A REPORT COMMISSIONED by the Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht has recommended, amongst other things, that at least 10% of public workers in each department of government should be proficient in the Irish language.
The report on the Official Languages Bill 2014 was announced yesterday on Raidió na Gaeltachta by Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú, a vice chairman of the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030.
Other recommendations made within the report include that the visibility of Irish on both official online resources and social media be greatly increased, and that all official documents should be published bilingually in a single document.
Contrary to popular perception, the total number of people who can speak Irish in this country has increased slightly in recent years, with a 7% increase in number of speakers between the two most recent censuses in 2006 and 2011.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie, General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge Julian de Spáinn thinks the 10% figure is very achievable, but doesn’t think the report goes far enough in other ways.
“The figure of 10% regarding Irish-speaking, it would take a number of years to implement,” he said.
But really all you’re talking about is having 30% of new hires to public service as being proficient. It’s not that much to ask, they’re already being taught the language in school, this would simply be making good on that investment.
The PSNI took a very similar approach when it came to balancing out the ratio of Catholics to Protestants in the police service, so I see no reason why the same principle can’t be applied here.
And far from costing the Government money, which is their usual bugbear, this would save money when you consider the amounts to be saved on the outsourcing of translating duties and that kind of thing.
De Spáinn is also heavily in favour of Ireland adopting the approach of the Welsh to their national language, primarily through a standardised system regarding what level of service people should be able to expect from the public service in their native language.
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