President signs Irish language rights legislation into law

At least 20% of staff recruited to public bodies will be proficient in Irish by 2030

President Michael D Higgins signed the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill   into law at Áras an Uachtaráin on Wednesday afternoon. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

President Michael D Higgins signed the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill into law at Áras an Uachtaráin on Wednesday afternoon. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

President Michael D Higgins has signed into law legislation that commits the State to ensuring that at least 20 per cent of staff recruited to public bodies will be proficient in Irish by 2030.

The newly enacted legislation updates the Official Languages Act 2003 and contains a series of measures aimed at guaranteeing the linguistic rights of Irish speakers when interacting with the State.

Following extensive consultation and debate the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill passed the final stage of the legislative process in the Dáil last week before being signed into law this afternoon at Áras an Uachtaráin.

An Coimisinéir Teanga (language commissioner) Rónán Ó Domhnaill welcomed the new legislation, saying it represented “progress as regards language rights”, while stressing the importance of the “full implementation” of the legislation.

Other measures in the Act include provisions that will ensure that public bodies ensure that 20 per cent of their annual advertising is in Irish and an obligation will be placed upon State bodies to correctly record names and addresses in Irish by taking account of the síneadh fada.

The legislation also strengthens the monitoring role of An Coimisinéir Teanga and commits the State to the provision of services in Irish in Gaeltacht areas, although no deadlines have been mentioned for the latter measure.

Communications with a public body on social media will be answered in the same language and also includes a provision to ensure State application forms are available in Irish.