04/04/17

Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs, Seán Kyne T.D., welcomes research by An Coimisinéir Teanga

Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs, Seán Kyne TD, has today welcomed the comments on the System of Language Schemes published by An Coimisinéir Teanga, Rónán Ó Domhnaill.

Speaking today, Minister of State Kyne said:

I welcome the research carried out by An Coimisinéir Teanga and his team on the system of language schemes. The schemes system was established to add to the number and quality of Irish-language services provided to the community by public bodies.  There is no doubt that the process of securing these schemes is challenging, but since their establishment progress has been made in relation to services. This work is ongoing, despite the pressure on resources under which my Department and other public bodies have been operating for several years.  For example, in the last 15 months officers in my Department have approved 17 new schemes. This means that 17 bodies which previously did not have a scheme are now tied to a broad range of commitments in relation to the Irish language.

“At the same time, we must acknowledge that there are problems with the system as is. I have recognised this on several occasions recently.  Last month, I met with Alun Davies, a Minister in the Welsh Government whose remit includes language affairs, and we discussed language matters in the two jurisdictions.  As a result, my officers will meet with Welsh officers this week to discuss the issue of schemes, standards and rules in order to establish a more effective system here in Ireland.  I see that An Coimisinéir has submitted some recommendations in relation to this, and they will certainly be taken on board.

“In relation to recruitment, discussions have been ongoing for some time, at my request, between my officers and their colleagues in other Departments and in key public bodies, to examine their requirements in relation to people who can function bilingually. From the feedback I have received from this process to date, I believe that there is widespread goodwill towards the language, but that it must be built upon and that the appropriate systems need to be put in place in order to ensure that the Departments can practise what they preach. I aim to increase the number of civil service employees capable of providing services in Irish and ensuring that civil service officers serving in Gaeltacht areas are competent in Irish. The research done by An Coimisinéir will be of great help to me and my officers in our consultation with the other Departments on this matter. The recruitment of sufficient numbers of Irish speakers in the public service is intertwined with the review I requested of the legislative recommendations included in the Official Languages Bill (Amendment) 2016, which wasn’t published. In order to ensure that the Official Languages Act 2003 is strengthened further, I am carefully studying the provisions of this Bill before I approach the Government seeking permission to publish new legislative policies. To show the importance that the Government places on this issue, I can confirm that it was discussed at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on the Arts, Irish, the Gaeltacht and the Islands held on the 27th February 2017.

At the end of the day, An Coimisinéir and I share the same goals and I believe that cooperation is the best way to achieve positive results in order to improve services for the Irish-language community.”

Ends

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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