Irish signs would have alienated me as a unionist student

A child on the Falls Road holds up a sign supporting an Irish language act
A child on the Falls Road holds up a sign supporting an Irish language act

I write in response to the approval of the bilingual signage policy by the Ulster University Students’ Union where the Irish language is to be included on all union signage.

I studied politics at the university between 2011-2014.

Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

As a unionist, I enjoyably engaged in many debates with republicans in my politics class on political issues past and present.

Not once did the Irish language ever emerge as an issue and not once did I ever hear of any grievance regarding the lack of Irish language being present on union signage.

This leads me to question what is driving this demand which was not there previously.

I can only conclude it is from the politicisation of the Irish language in recent years as a political issue by Sinn Fein, which has driven demand for a bilingual signage policy ahead of other priorities.

A bilingual signage policy will do nothing to benefit students from a unionist background who will not know Irish and will only benefit students who can communicate in Irish fluently, who are overwhelmingly from a nationalist or republican background.

That does not sound fair or equitable to me, especially with the absence of the Ulster Scots language.

Why is public money not being spent to the benefit of all students?

I am very disappointed a political issue has managed to find its way unnecessarily into union policy, which certainly would have alienated me from engaging in any union activities as I’m sure it might do with current and future students.

As a unionist, my views have actually hardened after graduating from university in response to the political agenda of republicans, which only continues to divide society.

Michael Palmer, Newtownards