Grand Central Station Irish signs to be considered after Translink hears "all viewpoints"

Artists impression of Belfast Grand Central Station
-Credit: (Image: John McAslan + Partners)

Translink is “engaging with all relevant communities” following a request by Belfast Council for Irish language signs to be placed at the new Grand Central Station and surrounding Weavers Cross area.

Translink gave a non-committal reply to a letter from Belfast City Council urging the transport company to install bilingual signage at the new station and wider Weavers Cross.

At a City Hall committee meeting in April, elected representatives by a majority vote approved a Sinn Féin motion supporting dual language Irish signage at Grand Central Central, currently under construction, as well as Irish signage in the wider Weavers Cross area, which is still in the early stages of regeneration development.

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At the Standards and Business Committee, twelve Members voted for the proposal and five against and it was declared carried. Unionist members voted against.

Last month the council received a reply from Group Chief Executive of Translink, Chris Conway. The letter states: “Translink acknowledges the motion, and we further acknowledge the importance placed on matters of language by all sections of the community.

“It is important we reach out to engage with all relevant communities and stakeholders. We are currently planning a series of meetings with a range of interested parties during the coming weeks, where we will listen carefully to all viewpoints, and will consider a response once this process has completed.”

The council motion, by Councillor Róis-Máire Donnelly, states: “Belfast City Council acknowledges the significant progress made in promoting the Irish language within our jurisdiction, including the formulation of a Language Strategy in 2018, the revision of the dual language street signage policy in 2022, and the formulation of a draft Irish language policy in 2024.

“To further this commitment, the council fully supports the installation of bilingual internal and external signage at Cros na bhFíodóirí - Weavers Cross - Belfast's new Grand Central Station.

“As a result, this council will write to Translink urging them to install bilingual signage at Weavers Cross and to ask what steps they are taking to fulfil their obligations under the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages, and ensuring shared public spaces are welcoming and cater to the bespoke needs of the Irish language community.”

The new world-class integrated transport hub, set on an extended site beyond the old Great Victoria Street bus and train station, is rapidly progressing through the last stages of final construction. It is due to be completed towards the end of 2024, with full project completion, including all public realm upgrades, expected in the third quarter of 2025.

In 2022 Belfast City Council’s Planning Committee unanimously approved “outline” permission for the Weavers Cross regeneration development plan, on lands freed up by the future closure of the existing Europa Bus Station and Great Victoria Street train station.

A mixed-use development will be located to the east and west of Durham Street, south of Grosvenor Road, stretching as far as Sandy Row, and involves new office space, residential apartments and a hotel. It is also planned to provide new public realm space, active travel, hospitality and community uses.

Around a fifth of this space has been proposed for housing, with a fifth of the residential space set aside for social/affordable housing. This means that half of this final allotted space will be “social”, the other half “affordable.”

The council received 14 letters of support and 143 letters of objection to the Weavers Cross development, including an objection from the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast. The majority of the objections related to the removal of the Boyne Bridge and introduction of new pedestrian crosses associated with the Belfast Grand Central Station plan.

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