Extra marks for Civil Service exams in Irish abolished

Ministers accept initiative has not worked

 Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin recommended discontinuing the bonus points system. Photograph: Eric Luke

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin recommended discontinuing the bonus points system. Photograph: Eric Luke

Thu, Oct 31, 2013, 01:00


A system whereby those completing Civil Service entrance exams in Irish got an extra 6 per cent added to their marks has been abolished by the Government.

At the weekly Cabinet meeting, Ministers accepted a recommendation by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin to discontinue the bonus points system on the basis that it is an anomaly and its intention of promoting Irish speakers within the Civil Service has not worked.

The Cabinet accepted the argument that there are better means of ensuring there are civil servants and public servants with a proficiency in Irish to serve Gaeltacht areas or to work in specific areas where a good standard of Irish is necessary.

However, Mr Howlin’s department has yet to devise a specific plan to achieve this aim. It has indicated panels will be set aside for those who are fluent or proficient in Irish.

Decision criticised
Conradh na Gaeilge was critical of the decision. Its president Donnchadh Ó hAodha said the abolished system had not been replaced by a satisfactory alternative.

“The new proposed system to set aside 6 per cent of recruitment panels in the Civil Service for new employees with Irish is not adequate.

“Instead of being ambitious, brave and doing the right thing, the Government is going to further weaken the service provided by the State in Irish for the Gaeltacht and Irish language speaking community.”

He questioned how the policy decision tallied with the Government’s 20-year strategy for the Irish language.

Julian de Spáinn, general secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge was also critical of the change.

“There is no doubt but that every government since the 1970s has made a mess of encouraging the Irish language in the Civil Service and providing a service of a high standard in Irish to the Gaeltacht and Irish language speaking community.”