One of the signs near City Hall

A PLAN to erect new signage for tourists and visitors has been delayed because of an argument about the prominence of the Irish language.

Dublin City Council had begun the process of rolling out the new wayfinder sign system in the capital in late summer.

However, a formal complaint was made to the Irish Language Commissioner, which meant further progress on the scheme had to be halted.

The original complaint alleged that the signs were deliberately making the English language version more obvious, in direct contravention of legislation.

Even though the signs are primarily meant for visitors, they must still carry an Irish version of each word and it must be given at least equal prominence.

The signs have remained in storage since the adjudication was made and cannot be installed until sufficient time is allowed for an appeal. In the meantime, dozens of distinctive tall empty poles have been erected in the city centre with nothing attached to them.

Dublin City Council has since been given a strong rebuke by the Irish Language Commissioner for making the English more prominent.

However, rather than force the destruction of the signs, the commissioner agreed that those already manufactured could be kept if the council agreed to observe the rules in future.

It is understood that the 683 existing signs will now be stripped down with the lettering altered to make the Irish language more prominent.

The complaint has caused consternation among some within the council who believe that signage designed primarily for tourists should be exempt from the rules. One city council source said: "It seems bizarre that signage developed chiefly for overseas visitors must give at least equal prominence to a language none of them will understand."

Others said the rules may seem "ridiculous" but it was important that all state bodies fulfil their duties under legislation.

Seán Ó Cuirreáin, the Irish language commissioner, said his office had done its best to ensure there was no undue delay for the city council. "The council has confirmed in writing its acceptance of the findings and recommendations and has, in fact, thanked this office for the speed with which the investigation was conducted."