Conradh na Gaeilge believes there is a need to urgently set forth a balancing recruitment policy within the public sector that will ensure there are sufficient people proficient in Irish in the various State Departments, in light of statements from An Coimisinéir Teanga / Language Commissioner, Seán Ó Cuirreáin, that indicate 98.5% of staff in the Department of Education and Skills cannot conduct their business with the public through Irish.
Speaking at a seminar organised in the Institute of Technology, Tralee, Co. Kerry earlier today, Thursday, 26 November 2010, Seán Ó Cuirreáin, An Coimisinéir Teanga, said that a recent survey shows that the number of administrative staff in the Department of Education and Skills competent in Irish has fallen 50% in the last 5 years.
Pádraig Mac Fhearghusa, President of Conradh na Gaeilge says: "It is extremely worrying for those of us working in the Irish-language sector, and especially those of us involved in Irish-medium education, that there has been such a drastic fall in the number of administrative staff in the Department of Education and Skills that can provide services to the public through Irish.
"Compulsory English should not be forced upon the Gaeltacht community, nor upon Irish speakers in general, when they have to deal with state organisations; however, unless there are staff members with proficient Irish in the various state departments, it makes a mockery of the Official Languages Act and denies the language rights of Irish speakers everywhere, in the Gaeltacht and beyond."
The primary objective of the Official Languages Act 2003 is to ensure better availability and a higher standard of public services through Irish, but Conradh na Gaeilge believe it will fail utterly if there are insufficient staff employed in the civil service able to deliver services to the Gaeltacht and Irish-speaking communities. To tackle this inequality, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Tourism, Culture, Sport, Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs have recommended that a balanced employment policy within the public service be included in the 20 Year Strategy on the Irish Language that would ensure there are an adequate number of people employed who are proficient in Irish and willing to use it in the fulfilment of their official duties, as detailed in the report they published regarding the Strategy in July 2010 (Recommendation 32).
Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge says: "The 20 Year Strategy on the Irish Language is meaningless without a balancing employment policy within the civil service as recommended by the Joint Committee, and now is the time to set out a recruitment policy for the public service, a policy that will ensure services are available through Irish to everyone in Ireland in the future, without costing the state a single cent.
"The government would, in fact, save money on retraining costs, translation fees, etc. if they were to recruit people proficient in Irish at the first stage of the recruitment process; there would be civil servants available within the department to translate documents of public interest to Irish for example, instead of outsourcing them to external translators, as happens at present."
According to results of the survey done in the Department of Education and Skills in 2005, only 3% of staff were able to provide services through Irish and now there are only 1.5% of the Department's officers with enough Irish to provide services through that medium. It is obvious to Conradh na Gaeilge that the current systems of training and recruitment are not sufficient to ensure there are enough staff able to provide services through Irish in the public service and that this must be addressed as a matter of urgency in the Government's 20 Year Strategy on the Irish Language.
Pádraig Mac Fhearghusa
President, Conradh na Gaeilge
066 7124169 / 087 2901154
Julian de Spáinn
General Secretary, Conradh na Gaeilge.
01 4757401 / 086 8142757
The 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language
2010 - 2030
The Government's draft 20 Year Strategy on the Irish Language was published on the 26th of November 2009. Members of the public had the opportunity to take part in a consultation process to make recommendations on the draft-Strategy. Various organisations put submissions before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Arts, Sport, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltacht (the Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Sport, Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs now). As part of the consultation process, a delegation from Conradh na Gaeilge gave a presentation at a meeting of the Joint Committee in Leinster House on Wednesday, the 20th of January 2010. There was also a Gaeltacht meeting held in Ionad Tacaíochta Teaghlaigh Chois Fharraige, Indreabhán, Co. Galway on the 26th of February 2010. The Joint Committee published a report with recommendations regarding the 20 Year Strategy on the Irish Language in July 2010.
The Strategy came before the Houses of the Oireachtas recently; it was discussed in the Seanad on the 2nd of November 2010 and in Dáil Éireann on the 18th of November 2010. The Government Cabinet Committee agree on a version of the 20 Year Strategy on the Irish Language on the 17th of November 2010 but no information is available yet on what changes or amendments have been made to the latest draft. The Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, Pat Carey TD, has stated that the Government will approve the Strategy before the end of the year and that it will be published early in the new year. www.pobail.ie/en/IrishLanguage/
Conradh na Gaeilge is the democratic forum for the Irish-speaking community working to promote the language. There are 200 branches of Conradh na Gaeilge and since its foundation in 1893, members of the Conradh have been actively promoting Irish in every aspect of life in Ireland and especially its use in their own areas. Conraitheoirí are at the forefront of campaigns to secure and strengthen the rights of the Irish language community. It is also possible to register as an individual member of the Conradh. www.cnag.ie