Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Joint Standing Committee on the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands

An Ghaeilge agus Seirbhísí Dátheangacha: An tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Fáiltím roimh chách agus tá an cruinniú tosaithe anois. Tá leithscéal faighte againn ón Teachta O'Dowd agus táim buíoch de as. Táimid anseo inniu chun plé a dhéanamh ar ábhar na gcuspóirí agus na mbeart atá á gcur i gcrích ag an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí an Ghaeilge agus seirbhísí dátheangacha a chur ar fáil. Cuirim fáilte faoi leith roimh: an tUasal Shirley Comerford, príomhoifigeach feidhmiúcháin; an tUasal Margaret McCabe, ceannasaí earcaíochta; an tUasal Aoife Lyons, síceolaí sinsearach i seirbhísí measúnaithe; an tUasal Liam Sinclair, earcaíocht dlí; agus an tUasal Marese Phelan, earcaíocht mar ionadaithe ón tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí. Cuirim fáilte freisin roimh an Uasal Nicholas Meehan, príomhoifigeach cúnta mar ionadaí ón Roinn Caiteachais Phoiblí agus Athchóirithe.

I dtús báire, roimh aon chur i láthair, ba mhaith liom rud amháin a rá faoin Acht agus tá dualgas orm é a léamh amach. Ba mhaith liom a chur ar aird na bhfinnéithe go bhfuil de bhua alt 17(2)(l) den Acht um Chlúmhilleadh 2009 finnéithe faoi chosaint ag lánphribhléid maidir leis an bhfianaise a thabharfaidh siad don choiste seo. Má ordaíonn an coiste dóibh, ámh, éirí as fianaise a thabhairt i leith ní áirithe agus má leanann siad dá tabhairt amhlaidh, ní bheidh siad i dteideal dá éis sin ach pribhléid cháilithe i leith a gcuid fianaise. Ordaítear dóibh gan fianaise a thabhairt ach amháin fianaise a bhaineann le hábhar na n-imeachtaí seo agus fiafraítear díobh cleachtadh parlaiminte a urramú nár chóir, más féidir, daoine ná eintiteas a cháineadh ná líomhaintí a dhéanamh ina n-aghaidh, ina n-ainm, ina hainm nó ina ainm nó ar shlí a bhféadfaí iad a aithint. Ba mhaith liom na finnéithe a chur ar an eolas freisin go ndéanfar na ráitis tionscnaimh seo a gcuirfear faoi bhráid an choiste a fhoilsiú ar shuíomh gréasáin an choiste tar éis an chruinnithe seo. Meabhraítear do chomhaltaí an cleachtadh parlaiminte atá ann le fada nár chóir dóibh tuairimí a thabhairt maidir le duine atá taobh amuigh de na Tithe nó maidir le hoifigeach ina ainm, ina hainm, nó ar shlí a bhféadfaí iad a aithint.

Tá sé deacair orm é sin a léamh amach gach uile sheachtain ach gabh mo leithscéal mar go bhfuil orm é sin a dhéanamh. Táimid ag tnúth leis an gcur i láthair ónár n-aíonna mar is í sin an rannóg nó an Roinn is tábhachtaí ó thaobh na Gaeilge de. Is í an tUasal Comerford a bheidh ag labhairt linn anois.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

I am here today as requested by the committee to address the response provided previously by the Public Appointments Service, PAS, to the questionnaire submitted by the committee and the objectives and actions that are being implemented by PAS in the provision of Irish language and bilingual services. I can confirm that the Public Appointments Service continues to review the level of demand for the provision of our services through the Irish language by monitoring the number of queries, requests and applications received through Irish. We are aware, however, that there is likely to be a latent demand for services across the public service to be delivered through Irish owing to the fact that, due to previous poor experiences, people engage with the service through English. This is understandably frustrating for the Irish language speakers, and PAS has focused, therefore, on improving and promoting the services we offer to Irish language speakers.

PAS is the recruitment and resourcing service provider for client organisations in the civil and public service. It is responsible for the sourcing, assessment and delivery of quality candidates to those clients. We run a wide variety and range of openly advertised and interdepartmental promotion competitions within the Civil Service. We also recruit the most senior levels in local authorities, trainee gardaí, and a range of management, executive and specialist roles across the Civil Service and public service.

PAS also has a key role in the identification of suitable members for appointment to State boards. PAS has a good track record of providing services through Irish, and we have prepared a number of Irish language schemes aimed at improving the delivery of services through Irish for our various customer groups. We provide services through Irish to Irish speakers who make contact with our office. The office has arrangements in place to put members of the public in touch with minimum delay with an appropriate member of staff who can deal with their business, whether in the English or Irish language.

Over recent years our website, publicjobs.ie,has been the main channel for managing and delivering our recruitment services and businesses. There is a tab at the top of our website whereby candidates may choose to have the content displayed in Irish or English. The Irish version of this website is a dynamic rather than a static one, with new jobs advertised in both the English and Irish languages. The candidate registration facility is in both official languages and the job title, job description and application form are available in both official languages during the application period. Information booklets are available in both official languages for general service grades, posts in Gaeltacht communities, posts where the Irish language is a particular requirement, and posts under the remit of the Department of Education and Skills. Of the 518,905 members of the public registered with publicjobs.ie, 4,131 have indicated a preference for doing their business with PAS through Irish. All of the messages issued to these users are sent in the official language of their choice.

PAS is also responsible for the recruitment and selection of candidates with proficiency in Irish to meet the needs of clients. A Government decision of 30 October 2013 approved the introduction of measures to support Irish language proficiency in the Civil Service and replace the bonus marking policy with measures that seek to increase the cohort of functional bilinguals in the Civil Service. PAS initially introduced Irish language proficiency as a separate stream for general service recruitment competitions. More recently, we run stand-alone competitions to establish panels for entry grades. In these cases, all of the selection processes are conducted through Irish. These include clerical officer competitions in 2018, and we are advertising a nationwide executive officer, EO, competition this weekend as well as putting plans in place to advertise for the higher executive officer, HEO, competition in 2020 for candidates with fluency in Irish.

