BY CONOR SHARKEY
PLANS for a ‘Welcome to Northern Ireland’ sign along Strabane’s border have been compared to flying the Union Flag from Lifford Bridge.
Northern Ireland Roads Minister Danny Kennedy sparked a storm of controversy on Monday when he announced the signs would be placed at twelve border locations, including Strabane. Nine of the signs are already in place, with the rest expected to go up within weeks.
Defending his position, the Minister said that the signs indicated the change of jurisdiction where speed limits are in miles per hour, unlike the rest of Europe including the Republic, where they are in kilometres.
“Whether people like it or not, we have a border, it is a border between two EU member states, it is recognised by both member states, it has a road traversing it, and with roads you get road signs,” he said.
The move has outraged local nationalists with Sinn Féin representatives already saying they will try and block the plans when Council re-convenes later this month.
Donegal Sinn Féin Councillor Cora Harvey questioned the timing of the move and dismissed it as “a silly political stunt”.
“Danny Kennedy is trying to sell this signage as a point of information that motorists are entering a different jurisdiction where speed limits are in miles per hour.
“This is a complete red herring as there is already sufficient signage indicating this change. Moreover, if the so-called information contained on this signage so essential to motorists, as Danny would have us believe, then why are hundreds of other border crossings being exempt?
“Danny Kennedy’s motivation for erecting these signs is clearly political. It’s a feeble attempt to recreate some kind of physical border which has long since gone and he can’t surely hope that by engaging in such a silly stunt that he is going to turn the clock back in any way,” Cllr Harvey said.