It was confirmed before the High Court on Friday that Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has officially rescinded it’s ‘English-only’ policy for street signs.
This policy was introduced in February 2018 after a request was made by Abbeyville Residents Association in Newtownabbey to have a small number of street signs in their area expressed in Irish as well as English. While still active, the policy meant that street signs had to be exclusively in English, even if local residents desired otherwise.
CAJ had long argued the Council’s policy was unlawful. In March 2018, we wrote to the Council setting out our concerns.
The Council’s eventual U-turn came about in response to local resident Clare Duffy seeking a judicial review into the decision to adopt the policy, based on her belief that the policy was discriminatory.
At an initial hearing to decide whether the judicial review should proceed, a letter was submitted by the Council confirming that the policy had been officially revoked, thus removing the need for Clare to continue on with her legal challenge. The Council also agreed to pay all of Clare’s legal costs.
This was a huge victory for Clare and all those who supported her case.
CAJ’s Deputy Director, Daniel Holder, spoke to the media upon the resolution of the case, commenting: “This was Donald Trump type policy making by the Council. They rushed through a policy that others could clearly see was unlawful and discriminatory, bypassing the duties in their own equality scheme in doing so. After months of the Council telling us the policy was lawful, today confirms a U-turn. We need to be vigilant to ensure that whatever replaces the policy respects human rights standards.”