By Chris Thornton
BALLYMENA, Co. Antrim — The Big Mac has been devoured by Big Ian.
McDonald’s gave way — or yielded — to the Rev. Ian Paisley’s DUP over an accusation that the burger giant’s traffic instructions were offensive to unionists.
The Golden Arches last week stripped a “yield” instruction from the drive through lane of its restaurant in Ballymena — the heartland of Paisley’s support — after DUP councilor Sam Gaston complained that the word was only used as a traffic instruction in the Republic.
“Give way” is used on UK roads, including in Northern Ireland, to give drivers the same instruction.
Traffic officials said McDonald’s was entitled to use whatever instruction it wanted, since the instructions were on private property.
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But Gaston demanded that “yield” be removed. “If you open up here and are going to use road signage, you should use the standard signage, not southern signage. That’s where ‘yield’ is associated with,” he said.
McDonald’s agreed, saying the use of “yield” had been an oversight, and resprayed the exit lane with “give way.”
Gaston said he was delighted but the episode put a deeper shade of red on some faces in the town. There have been a number of episodes in which the DUP have attracted unwanted publicity for the town.
Earlier this year, DUP members blocked an agricultural fair from taking place on a Sunday. Then they initially rejected a gift to the town council from local Muslims. The town’s mayor, also a DUP member, later apologized and hosted a reception for the Muslim community.
And last year, Paisley, founder and leader of the fundamentalist Free Presbyterian Church, bewildered some of his own supporters by declaring line dancing a sin.