THE OFFICE OF An Coimisinéir Teanga will not be merged with the Office of the Ombudsman, which was widely welcomed by Conradh na Gaeilge, a forum for the Irish-speaking community working to promote the language who have 200 branches around the country.
The Official Language Act 2003 is to be amended to ensure that expenditure on the language is best targeted towards the development of the language the government announced today.
The amendment is to ensure that it “continues to be an effective support to everyone who wishes to avail of high quality services in Irish from the State,” said the Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Dinny McGinley.
Cóilín Ó Cearbhaill, President of Conradh na Gaeilge said it was ”great news for the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community that the Government has finally listened to us and decided to retain the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga as a completely independent entity…”, adding that everyone who supported the retention of an independent Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga in the last two years deserves “huge praise and credit”.
They called on further provisions to be made in the amendment in the act that they said would “strengthening, not weakening, the legislation protecting the basic human rights of the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community”.
The called for the act to guarantee that state services will be provided to the Gaeltacht community through Irish, without condition or question, by the end of 2016 and that those services will be provided at the same standard as they are provided in English elsewhere.
They also want regulations to be introduced that would see a specific amount of people in every public body be able to provide services through Irish. “Not every new employee need have Irish, but a percentage of all staff should be proficient in Irish,” they said.
Conradh na Gaeilge said they will be lobbying the Government and the Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht “vehemently” on the Official Languages Bill 2014 in the coming weeks.