Office of Coimisinéir Teanga to remain independent

Controversial decision to merge reversed

Dinny McGinley. photograph: dara mac dónaill

Dinny McGinley. photograph: dara mac dónaill

 

The Government has reversed its controversial decision to merge the Office of Coimisinéir Teanga (Language Commissioner) with the Office of the Ombudsman. The Minister of the State for the Gaeltacht, Mr Dinny McGinley TD, said today that “following further consideration … and having regard to the results of the public consultation process which indicated strong support for maintaining the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga as a fully independent entity, the Government has decided not to proceed with the proposed amalgamation”.

The proposed change had been unpopular with language groups who were concerned it would lessen the Language Commissioner’s effectiveness. General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge, Julian de Spáinn, welcomed the decision not to merge the two offices “but that the focus now should be on strengthening the Official Languages Act to ensure adequate services for the Irish-speaking community”.

Mr McGinley also said that the Government’s decision this week to draft a Bill to amend the Official Languages Act was welcome as the Act was “very important to the Irish language and Gaeltacht communities and it is timely that the appropriate amendments are now made as it has been in place for over ten years”. The review of the Act had shown that there was “significant demand for Irish-language services which are commensurate with services available in English”.

The Heads of the Bill will be forwarded to the Joint Committee on the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht today and Mr McGinley said that he was “looking forward to the debate” as the Bill went through the legislative process.

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