We are aware that the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has put measures in place to promote the Irish language as a career option in the public service. This includes the Conradh na Gaeilge Seó Bóthair to target second and third level students and those attending Gaeltacht summer colleges. PAS sent a team to the recent ESB Creative Tech Fest in the National Conference Centre, which was attended by many Irish-speaking second level students. We hope that these initiatives will increase the numbers of suitably qualified candidates applying for Irish language roles.

Overall, 64 general grade assignments were made to Irish language posts since 2016, ranging from 35 clerical officers to two assistant principal officers. Clerical officer panels for 15 counties were put in place through the 2018 competition. Fifteen candidates were assigned through this process and all the panels were exhausted. The overall number who applied for Irish language clerical officer was 259 compared with 14,013 for the general clerical officer competition. These numbers demonstrate the challenges we are facing in attracting Irish-speaking candidates through the public service.

PAS continues to conduct Irish language proficiency tests for roles that it recruits for on behalf of the local authorities. Those who demonstrate proficiency in both official languages are awarded an additional 6% of the total marks available at interview for such proficiency. We also recruit Garda trainees and have run six recruitment campaigns since 2013. Each of these has had an Irish language stream. Eighty-three Garda trainee candidates qualified through these streams since 2013.

We note a significant drop between the number of applications received for the Irish language stream and the numbers completing the tests. It has been our experience across competitions that many candidates applied for the Irish language stream, but when contacted, they did not have the fluency or wish to proceed through that stream. The newly-introduced model of running competitions specifically for Irish language, such as the HEO and EO, may improve this issue for us.

PAS also recruits for posts across the public service where the ability to communicate effectively in Irish is an essential requirement, including a range of primary district inspector and translator roles. We also recruit for posts across the public service where the ability to have a good and reasonable knowledge of Irish is an essential requirement. Since 2013, PAS has recruited for 11 different examination assessment manager roles in the State Examinations Commission. PAS uses both internal and external resources to support the provision of service through Irish, including the development and maintenance of a list of potential selection board members with the ability and proficiency to carry out selection processes through the Irish language.

In addition to the website, marketing materials such as leaflets and banners are provided in both the English and Irish languages at careers fairs, conferences and events. We also advertise in Seachtain, Tuairisc.ie, PEIG, LinkedIn, and Facebook to target Gaeltacht areas specifically.

All staff are provided with information on the Irish language services provided by PAS and information on the contents of the Irish language scheme. To promote Irish informally with staff, PAS has some common phrases in Irish and their equivalent in English on the office’s intranet, and these are updated regularly. We also provide Irish language training for staff and highlight further opportunities for training and qualifications available to staff interested in developing their skills further so that they are confident in providing services through Irish. Three staff have completed such training in the past two years and six staff have recently commenced this training. Given the relative size of our organisation, this is very encouraging.

PAS has had a translator on staff since 2002 and is currently filling the vacancy arising from the retirement of our translator earlier this year. Two clerical officers were also sourced from the Irish panel in 2017 and work in areas of recruitment that have the highest demand for services through Irish. In addition to the translator, PAS has seven Irish speakers who provide services to the public through Irish. It is expected that the six staff currently undergoing Irish language training and the newly recruited translator will also provide such services from 2020.

All of our publications and general support material for candidates and the general public are available in both official languages, for example, our customer charter and annual report, etc.

We are also committed to supporting Irish candidates applying for roles in the EU institutions. In co-operation with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Department of Foreign Affairs, we provided significant support to Irish candidates applying for the roles of Irish linguistic assistant and Irish translator. As a result, nine candidates were successful in the most recent linguistic assistant competition and 15 were successful in the translator competition.

PAS is aware of the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill and the likely changes that will arise through this legislation.

We welcome the opportunity to co-operate with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in the implementation of the provisions of this Bill. We also look forward to sharing our knowledge, expertise and experience in the area of recruitment and to engaging with other bodies to discuss and develop our thinking in the area of promoting the use of Irish in both the Public Appointments Services itself and the public service generally through our recruitment processes.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Gabhaim buíochas leis an Uasal Comerford. Tá sé beagáinín deacair an óráid a chloisteáil i mBéarla agus ansin é a aistriú. Leanfaimid le ceisteanna.

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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Tá roinnt ceisteanna agam. Tá súil agam go bhfuil siad simplí go leor fiú gur obair dheacair í an earcaíocht. Tá a fhios agam óna bheith ar chúpla painéal thar na blianta go mbíonn méid áirithe marcanna tugtha le haghaidh scileanna difriúla. An míneoidh an tUasal Comerford dúinn an tslí ina dtugtar marcanna sa phróiseas earcaíochta? Cé mhéad a thugtar le haghaidh scileanna, experience agus rudaí eile? An bhfuil méid áirithe tugtha don Ghaeilge sa chóras marcála? Cloisim an méid atá á rá ag an Uasal Comerford maidir le daoine atá ag dul trí chúrsaí oiliúna Gaeilge. Cé mhéad atá ar an bhfoireann san iomlán? Tá sé deacair a thomhais conas mar atá ag éirí leis an tseirbhís. Tá sé go maith go bhfuil baill fhoirne ag foghlaim na scileanna nach bhfuil acu.

