Welcome to Northern Ireland

THE first signs in decades saying ‘Welcome to Northern Ireland’ have been erected at the border under a new policy from Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy.

THE first signs in decades saying ‘Welcome to Northern Ireland’ have been erected at the border under a new policy from Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy.

The signs, which will inform travellers that they are leaving the Republic of Ireland, are to be placed at eight key border crossings.

A 2004 document drawn up by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) said that in the early 1990s the board had “decided unilaterally” that ‘Welcome to Northern Ireland’ signs “were essential to border crossing points as they had been in the 1960s”.

However, it said that the proposal “was met by outright hostility from almost every council due to the political sensitivities of the border areas. The proposal was eventually dropped and was not mentioned again”.

However, the plan has now been resurrected and signs have already been placed at some border crossings in Fermanagh.

The signs are to be placed near at least eight key border crossings including the A4 between Belcoo and Blacklion, A46 between Donegal and Enniskillen and the A509 between Enniskillen and Belturbet.

Sinn Fein’s MLA in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Phil Flanagan has “reacted angrily” to the road signs. He said, “The erection of these signs has angered many living in border communities who suffer the negative impact of partition on a daily basis and a large proportion are completely opposed to the unnatural division of Ireland.

“It is my belief that Danny Kennedy’s time would be much better spent if he actually attempted to direct money into repairing our roads and improving public transport instead of squandering money on such petty, pointless political projects.”