Irish groups concerned by failing schemes
‘New system needed’ – Conradh na Gaeilge
CEO of Gael Linn, Antoine Ó Coileáin – ‘stronger measures’ needed for services in Irish
Irish-language groups have welcomed the annual report from the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga (Language Commissioner) for 2013 but have expressed concerns about the lack of services through Irish available to the public.
General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge, Mr Julian de Spáinn, said they believed that the system of schemes – agreed plans which provide the public with access to services in Irish – was failing, with 72 out of 98 having expired during 2013: “It is time to do away with the schemes and to develop a new system with standards based on statutory regulations.”
Conradh na Gaeilge would be proposing such a system for the revised Official Languages Act. The group were happy that the commissioner’s office had carried out “worthwhile and widespread monitoring despite the great lack of resources” available to them.
Conradh na Gaeilge had no doubt that the language commissioner was vitally important to protecting the rights of Irish speakers in the Gaeltacht and outside it. They criticised the “scandalous” attempt of the Department of Education and Skills to transfer teachers to a Gaeltacht school despite lack of fluency in Irish: “Without the commissioner’s investigation, there is every chance that the redeployment would have been taken place and unbelievable damage caused to Irish in the school and, through that, in the community.”
Chief Executive Officer of Gael-Linn, Mr Antoine Ó Coileáin, echoed Mr de Spáinn’s concerns about the schemes, saying: “Given that over 70 per cent of statutory language plans had expired by the end of 2013, it is clear that the current regime of statutory language plans is not succeeding; in the case of local authorities, the situation is even worse with 94 per cent of language schemes having expired. Currently, language plans are the main weapon in the armoury of An Coimisnéir Teanga and it is imperative that the legislature introduce stronger measures to compel provision of service in Irish throughout the public sector.”