It’s not discriminatory – its health and safety! That seems to be the disapproving line taken in this article from Breakingnews.ie on the long-delayed decision by a state agency to erect bilingual Irish-English signs on the Luas line, Dublin’s (government-supported but privately-operated) light rail system. The move is being taken at the insistence of An Coimisinéir Teanga, the language commissioner, following complaints about their absence, and despite initial resistance to the judgement.
“The State agency responsible for the Luas has been ordered to put up new signs in Irish as well as English, despite concerns they could make driving conditions less safe. The Railway Procurement Agency has been ordered to replace the signs, in response to a complaint that they were written in English only. The decision was reached despite the company’s concerns about a clutter effect for drivers.”
Except that is not the full story. Firstly one suspects, as is usual with the organs of the “Irish” state, that the real source of the company’s “concerns” were worries about the minuscule extra expenditure required to meet its obligations under the Official Languages Act of 2003; minimalist legislation establishing notional equality between the Irish and English languages in Ireland (but not too equal, mind you). Secondly the initial absence of the dual-language signs simply reflects the state’s schizophrenic indifference to its own Irish-speaking citizens and communities coupled with general antipathy to the 2003 regulations. Sure, can’t they all speak English anyway? And if not, why not? However a report on the issue by Today.FM gives a rather fuller account of what happened:
“…the Railway Procurement Agency says it’s happy that the replacement signs – which are now being raised nine months after the original deadline – will allow it to fulfill its legal needs without compromising on the safety of drivers or passengers.”
So rather than being a story solely about safety concerns it was, after all, a story about a state body acting in a discriminatory and illegal manner? A manner which was easily rectified? Oh…