Ceann de na róil atá againn i gcoitinne, má chreidimid gurb í an Ghaeilge an teanga náisiúnta, ná a dhéanamh cinnte go bhfuil an Státchóras ag léiriú meas ar an teanga agus, dá réir, go bhfuil sé ag cur gach seirbhís gur féidir leis ar fáil as Gaeilge. Chun é sin a dhéanamh, caithfimid an líon is mó státseirbhíseach le Gaeilge a fháil gur féidir linn. Conas is féidir linn bogadh i dtreo na céime sin go tapa? Tá sé ag tarlú ach tá sé ag tarlú go mall. An bhfuil gá ann céatadán níos mó ná mar a bhfuil daoine ag caint faoina chur i leataobh? An gá don státchóras i gcoitinne meas a léiriú don Ghaeilge arís? Tá sampla agam. Sna 1950daí, agus b'fhéidir roimhe sin, sula raibh mise timpeall, nuair a bhí daoine ag cur iarratais isteach ar phoist sa Státchóras, go minic chuaigh siad chuig múinteoir nó a leithéid chun an t-iarratas a scríobh i nGaeilge mar síleadh gur thug sé sin buntáiste dóibh. Síleadh go mbeadh deis níos fearr ag an iarratasóir post a fháil toisc go raibh an litir as Gaeilge. Anois cuireann roinnt daoine le Gaeilge isteach ar phoist sa Státseirbhís i mBéarla. Ní dhéanann siad iarratas trí Ghaeilge toisc go síleann siad go gcuirfidh a n-iarratais ar leataobh nó go roghnófar iad do phost oifigeach Gaeilge nó oifigeach cléireachas le Gaeilge amháin. B'fhéidir nár mhaith leo bheith ag obair ar chúrsaí Gaeilge amháin ná go mbeadh a duties go hiomlán trí Ghaeilge. Níor mhaith leo a bheith the token Gaeilgeoir. Conas is féidir linn an meon sin sa phobal i gcoitinne a athrú? Aithním an méid atá ag tarlú. B'fhéidir go mbeidh an tUasal Comerford in ann na ceisteanna sin a fhreagairt dom.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

I will take the question on training first because it is fairly straightforward to answer. We currently have six people in training and we have already trained three. By the end of it, when these people are trained, we should have 15 people on staff who can provide services.

The Deputy's other question related to the applicant pool and how we attract Irish speakers. A lot of work is being done with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht with regard to selling careers in the public service to Irish speakers. I understand that there has been an increase resulting from work on CAO points with regard to the Irish language. The Department is also sponsoring things like masters level qualifications. These are also funded by a centre of excellence for EU careers. There are many interventions at various stages in second and third level institutions to sell the public service as an attractive career and, as the Deputy has mentioned, to increase the pool of applicants who speak Irish.

As I said in my opening statement, the numbers are very stark. Almost 519,000 applicants have registered on publicjobs.ie, of which more than 4,000 have indicated that they want to conduct their business with us through Irish. It is quite a small pool. We are aware that there is likely to be pent-up demand. It is a matter of participating and partnering with Departments when they are rolling out initiatives, particularly the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, for obvious reasons. We are quite dynamic in making sure that, when we are selling roles on publicjobs.ie, our services are provided through Irish and that it is as easy as possible for Irish speakers to conduct their business with us through Irish. We welcome such communication. We go to great lengths to make sure that we do that. Promoting that is very important.

On the Deputy's earlier point about panels where a person must specify a preference for English or Irish and people opting for the English stream, we will find out over the next six months or so whether having specific Irish-only competitions will increase the applicant pool. These are a number of things we are thinking about with regard to increasing the candidate pool and promoting engagement with the Public Appointments Service through Irish.

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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Ba í an cheist ar chuir mé faoin bhfoireann ná cé mhéad baill foirne atá ag an tseirbhís in iomlán?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

We have 200 staff.

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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Go maith. Dá mbeinn ag cur isteach ar phost atá fógartha ar suíomh leis an seoladh , cheapfainn láithreach go bhfuil an Béarla i gceist. Tuigim nach bhfuil ar dhuine ach cnaipe a bhrú agus go bhfuil gach rud éasca ach is i mBéarla an chéad rud a fheictear. Níl a fhios agam conas gur féidir é seo a dhéanamh ar bhealach difriúil. B'fhéidir go mbeifear in ann an leathanach a roinnt ina dhá leath. Níl a fhios agam. Tá rud eile i gceist. Níl an locht ar an tseirbhís ach ar an gcóras oideachais agus, b'fhéidir, orainn féin ach nuair a bhíonn ar dhaoine foirm a líonadh, stopann siad nuair atá sé le líonadh i nGaeilge. An bhfeiceann an tUasal Comerford daoine ag teacht isteach ar an suíomh Gaeilge ach ag athrú go dtí an leagan Béarla nuair a fheiceann siad na ceisteanna? Más fíor sin, tá fadhb leis an bhfoirm nó leis an gcóras oideachais. Tá eagla ar dhaoine foirmeacha a líonadh i nGaeilge. Ní chreidim go bhfuil an figiúr sin ó thaobh daoine a bhfuil sé ar a gcumas cur isteach ar phoist le Gaeilge fhíor. Ceapaim go bhfuil eagla nó drogall orthu roimh fhoirmeacha Gaeilge a líonadh.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

With regard to the Deputy's point, it is not necessarily the case that those 4,000 are the only people with sufficient proficiency in Irish to conduct their day-to-day work through the language or to apply for a role.

These are the people who are interested in applying for roles in the public service.

