04/04/2014 : Minister of State McGinley welcomes the Government’s decision regarding the Official Languages Bill (Amendment) 2014
Friday, 4th April—The Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Dinny McGinley T.D., has welcomed the Government’s decision earlier this week to draft a bill to amend the Official Languages Act 2003. This decision arises from the commitment given in the Programme for Government 2011-2016 to review the Official Languages Act to ensure that expenditure on the language is best targeted towards the development of the language and that obligations are imposed appropriately in response to demand from citizens. The primary aim of the Bill is to amend the Act to ensure that it continues to be an effective support to everyone who wishes to avail of high quality services in Irish from the State.
The Minister of State said: “The Official Languages Act is very important to the Irish language and Gaeltacht communities and it is timely that the appropriate amendments are now made as it has been in place for over ten years. It is evident from the consultation process undertaken as part of the review of the Act that there is significant demand for Irish language services which are commensurate with services available in English. In addition to amending the Act itself, the Government has approved the advancement of a significant number of policy initiatives in association with relevant stakeholders. I believe that this approach will have a positive impact on the status and use of the Irish language.”
The Minister of State welcomed the Government’s decision that it is not intended to amalgamate the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga with the Office of the Ombudsman. The Minister of State said: “Following further consideration of the proposed amalgamation of the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga with the Office of the Ombudsman, and having regard to the results of the public consultation process which indicated strong support for maintaining the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga as a fully independent entity, the Government has decided not to proceed with the proposed amalgamation.”
The Minister of State has forwarded the Heads of the Bill to the Joint Committee on the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht today, in line with Government policy. The Minister of State said: “I’m looking forward to the debate which will take place in the Houses of the Oireachtas as this Bill proceeds through the legislative process.”
The Heads of the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2014 and the report on the review of the Official Languages Act 2003 are available atwww.ahg.gov.ie.