Agenda item

Request to Illuminate the Guildhall/Other Civic Building

Minutes:

The Lead Democratic Services and Improvement Officer presented the above report, previously circulated to Members.  She stated that the purpose of the report was to seek Members’ views in relation to a request to light up the Guildhall/other civic building in support of the campaign to introduce an Irish Language Act.
 
Councillor M McHugh stated that it was the corporate position of Council to support the implementation of Acht na Gaeilge and that lighting up the Guildhall and other civic buildings would show the public Council’s support towards the implementation of the Irish Language Act.  He noted that it was also timely due Seachtain na Gaeilge taking place in March.   He stated that Belfast had already embraced the campaign for the implementation of Acht na Gaeilge by lighting up City Hall in Belfast.   He further stated that he had always insisted that the Irish language was above party politics and described it as the indigenous language of not only Ireland but also Scotland, Wales and Cornwall.  He referred to a quote from Linda Ervine, language rights activist who described that the promotion of the use of Irish as a brick in the bridge of building relationships not only in Ireland but also in Britain.  He noted that Linda Ervine was a person who currently teaches Irish in East Belfast which included 70 percent of participants from the Protestant, Unionist, Loyalist (PUL) community.   He encouraged Members to support the recommendation to light up Council buildings and stated that he hoped the generosity of the Mayor would extend to cover the £200 cost to light up the Guildhall.
 
Alderman Hussey stated that he welcomed Councillor M McHugh’s inclusion of Cornwall, however it did not engender favour.
 
Alderman Devenney stated that he was unable to support the proposal as the Irish Language act was used as a political football at Stormont.  He referred to comments made by Councillor M McHugh and stated that a number of unionists would have difficulty in embracing the Irish language, however he welcomed the comment that the language was described as being ‘above party politics’.
 
Alderman Warke stated that although the nationalist majority within Council would be supporting the Irish Language Act, the DUP would not and questioned Council’s reasoning for the request.
 
Alderman McClintock stated that it would be a dangerous precedent if Council passed the recommendation.  She stated that previous requests made regarding the lighting up of Council buildings were to mark certain charities or health commitments but never to support a political campaign.  She advised the Mayor that it could put the apolitical role of Mayor in jeopardy and he should take this into account.  
 
The Mayor stated that as Mayor it was his responsibility to ask Members for their opinion and to make decisions based on that opinion which did not always suit everyone.
 
Councillor Reilly stated that the report asked for a civic building to be lit up in support of the Irish language.  He stated that the Irish Language did not belong to any political party or any individual but to every single person across the City and District.  He stated that the people who were making a political statement with the Irish language were also not supportive of this campaign.
 
Councillor Gallagher stated that he was supportive of the proposal and reminded the DUP that they had been previously in support of the Irish Language Act.
 
Councillor Carlin joined the meeting at this point.
 
Councillor M McHugh Proposed, Seconded by Councillor Reilly
 
That  Council support the request by Conradh na Gaeilge to light up the Guildhall/other civic building, for one day, in support of the campaign to introduce an Irish Language Act and the Mayor to cover the associated cost.
 
After voting by a show of hands the result was as follows:-
 
For – 30; Against - 8; Abstentions – 0.
 
The proposal was therefore carried and subsequently Council
 
Resolved       That Council support the request by Conradh na Gaeilge to light up the Guildhall/other civic building, for one day, in support of the campaign to introduce an Irish Language Act and the Mayor to cover the associated cost.
 





    

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