Current Affairs Politics The Irish Language - An Ghaeilge

Shining A Light On Institutional Discrimination?

Following on from the revelations of serious breaches by a significant number of public bodies in relation to their legal obligations under the Official Languages Act of 2003 (contained in the 2011 Report by An Coimisinéir Teanga), an Oireachtas committee is to bring a number of civil servants before it for questioning. While the deliberate obstruction of the state’s official policy of bilingualism (dating from 2006) by a large group of state employees came as no surprise the levels of illegality shocked many observers. Now the Oireachtas has finally been forced into action after a prolonged period of inactivity and indifference.

RTÉ reports that the committee has stated that:

“Representatives from An Garda Síochána, The HSE, the Depart of Social Protection and National Museum of Ireland will all be asked to appear.

They are also seeking to ask Minister for the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan to discuss with them the failure of his department to oversee the implementation of language schemes in Public bodies.

105 such schemes have been implemented by the Minister since the Language Act was enacted but 72 of these have since lapsed.

Only one new language scheme was confirmed by the Department of the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in 2011.

The Irish Language Commissioner Seán Ó Cuirreáin told the joint committee today that he believes a recruitment policy which would discriminate positively with regard to Irish language speakers for a certain period would be a way of overcoming the difficulty the state system has in providing Irish language services and would also save money.

The Language Commissioner also told the Oireachtas committee that he had not been consulted beforehand or since the announcement was made that his office is to be merged with the Ombudsman’s office.”

In the interests of equality between Ireland’s Irish and English speaking citizens and communities let us hope that this is more than mere window-dressing. But I wouldn’t hold my breath if you’re waiting to see real and concrete action being taken against the culture of anglophone supremacism that permeates Ireland’s civil service.

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