Amendments to Language Legislation A Step in the Right Direction

Official Languages Acht, 2003Conradh na Gaeilge welcomes cooperation & inclusion of its recommendations in the heads of bill for Official Languages amendment

Following today’s Government meeting (Tuesday, 30 May 2017), Conradh na Gaeilge has welcomed the decision to officially end the system of language schemes under the Official Languages Act and to introduce regulations in their place, as also recommended by the Language Commissioner.

The Government’s Irish-Language Committee recently accepted a range of recommendations for the proposed legislation following months of discussions between Conradh na Gaeilge and An Coimisinéir Teanga with the Minister of State, Seán Kyne TD, and with the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. The recommendations have garnered cross-party support from various members of the Oireachtas as well.

Conradh na Gaeilge has advocated that every public service should be available through Irish in the Gaeltacht by 2020, and that at least 20% of new employees recruited to the civil service in the future should be proficient in the writing and speaking of Irish. In light of Minister Kyne’s statement today, it appears certain that these key amendments will be included in the final heads of bill which the Government has yet to publish.

Dr Niall Comer, President of Conradh na Gaeilge says:

“This bill will ultimately ensure better language rights and protection for the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community, and Conradh na Gaeilge heartily welcomes today’s decision as progress towards this end. Definite deadlines and targets need to be enshrined in the new bill, however, if the amended legislation is to impact on the community in any real way as regards accessing services through Irish, both in the Gaeltacht and beyond.”

Peadar Mac Fhlannchadha, Advocacy Manager with Conradh na Gaeilge says:

“The heads of bill address the question of recruiting proficient Irish speakers the civil service in order to provide satisfactory state services through Irish to the public, and that is a step in the right direction. Specific targets must also be included in the amended legislation if we are to assess the improvements in recruiting practices, and to increase the number of employees on a strategic basis.”

The heads of bill will now go before the Joint Committee on the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands for discussion. Conradh na Gaeilge hopes that all the recommendations, comprising its draft Official Languages Bill (Amendment), 2017, will be included in their entirety at the next stage of the process under the Joint Committee.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES BILL (AMENDMENT), 2017:

Conradh na Gaeilge's proposed amendments for the Official Languages Bill, 2017, can be found pdfhere.

The following recommendations are among the provisions being proposed by Conradh na Gaeilge to strengthen the Act:

  • That every public service should be available through Irish in the Gaeltacht by 2020;
  • That at least 20% of new employees recruited to the civil service in the future should be proficient in the writing and speaking of Irish, which would in turn save the state money;
  • That the system of language schemes – which the Language Commissioner recently reported as having failed – should be brought to an end, to be replaced by a system of regulations and state bodies would be categorised accordingly also;
  • That state forms should be available bilingually; and
  • That every citizen should have the right to use the Irish-language version of their name and address.*

*The aim of this provision is to give people the right to use their name and address in either official language of the state when they communicate with public bodies. The state and public bodies will accept whatever name and address that the citizen gives them in either of the official languages and they will ensure accurate spelling, including the accent, especially in all IT systems.

Associated Organisations of Conradh na Gaeilge