A UNIONIST Minister in the North plans to erect two more controversial ‘Welcome to Northern Ireland’ signs on the Donegal border amid a massive row today.
Danny Kennedy has ordered officials to put one sign on the Letterkenny to Derry road at Bridgend (just inside the North) and another on the A46 between Donegal Town and Enniskillen.
Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has reacted angrily to the erection of signs along the border welcoming people to ‘Northern Ireland.’ Mr Flanagan says that the signs are a pet project of the DRD Minister Danny Kennedy, a complete waste of money and they even go against the advice of the Tourist Board.
The Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA said: “The erection of these signs has angered many living in border communities who suffer the negative impact of partition on a daily basis and a large proportion of are completely opposed to the unnatural division of Ireland.
“It is my belief that Danny Kennedy’s time would be much better spent if he actually attempted to direct money into repairing our roads and improving public transport instead of squandering money on such petty, pointless political projects.”
“At the end of June, Mr Kennedy told the Assembly that were wasn’t enough money to pay for grass cutting, street lights and pothole repair and in fact he said he had no choice but to increase parking fines by 50% to cover the shortfall.
“How then can he justify wasting public money on the erection of signs, which no one wants and were advised against by the Tourist Board in the 1990’s who stated that the proposed erection of such was signage was met with ‘outright hostility from almost every council.’
“The Tourist Board also advises that as recently as 2004, a survey on the erection of these signs “Received no support whatsoever, but was seen as divisive and contentious’ and concluded that “The idea of Welcome to Northern Ireland signs at border crossings would not be welcomed and should not be pursued.”
“Danny Kennedy has proven in the last week that he is unable to take mature decisions based on advice he has received, particularly when it goes against his political ideology. He must now realise the error he has made in the erection of these signs and I would call on him to get these signs taken down as soon as possible.”
Mr Kennedy said that the signs would “act as a warm welcome to tourists and other visitors to Northern Ireland”.
“Naturally they reflect the important fact that traffic is transiting from the Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland.”