists and Protestants.”

Mr Allister claimed the Irish language has been “weaponised” and is being used “to discomfort unionists and make them feel like foreigners in their own land.”

But welcoming the new policy, Sinn Féin senator Niall Ó Donnghaile said it was “a positive step forward and reflective of the growing interest in and demand from Irish speakers to carry out their daily routines through the Irish language.”

The former Lord Mayor of Belfast commended the decision of the UUSU Council, saying: “It’s important that we continue to promote and increase the visibility of the Irish language; linguistic diversity, representing and reflecting languages, not least indigenous languages, are positive economic and social drivers.

“Irish speaking students are entitled to the same language rights as enjoyed by citizens who live their daily lives through the medium of English and should benefit from the universal advantages that will no doubt flow from this progressive move by the Students’ Union Council.”

The News Letter contacted Ulster University for comment, but was told the new policy is a matter for UUSU.

A statement issued by UUSU said: “A motion on the gradual introduction of bilingual signage within the university was brought forward to last night’s meeting of Student Council, which is a democratic body made up of a range of students from across the campuses, who are elected from the student body. The motion was debated and passed, mandating UUSU to explore the implementation of the policy.

“As with all Student Council policy, UUSU will be working with relevant departments within the University, and with the student body on the implementation of this policy, and will take into consideration the Students’ Union and University’s commitment to promoting good relations across the Institution.

“UUSU will continue to work with student councillors, the wider student body and key stakeholders in the implementation of all policies that have been passed by its Student Council.”