Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Joint Committee on the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Irish Speaking Community

Beart na Breatnaise agus Caighdeáin Teanga: Coimisinéir Teanga na Breataine Bige

Mr. Aled Roberts:

If I forget any of the points raised by the Deputy, please remind me at the end. As I understand it, the standard setting process is very different from what is currently being considered in Ireland. My office undertakes the research and suggests to the government those areas we believe should be subject to the standards. We provide the government with evidence of issues we are aware of. The public element feeds into the research we undertake. It was a conscious decision that the government would draw up the standards and present them to the Senedd for debate. That means there is a need for the research we carry out to be of sufficient quality for the government to prepare policy instructions to the lawyers who are then charged with providing the standards.

Once the standards are set, my office is responsible for the discussions with the public bodies with regard to the implementation of the standards. It is open to those public bodies to challenge our proposals. That can be either within discussions undertaken with officials or, if we come to an initial stance as regard the standards we wish to impose, they can challenge my office's recommendation and I have to adjudicate on the challenge. The challenge can be either with regard to the reasonableness of the standard or the time period for its implementation. Once I make a decision or there is no challenge and the standards are set, my organisation is responsible for the enforcement of the standards and the monitoring of the working of those standards.

I know it is difficult without seeing the type of standards the Government in Ireland is considering, but our standards are quite detailed and prescriptive. In some ways that is a good thing. In other ways, it is not, because we have come across instances after the standards have been introduced where the wording used by the government is narrow or does not take into account developments, particularly in technology, that have occurred subsequently.

I am more than happy to provide the committee with information on the standard-setting process. I probably need to go into greater detail than I did in my written statement. If members want to see how detailed some of our standards are, they are more than welcome to ask for any further evidence from my office.


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