Let Us Learn From Welsh Language Commissioner's Experience

We Need System Based on Standards Instead of Current Flawed Language Schemes

Conradh na Gaeilge is calling on the Government in the south to heed the advice and insight of Meri Huws, Welsh Language Commissioner, and develop a new system of standards based on the legislative regulations to replace the system of language schemes currently in effect under the Official Languages Act, 2003.

In an article published on the online news service Tuairisc.ie today (Wednesday, 29 July 2015), Meri Huws specifically refers to the flawed language scheme system that remained in place for far too long in Wales before it was conceded that change was needed and work began on bringing in standardised schemes.

Like Conradh na Gaeilge, the Welsh Language Commissioner also believes that the long delay in publishing the Language Bill could well be a good thing if it results in the opportunity being taken to strengthen the amended Language Bill with the inclusion of a provision for a system based on standards instead of the current language schemes.

Cóilín Ó Cearbhaill, President of Conradh na Gaeilge says:


“There are provisions in the heads for the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill, 2014, as they currently stand which would see services in Irish for the public being reduced, such as the recommendation to extend the 3-year term of the language schemes to 7 years. Since its inception, the language scheme system has produced weak schemes with the Government insisting that the schemes would be improved upon every 3 years. The draft bill heads recommend extending this time period to 7 years, which in turn would give the various Government departments even more time to evade their Irish-language responsibilities.


“Conradh na Gaeilge believes it would be far better to do away with the system of language schemes and to develop a new system with standards based on the legislative regulations, such as the Official Languages Act 2003 (Section 9) Regulations 2008, or to use the standards system such as the one established in Wales. The hard-earned experience of the Welsh Language Commissioner certainly supports this, and we’re calling on the Government to listen to her.”

Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge says:


“The important thing is to have services in Irish available to those who wish to use them; this would go a long way in encouraging the public to use Irish more often in their lives. Therefore the introduction of a standard-based system for the provision of services in Irish is of huge importance. Knowing what to expect to be available in Irish across the board means that members of the public can fully engage with the state in their choice of language. Let us learn from the Welsh experience and introduce this far superior system without further ado and indeed as a matter of urgency.”

Conradh na Gaeilge is calling on the Government to learn from the Welsh experience, to strengthen the language legislation in the south, and to replace the current language schemes with a new system of standards based on the legislative regulations under the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2014 before the bill is published.

Associated Organisations of Conradh na Gaeilge