The removal of a dual Irish-English language sign from a village in Co Derry has been branded a 'hate crime' by a Sinn Féin councillor.
Chris McCaffrey was speaking after the sign, which first appeared at Mill Park in Tobermore on Thursday morning, was removed and replaced with two British flags by Saturday.
Mid Ulster District Council has a dual language signage policy, which it says must "have regard to any views on the matter expressed by occupiers of the street".
Councillor McCaffrey told The Hard Shoulder he is disappointed.
"This was a hate crime, and the police are rightfully investigating it as such," he said.
"It's extremely disappointing to see this type of behaviour, and it does not - in any way - I don't believe reflects the majority view in that area.
"I don't think it's proper to say that the Irish language belongs to one community or the other.
"It's a pre-Christian language, it's non-denominational, it belongs to every single person."
Councillor McCaffrey said the policy is there to promote the language.
"It has a unique relationship with the townlands and place names," he said.
"We take Tobermore, for example, An Tobar Mór - the big well - without the Irish language, you wouldn't have the richness or description of the area you live in.
"The council policy is there to promote the language, and in fact Mid Ulster Council is the most progressive".
Irish language 'weaponised'
Jamie Bryson, Editor of Unionist Voice, has said the language is being used as a weapon.
"Nationalism in Northern Ireland, particularly Sinn Féin, has politicised the Irish language and used it as a political weapon," he said.
"It's been very much weaponised.
"It's important to say that the political representatives of that community... have said very clearly: 'This was not wanted, this was imposed without any consultation'.
"I'm not at all surprised that people took an angry response to it, because it is an attempt to ratchet up tensions and impose upon a community something that they do not want".
Put to him that there are similar dual-language signs across Scotland and Wales, Mr Bryson said: "Northern Ireland is obviously a contested space.
"The language is Scotland and Wales is not a political weapon, has not been weaponised.
"The Irish language has been used as a weapon by political nationalism," he added.