I can speak about an example of what we have seen in this regard. In the Garda trainee recruitment campaigns, which we have been running annually for the past six years, one of the requirements is that candidates have proven proficiency in two languages, one of which must be either English or Irish. In cases where the candidates do not meet this requirement, the regulation allows us to undertake assessments that prove their competency in the Irish language. We have designed tests to ensure that the candidates' language proficiency is at the appropriate level. At the time of application, candidates have two options. They can apply for the general stream, the Irish language stream, or both. They are then permitted to sit stage 1, the online tests, and stage 2, and their scores at these stages are used for both streams. If they are successful at these stages, they are then called forward to stage 3. This consists of a competency-based interview in each language. Candidates then have the choice to proceed with one or both streams. If they are successful at interview, they are then forwarded to Garda headquarters for further processing. The statistics for these competitions, which the members will have seen in my submission, show the number of applicants for the Irish language stream of the Garda competition who drop out between submitting an application and completing the tests. It has been our experience that many candidates tick the box to indicate they wish to apply for the Irish language stream, but when we make contact with them, they do not have fluency or do not wish to proceed with that stream of the competition.

This problem is not unique to Irish language campaigns. We have experience of candidates ticking boxes to say that they meet other criteria only for us to realise that they do not as we move through the processes. That is what we are trying to do with the model of running competitions specifically for Irish-speaking candidates. This will allow us to see whether there is a correlation between dropout rates and application rates and how effective our awareness campaigns and advertising have been. We may then be able to draw some conclusions from our findings.

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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I dtaca leis sin, molaim don Seirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí ceist a chur ar siúd a thit amach as próiseas earcaíochta an Gharda Síochána. An raibh eagla orthu go mbeidís gafa mar gharda le Gaeilge sa Ghaeltacht dá leanfaidís leis an bpróiseas, fiú nach raibh siad ag lorg post mar sin? Ar cheap siad go mbeidís pigeonholed, mar a deirtear as Béarla? Bíonn eagla ar dhaoine atá ag lorg post nuair atá Gaeilge acu. Tá mo bhean chéile, mar shampla, ag obair leis An Post. Nuair a thagann clúdach litreach isteach as Gaeilge, deirtear, "There is one of yours; translate that for me", léi. Tarlaíonn sé sin. Bíonn eagla ar a lán de na Gaeilgeoirí a bhfuil aithne agam orthu go dtarlóidh an rud céanna leo so ní luann siad go bhfuil Gaeilge acu. Deir daoine go bhfuil spéis acu a bheith ar an liosta Gaeilge nó agallamh a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge, ach ansin imíonn siad ón sruth sin.

Ms Aoife Lyons:

Further research is required. We have experience of candidates coming back to say that they did not know they would have to be assessed through Irish. There was a lack of understanding of our processes. I hope the campaigns specifically for Irish speakers, to which Ms Comerford referred, will result in a critical mass of people and that it will no longer be a case of a person being the only Irish speaker in the building and therefore being given all the translation work. If there are two, three or four people with Irish, there will be more diversity in the work. I totally take the Deputy's point but I hope the step we are taking with these focused Irish language campaigns will mean that Irish speakers will not be a novelty and that they will be seen far more frequently.

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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Gabhaim buíochas leis na finnéithe.

Photo of Aindrias MoynihanAindrias Moynihan (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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Gabhaim buíochas leis an toscaireacht as an gcur i láthair. Tá an-chuid ann. Thóg sé tamall orm léamh tríd. Tá cúpla ceist agam. B'fhéidir go spreagfaidís cúpla ceist eile. Ar dtús, nuair a bhíonn post le líonadh, an bhfuil aon ról faoi leith ag an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí i leagan síos na riachtanas don phost? An é go dtagann eagraíocht eile chuige le menu iomlán agus go lorgaíonn an tseirbhís a leithéid de dhuine gan cheist? An bhfuil deis ag an tseirbhís athruithe a dhéanamh ar an job specification sin? Cuir i gcás education and training board, ETB, atá ag lorg CEO agus go bhfuil a fhios againn go léir go bhfuil roinnt Gaelscoileanna ann i gceantar an ETB sin. An mbeadh an tseirbhís ag treorú an eagraíocht i gcomhair duine le Gaolainn nó chun an Gaolainn a bheith san áireamh mar scil roghnach? Cé aige a bheadh an cinneadh sin? An bhfuil ról ag an tseirbhís na heagraíochtaí sin a threorú gur chóir dóibh duine le Gaolainn a lorg i gcomhair ról faoi leith?

Nuair atá poist éagsúla á bhfógairt, cén sórt caiteachais atá i gceist? Cén caiteachas atá ann ó thaobh fógraíocht as Béarla agus fógraíocht as Gaolainn? Luadh thart ar 4,000 iarratasóir atá ag lorg a ngnó a dhéanamh trí Ghaolainn. An iadsan i gcomhair poist i gcoitinne nó poist a dhéileálann le cúrsaí Gaolainn? Nuair a théann an tseirbhís ag lorg daoine, téann sé ag headhunting daoine le Gaolainn i gcomhair poist faoi leith chun go mbeidh daoine faoi leith ar fáil aige. Tá cúpla ceist eile agam ach tosóimid ansin.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

With regard to the specifications and role descriptions, we are the service provider. Usually, we are approached by a Department, or an ETB in the instance the Deputy described, that will have engaged with the relevant stakeholders in the composition of the role description. We would obviously have a look at this description. Our experience is that the Department's hiring department tends to be all over it, but we have a look at the role specification, and if we note that a glaringly obvious requirement has been overlooked or that the Department has not thought of something, we then flag that for the Department. In the majority of cases role descriptions, particularly for senior roles, are very well developed before they reach us, so we do not tend to see any gaps in them. Obviously, there are some roles that require business to be conducted through Irish. That would be laid out specifically within the role specification. We would call it out fairly quickly if it was missing. We do have success in filling such senior roles. These would usually be in the State Examinations Commission or the Department of Education and Skills. We fill many senior roles in these organisations through Irish.

With regard to the advertising spend, publicjobs.ieis our main advertising portal. We also do some advertising in newspapers and use social media services such as LinkedIn, Facebook and so on. To take, for example, the role of a medical consultant, in planning a campaign for such a role, we look to see where our advertising would have the most impact. This may be in professional journals or in regional newspapers in the area where the vacancy has arisen.

