Returned to senders: Mayo council declines cheques written in Irish
Bank denies policy change on use of Gaeilge
Protesters opposing the septic tank charges in a rally last year. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
There’s a seanfhocail or Irish proverb that says wealth or money makes friendship. However, if it’s a payment written as Gaeilge to a certain bank, it may not always elicit a warm response.
This was the experience of several Co Mayo residents who tried to pay their septic tank registration fee with cheques made out to the local authority in Irish. The cheques were returned to senders with a letter explaining that Mayo County Council ’s bank would not accept them.
They were informed that “Comhairle Contae Mhaigh Eo”, the local authority’s Irish title, was not recognised by the lending institution as matching the account name.
The issue was raised with An Coimisinéir Teanga, the Irish Language Commissioner Sean Ó Cuirreáin, who contacted Mayo County Council. Under the Official Languages Act, a person is entitled to communicate with a public body in either English or Irish. A spokesman for the council told The Irish Times it was in touch with the bank with a view to resolving the issue. It is understood that the bank, which is State-owned, had told the local authority it was not accepting cheques in Irish from January 2nd, 2013.
A spokeswoman for AIB headquarters said the bank did accept cheques in Irish and there had been no recent change in policy. The spokeswoman said it may have been an issue relating to a local branch.
The fine for non-payment of the septic tank registration fee is up to €5,000, but so far there has been an 86 per cent compliance rate nationally, according to the Department of the Environment.
In a separate development, the Irish Language Commissioner has welcomed an initiative by the Garda Commissioner to recruit a percentage of new gardaí who have fluency in Irish.
The new policy will only come into force when Garda recruitment resumes, however.