Dromore councillor embroiled in Irish signage controversy

DROMORE Councillor Olive Mercer is one of two Ulster Unionists embroiled in controversy this week over a vote on the proposed erection of Irish language signage in the district.

Mrs. Mercer is known to have abstained when the Sinn Fein proposal was put to the vote at a recent council committee meeting and The Leader understands party colleague and council chairman, Joan Baird, likewise sat out the show of hands.

The precise outcome of the vote, which would in any event have to win ratification by the full council, has not been made public, but the DUP has responded to news of Ulster Unionist abstentions with disappointment and concern.

Meanwhile, council newcomer Mrs. Mercer explained her decision to abstain as having been made in light of a pending draft policy on the issue and with a view to avoiding potentially scuppering any future proposals to add Ulster-Scots to the district’s signage.

Mrs. Baird declined to comment.

A perceived lack of Unionist unity on what was described as a costly and divisive proposal was the chief concern to emerge when The Leader contacted the DUP.

A source said, “Two proposals were made to the committee; the first, from Sinn Fein, would have meant that Irish language signs could be erected if two-thirds of the local residents agreed.

“This would have been costly. It would also have been divisive.