Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2019 published today
Highlights of the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2019 include:
- An objective for 20% of new recruits to the public service to be competent in Irish
- A new statutory Committee is to be introduced – the Language Services Advisory Committee – a new National Plan for the Provision of Irish Language Services to be prepared by the Committee
- Language Schemes to be replaced by Language Standards
Government Chief-Whip and Minister of State for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands Seán Kyne T.D today welcomed the publication of the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2019.
Under this Bill, it is envisaged that an overall objective is achieved of 20% of all new recruits in the public service being Irish language speakers and that all public offices situated in Gaeltacht regions operate through the medium of Irish.
In addition, a statutory committee, the Language Services Advisory Committee, is to be established to aid this work. The functions of the Advisory Committee are laid out in the Bill, including the publication of a National Plan with the aim of increasing the amount of public services provided through the medium of Irish. One of the most important aspects of the Bill is that the Chairperson of the Committee will come from the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, putting the Department at the heart of recruitment to the state system for the very first time, and representatives from the Gaeltacht community will also be on the Committee. The targets in the National Plan will be based on specific research and will be compiled using an evidence-based approach.
The following actions may be included in the plan but are not limited to:
- Specific recruitment campaigns aimed at those who are competent in the Irish language;
- Alternating recruitment methods in the case of those who are competent in the Irish language;
- Language teaching initiatives both in a workplace location and in a formal education location;
- Targeted education scholarships – as a part of this, young people on third level courses will get the opportunity to spend a semester in the heart of the Gaeltacht as part of the course under the Department Scheme published this year;
- Remote work initiatives for those who are competent in the Irish language:
- Internship opportunities and work experience in an environment where the Irish language is the working language;
- Employment opportunities in the public sector to actively promote Irish language speakers in the second level and third level education sectors.
While speaking about the Bill, the Minister of State Seán Kyne said:
The publication of this Bill is a positive start to a long-term process and it is also a new era for the Irish language. The Irish language can be strengthened through recruitment in the State System, and, through the introduction of the Standards. This will provide us in the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht with a tool that will enable us to work with our colleagues across the State System to extensively improve the services provided through the medium of Irish. The overall target of 20% specified in the Bill gives a strong message to anyone who is interested in working through the medium of Irish and who is competent in the language that there are employment opportunities available to them in the State System.