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Language Commissioner faces questions over 'backwards' year for Irish language

Seán Ó Cuirreáin will meet with the Public Service Oversight and Petitions later today to discuss his Office’s annual report.

An Coimisinéir Teanga Seán Ó Cuirreáin
An Coimisinéir Teanga Seán Ó Cuirreáin
Image: Fiontar DCU via Flickr/Creative Commmons

AN COIMISINÉIR TEANGA Seán Ó Cuirreáin will appear before an Oireachtas committee today to discuss what his Office called “not a vintage year” for the Irish language, despite an increase in its usage.

The 2012 Annual Report from the Language Commissioner said that “for every one step
forward” in the promotion of the Irish language in the public sector, “there appeared to have been two steps backwards”.

In the same year, the Commissioner received 756 reports of difficulties relating to access services in Irish.

The Commissioner will discuss the report with the Public Service Oversight and Petitions committee later today.

Irish in the public sector

The report highlights a number of issues relating to Irish in the public sector, in particular the difficulties some Gardaí face in interacting with the public through Irish.

“I was struck during the investigation by the fact that Gardaí who had received their education within this country’s schools system and had finished their training in Templemore some short years previously had insufficient command of Irish to ask a driver when stopped at the roadside “Cad is ainm duit?”, the Commissioner said in the report.

It highlighted an incident where a driver was arrested following a refusal to speak to Gardaí in English and requested that they speak through Irish.

The Commission was “not convinced” the driver had committed any offence, and recommended that the complainant receive an apology.

The number of people using Irish rose on a daily basis to 5,037 to 77,185 according to Census data released last year.

Read: More than €12 million spent training Irish language graduates to translate EU legislation >

More: “Selfie” has been added to the Irish language dictionary >

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Nicky Ryan

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