There were more differences surrounding the use of Irish in the chamber at Thursday’s council meeting.

At the July 2 meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, an Ulster Unionist Councillor requested that the Sinn Féin chairwoman of the Council address his party representatives “in a language that we understand”.

During matters arising from the last meeting, Sinn Féin’s Tommy Maguire pointed out that the Council had in place an Irish Language Policy which agreed that users of the language could speak it and as a matter of courtesy offer an English translation with it.

Councillor Maguire continued by pointing out that an audit carried out by Conradh an Gaeilge on all Councils and their provision and promotion of the Irish language, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council fared well but was not “top of the tree”.

The Council has also received funding from Conradh na Gaeilge for two full time language development officers and in the light of such progress, Councillor Maguire proposed that the Council update their Irish Language Policy taking into account the report of Conradh na Gaeilge and the appointment of language development officers.

Referring back to comments from Councillors across the chamber feeling that using the Irish language was an attempt to create a hostile environment Councillor Maguire commented: “Given the length of time since we introduced our language policy and it was done through a working group of all party members, I’m disappointed to read that any of the members here believe that the use of the Irish language is in any way creating a hostile environment.”

Ulster Unionist, Bert Wilson responded by saying: “I never learned the Irish language, quite a few Ulster Scots maybe did along the line. But I was elected to this Council as Councillor Wilson not as some language that I am not aware of or have no wish to be addressed by. I have the right I think anyway to be addressed in that language that I have been elected to the Council. I have been here now for five years and quite a few of the Councillors have spoken Irish, I haven’t objected to that nor have I any intention of objecting to it but I would object to myself not being addressed to the title that I had when I went forward to the general public.”

Chairwoman Siobhán Currie said she did address the matter at the previous meeting and had since been referring to Councillor Wilson as councillor.

She said: “I think what Comhairleoir Mag Uidhir/ Councillor Maguire was just saying that there is a policy here on it and we actually are within our rights to speak the Irish language here with courtesy and out of respect, we are repeating. I was not repeating the word Comhairleoir because I think it’s pretty self explanatory and everybody was responding to it. And in terms of not being aware of the language, I find that quite hard to believe. But thank you.”

Councillor Wilson hit back saying he was entitled to his opinion.

Independent Councillor Josephine Deehan said speaking Irish in the chamber was lovely to hear but added: “I am bound to say that the use of language is always about communication and therefore if there are members who have no understanding of Irish then I support there should be a translation because it’s all about communication.”