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An Daingean votes for bilingual name
The Irish Times  (Dingle in the News)
Locals cheer after a massive victory for the Yes campaign in the Dingle election yesterday where people voted for the name change to Dingle Daingean Uí Chúis from An Daingean.
An overwhelming majority have voted to change the name of the Gaeltacht town of An Daingean to the bilingual Dingle Daingean Uí Chúis. In spite of the decisive result of the plebiscite, there was legal uncertainty about the effect of the vote.
Minister for the Gaeltacht Eamon Ó'Cuiv, wants to meet members of the county council to discuss the way forward.
In a postal ballot some 1,222 residents and ratepayers in the town were asked if they consented to an application being made to the Government for an order to change the name.
A total of 1,095 votes were cast and of these 1,005 were in favour of the name change. The town council's returning officer, Charlie O'Sullivan, announced the result at the count in Dingle yesterday afternoon, speaking first in Irish. The result prompted loud cheers from a packed room.
Only 70 voted against and there were some 20 spoilt votes.
Eamon Ó'Cuiv has already warned that a Gaeltacht place name could not be bilingual legally and that he was not going to change the law affecting 2,300 placenames to suit one place. The plebiscite, at a cost of around €10,000, was set in train by a county council motion proposed by local Fine Gael Cllr Séamus Cosaí Fitzgerald .
Yesterday Cllr Fitzgerald said "the people have spoken". The returning officer would now be bringing the result before a council meeting and Cllr Fitzgerald said he would be recommending to his council colleagues that they pursue the Government order.
"The people have spoken and spoken very strongly. All they want is to retain both names in the town and for signposts outside the Gaeltacht to be bilingual." He rejected the Minister's assertion that there could not be a bilingual name in a Gaeltacht.
"I always believed politics to be the art of the possible," Cllr Fitzgerald said.
Mr Ó'Cuiv ruled out amending the Official Placenames Act, saying "the overwhelming evidence was . . . the vast majority of Gaeltacht communities were delighted" that for the first time Gaeltacht placenames had official status.
He would have to consult the wider Gaeltacht community which covered in excess of 2,300 placenames were he to change the law. He now intends to address the council on the issue.
The campaign for Irish only placenames and roadsigns in Gaeltacht areas had actually begun in west Kerry, Mr Ó'Cuiv recalled. However, yesterday the reverse was the case; the main town sign on the approach road from Killarney saying "An Daingean" had the English "Dingle" painted over it.
Boxes were opened shortly after 11.35am at the Hillgrove Hotel on the outskirts of town on the Conor Pass Road and a mass of pre-addressed brown envelopes flooded on to the table.
Reporters and the public were kept well back to protect the identity of voters as their names along with that of a witness were on the ballot paper. Returning officer Charlie O'Sullivan's announcement that there were some 1,086 envelopes - a small number had more than one vote - was greeted with applause by up to 100 people, most of them Yes voters.
A high turnout was needed to ensure the carrying of the plebiscite as some 612 voters would have to vote Yes.
Feelings were running high at the count, with some stalwart Fianna Fáil voters saying they would not be voting for the party next time out.
Patsy Fenton, retired dentist, and a fourth generation Dingle woman, who lives in Green Street said the name-change imposed on her town represented a lack of democracy. The same thing was happening in Mayo she felt.
"It's going to affect the Fianna Fáil vote," she said.
Anne Lucey in An Daingean

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