Conradh na Gaeilge warmly welcomes the Official Languages Act 2021 (Amendment) as enacted today with the signature of the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins

Conradh na Gaeilge warmly welcomes the Official Languages Act 2021 (Amendment) as enacted today with the signature of the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins

This marks the end of 10 years of community campaigning with politicians and a significant achievement, in particular the provision proposed by the Conradh that by 2030 20% of those recruited to the public sector will be proficient in the Irish language.

 

Niall Comer, President of Conradh na Gaeilge said:

“Conradh na Gaeilge would like to pay special tribute to all members of our organisation and to all others in the Irish language and Gaeltacht community who stood firm against the very weak proposals for legislation from the Governments between 2011 and 2016, who ensured the independence of the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga, and who ensured, between 2017 and 2021, legislation with a sound basis and an opportunity to achieve satisfactory Irish language services for the Irish language and Gaeltacht community in the future. We would also like to acknowledge and pay tribute to the President of Ireland, the current Minister, the Gaeltacht Ministers and other Government Ministers who have supported a strengthening of the Act over the years, the politicians in opposition (especially members of the Oireachtas Committee for Irish Language, Gaeltacht and the Irish Speaking Community), the Language Commissioners, the staff in the Department of the Gaeltacht and others who played a role in the development of the Act.”

 

Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge said:

“It is no exaggeration to say that over the last 10 years we have come a long way in updating the Official Languages Act. We started out defending the independence of the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga and opposing the weakening of the Official Languages Act 2003. The Conradh did this in partnership with Guth na Gaeltachta in 2011 and, over the next 10 years, with many other groups and individuals in the community and with many politicians who supported the changes we were calling for. Progress has been made. Not only did we succeed in keeping the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga independent but the following was achieved in the amended Act:

  1. At least 20% of staff recruited to public bodies to be competent in Irish by 31 December 2030 at the latest

  2. 20% of advertising by public bodies to be in Irish and 5% of the advertising budget of these bodies to be spent in the Irish language media

  3. All services from public bodies to be provided to the Gaeltacht in Irish (but no target year was set down for this)

  4. Official recognition and systems to be created to enable the public to use their names and addresses in Irish, with síntí fada if they wish, with public bodies (and not to use a title if they don’t want to use one)

  5. Private sector bodies providing services to the public, on behalf of public bodies, to comply with certain provisions of the Act

  6. Balance and certainty of Irish language inclusion in the marketing carried out by public bodies

  7. Existing logos in English only of public bodies to be changed to bilingual logos, or to Irish only, when the logos are to be renewed or changed

  8. Official names of new public bodies to be in Irish only. This will ensure that logos of all new public bodies will be in Irish only or bilingual in the future

  9. Certain official forms by public bodies to be bilingual or in Irish only

  10. The Chair of the Advisory Committee, which will be drawing up the National Plan to address recruitment and service provision in Irish, to be competent in Irish

  11. Representation on the Advisory Committee to include a representative from Gaeltacht language planning areas and another as a representative from outside the Gaeltacht

  12. Language standards to replace language schemes

  13. The Minister for the Gaeltacht to be responsible for co-ordinating the implementation of the National Plan by public bodies

  14. An Coimisinéir Teanga to have additional monitoring power over current legislation

  15. Senior management structure to be responsible for the implementation of the Act in Public Bodies

  16. Common European Framework of Reference for Languages to be used in the provision of state services in Irish

 

The Conradh is in no doubt that there is a huge challenge ahead and that continued pressure will be required to ensure that a satisfactory and ambitious National Plan is formulated and fully implemented, as well as all the implementation of the other provisions in the Act. Conradh na Gaeilge will continue to push to achieve this and will encourage continued participation from the community.”

