Ukip’s former leader in Northern Ireland has said he is unable to condemn those who defaced an Irish language road sign in Co Tyrone.
The Mid Ulster council sign outside Caledon welcoming people to the borough was vandalised in such a way to remove those parts of the signs written in Irish.
Last week David McNarry – who led Ukip and was once in the UUP – said he would break the law to remove an Irish language sign if one was erected on his street.
He said: “I would be a total hypocrite if I condemned the people who did this. I don’t know what reason they’ve had for doing it except that they may have just been standing up for what they think are their own rights and their own British dimension.
“This is where we’re heading with the Irish language – people are going to have to think very, very carefully that these things aren’t just being done to agitate people and to cause friction.”
SF MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone Colm Gildernew said: “The vandalism of this sign is indicative of the attitude of some in society who show a complete disregard and lack of respect for the Irish identity. Occurrences like this bring into focus the need for protection of Irish language rights through Acht na Gaeilge.”
Local DUP councillor Clement Cuthbertson said: “Whilst damage to council property is wrong, the use of the Irish language on all signage throughout Mid Ulster Council has been forced upon residents and ratepayers by republicans and, by its very nature, was intended to be divisive and confrontational.
“The rest of NI need only look at Mid Ulster to see how the Irish language has been politicised and used as a weapon to attack the minority unionist population.”