A ROW about the omission of the Irish language on age friendly-parking spaces eventually forced a vote at an online meeting of Cork County Council this week.
Councillors had been discussing the draft age friendly parking spaces report and Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind), chair of the roads and transportation SPC (strategic policy committee), said a number of such parking spaces had already been provided in prominent areas in some towns and car parks with varying colours and design. However, he said the purpose of the policy is to create a uniform standard throughout the county.
‘The policy set a target of 5% age-friendly parking spaces to be provided in larger towns, particularly where public realm works involving road improvements are being carried out subject to approval of full Council and available resources,’ said Cllr Hurley.
‘However, it was not referred for adoption to full Council at the time, pending clarification on bilingual signage under the Official Languages Act.’
However, Cllr Gobnait Moynihan (FF) said she was opposed to the signage for these parking spaces being exclusively in English outside of the Gaeltacht areas.
‘I firstly welcome these age-friendly parking spaces and I feel they are a great idea and will be well used by our older population. But I have concern regarding the lack of use of the Irish language in the signage on the ground. I feel instead of being inclusive, the Irish language is in fact being boxed into the Gaeltacht areas only,’ said Cllr Moynihan.
Cllr Hurley said that inclusion of the Irish language where appropriate has now been provided for in the new technical standard, as illustrated in the updated report.
‘As it proved difficult to incorporate both the Irish and the English marking on the ground, it is recommended that the Irish only would be marked on the space in Gaeltacht areas and the English only would be marked on the space in non-Gaeltacht areas. Where there is an upright sign, it would be bilingual.’
Cllr Moynihan queried about what happens to those who speak Irish outside of the Gaeltacht areas.
The issue was put to a vote and was carried by 28 votes to 12 votes and a revised design and specification for the parking spaces was approved.
Cllr Hurley said that if adopted by the roads and transportation committee this will become the new standard for Cork County Council and it is proposed to be adopted by the National Age Friendly programme as the standard for other authorities nationally.