Dingle back on the map as Minister paves way for law to alter placename


THE LONG-RUNNING controversy over what to call the popular Co Kerry tourist destination known variously as “Dingle”, “An Daingean” and “Daingean Uí Chúis” looks set to be finally resolved through legislation.

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has signalled his intention to propose an amendment to the Environment Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2011 that will give official status to the English “Dingle” and Irish “Daingean Uí Chúis”, while “An Daingean” is to be dropped.

The Bill was discussed at committee stage at a meeting of the Dáil environment committee yesterday, and the amendment is expected to be brought to report stage on July 21st.

The Bill must pass through report stage in the Dáil and then go to the Seanad before becoming law.

Mr Hogan said he appreciated “the sensitivities of all involved in this issue and that there are differing views” when he addressed the Seanad last month.

The official name of Dingle was changed to An Daingean in 2005 by the then minister Éamon Ó Cuív of Fianna Fáil under the Official Languages Act.

The English language version then ceased to have legal force and as a result could not be used on road signage, ordnance survey maps or in legislation.

“This has given rise to a certain amount of controversy, with significant opposition locally and calls to retain Dingle as the official name, with a high degree of recognition particularly from a tourism perspective,” Mr Hogan said.

In 2006, Kerry County Council held a plebiscite under the Local Government Act 1946 on a proposal to change the name to “Dingle Daingean Uí Chúis”, which was passed.

The council applied for an order to change the name, but it proved not to be possible because the Attorney General had advised that the local government code could not be used to change the name of a place already subject to a placenames order, as was the case with “An Daingean”.

“To resolve the issue, the previous government decided to legislate for the use of the names ‘Dingle’ and ‘Daingean Uí Chúis’, in tandem, by way of amendments to the placenames provisions in the local government code,” Mr Hogan said.

“These amendments had been included in the Dublin Mayor Bill, but this opportunity passed with the lapsing of that Bill on the dissolution of the last Dáil.

“Instead, I am now proposing to avail of the earliest possible legislative opportunity to enact these provisions, through the Environment Bill.”

Mr Hogan said that in future any proposal adopted by a local authority to change a placename must specify the proposed name in Irish only or in English and in Irish.

Mr Hogan said an important aspect of the new provisions was that they would give greater recognition to the Irish language in every case where placename changes are proposed.

Any plebiscite will require a secret ballot, and all proposals will need adoption of a resolution by half of the total members of the council.

The proposed legislation will provide that a placename change under local government law will supersede an order under the Official Languages Act 2003 and the impact of the 2004 Placenames Order, as it applies to “An Daingean”, will be undone.