EU Parliament’s Irish interpreter jobs ‘not being filled’

Fine Gael MEP Clune says it is a shame 23 vacancies exist in Irish translation unit

Fine Gael MEP Deirdre Clune: “I think if we are serious about Irish as an official language of the EU, we need a concerted effort to get more qualified translators trained up and sent to Brussels.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The majority of full-time positions advertised for Irish-language interpreters in the European Parliament have not been filled, Fine Gael MEP Deirdre Clune has disclosed.

Ms Clune has pointed to a report in the online news website,, which disclosed that 23 vacancies exist in the Irish translation unit at the parliament. She said it was a "shame" the posts were not being filled.

However, the leading Irish academic institution for training translators, NUI Galway, has said that a number of factors were responsible for positions not being filled, including the relative unfamiliarity of Irish applications with the EU’s stringent “Concours” test and with psychometric tests.

Chief executive of Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta at NUI Dónall Ó Braonáin said 2020 was the deadline for most vacancies to be filled to meet the need of more EU parliament business being conducted in Irish, and more documents being translated. He said he was confident that NUIG and other Irish third-level institutions would be able to supply suitable graduates.


14 freelance interpreters

A competition for Irish-language interpreters was conducted by the European Parliament Selection Office between April and July last year. In all, 26 positions were available but many were not filled.

At present, there are some 14 freelance interpreters working on Irish translation in the parliament, with smaller numbers available to the commission and council.

Ireland won recognition as an official EU language in 2007 but there is a derogation in place at present, that does not make it a requirement that all documents are translated. That derogation will end in 2022 at which time Irish will become a full working language.

In a statement, Ms Clune welcomed the fact that the parliament is pushing ahead with an EU and Irish pledge to make Irish a full working language of the bloc by 2022.

However, she expressed disappointment at the fact that parliament say they are struggling to find candidates with language skills to match these ambitious plans.

Qualified graduates

“I think if we are serious about Irish as an official language of the EU, we need a concerted effort to get more qualified translators trained up and sent to Brussels.

“I welcome the fact that the Irish Government had spent more than €13 million to increase the number of qualified graduates who can meet EU recruitment needs which includes a new tranche of funding amounting to €3.87 million for this initiative,” she said.

The Department of Arts, Heritage and An Gaeltacht, and its Minister for State Seán Kyne, have said 677 students will graduate from such courses up to 2023. Mr Ó Braonáin also expressed confidence that the parliament would have no difficulty in filling the positions with highly qualified graduates by 2020.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times