On 17 November 2011, the Government announced that it intended to shut the Office of the Language Commissioner as a independent legislative office, and to transfer all its functions to the Office of the Ombudsman as part of a restructuring plan for the public sector.
Review of the Official Languages Act
This announcement came despite the fact that a public review of the Official Languages Act, 2003, had been announced only a fortnight previous - a review which centred around the role and functions of the Office of the Language Commissioner, also known as An Coimisinéir Teanga.
The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht was conducting the review, and its terms particularly stated that the main stakeholders were to be consulted. These included Irish-language and Gaeltacht organisations, Government Departments, other public bodies, the general public - and the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga.
Conradh na Gaeilge and Guth na Gaeltachta organised an emergency meeting to discuss the situation of the Office of the Language Commissioner and the review of the Act in the Pillo Hotel, Headford Road, Galway, on 2 December 2011.
Decision to Retain Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga
The Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community fought a fierce two-year campaign against the decision to merge the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga with the Office of the Ombudsman. On foot of this, the Government announced on 4 April 2014 that the proposed merger would not go ahead.
This important decision to retain the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga as a completely independent entity was great news for the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community - the Government had finally listened. Everyone who supported the retention of an independent Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga deserves huge praise and credit.