Language groups welcome Government’s announcement on commissioner’s independence

Concerns still remain over legislation


Two major Irish-language groups, Gael Linn and Conradh na Gaeilge, have today welcomed the Government’s decision not to amalgamate the Office of Coimisinéir Teanga (Language Commissioner) with that of the Ombudsman. Chief Executive of Gael Linn, Mr Antoine Ó Coileáin, said that it was the right decision but he was still concerned that “the proposal to dovetail the publication of the annual report and accounts of An Coimisnéir Teanga seems to be designed to limit his access to the Houses of the Oireachtas with the attendant opportunity to highlight his work”.

He said that the Government’s Heads of Bill for a revised Official Languages’ Act, also published today, gave “an opportunity to learn from the first 10 years of the Act and to plan for the needs of a bilingual society. The office of An Coimisnéir Teanga must then be resourced appropriately to do its work”.

He had doubts over the proposed new “language schemes”, that is, agreed plans by which departments and organisations provide services through Irish for the public: “The extension of the duration of schemes from three to seven years is a major cause for concern. Unless a system of regular audit inspections and reports is put in place, there is a danger that public bodies will simply forget about their responsibilities for an even longer period of time. Furthermore, the extension of time would require language planning of a different level and existing schemes must not be given a four year extension which would, in effect, amount to an amnesty.”

President of Conradh na Gaeilge, Cóilín Ó Cearbhaill, said that it was “great news for the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community that the Government has finally listened to us and decided to retain the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga as a completely independent entity... Everyone who supported the retention of an independent office in the last two years deserves huge praise and credit”.

Nonetheless, they also believed that the Government needed to include certain provisions in the new language legislation if they were serious about strengthening the rights of Irish speakers in the Gaeltacht and outside it: new regulations to guarantee State services to the Gaeltacht community through Irish by the end of 2016; a new system to be developed to replace the schemes that have “been in place but not functioning as it should”; the Language Commissioner to be given a monitoring role in the implementation of the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language and regulations to provide for a specific number of people in every public body who would be proficient in Irish.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Screen Name Selection


Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.