Mayor of Limerick City, Gerry McLoughlin, wants to see streets signs in Polish and “African” in his city, in order to make non-nationals feel more at home.
Currently, most road signs in Ireland feature English with an Irish translation but it seems this representative wants to go one step further.
The Limerick Leader newspaper says the move will embrace the city’s foreign national population, from Europe and Africa.
McLoughlin said, “I am passionate about bringing everyone together. I was an immigrant myself: I have family abroad still in Wales and Australia so I understand what it is like. We have thousands of Poles and other foreign nationals here.”
He continued, “I would like to see some Polish and African signs going up.”
This would be the first time signs in an urbanized area would be translated. However, previously in 2006, Laois County Council sought to have road signs translated into Polish to reduce the number of fatalities.
One local Polish woman Magdalena Kakol, who comes from near Gdansk, welcomed the idea.
She said, “One of my friends has been living here for more than one year and she still has a problem with the street signs. So I think this would be really good for us. It would also help a lot of tourists: my sister is coming here for two weeks later this summer, so I can ask her to meet me in different places, and she will understand.”
Limerick’s city manager Kieran Lehane said this change would need to come in the form of a motion to the council’s transportation and infrastructure meeting and it would then be investigated by the city council’s roads department.
Councillor Ger Fahy, chairman of the transport committee, also welcomed the idea.
He said “In principle, I think we should look at issues which promote the city from a national and European point of view. We do have a sizeable population of Polish people, and this should be taken into consideration. But before any decision is made, we have to look at the wider situation: if we agree to extend our signs to different language, we have to ensure it does not get out of hand.”
As well as the change to street signs, McLoughlin suggested a forum for non-nationals living in Ireland.
He said, “We have a lot to learn from them. They are also citizens of our city, so let’s embrace them. They came here as asylum seekers, they are now part of Limerick.”