A tight majority voted for bi-lingual street signs across Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council during a behind-closed-doors meeting last night (Monday).
Sinn Fein welcomed the introduction of a bi-lingual street sign policy in the ABC Council area although it is understood it may face a challenge from unionist councillors.
On Monday night the press and public to leave ABC Council meeting as they went into ‘Confidential Business’, however it is understood that, following legal advice, a vote was taken on the bi-lingual signage issue.
The vote narrowly carried by 19 votes for and 18 votes against.
It is understood there are at least two applications for bi-lingual street signage in the pipeline, including one in Portadown.
Sinn Fein Cllr Liam Mackle said: “The new policy brings council into line with its legal obligations.”
Cllr Mackle claimed some unionist councillors had been attempting to block the introduction of a bi-lingual signage and welcomed the new policy.
He added: “This now clears the way for residents who wish to have official bi-lingual signage in their street or development to make applications.
“It marks a new respect for the Irish Language within the Borough and hopefully increased visibility for our native language.
“All fair minded ratepayers will welcome this important development in ABC as a welcome sign of progress on language rights,” he said.
However sources in the DUP have voiced serious concerns about the introduction of a bi-lingual signage policy.
A DUP source said: “We will be taking legal advice and considering a ‘Call In’ on the issue.”
Nationalist politicians have voiced concerns about any ‘Call In’ as it could lead to legal issues.