We assess what method would attract the widest candidate pool and we then arrange to advertise through all of those mediums. I do not have a specific breakdown of Irish publications in which we have advertised but I am happy to prepare a note for the Deputy on that matter after the meeting.

Photo of Aindrias MoynihanAindrias Moynihan (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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An bhfuil an tUasal Comerford ag rá go mbeadh an fógra sa leabhrán Gaolainne an t-aon áit a mbeidh an Ghaolainn le feiceáil nó an mbeadh fógraí dátheangacha san Irish Examiner, an Irish Timesnó pé áit? An bhfuil dhá shruth fógraíochta ann nó an bhfuil an Ghaolainn agus an Béarla ar chomhchéim? Shamhlóinn go mbeadh gach fógra dátheangach ach tuigim ón Uasal Comerford go bhfuil sruth Gaolainne agus sruth eile ann. An bhféadfadh sí é sin a chinntiú?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

We advertise all of our roles on our website, publicjobs.ie. When one logs on to publicjobs.ie, which lists all available roles, one sees a tab. If one clicks that tab, everything on the page is translated into Irish. All of the role descriptions, the particulars of the role, and so on are all on the page in Irish. Applicants are given the choice to apply through Irish.

Photo of Aindrias MoynihanAindrias Moynihan (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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Fágfaimid an suíomh Idirlín ar leataobh mar ní dóigh liom go mbeadh aon chostas i gceist ansin. Nuair a théann an tseirbhís i dtreo na meán agus í ag lorg duine i gcomhair post faoi leith, an gcuirtear an bhéim chéanna ar an nGaolainn agus ar an mBéarla nó an bhfuil breis caite ar fhógraíocht trí Bhéarla? An bhfuil an fhógraíocht trí Ghaolainn pigeonholed go dtí irisí faoi leith? Is é sin a bhfuil mé ag iarraidh díriú isteach air. Cén caiteachas atá ann? An bhfuil sé ar chomhchéim?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

They are absolutely on an equal footing. We have a very generalist approach when it comes to advertising. Our aim is to make sure that we reach the widest pool of candidates. When we are composing role descriptions, we make sure to include the qualifications, eligibility criteria, and the skills, knowledge and attributes that are needed to execute that role. We do not emphasise Irish or English in that. It is really about the skills, knowledge and attributes that candidates need to perform successfully the role for which we are recruiting. We do not differentiate.

Photo of Aindrias MoynihanAindrias Moynihan (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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An mbeadh an tsuim chéanna airgid á chaitheamh ar fhógraíocht trí Bhéarla agus ar fhógraíocht trí Ghaolainn?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

Absolutely. It is possible that we sometimes spend more on Irish advertising. It depends on the publications we are using. Obviously, if we are advertising roles in which there is a specific requirement for Irish, we make sure to advertise that role in publications frequently read by Irish speakers such as the likes of Peig.ie, Seachtain, and so on. Social media is also a key medium through which to advertise roles. When we use Facebook, we have the ability to target specific Gaeltacht regions.

Photo of Aindrias MoynihanAindrias Moynihan (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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Glacaim leis nach mbeidh na figiúirí ag an Uasal Comerford inniu ach b'fhéidir gur féidir léi a leithéid a sheoladh ar aghaidh chuig an gcoiste amach anseo.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

Absolutely. That is no problem.

Photo of Aindrias MoynihanAindrias Moynihan (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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Fillfidh mé ar an gcéad cheist maidir leis an éifeacht atá ag an tseirbhís ar an ról atá á fhógairt má thagann eagraíochtaí éagsúla chuig an tseirbhís agus má bhraitheann sí gur chóir go mbeadh Gaolainn ina riachtanas nó ina scil roghnach don ról. An bhféadfadh an tUasal Comerford cúpla sampla a thabhairt dúinn de chásanna ina raibh sé ar an tseirbhís an cath a throid ar son na Gaolainne chun cur ina luí ar eagraíochtaí éagsúla gur chóir go mbeadh Gaolainn riachtanach? An bhfuil cúpla sampla aici? Luaigh sí go raibh roinnt plé ag an tseirbhís le cúpla eagraíocht.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

Obviously, there are some roles for which Irish is a fundamental requirement. Our experience of working with Departments is that the Departments already know this, so what comes to us is really the finished product. I do not have examples of situations in which we have gone back to Departments to tell them that a role has an Irish requirement. That is not our role. Our experience with the Departments is that where there is specific requirement, they notify us of it in the role description. We have not had to have that fight.

Photo of Aindrias MoynihanAindrias Moynihan (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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Cuirfidh mé ceist dheireanach, más féidir liom. Nuair atá Gaolainn leagtha síos mar rud roghnach nó desirable sa job description, cén meáchan a bhfaigheann sé nuair atá an tseirbhís tar éis agallamh á chur ar duine agus nuair atá sí ag teacht i dtreo an chinnidh dheireanaigh? Cé a dhéanann an cinneadh sin? An é an Roinn nó an tseirbhís? Conas a dhéantar an t-idirdhealú?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

What the Deputy is referring to is a policy matter for the Department. There is no weighting given to roles in the Civil Service. There is a weighting of 6% given for Irish proficiency in respect of senior roles in local government.

Photo of Aindrias MoynihanAindrias Moynihan (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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An bhféadfadh an tUasal Comerford an 6% sin a mhíniú? An sé phointe breise é sin?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

Yes. An additional 6% is given for proficiency in Irish on top of the marks received.

Photo of Aindrias MoynihanAindrias Moynihan (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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An bhfaightear é sin i ngach grád san údarás áitiúil nó i ngráid faoi leith amháin?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

I do not know. We only recruit for senior grades in local government.

