Failure by language schemes to provide Irish services for the public

Immediate action needed to ensure adequate service for Irish speaking and Gaeltacht communities according to recommendations from the Language Commissioner.

Conradh na Gaeilge strongly agree with what Language Commissioner Rónán Ó Dómhnaill stated today, Tuesday April 4th, in the commentary published on the effectiveness of language schemes and systems that are central to the Official Languages Act 2003.  This is what he had to say: “The process is not being directed towards its end goal, it has gone astray.  The plausibility and credibility of the system is deteriorating.” The schemes are supposed to improve the quality and availability of services to the public though the medium of Irish, and it is apparent that this is not the case.


The commentary has been published due to concerns over the language schemes' functionality, and by request of the Oireachtas Standing Committee for Irish, Gaeltacht and Island Affairs with regards more effective administration for providing public services in Irish. In the introduction to the commentary, the Commissioner says that first of all, there is need to analyze all evidence that has come to attention within the language schemes and so he has comprehensively analyzed all schemes that have been ratified in the past two years, to find any re-occurring patterns.


It is clear from the results of this enquiry that there is a definite pattern, which illustrates the failure of the language schemes to ensure services through Irish for citizens and that some public companies in particular are refusing to undertake language schemes to provide any service at all through Irish.


Commenting on the findings of the Language Commissioner, President of Conradh na Gaeilge, Dr Niall Comer, had this to say: 

“Commissioner Teanga Rónán Ó Domhnaill deserves recognition for the comprehensive research he has presented to us which discloses the whole truth - that the current system is not working, and that companies are not driven to provide public services for citizens in Irish and there is no way to penalize public companies that are denying the public Irish language services.” Comer continues: "It is clear that the sate service do not understand that they exist to operate for the citizens of this country and to provide for the public. The Commissioner's research highlights their views and their unwillingness to give equal attention to Irish speakers. This is especially apparent in the lack of improvement from scheme to scheme and in the way that there is often definite deterioration when the schemes are being upgraded. It is also clear how little attention is given to providing Irish language services for Gaeltacht communities or to ensure that staff with Irish are employed to provide services through Irish in Gaeltacht areas.”


Ardrúnaí Chonradh na Gaeilge, Julian de Spáinn said: 

“This research shows that the language schemes are failing and immediate action is needed to put a new system in its place instead of these schemes, a system making common high quality services made available to the Irish speaking community and especially in Gaeltacht areas. It is not beneficial to ask Gaeltacht areas to compile language plans if the state is going to ignore their own role.  It is now apparent that there is a need to change the Official Languages Act 2003 to correct the issues that have been brought to attention in this research. Attention must be given to the recommendations made by the Language Commissioner and Conradh na Gaeilge will be seeking support from every political party to achieve these changes.”


The Language Commissioners Report, Tráchtaireacht ar Chóras na Scéimeanna Teanga, has been published at


More Information:


Julian de Spáinn

Ard-Rúnaí, Conradh na Gaeilge

00 353 (0)86 8142757 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | 00 353 (0)1 4757401


Peadar Mac Fhlannchadha

Bainisteoir Abhcóide / Leas-Ardrúnaí, Conradh na Gaeilge

00 353 (0)87 4188050 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | 00 353 (0)91 567824


More information for the editor from the Commissioner's commentary

Riaradh na scéimeanna teanga:

  • 122 requests on language schemes " at the end of 2016". Even if 20 schemes were settled each year, it would take six years to "catch up on the number of requests"
  • On average, it takes an average of 3.5 years from the time a public company is asked for its first language scheme to the time it is been put in place.
  • "If a public company decided to go against the system, there is little that the Minister can do except to report that failure

Conduct of the Language Schemes:

  • Continuous decline in the fulfilling of promises made in the schemes
  • Lack of progress from scheme to scheme
  • Lack of recognition for jobs that should have Irish language requirements and of suitable recruitment requirements.
  • Failure of the schemes to provide Irish language services in Gaeltacht areas

Main reccommendations:

  • To put a new Employment Policy in place that will replenish the number of state employees who can provide service through Irish
  • To reduce the functional area of the language schemes, gradually, by ruling more services under a ruling system.
  • Grading of public companies
  • To place public companies under one legislation, instead of waiting for updates to happen as is  at present.

Associated Organisations of Conradh na Gaeilge