Conradh na Gaeilge welcomed the report from An Coimisinéir Teanga published today, 05 July, with regard to the review of the Official Languages Act 2003. The recommendations made by the Commissioner in the report are sensible, logical and practicable. The Commissioner is the person who monitors the implementation of the Act most and therefore the Government should accept enthusiastically his recommendations in any review of the Act.
According to Donnchadh Ó hAodha, President of Conradh na Gaeilge: "Conradh na Gaeilge has been seeking a review of the Act since our Ard-Fheis in April 2011. We are delighted that the problems we identified with the Official Languages Act 2003 have been included in the Commissioner's report and that there are comprehensive recommendations as to how to solve them. Amongst those recommendations are:
- 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
- To address the confusion about services provided by language schemes, a new ‘standards' system based on statutory regulations be developed
- 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
Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary for Conradh na Gaeilge said: "The Government is attempting to weaken the Official Languages Act 2003 this week before the review of the Act, which is promised in the Programme for Government, has begun. There is an additional amendment included in the Civil Law (miscellaneous provisions) Bill 2011 that is in front of both houses of the Oireachtas this week which will allow for the publishing of an Act of the Oireachtas in one official language only. English is the official language that is meant here in effect and there is no guarantee that the Act will be published on the internet in the other official language, Irish, without delay or at all according to the amendment in front of the houses. This amendment shouldn't be needed when you take in to account that a second translation department was set up in 2009. It would make more sense to carry out the promised review of the Official Languages Act before implementing any changes. In the meantime it should be ensured with the two translation departments that Acts are translated in an acceptable timeframe for the work of the Oireachtais."
Conradh na Gaeilge are looking for the support of public representatives for the recommendations of An Coimisinéir Teanga to strengthen the Official Languages Act 2003 and to postpone any changes to the act until the review promised in the programme for Government has been carried out.
Julian de Spáinn
General Secretary, Conradh na Gaeilge
Donnchadh Ó hAodha
President, Conradh na Gaeilge