Photo of Aindrias MoynihanAindrias Moynihan (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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Baineann sé leis na gráid arda.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Cuirfidh mé ceist a fhad is atá an Teachta Ó Cuív ag machnamh. Maidir leis an bpointe deireanach faoin 6%, tá na marcanna bónais sin fós ann ó thaobh foirne don chóras áitiúil.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

That is right.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Níl sé ann do státseirbhísigh.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

No.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Tá a fhios agam gur cinneadh polasaí atá i gceist ach, óna taithí féin, an gceapann an tUasal Comerford gur fiú breathnú arís ar na marcanna bónais chun daoine a mhealladh? An bhfuil sé ag feidhmiú sa chóras áitiúil?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

With respect, I do not think the issue is the marking scheme but the availability of candidates. It is not the case that candidates presenting who are proficient in Irish are disproportionately disadvantaged in any marking scheme. Our biggest challenge is the actual candidate pool, the people who are putting themselves forward for our Irish stream competitions or opting to compete through the Irish stream. That is where our biggest challenge is. It is not that they are failing as they come through the process, in which case 6% would make a difference. It is that they are not coming through the processes or applying at all.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Aontaím leis an Uasal Comerford go bhfuil dúshláin ansin ach tá córas ag feidhmiú ina dtugtar marcanna bónais de 6%. An bhfuil aon taighde déanta ag an tseirbhís? An bhfuil sé ag feidhmiú i gceart? An fiú breathnú air mar chuid de réiteach an dúshláin? Tá sé ann in earnáil na húdarás áitiúla.

Níl sé ann do na státseirbhísí. An bhfuil taighde ar bith déanta maidir leis sin? An fiú fáil réidh leis na pointí breise? An dtuigeann an tUasal Comerford an cheist? An bhfuil aon taighde déanta ar cén chaoi atá sé sin ag feidhmiú?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

I am not aware of any research. However, the policy for this matter does not rest with us, but with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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An mbailíonn an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí aon staitisticí ó thaobh na poist sin? An bhfuil eolas mar sin ag na finnéithe? Cé mhéad duine atá earcaithe ag an tseirbhís agus buntáiste bainte amach acu ó thaobh an 6%?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

I can provide the Chairman with a note on that. I do not have that information off the top of my head.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Níl mé ag iarraidh spotsolas a chur ar an Uasal Comerford ach táimid ag iarraidh an t-ábhar seo a phlé.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

We went into some detail in our submission on the numbers who compete and the numbers who come through. We tried to give a sense of that.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Tá an ráiteas cuimsitheach agus tá sé léite agam. Tá deacracht agam de bharr go bhfuil na finnéithe ag caint i mBéarla agus tá orm iad a aistriú. Tá sé sin deacair orainne. Tiocfaidh mé ar ais ag an gceist sin níos déanaí.

Sa ráiteas tosaigh, luaitear nár líonadh aon phost le Gaeilge i 2018. An bhféadfadh na finnéithe é sin a mhíniú dom? Tá na gráid faoi leith luaite sa tábla sin. Is léir go raibh blianta áirithe níos fearr ná blianta eile, ach cad a tharla i 2018? Tá náid scríofa do chuile ghrád sa bhliain sin.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

That is probably a timing issue. While we would have advertised a campaign in 2018, we would have assigned people in 2019. If we advertised a competition in November, for instance, we would not be ready to make assignments from that competition until the following year. We ran a clerical officer competition in 2018, and those numbers are reflected in the 2019 figures.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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An ritear comórtas chuile bhliain?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

No.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Ní bhíonn comórtas ann chuile bhliain. An mbraitheann sé ar an éileamh?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

Yes.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Cé mhéad comórtas a bhí i gceist i 2018?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

I do not have that figure off the top of my head. Is the Chairman referring specifically to Irish language roles or to jobs in general? I can give her some-----

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Táim ag iarraidh pictiúr iomlán den scéal, mar tá sé seo cosúil le míreanna mearaí. Níl mé ag iarraidh ach míniú a chur ar an rud. Is dócha nach mbeadh drogall ar bith ar na finnéithe a rá go bhfuil géarchéim ann ó thaobh na Gaeilge de. Nach bhfuil géarchéim sa tír seo ó thaobh na Gaeilge de? Sin an fáth go bhfuil muid ag cur brú ar an Rialtas an Bille maidir leis an teanga oifigiúil a thabhairt isteach. Tá sé ráite go soiléir ag an gCoimisinéir Teanga go bhfuil teipthe go huile agus go hiomlán ag na scéimeanna teanga. Tá géarchéim ann. An aontaíonn an tUasal Comerford leis sin?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

There is a huge challenge in trying to attract a wide pool of candidates who are willing to compete for roles in the public service through Irish. To answer the Chairman’s other question regarding the jigsaw comparison, we advertise around 450 competitions a year and place approximately 14,000 or 15,000 people in roles.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Ritear 450 comórtas gach bliain.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

Roughly.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Cé mhéad duine as an bhfigiúr sin a fhaigheann post?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

It depends, but between 12,000 and 15,000 people.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Cé mhéad acu sin a fhaigheann poist le Gaeilge, nó post ina bhfuil Gaeilge sainaitheanta mar riachtanas?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

I will use the example of the 2018 competition for clerical officer because that is an entry grade. In that competition, we ran a nationwide campaign for candidates with proficiency in Irish. A total of 20 candidates were placed on a panel, of which 15 were assigned.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Sin an sruth Gaeilge.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

It is a specific Irish language stream. Fifteen people came in through a nationwide campaign.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Cad faoi na gráid eile?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

