Greens welcome intent of new Irish Language Bill, say ambition lacking

Greens welcome intent of new Irish Language Bill, say ambition lacking
Leagan Gaeilge thíos/Irish Language version below

The Green Party has today welcomed the intent behind a new bill designed to increase service provision in the Irish Language but has criticised the ‘lack of ambition’ in the draft legislation.

The Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2019 was approved by Cabinet at its weekly meeting on Tuesday morning and is due to be published on Thursday.

The legislation provides for a national plan which will identify language gaps, harmonise standards between departments and agencies and require public bodies to recognise the use of the síneadh fada and addresses in Irish. It also proposes that 20% of newly recruited civil servants should have competency in the Irish Language but does not set out a timeframe for that target.

Green Party Irish Language spokesperson Cllr Peter Kavanagh said:

“This bill has been called for by Irish speakers, their representative organisations and Gaeltacht communities for many years, and much of its contents are to be warmly welcomed. Unfortunately, targets without timeframes betray a lack of ambition and commitment. Without any idea of when Government departments will be able to carry out a bare minimum of functions in the first language of the state, Irish speakers are no better off than they were last week.”

The bill, which was amended from a previous draft that Minister of State Seán Kyne criticised as “not ambitious enough”, seeks to address failings across Government departments that the Green Party have pointed out in the past.

Cllr Kavanagh said:

“The Official Languages Act (2003) sets out a broad policy platform on a whole-Government basis, but its implementation under successive Fine Gael governments has been severely lacking. Not one Government department had a full-time Irish Language Officer in 2018, and the majority had no-one designated to oversee responsibilities under the Act, even on a part-time basis. While we welcome any steps to address this, the lack of solid timeframes leads me to believe that this will be no different. Gaeltacht residents and native speakers have serious difficulties in accessing services in their first language. It costs nothing to recruit a cohort of bilingual Irish speakers, as opposed to monoglot English speakers, with no loss of service for the majority of the population. Unfortunately, as we don’t have any idea when this will happen, it looks like business as usual.”


Chuir an Comhaontas Glas fáilte roimh aidhm bhille nua atá tiomanta ar seirbhísí i nGaeilge a fheabhsú, ach cháin an páirtí “easpa uaillmhéine” sa reachtaíocht, atá ina dréacht.

Mhol an chomhaireacht Bille na dTeangacha Oifigiúla (Leasú) 2019 ar an Máirt agus foilseofar an bille ar an Déardaoin. Sa reachtaíocht leagtar amach plean náisiúnta le bearnaí teanga a aithint, moltar caighdeán comhchuí idir ranna rialtais agus cuirtear iachall ar chomhlachtaí poiblí glacadh le síntí fada agus seoltaí i nGaeilge. Mar aon leis seo, moltar go mbeadh 20% de státseirbhísigh earcaithe amach anseo ábalta feidhmiú trí mheán na Gaeilge, ach ní leagtar amach amchlár len é seo a bhaint amach.

Deir urlabhraí na Gaeilge don Chomhaontas Glas, an Comhairleoir Peter Kavanagh:

“Tá pobal na Gaeilge, pobal na Gaeltachta agus a n-eagraíochtaí ionadaíocha ag éileamh an bhille seo le fada an lá, agus tá fáilte mhór roimh an-chuid de. Faraor, níl i gceist le sprioc gan amchlár ach easpa uaillmhéine agus easpa tiomantais. Gan aon chliú cathain a beadh ranna rialtais in ann fiú an méidín is lú a dhéanamh trí mheán na Gaeilge, níl pobal na Gaeilge nó muintir na Gaeltachta níos fearr as ná mar a bhí an tseachtain seo caite.”

Is leasú é an bille seo ar dhréacht ní ba luaithe, a cháin an tAire Seán Kyne as a easpa uaillmhéine féin, atá dírithe ar dul i gceann laigeachtaí i ranna rialtais a d’aithin an Comhaontas Glas.

Deir an Comhairleoir Kavanagh:

“Leagann Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla (2003) amach ardán leathan pholasaí ar bhonn uile-rialtais, ach tar éis rialtas i ndiaidh rialtais le Fine Gael tá an chur chuige iomlán míshásúil. I 2018 tuairiscíodh nach raibh fiú Oifigeach Gaeilge lánaimseartha amháin ag feidhmiú in aon roinn rialtais, agus go raibh formhór na rann ag feidhmiú gan fiú oifigeach páirthaimseartha. Cé go bhfáiltimid roimh aon chéim chun é seo a réitiú, tugann easpa amchláir le fios gur gnó mar is gnáth atá i gceist anseo. Tá deacrachtaí ollmhóra ag cainteoirí dúchais agus muintir na Gaeltachta rochtain a fháil ar seribhísí ina dteanga féin. Ní chosnaíonn sé faic sa bhreis cainteoirí dátheangacha Gaeilge a earcú in ionad chainteoirí aonteangacha Béarla, gan aon easpa seirbhíse don Bhéarlóir. Faraor, toisc nach bhfuil a fhios againn cathain a tharlóidh seo, ní athróidh an bille seo an scéal.”

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