Conradh na Gaeilge welcomes the review of the Official Languages Act 2003 that Minister of State Dinny McGinley TD announced yesterday (03 November 2011), and appreciates the opportunity it presents to ensure a better and more effective provision of public services through Irish for the language community.
Conradh na Gaeilge is recommending that public bodies be obliged by statute to provide their services through Irish in Gaeltacht regions, and that such services should be of a standard equal to those provided elsewhere through English. The national demand for public services through Irish under the Act should also be actively encouraged, whereby the public are informed that such services are available and whereby the service in Irish is marketed to them as a real, viable choice of equal standard to the service in English.
Donnchadh Ó hAodha, President of Conradh na Gaeilge says: "Conradh na Gaeilge is delighted to be afforded the opportunity to consult with the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht on some of the difficulties we have identified with the Official Languages Act in the years since 2003, not only to discuss and resolve these issues, but to ensure we deliver a better and more effective Act for the Irish-speaking community as part of this timely review process."
Conradh na Gaeilge also recommends addressing the confusion about services provided by language schemes to date and advocates developing a new system of standards based on statutory regulations as part of the Official Languages Act 2003 review.
Conradh na Gaeilge also believes that statutory language obligations should be clarified in situations where a public body appoints or authorises a private company, or any other type of agency, to function on its behalf in dealing with the public.
According to Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge: "Because it was private sub-agents that implemented the capital's bike scheme, for example, there was no onus on Dublin City Council to ensure that they provided a bilingual service through the Dublin Bikes scheme. As part of the Official Languages Act 2003 review, such loopholes must be addressed - something which will cost the Government nothing to revise and rectify - to guarantee that the rights of the Irish-speaking community are not similarly compromised in the future.
"The main objective of the Act is to ensure the enhanced provision of public services through Irish and we must guarantee that this basic principle is not diminished or weakened in any way during the review."
Conradh na Gaeilge is strongly advising both Irish- and English-speakers, or indeed anyone with an interest in the language, to support the Conradh's recommendations to the Goverment and to submit their own views on how to improve and make the Official Languages Act 2003 more effective by 31 January 2012.
Donnchadh Ó hAodha
President, Conradh na Gaeilge
Julian de Spáinn
General Secretary, Conradh na Gaeilge
+353 (0)1 4757401 / +353 (0)86 8142757
Conradh na Gaeilge is the democratic forum for the Irish-speaking community working to promote the language. There are over 200 branches of Conradh na Gaeilge and since its foundation in 1893, members of the Conradh have been actively promoting Irish in every aspect of life in Ireland and especially its use in their own areas. Conraitheoirí are at the forefront of campaigns to secure and strengthen the rights of the Irish language community. It is also possible to register as an individual member of the Conradh. Conradh na Gaeilge runs Irish courses in Dublin, Galway, Mayo, Tipperary and other places throughout the country as well. www.cnag.ie/courses
Aontas Phobal na Gaeilge (APG) is an alliance of Irish-language organisations working to promote Irish across Ireland and the world through more strategic language-planning. Aontas Phobal na Gaeilge consists of Comhaltas Uladh, Comhluadar, Conradh na Gaeilge, Glór na nGael and Seachtain na Gaeilge, organisations dealing with different aspects of the promotion of Irish in the community that came together to form a working alliance that would ensure a better provision of services and more value for money.