Around 259 people applied for that competition, and 20 people were placed on that panel. In comparison, 14,000 people applied for the English stream of that competition. That is why the candidate pool is such a huge challenge for us.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Is tír dhátheangach í an Bheilg, agus is eiseamláir í Ceanada maidir leis an dúshlán seo. An raibh na finnéithe i dteagmháil leis an Bheilg? An bhfuil taighde déanta acu óna thaobh sin agus cad atá foghlamtha acu?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

We have very strong ties with our counterparts in Canada. They visit us frequently and we see them and exchange-----

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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D’iarr mé faoin mhéid atá foghlamtha uathu. Cad atá foghlamtha ag na finnéithe maidir leis na dúshláin atá os ár gcomhair anseo?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

It is a challenge that-----

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Cad atá déanta ag na tíortha a luaigh mé ó thaobh cúrsaí earcaíochta de?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

It is about things such as where one advertises, the candidate’s ease and experience throughout the process, making sure the services we offer and the process itself are professional and speedy, and fulfilling the normal expectations every candidate would have when engaging in the process. In terms of addressing the issue, often a collective effort from a number of initiatives and Departments in Government is needed to improve things. There is no magic-----

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Tuigim nach bhfuil aon slat draíochta ann, ach bheinn ag súil go bhfuil rudaí faoi leith foghlamtha ag na finnéithe, mar tá dúshlán anseo. Úsáidim féin an focal “géarchéim”, ach glacaim leis gur “dúshlán” an focal atá úsáidte ag na finnéithe. Tá gá le beart maidir leis na dúshláin sin. Is sampla maith í an Bheilg. Níl mé ach ag piocadh amach cúpla tír. Go sonrach, cad iad na rudaí atá foghlamtha ag na finnéithe chun dul i ngleic leis na fadhbanna agus na dúshláin seo?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

We have learned some things that we have already implemented. The candidate experience is extremely important, as is ease of access for applying, readiness of information, the candidate’s ability to engage in the process, and timely feedback and follow-up. All those things are very important for supporting candidates. When people have a bad experience, they tell nine people, whereas when they have a good experience, they only tell three. Candidate experience is very important to us, regardless of the language in which we engage with candidates.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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An bhfuil an Teachta Ó Cuív réidh? Tiocfaidh mé ar ais ag an Uasal Comerford arís. De ghnáth fanaim go dtí an deireadh chun ceisteanna a iarraidh, ach ní raibh an Teachta réidh níos luaithe.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Bhí mé réidh, ach bhí mé ag éisteacht go foighneach leis an gCathaoirleach ag cur a ceisteanna.

Abair go bhfógraíonn an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí post mar oifigeach cléireachais, le sruth amháin do dhaoine gan aon Ghaeilge agus sruth eile do dhaoine le Gaeilge. Má roghnaíonn duine le Gaeilge - agus le Béarla, mar is beag duine le Gaeilge gan aon Bhéarla - an sruth Gaeilge, agus má éiríonn leo dul ar an bpainéal, an gciallaíonn sé sin nach dtairgfear ach poist ina bhfuil Gaeilge riachtanach dóibh? An áireofar iad d’aon phost nach bhfuil an Ghaeilge riachtanach dó?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

In our experience, because of the numbers coming through, we never have issues placing candidates off our Irish panels very quickly. We find on occasion that candidates on the Irish-speaking panel who live in regional locations are sometimes not particularly interested in travelling to Dublin or other such places for roles. We try to match candidates as best we can. As the numbers are so small, that is not a challenge for us.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Ní freagra é sin ar mo cheist. Dá mbeinnse ag cur isteach ar jab sa Státseirbhís, ba mhaith liom deis a bheith agam ar gach post atá ar fáil ann. B’fhéidir nach mbeadh aon spéis agam dul ag obair sa rannóg Ghaeltachta den Roinn Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta, ach gur mhaith liom oibriú sa Roinn Sláinte, nó sa Roinn Cumarsáide, Gníomhaithe ar son na hAeráide agus Comhshaoil, agus gur mhaith liom bogadh thart sa Státseirbhís. Má tá duine ar an bpainéal Gaeilge, an dtairgfear post dó nó di ina bhfuil Gaeilge riachtanach? An gciallaíonn sé sin nach mbeidh an deis chéanna ag an duine sin a bheith páirteach sa Státseirbhís go ginearálta? An taithí atá agamsa ar Státseirbhísí ná go dtaitníonn leo dul ó Roinn go Roinn agus gan a bheith sáinnithe i mboiscín beag ina dtugtar fear nó bean na Gaeilge orthu. B’fhéidir gur sin an fáth nach bhfuil daoine ag cur isteach ar an sruth Gaeilge. Dá mbeinn san iomaíocht do chomórtas mar dhuine óg agus mé ábalta cur isteach air trí Ghaeilge nó trí Bhéarla, níor mhaith liom a bheith srianta sna poist a mheastar mé dóibh.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

I think we are getting some things a bit mixed up. We run Irish-only streams for people coming into the Civil Service. Applicants can obviously apply for the English stream, the Irish stream, or both. They are not excluded from being on panels from both streams. That is the entry point. Once someone is in the Civil Service, he or she is part of the general list pool and is not confined to an Irish stream career. He or she has the same entitlements and mobility as every other civil servant. There is no distinction.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Dúirt an tUasal Comerford go raibh 20 duine ar phainéal agus gur thairg an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí poist do 15 acu. An bhfuil sé sin ceart?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

Will the Deputy repeat that?

