The Coimisinéir Teanga’s Annual Report Highlights the Marginalisation of Language Rights
The Annual Report of An Coimisinéir Teanga, Rónán Ó Domhnall, highlights the lack of service to the Irish language community from the State – even in the midst of the worst health pandemic in the lives of the people, and also the need to implement the Official Languages Act without delay.
Paula Melvin, President of Conradh na Gaeilge said:
“It is a disgrace that the State did not provide basic information services in Irish to the Gaeltacht and Irish language community in relation to Covid 19, at a time when the country was in the midst of the State ‘s worst pandemic in the lives of the people. The number of complaints made to the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga on this issue is an indication of the lack of expenditure by the State to provide basic health information in Irish. As An Coimisinéir Teanga states in his Annual Report, and I commend the Commissioner on the excellent work he and his office have done over the past year, the Gaeltacht and Irish language community, their language rights and indeed their health rights have been marginalised.
This was despite the regular questions raised by Conradh na Gaeilge and politicians with the Minister for Health and the Health Services Executive. It is worth noting that the lack of information in Irish related to all aspects of the State’s work to protect the public from the disease, from testing services made available to the public to the system for making online vaccine appointments. The marginalisation of Irish language rights during Covid 19 is another indication of the general marginalisation of language rights by the State.”
Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge said:
“If the State operated a proper language protection system, the number of complaints to the Office of the Commissioner would decrease. But we see from the Commissioner’s Report that the number of complaints has increased by 20% in the last year.
It seems to Conradh na Gaeilge, as stated by An Coimisinéir Teanga, that there is now an urgent need to speed up the implementation of the Official Languages Act 2021 (Amended) and to act on the implementation of the provisions of the Act immediately.
In addition to the implementation of the Act, Conradh na Gaeilge believes that an awareness and lobbying campaign is also essential to encourage the public to call for and to avail of current and additional rights that will result from the implementation of the Act. The reality is that the public has become accustomed to a lack of service in Irish from the State and they do not look for the services in Irish when it is clear to them that those services are not available. With the implementation of the Amended Official Languages Act in the period ahead, the public must be encouraged to avail of their rights.”