 

Further information:

Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary, Conradh na Gaeilge

+353 86 8142757 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

Peadar Mac Fhlannchadha, Advocacy Manager & Deputy-General Secretary, Conradh na Gaeilge

+353 (0)87 4188050 | +353 (0)91 567824 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

Twitter: @cnag 



Note to editor:

Below is a timeline for the development of the Official Languages Act 2019 (Amendment):

TIMELINE FOR OFFICIAL LANGUAGES ACT 2019 (Amendment)

Here are some of the actions taken over the last 10 years to bring about a satisfactory amended Act

Date

What happened

03/11/2011

The Minister of State for the Gaeltacht announced the commencement of a review of the Official Languages Act 2003

17/11/2011

The Government announced its intention to close the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga as an independent statutory office, and to bring all its functions under the Office of the Ombudsman as part of its public sector reform plan

11/2011

Conradh na Gaeilge and Guth na Gaeltachta began campaigning to save the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga and to ensure that the review resulted in a satisfactory Language Act. A target was set to elicit a 1,000 surveys and 100 submissions from the public for the review

01/12/2011 

Local meetings organised in the community and a major meeting in Galway were organised by the Conradh & Guth na Gaeltachta with Irish language, Gaeltacht and other organisations to agree a plan

13/12/2011

Protest organised outside the Dáil regarding the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga and language rights

21/01/2012

Seminar organised between Trinity College and the Conradh on strengthening the legislation

31/01/2012

The review received 1,466 survey responses plus 262 submissions from the public, including hundreds of suggestions for improvement

11/01/2014

Major Public Meeting - Rights & Equality for the Irish Language - organised by the Conradh in Liberty Hall, Dublin, following An Coimisinéir Teanga's announcement that he was to resign

01-02/2014 

Meetings were organised throughout the country to prepare for An Lá Mór and to discuss Irish language and Gaeltacht rights

15/02/2014

10,000+ people from all over the country marched on the streets of Dublin during AN LÁ MÓR to promote the Commissioner's case and to look for Irish language and Gaeltacht rights

24/02/2014

An Coimisinéir Teanga resigned, due to the Government in the south of Ireland not listening to what he had to say

01/04/2014

The Government finally publishes the results of the review which began on 03/11/11. Of the 60 suggestions, although they received hundreds of suggestions from the public, only 2-4 were of any merit

05/2014

Heads of the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill, 2014 were published. They were very weak and there was a danger of a weaker Act if they were passed

2014-2015

Ongoing lobbying of various politicians and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment, Culture & the Gaeltacht who supported our position against the regressive proposals in the Heads of Bill and were in favour of the Conradh's proposed amendments to the Bill

27/01/2015

Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the general scheme of the official languages (amendment) bill 2014 published

2016 

In the 2016 General Election we called for a Standing Joint Oireachtas Committee for Irish Language and Gaeltacht matters, such as the rights of the Irish language and the Gaeltacht community. The Joint Oireachtas Committee was set up after the general election and this Joint Oireachtas Committee has had a major influence on the subsequent Official Languages Bill process

01/2017

Draft Conradh na Gaeilge Bill agreed with the opposition, including provisions such as 20% public sector recruitment, advertising in Irish, services in the Gaeltacht, etc..

30/05/2017

Government decided not to go ahead with the Heads of the Bill of the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill, 2014 and they adopted new Heads of Bill as a result of the pressure put on them

05/2017

Following the rejection of the 2014 Heads of Bill and the adoption of new Heads of Bill, which included the 20% recruitment target for proficiency in Irish, it was decided to work with the Government, the Department of the Gaeltacht and the opposition to promote the provisions in the draft Conradh Bill and other provisions in this new process 

05/2018

Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands on the general scheme of the Official Languages Bill 2017 was published. Support for the recommendations of the Conradh as well as further recommendations were included 

2019

The Official Languages Bill 2019 was published and the community lobbied to strengthen the Bill

2020

The 2020 General Election was used to ensure political party support for the strengthening of the Official Languages Bill 2019, in particular to add a target year of 2030 to the provision that 20% of candidates recruited to the civil service be proficient in Irish. This was agreed to by Fianna Fáil, the Green Party, Sinn Féin and People Before Profit

2020-2021

Lobbying and public pressure on politicians to strengthen the Bill as the Bill progressed through the various stages in the Houses of the Oireachtas at SEAS, individual meetings with politicians, seminars, meetings with the Department and Ministers, meetings with the Language Commissioner, presentations to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Irish Speaking Community, and many many other methods

22/12/2021

Official Languages Act 2019 (Amendment) signed by the President of Ireland

 

 

Screenshot_2021-12-23_at_10.16.18.png

Associated Organisations of Conradh na Gaeilge