27 May 2022

Group's Facebook post on Irish language signs 'incitement' to vandalism, says MLA

A Mid Ulster MLA has slammed a Facebook post by a unionist group calling for the removal of CCTV cameras on Irish language signs as “incitement to vandalism”.

Group's Facebook post on Irish language signs 'incitement' to vandalism, says MLA

The post on the British Truth Forum Facebook page.

A Mid Ulster MLA has slammed a Facebook post by a unionist group calling for the removal of CCTV cameras on Irish language signs as “incitement to vandalism”.
Patsy McGlone said language used by the British Truth Forum could be seen as giving the "green light" to damage the council-operated cameras.
The group claimed in a social media post that unionists in the Mid Ulster area are “concerned” about CCTV cameras operated by Mid Ulster District Council.
“The British Truth Forum have been contacted by several concerned members of the public about cameras which are controlled by Mid Ulster council,” the post on the group's Facebook page said.
“Many believe they are going about their daily business and are being spied upon.
“The only option left, is for all cameras to be removed, in the interest and safety of the general public.”
Responding to the British Truth Forum statement, SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone described it as “incitement”.
“What it appears to me is that this is an incitement to vandalism,” Mr McGlone told the County Derry Post.
“I have already been in touch with the council for them to take measures to monitor any locations where there are cameras to observe any interference with cameras,” he said.
“I am very concerned that the language used there (in the post) could be interpreted by people as a green light to cause further damage to road signs. “There has been enough damage to road signs and people need to take a deep breath and show a bit of respect.
“Definitely it is to my mind incitement to damage any cameras around the signage and anyone who goes to that extent would damage the signs.
“That Facebook page does not show any qualities of respect for diversity.
“It is a small minority of people who don’t show any respect for anything.”
The County Derry Post contacted the British Truth Forum for clarity surrounding its remarks.
But at the time of going to print had not received a response.
But yesterday a Mid Ulster District Council hit back at the comments.
A council spokesperson said: "Mid Ulster District Council is a democratically elected body.
"To assert otherwise is to do a disservice to the people of Mid Ulster and the representatives they elected to serve them," the spokesperson said.
"In terms of cameras, any use of and access to CCTV cameras and recordings is undertaken in strict compliance with all regulatory requirements, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)."
It's understood a meeting has been arranged with senior police officers in the area to discuss steps to address the vandalism problem on the road signs.
It follows the news that a CCTV camera has been erected in Gulladuff after an Irish-language road sign was defaced or uprooted on a number of occasions.
In the Facebook post on Wednesday the same group said they were “outraged” at this decision, saying that they believe public money should not be spent on “cameras to guard Irish road signs”.
“If the councillors want to guard road signs, let them pay for it out of there [sic] own pockets,” the post read.

The British Truth Forum also said that they “do not condemn nor condone” the persistent vandalism of local road signs, which has cost the taxpayers thousands of pounds.
An FOI request submitted by the Co Derry Post to Mid Ulster District Council shows that there are currently 382 cameras in operation on council sites in the region. From October 2018 to October 2019 a total of £30,394.29 was spent on the installation, upgrade and maintenance of these cameras.
The majority of these cameras – around 150 – are in operations at sports facilities in the area. A number are also installed at the Magherafelt council offices, the Bridewell and at Seamus Heaney Homeplace.
The Mid Ulster area also has fewer council-operated CCTV cameras than the neighbouring Causeway Coast and Glens region, which currently has 406 in operation.

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