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

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

An bhfuil éinne ag iarraidh labhairt? Níl. I have a number of questions myself. The commissioner mentioned earlier that he was trying to get more Welsh spoken in the Senedd. If he has any hints, I hope he will share them because one of the biggest problems we have is that the level of Irish spoken in the Chamber, although obviously not in this committee, is reducing year on year. Without this committee, the amount of Irish spoken in these buildings would be a national disgrace. If the commissioner has any hints, we will try to share. Obviously, we are supposed to be under schemes and so on but we would like to encourage Deputies and Senators to use more Irish in the Chamber. There has been debate in the Chambers over the years regarding the desire to be heard in the media, given the sometimes limited time we have to speak, as the media in the main only carries or gives prominence to quotes in the English language. As a result, many Deputies and Senators shy away from using the Irish they have.

Does the commissioner have a role in assessing the impact of legislation? When legislation is promised or is being drawn up in the Senedd, does he get advance sight of it to make recommendations? That is something we have encouraged here.

I have two short final points. The commissioner mentioned enforcement and companies being afraid of public embarrassment. Does the stick go beyond public embarrassment? Are there financial penalties involved? This is a debate we have had with regard to the Bill. The Bill we are working our way through, which will bring in the standards and so on, will be back here next Tuesday. The debate will start again and will then go on to our own Seanad. That question is part of that debate.

Has the commissioner had the same experience as us during the Covid period? For example, signage, notices to schools and other documents issued by our health service were totally in English. It is only when somebody raises a complaint that a notice will appear, often a number of weeks later. This is true of other services but is particularly true of our health service, the HSE, which issued most of the public statements in that period.


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