Minister for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources and Fine Gael TD for Galway West and Mayo South Seán Kyne has secured approval from the Cabinet for a new Irish Language Bill which will support the development and use of An Ghaeilge.
Minister of State Kyne attended today’s Cabinet meeting at Government Buildings and outlined the proposals of the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2017 to ministers.
The Heads, or main proposals, of the Bill have been published and are based on comprehensive consultation with stakeholders following a review, initiative by Minister Kyne, of previous proposals.
Among the key provisions of the Bill are –
- An objective that 20% of new recruits to the public service be Irish speakers
- A requirement that all public offices in the Gaeltacht operate through Irish
- A new duty on public bodies to facilitate the use by members of the public of the Irish version of their names and addresses
- A requirement that the name of all new public bodies be in the Irish language
- A requirement that all new public bodies have bilingual logos and that all existing public bodies introduce bilingual logos when changing or updating existing ones
- The introduction of ‘language standards’ for different sectors of the public service in place of the current language schemes regime. The ‘standards’ will make clear to public bodies their duties and obligations regarding the Irish language, will make it clearer to the public what services they can expect to receive in Irish, and will make Irish language services more consistent and improve their quality.
- The introduction of fines – to be imposed by the Irish Language Commissioner – on public bodies which do not comply with the Act or which persistently breach the provision of the Act
- New measures to ensure the optimal use and effect of Irish on road traffic signs to be agreed with the Minister and Department of Transport
- The establishment of a new ‘Shared Translation Service’ to assist Government departments and offices.
Commented Minister Kyne: “I am delighted to have secured approval from Cabinet to proceed with a new Irish Language Bill which will support the development and the use of An Ghaeilge.
“The new bill contains legislative amendments, new measures and new policies initiatives which will support the Irish language by increasing its visibility and its use across the country.
“The Heads of the Bill – the initial proposals and policy measures – have received input from stakeholders such as the Language Commissioner, Irish language organisations, opposition spokespersons, Government departments such as Finance and Justice and Equality, as well as the Office of the Attorney General. Further consultation will be sought during the drafting of the text of the Bill.
“The Irish language is at a crossroads. The recent Census figures, while containing some positive signs, also highlighted the challenges and pressure on An Ghaeilge, particularly given the pervasiveness of English. It is clear that legislative changes and new policies and initiatives are needed as well as leadership from Government and the State.
“The Irish language belongs to all of as – not to any one group or political party. Throughout this process I’ve been very conscious of the importance of trying to build consensus and pursue a partnership approach. The measures of the Bill will, I believe, have a lasting impact in promoting An Ghaeilge, its use and its visibility across the entire country as well as in Gaeltacht areas.
“I look forward to further consultation with stakeholders as part of the drafting process over the coming weeks.”