IN A bid to make non-Irish nationals feel more at home, Mayor Gerry McLoughlin wants to see the city’s street signs in Polish - and “African”.
At present, all street signs across Ireland are displayed in English, then Irish.
But the new mayor wants to see Limerick go a step further - and embrace its sizeable population from Europe and Africa by including further translations.
“I am passionate about bringing everyone together. I was an immigrant myself: I have family abroad still in Wales and Australia so I understand what it is like. We have thousands of Poles and other foreign nationals here,” he explained, “I would like to see some Polish and African signs going up,” he said in an interview with the Limerick Leader.
Polish translations for some of the city centre streets include Ulica O’Connell (O’Connell Street), Ulica Re jsy (Cruises Street) and Półksiezyc (The Crescent).
It would not be the first time the Polish language has been thought of as official signage in Ireland: in 2006, Laois County Council sought to include Polish on road signs to reduce the number of fatalities.
But it would be the first time signs in an urbanised area would be translated.
Magdalena Kakol, who comes from near Gdansk, welcomed the idea.
“One of my friends has been living here for more than one year and she still has a problem with the street signs. So I think this would be really good for us. It would also help a lot of tourists: my sister is coming here for two weeks later this summer, so I can ask her to meet me in different places, and she will understand,” said Magdalena, who works in Spar, Catherine Street.
In addition to this, Mayor McLoughlin also wants to see a forum for non-nationals.
“We have a lot to learn from them. They are also citizens of our city, so let’s embrace them. They came here as asylum seekers, they are now part of Limerick,” he said.
City manager Kieran Lehane said any change in Limerick’s street signs would need to come in the form of a motion to the council’s transportation and infrastructure meeting.
It would then be investigated by the city council’s roads department.
Chairman of the transport committee, Cllr Ger Fahy cautiously welcomed the idea.
He said: “In principle, I think we should look at issues which promote the city from a national and European point of view. We do have a sizeable population of Polish people, and this should be taken into consideration. But before any decision is made, we have to look at the wider situation: if we agree to extend our signs to different language, we have to ensure it does not get out of hand.”