New border signs reading ‘Welcome to Northern Ireland’ that were erected earlier this week have been torn down or are since missing in what appears to be an apparent form of protest to the signs.
The Belfast Telegraph reports that of the nine signs that have been put up in Fermanagh and Tyrone, three have been taken down. Two signs between Newtownbutler and Clones in Co Monaghan and on the Monaghan Road in Roslea are missing and there were claims a third at Belcoo has also been removed.
Ulster Unionist minister Danny Kennedy’s department made it clear that missing signs will be restored. In addition, a spokesperson for the Department said “It is Roads Service policy to replace missing or damaged signage.”
Nine signs have been put up along the border, with more anticipated to be placed along counties Armagh and Down. So far, the cost has come around £1,700.
Tom Elliott, a party colleague of Danny Kennedy’s from Fermanagh, said the missing signs could probably be traced to “those who do not want to accept they are living within Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.”
TUV MLA Jim Allister said “Roads Service cannot allow criminals to get away with this and it is also incumbent upon Sinn Fein MLA Phil Flanagan to immediately condemn this criminal action and call for those responsible to hand themselves in and return the signs.”
Fermanagh MLA Phil Flanagan, however, said “As far as I know they have not been stolen. In one area the sign is just lying there I am told.”
He added, “Putting up the signs was pretty petty behaviour by Danny Kennedy and people have responded by taking this into their own hands.” He did add that he did not condemn the behavior of those behind the theft or disruption of the signs.
The Belfast Telegraph writes that Sinn Fein wants to see the remaining signs taken down as soon as possible.
A Roads Service spokesperson explained that “Signage is being placed at strategic border crossing points to remind drivers entering Northern Ireland that speed limits are displayed in miles per hour.”
“Roads Service is supplementing the existing signage with Welcome to Northern Ireland signs. Nine, out of a total of approximately a dozen signs, have been erected at a cost of around £1,700.”