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State bodies criticised by Irish Language Commissioner

Irish language schemes for public bodies deemed to have failed to achieve goals

Promoting Irish: An Coimisinéir Teanga, Rónán Ó Domhnaill, has concluded that language schemes for public bodies need to be urgently replaced. Photograph: Barry Cregg

An analysis conducted by the Irish Language Commissioner has made scathing criticism of many Government departments, local authorities and State agencies for completely ignoring their obligations to the Irish language.

An Coimisinéir Teanga, Rónán Ó Domhnaill, has concluded that language schemes for public bodies have failed to achieve their goals and need to be urgently replaced.

The schemes, under the Official Languages Act, were introduced to ensure that at least some services in councils, local authorities, State agencies and departments would be available in Irish.

This was to be particularly so in Gaeltacht areas, where native speakers would have access to services through Irish.

However, Mr Ó Domhnaill’s report has found that almost half (56) of the 116 schemes have expired. Six of the schemes have been expired for seven years or more.

No schemes

In addition, seven State bodies or authorities have failed to set up language schemes at all, nine years after being requested to do so.

There have been no sanctions or warnings issued to any of the bodies that have failed.

Mr Ó Domhnaill also points out that in more than half of the schemes progress has been halted and there has been a decrease in the services available in Irish.

In addition, commitments made by bodies, councils and agencies to improve their services in Irish (some of which came on the back of a report by an coimisinéir) have been set aside, or reduced, in 66 per cent of all cases.

Moreover, of the 28 language schemes where it is estimated that services to Gaeltacht communities would apply, a third of them made absolutely no commitment in relation to the provision of services in the Gaeltacht.

Mr Ó Domhnaill makes strong recommendations, including recruitment of Irish speakers to bodies and concrete commitments by such bodies to provide services through Irish.