President appoints new Coimisinéir Teanga

Rónán Ó Domhnaill says he is under 'no illusions about the challenges' that lie ahead for his office

Newly appointed Coimisinéir Teanga Rónán Ó Domhnaill (left) at an event in Áras an Uachtaráin last week to honour former Coimisinéir, Seán Ó Cuirreáin (right). Mr Ó Domhnaill  today thanked his predecessor, saying he has been “a great source of encouragement”.   Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Newly appointed Coimisinéir Teanga Rónán Ó Domhnaill (left) at an event in Áras an Uachtaráin last week to honour former Coimisinéir, Seán Ó Cuirreáin (right). Mr Ó Domhnaill today thanked his predecessor, saying he has been “a great source of encouragement”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Wed, Mar 12, 2014, 17:16

President Michael D Higgins today appointed former TG4 journalist Rónán Ó Domhnaill as the new Coimisinéir Teanga.

Mr Ó Domhnaill (38) was appointed following the resignation of his predecessor, Seán Ó Cuirreáin, in February. The Coimisinéir’s role is to monitor compliance by public bodies with the provisions of the Official Languages Act 2003 and providing advice to the public regarding their language rights.

The Coimisinéir’s office is also charged with investigating complaints from the public about alleged breaches of the legislation.

As with other Ombudsman offices, the position is appointed by the President on the advice of the government following a resolution passed by the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Mr Ó Domhnaill said it was an honour and a privilege to be appointed: “I’m delighted today to be appointed as An Coimisinéir Teanga and I am looking forward to taking up this important role. I intend to protect the linguistic rights of Irish speakers without fear or favour, and to fulfil my legislative responsibilities with vigour and enthusiasm. “

Mr Ó Cuirreáin, who was in the role for 10 years, announced his resignation from the position in December, citing the widespread failure of Government departments and public bodies to take measures to ensure the right of citizens to use Irish when interacting with state agencies

While Mr Ó Domhnaill said he was under “no illusions about the challenges” that lie ahead for his office, he added: “I strongly believe that these are challenges that are worth facing in the interests of the Irish language, the Irish language speaking community and the people of Ireland. ”

It recently emerged that the legislation subject to the scrutiny of An Coimisinéir Teanga’s office, the Official Languages Act, is facing further dilution. A leaked copy of the draft Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2014 obtained by The Irish Times indicates that the Government is planning to row back on provisions in legislation that guarantee Irish speakers equal access to State services.

Rónán Ó Domhnaill is from an Cheathrú Rua in the Connemara Gaeltacht. He spent seven years as political correspondent with Nuacht RTÉ/TG4 and as a member of RTÉ’s political unit before being nominated as an Coimisinéir Teanga last month.

He is married to journalist Irene Ní Nualláin and they have two children.

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