Dozens of roadside place name signs across Co Donegal have been spray-painted out in support of the Irish language.
The English place name signs, many of them in the Gaeltacht, have been daubed in red spray.
The attacks consist of red paint being scrawled over the English name of the town or village leaving just the Irish name to be read.
Signs for a number of towns and villages including Creeslough, Ballybofey, Letterkenny, Killea, Newtowncunningham, Lifford, Carrigans, Ballyliffin, Moville, Greencastle, Quigley’s Point, Carndonagh, Malin Head, Fintown and Muff have all been vandalised in recent days.
But instead of condemning the action, one local councillor said he was delighted the issue was being raised and not only applauded the spraypaint culprit but encouraged them to continue.
Chairman of the Irish Language Committee on Donegal County Council, Cllr Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig said he fully supported those behind the action.
‘I applaud them’
“I not only applaud them but I am encouraging them to continue to do so,” he said.
He added, “We have vandalism on all sorts of signs around the county and nobody condemns it. But yet when somebody takes a stance on the Irish language, we treat it as vandalism.
“I am delighted that this issue has been brought into the public domain and perhaps now we can have a public debate about it.
“In my opinion, all signs in Donegal should only ever be in Irish in an effort to encourage the Irish language which is being eroded day after day.
“Gaelic is used by our councils and government merely as a gesture and in a patronising way and it never gets the first place it deserves.”
He added that many place names in English across Donegal do no make any sense as they are simply derived from Irish versions of the names.
However, his fellow councillor has slammed the graffiti, saying it is costing the taxpayer thousands. Cllr Michael McClafferty said the attacks solve nothing in the Irish language debate.
He said, “This ideology of thinking solves nothing at all, apart from putting pressure on the resource purse for new signs when required. And then we have to wait until funding becomes available in many cases. Locals get angry due to lack of progress.
“I would appeal to people who are behind this to stop at once and realise how senseless this is. And furthermore, any ideas fuelling speculation would be better-placed reported to your local Garda station and let them address the situation accordingly.”