Northern Ireland

Welcome to NI signs 'waste of money' says Sinn Fein MLA

An MLA wants 'Welcome to Northern Ireland' signs along the border with the Irish Republic taken down.

Phil Flanagan, Sinn Fein MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, says the signs are a waste of money that could be spent on road repairs

He said the signs also go against the advice of the tourist board.

"These signs have angered many living in border communities who suffer the negative impact of partition on a daily basis," he added.

The roads service says the signs remind drivers they are entering a different jurisdiction and supplement signs indicating that speed limits are in miles per hour in Northern Ireland.


Mr Flanaghan claimed the signs were a "pet project" of the minister for regional development, Danny Kennedy.

"At the end of June, Mr Kennedy told the Assembly that were wasn't enough money to pay for grass cutting, street lights and pothole repair and in fact he said he had no choice but to increase parking fines by 50% to cover the shortfall.

"How then can he justify wasting public money on the erection of signs, which no one wants and were advised against by the tourist board in the 1990s who stated that the proposed erection of such was signage was met with 'outright hostility from almost every council?'

"The tourist board also advises that as recently as 2004, a survey on the erection of these signs 'Received no support whatsoever, but was seen as divisive and contentious'.


East Antrim MLA and Assembly Private Secretary for the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment Alastair Ross defended the signs and said it was "nonsense to quote surveys carried out by the tourist board under direct rule".

"Under devolution we have made strides positively identifying the Northern Ireland tourist brand and these signs will play a part in that," he said.

"Whilst some Sinn Fein representatives like to pretend the border doesn't exist the vast majority of people simply want to see all political parties make Northern Ireland work. It's time Phil Flanagan got on with that task.'

A Roads Service spokesman said: "Signage is 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 indicating the change of jurisdiction.

"The programme of work is ongoing and five out of a total of eight signs have been placed at an approximate total cost of £950."