People with Irish names report corrupted spellings on digital Covid cert

Conradh na Gaeilge director says incorrect spelling will not be accepted at airports

Julian de Spáinn, the director of Conradh na Gaeilge, on Wednesday tweeted an image of his  digital Covid certificate with the incorrect spelling of his name. Photograph: via Twitter

Julian de Spáinn, the director of Conradh na Gaeilge, on Wednesday tweeted an image of his digital Covid certificate with the incorrect spelling of his name. Photograph: via Twitter

 

A number of people with Irish names have received digital Covid certificates with badly corrupted spellings, or with no síneadh fada.

It includes Julian de Spáinn, the director of Conradh na Gaeilge, the largest Irish language organisation in the State.

He tweeted on Wednesday that his name on the certificate was written as Julian de SpÃinn.

“We checked with the Department of Health before work began on the certificates to ensure people with Irish names would have them spelled correctly.

“This is obviously not the case. If I went to any airport with this, it would not be accepted nor should it. It is unacceptable and obviously they will have to issue new certificates,” he said.

Another Irish speaker Ciara Ní Chroimín said on Twitter her surname has come out as NÃ- ChroimÁ-n on the certificate that has been issued to her.

Fianna Fáil senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee, who has taken up the issue, says she is aware of others who have received certificates with the “síneadh fada”, or aspiration, missing. She said she was aware of one example in her constituency, Dublin Fingal, of a Gráinne, whose cert was issued under the name Grainne.

“I am also aware she said that some people who registered on the website for the vaccines were unable to enter the Irish form of their names.”

Ms Clifford said it was “completely unacceptable”.

“People who use a fada in their name will not be able to use this with confidence travelling abroad,” she said.

“It is also the height of disrespect to the language and the people of Ireland in the context of a lack of emergency notifications and restrictions in Irish throughout the pandemic.

“Furthermore, a number of people have contacted me to say they could not register on the HSE portal using the fada in their name so were forced to drop the fada.”

Minister of State Ossian Smyth, who has responsibility for the digital certificates, said the office of the Chief Information Officer had fully tested the system using síneadh fada and they had all worked out.

He said there may have been a fault with an “upstream system”, where data was not entered correctly by a hospital, pharmacy, vaccine centre, or medical practitioner.

Minister of State for European Affairs Thomas Byrne said it was “very clear that the Government will have to reissue those certificates.

“Under EU law they have to be issued in an official language including Irish. What has appeared is definitely not in an EU language.”

He and Ms Clifford-Lee said separately they would be in contact with Mr Smyth, HSE chief executive Paul Reid and the Department of Health to resolve the issue.