A Sinn Féin councilor in Northern Ireland has described the removal of an Irish-language sign from a predominately unionist town in Derry as a hate crime. 

Mid Ulster District Council installed a bilingual sign in Mill Park inTobermore on Thursday, but residents in the town removed the sign just two days later, replacing it with two British flags. 

Local Sinn Féin councilor Ian Milne said the removal of the Irish-language sign was "an act of wanton destruction of which I unreservedly condemn". 

"It is clearly a hate crime and an attack on the ratepayers of the district and I would call on all political parties to call it out and condemn this act of hate vandalism," Milne told the Belfast Telegraph. 

He said Mid Ulster District Council has developed an Irish language policy to protect and promote the Irish language in Northern Ireland, adding that the installation of bilingual signs is an important element of that policy. 

"The Irish language is not the preserve of any one section of our community, religion or race," Milne said. 

However, DUP councilor Anne Forde warned the council against replacing the stolen signpost, adding that it was a surprise that the sign was erected in the first place. 

"A lot of people were very angry about this and many residents have been voicing their opposition to an Irish sign being put up in a Protestant village," Forde told the Belfast Telegraph. 

"This is not a village that speaks Irish. Most residents don’t accept the Irish language needs to be taught in Northern Ireland." 

She said the installation of an Irish-language sign in a "Protestant village" was not acceptable. 

Local TUV council candidate Glenn Moore added that the Irish-language sign was "neither needed nor wanted". 

"In fact, it has a negative impact on community relations as many local people will see it as an attempt to brand the park," Moore told the Belfast Telegraph.

"The removal of Irish signage at Mill Park Tobermore is entirely predictable," he later told the Newsletter.