27/06/17

Minister of State with responsibility for Gaeilge, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Joe McHugh TD, welcomes publication of An Coimisinéir Teanga’s Annual Report

Minister of State with responsibility for Gaeilge, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Joe McHugh TD, welcomes publication of An Coimisinéir Teanga’s Annual Report

The Minister of State with responsibility for Gaeilge, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Joe McHugh TD, has welcomed An Coimisinéir Teanga’s Annual Reprt, published today by An Coimisinéir Teanga, Rónán Ó Domhnaill.

Speaking today, Minister of State McHugh said:

“I would like to welcome An Coimisinéir Teanga’s Annual Report. An Coimisinéir has a very important role in ensuring that public bodies fulfil their duties under the Official Languages Act and that citizens’ language rights are protected. I understand that the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga received 768 complaints last year. Although this reflects some of the difficulties faced by the public when they seek services in the Irish language, it is also a very good indication of the confidence the public has in An Coimisinéir Teanga’s office.

I am pleased that we already have plans in place to address many of the problems raised by An Coimisinéir in his Report. The Government recently accepted the Heads of the Official Languages Bill (Amendment) 2017 and granted permission for the drafting of the Bill. I believe An Coimisinéir has since welcomed the Heads of Bill.

“Regarding public sector recruitment, An Coimisinéir has indicated that he is afraid that, as long as the current public service recruitment process persists, the erosion of the rights of citizens to use Irish in their dealings with the State will continue.   It is marvellous, therefore, that the Heads of Bill approved by Government seek to meet an objective of 20% of new recruits to the public service being Irish speakers, and that all public offices situated in Gaeltacht areas will operate through the medium of Irish.

“Aside from the Annual Report, in April of this year An Coimisinéir published a commentary on the Language Schemes regime in which he has highlighted many of the weaknesses in the current system The Heads of Bill approved by Government provide for an end to the language scheme regime and a move to a standards-based system, whereby public bodies are categorised based on their level of interaction with the public in general, including the Irish language and Gaeltacht communities. This initiative has also been welcomed by An Coimisinéir Teanga.

“I am hopeful, therefore, that we are making progress on a systematic basis. There is much work to be done and I am very pleased that I will have the opportunity to build on the excellent work that has been done in relation to the Language Bill. Progress will best be achieved by working in collaboration, and I hope to work with An Coimisinéir Teanga and other stakeholders in order to progress the Bill.”

Ends

Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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