Huge bill for capital offence on road signs

Conor Feehan

A Dublin council is spending thousands of euro changing road signs because capital letters in the Irish spelling are wrong.

Residents in the Carrigmore estate in Tallaght have been playing spot the difference between the new signs and the old ones, which appear identical at first glance.

But on closer inspection they found a capital 'N' in the Irish spelling is now a small 'n' in the new signs.

They have branded the decision by South Dublin County Council (SDCC) a waste of money which could be better used for other projects, but the Council has said it has to change the signs to conform with the Official Languages Act, and that local authorities all over the country will have to do the same.

This is expected to cost SDCC alone more than €100,000 over a six-year period.

"The original signs are wrong for various reasons, for instance many were put up by developers themselves before there was common agreement on what the correct spelling is or whether capital or small letters should be used," said Philip Murphy, senior executive officer with roads and transport in SDCC.

"Several hundred signs will be changed over a five or six-year period, some of them big signs and some of them small street name ones," he added.

SDCC carried out an extensive study of all its signs, as well as coming up with an agreed spelling system for each road and area, which is now published on its website.

"This means that once the new changes are implemented there will not be a need to repeat the process, and if a sign gets damaged for any reason and a new one has to be made there will be a reference point to go to, to ensure correct spelling," Mr Murphy explained.

But residents are still not impressed.

"The cost has to be just huge. Today there were four council workers, a truck and a JCB taking up the old signs and replacing them with new ones," said Carrigmore resident Cyril Fox.

"It was the face plate and the stand and everything that was being replaced. And to think you have grants cut for sick people to have bathrooms fitted. It's a disgrace," he added.

SDCC said that replacing the entire sign was more cost- effective, and that parts of the old signs can be recycled into other signs down the line.

"We replace a lot of signs every year anyway, but I'd say 90pc of it now is to comply with the Official Languages Act," Philip Murphy explained.

"We have to comply with the law, and we are trying to be smart about how we spend the money," he added.