MORE THAN €12 million has been spent on training and education of graduates in Irish language skills that will be used to translate and interpret EU documents and legislation into Irish.
During a discussion during topical issues in the Dáil today, Fine Gael’s Terence Flanagan said there was a need to end the derogation for the Irish language.
Irish was not made an official working language of the European Union until 1 January 2007. A derogation stipulates that not all documents have to be translated into Irish.
Derogation of the Irish language in Europe has been existence since 2007 and has been extended to 2016.
Flanagan said it was his hope that derogation would be lifted soon, adding that that there was need to educate a significant number of Irish graduates to translate and interpret EU legislative documents in time for when it is lifted.
He said there was a serious “lack of legal translators” and interpreters to translate EU legislation into Irish.
He asked Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Dinny McGinley what preparations there were in place to ensure that once derogation of the Irish language ends, that there are enough skilled graduates to take on the job of translating EU legal documents and legislation.
He added that it would also create up to 180 jobs for Irish speakers who would most likely be based in Brussels.
Minister McGinley said his department was ensuring that there would be enough people to take up jobs in the EU institutions, specifically under two initiatives - the ’Interactive Terminology for Europe’ and the ‘Advanced Irish Skills Initiative’.
He said that the terminology initiative was tasked with coming up with Irish terms that are logged in an international language database. He said that out 0f the 23 languages, Irish is the fourteenth biggest in the database. He said funding for this initiative amounted to €1.85 million.
The Advanced Irish Skills Initiative, trains third level students as translators, intrepretors and law linguists and to date has cost €11 million, resulting in more than 243 graduates from these courses.
McGinley said a decision on whether to end derogation or extend it must be made by 2015, however, he said he would prefer a decision be made next year, so as to put preparations in place.
He added that it was important to have “Irish people working in the heart of Europe” and also Irish speakers.