Negative reaction to Irish report


Irish language groups have expressed their dismay at the continuing rise in complaints from the public about difficulties in dealing with State bodies in Irish.

An Coimisinéir Teanga’s annual report, published earlier today, was critical of an Garda Síochána and a number of Government departments for not meeting their obligations under the Official Languages Act.

The report recorded an increase of 5 per cent in complaints from the public about problems with State services through Irish in 2011.

Conradh na Gaeilge president Donnchadh Ó hAodha said the State sector “lacks the capability to adequately meet the needs and address the rights" of Irish speakers.

"It would seem that Irish speakers are rapidly losing confidence in the State sector's commitment to the language at all," he said.

Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge said the Coimisineir Teanga’s 2011 report exposes "massive shortfalls" in the implementation of the Official Languages Act.

The failure by the Department for Social Protection to take corrective action when it was found to be in breach of statutory language provisions was “a worrying development,” the group said in a statement.

Comhdháil acting director Kevin de Barra  said there was a "reluctance" within public bodies to fully implement language schemes and that the “failure” by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht "to effectively manage the current system" should be addressed "as a matter of urgency".

Mr de Barra said the report exposed “shortfalls and failures associated with the current system”.

He said it compounded the need to retain the office of An Coimisinéir Teanga as a fully independent body “that is completely separate from any other state agency in order to obtain a regular, independent and clear account of the implementation and administration of the Official Languages Act”.

In his report, An Coimisinéir Teanga Seán Ó Cuirreáin found the Department for Social Protection did not comply properly with obligations with regard to awarding bonus points in internal promotion competitions.

“The flawed approach adopted by the department appears to be mirrored across the Civil Service and is clearly partly to blame for the marginalisation of Irish within the workforce in the sector,” Mr Ó Cuirreáin said.

In other findings, the report was extremely critical of a number of State bodies, including An Post, RTÉ and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, for not implementing language schemes as required under legislation.

“The system of language schemes is at the very heart of the legislation and we rely on the language scheme system to improve the quantity and quality of much of the services provided in Irish by public bodies,” Mr Ó Cuirreáin said.

Oifig Choimisinéir na dTeangacha Oifigiúla was created to supervise and monitor the Official Languages Act 2003 and to ensure that it is implemented. The main objective of the Act is to provide a wider range of services through Irish from the public service.