Irish on mayor’s Christmas card ‘misuse of power’, say unionists

Councillors in Co Derry say card has been made in ‘expense of unionists’

Mayor Brenda Chivers’ Christmas card. Photograph: Causeway Coast Community

Mayor Brenda Chivers’ Christmas card. Photograph: Causeway Coast Community

 

Unionist councillors in Co Derry have expressed concern over a Christmas card sent by the mayor of the Causeway Coast & Glens Council, which featured greetings in both Irish and English, saying it was a “wrongful misuse of power in the privileged position of Mayor”.

UUP councillor for the area William McCandless told Causeway Coast Community the card had been made “at the expense of unionists particularly”, when the “majority of the Sinn Féin party can hardly speak it”.

“It has been a wrongful misuse of power in the privileged position of Mayor,” Cllr McCandless said.

“It is sad that prejudice is still rife in our little country.”

Local DUP councillor Sam Cole said Mayor Brenda Chivers had sent cards out to her fellow councillors in “a language that practically none can understand”.

“Surely bringing politics into Christmas is a step too far and I know many will take this mayoral gesture as an insult!” he wrote on Facebook.

Mayor Brenda Chivers said she was “disappointed” by the response to the card, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

“The cards are clearly bilingual so to claim they can’t be understood is nonsense. It’s also very disappointing that a gesture of goodwill should be met with such a response,” the Sinn Féin councillor said.

“The Irish language is part of our shared history and culture on this island but, unfortunately, some still seem unable to accept that reality.”

The Northern Irish government crashed in January 2017 when the late Martin McGuinness stepped down as Deputy First Minister, citing the failure to introduce legislation on the Irish language as a chief reason for his resignation.

The Irish Language Act remains a stumbling block in resolving the devolved government in Northern Ireland, with strong unionist opposition to the Act.