Commissioner lays down the law
Pól Ó Muirí
Language Commissioner, Seán Ó Cuirreáin, launched his annual report in Galway yesterday. The content of that document is the subject of Seán Tadhg Ó Gairbhí’s report in today’s Tuarascáil in The Irish Times. The commissioner highlights the failings of the State in providing Irish-language services to those who want to use them – including gardaí who cannot speak Irish though based in the Donegal Gaeltacht; the failure of Government departments to implement language schemes and the civil service’s failure to award bonus marks to candidates with competence in Irish and English in internal recruitment competitions.
Ó Cuirreáin also says that Irish in the Gaeltacht is at its most “fragile” ever and that the State cannot expect that Irish will continue as a community language if it forces English on those same communities in its official dealings with them.
Ó Gairbhí puts all this in the context of the Government’s 20-year strategy for Irish and asks how can Irish speakers use Irish if the people they want and, indeed, need to use Irish with, can’t speak the language?
He also notes tomorrow’s launch of two programmes by the Minister of State for the Gaeltacht, Dinny McGinley, who will announce the new Family Support Programme for Irish-speaking families and a planning programme involving six linguistic areas as part of the 20 year strategy.
Irish-language groups are not happy with Ó Cuirreáin’s report. President of Conradh na Gaeilge, Donnchadh Ó hAodha, says “the state sector lacks the capability to adequately meet the needs and address the rights of Irish speakers; indeed it would seem that Irish speakers are rapidly losing confidence in the state sector’s commitment to the language at all”.
While acting director of Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, Kevin de Barra, says the report shows “massive shortfalls in the implementation of the Official Languages Act” and criticises the “reluctance” of public bodies to “fully implement schemes”. This reluctance must be addressed as “a matter of urgency”.