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Dúirt an tUasal Comerford gur ceapadh 20 duine ar phainéal agus gur tairgeadh poist do 15 acu sin. An raibh Gaeilge riachtanach don 15 post sin?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

Yes, Irish would have been essential for those jobs. Those are entry grade positions for people coming into the Civil Service through external competitions. Those candidates came in through that stream and were given roles across various locations. Once they are in the Civil Service-----

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Is féidir leo bogadh ansin.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

-----it is a level playing field.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Tuigim é sin, ach tá daoine srianta agus iad ag dul isteach an doras, le hais daoine nach bhfuil acu ach Béarla. An féidir liom glacadh leis-----

Ms Shirley Comerford:

People are not restricted.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Dúirt an tUasal Comerford gur thairg an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí jab ina raibh an Ghaeilge riachtanach do gach uile dhuine beo den 15 duine sin.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

Absolutely.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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An rud atá mé ag rá ná go bhfuil níos mó deiseanna ann sa tseirbhís phoiblí má deir daoine nach bhfuil Gaeilge acu, fiú má tá Gaeilge ó dhúchas acu, mar gur féidir leo dul isteach in áit ar bith ansin. Is míbhuntáiste í an Ghaeilge sa chás seo, seachas buntáiste.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

I will let one of my colleagues explain this matter better.

Ms Aoife Lyons:

Our system assigns people to a service when requests come in. At the entry level, our candidates have no choice where they go. For example, ten people might be required from the general stream for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and ten for the Department of Justice and Equality. It is a similar process for the candidates in the Irish stream in that they go where the request is. For example, we took two people from the Irish-language panel who now both work in areas where they communicate much of the time through Irish in the Garda. One of those people has subsequently been promoted. The system does not take away any opportunities. Candidates are assigned to wherever there is a vacancy but that is exactly how it works for the English-language stream as well. Once people come into the service, the mobility kicks in and they have more options, but it is a system that allocates people.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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An nglacfadh an Státseirbhís le haon duine gan aon Bhéarla?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

Is the Deputy referring to people who do not have English?

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Ní ghlacfadh an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí le haon duine nach raibh Béarla aige nó aici.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Ní ghlacfadh.

Ms Margaret McCabe:

We would-----

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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An nglacfadh an tseirbhís le duine a labhair Gaeilge amháin, gan aon Bhéarla ar chor ar bith? An rud nach dtuigeann daoine, agus a deir mise i gcónaí, ná nach comparáid é seo idir daoine atá aonteangach i dteanga amháin agus aonteangach i dteanga eile, ach idir daoine atá dátheangach agus daoine atá aonteangach. Luadh an Bheilg, áit atá daoine ar thaobh na Fraincise gan aon Phléimeannais agus dream ar thaobh na Pléimeannaise gan aon Fhraincis. Níor chas mé le Gaeilgeoir riamh a bhí ag cur isteach ar phost sa Státseirbhís nach raibh Béarla aige nó aici. Mar sin, tá siadsan in ann an dá chluiche a imirt, áit nach bhfuil lucht an Bhéarla amháin in ann ach cluiche amháin a imirt. Cuirtear daoine i rannóga nó Roinne éigin ina bhfuil Gaeilge riachtanach dhíreach mar go bhfuil Gaeilge acu. Má tá duine ag teastáil sa Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, ba cheart an chéad duine ar an liosta a chur ann, fiú má tá Gaeilge agus Béarla acu. Ní amháin gur féidir le daoine mar sin gnó a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge, ach tá siad in ann é a dhéanamh trí Bhéarla chomh maith. Ní féidir duine nach bhfuil aige nó aici ach Béarla a chur, mar shampla, i rannóg na Gaeltachta thiar i gCois Fharraige, mar ní bheadh sé nó sí in ann a ghnó nó a gnó a dhéanamh. Ba cheart go mbeadh an buntáiste ag an duine dátheangach. Nílimid ag caint ar aon duine atá aonteangach sa Ghaeilge, ach daoine dátheangach. Ní maith le Gaeilgeoirí go mbíonn siad coinnithe sa chúinne i mboiscín i gcónaí.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

I am not sure I follow.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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I can explain in English if Ms Comerford wants, as I have a little bit of it.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Ní-----

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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I can speak English perfectly. What I am saying is-----

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Leanfaidh muid ar aghaidh.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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I can speak any language I want in this committee.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Gabh mo leithscéal, a Theachta-----

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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What I am saying is that while people applying for the Irish language stream can speak Irish, they also speak English as well as any of us. My contention is that while it should be noted that candidates have both Irish and English, they should not be excluded from jobs that only require English, because they are just as able to do those general grade jobs as those who just speak English.

People do not want to be pigeonholed all of the time into a corner by virtue of the fact that they have an extra thing. As I said, it is not like Belgium where there are people who speak Flemish but do not speak French and vice versa.In our case, every Irish speaker can speak English perfectly. In fact, many of them have better English than those people who do not have Irish.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

That is the functional bilingualism.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Mar Chathaoirleach, táim thar a bheith míshásta go bhfuil an cruinniú ag leanúint ar aghaidh trí Bhéarla anois. Tá córas aistriúcháin ar costas mór i gceist agus tá an teachtaireacht ag dul amach anois má tá rud tábhachtach le rá, abair i mBéarla é. Ba mhaith liom, mar Chathaoirleach, a rá nach féidir stop a chur leis seo ach ní maith liom an teachtaireacht sin a bheith ag dul amach. Ní hí sin an fheidhm atá againn anseo. Tá pointe á dhéanamh ag an Teachta ó thaobh duine le cumas in dhá theanga, Béarla agus Gaeilge. De réir mar a thuigim, is é an rud atá á rá aige gur cóir go mbeadh buntáiste i gceist ag an duine sin atá dátheangach. Más féidir linn díriú isteach air sin, bheinn buíoch dár bhfinnéithe. Gabhaim buíochas leo.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

As Ms Lyons has said, we assign candidates where vacancies arise. There are situations within regional panels, which we also have, where candidates will want to stay, understandably, in the region where they live. We will offer people roles as they come up within the regions. There are some roles, not so much at the generalist level but at the more senior levels, where there is a requirement for Irish, in which case we will recruit candidates with that Irish proficiency for those roles.

On the generalist side, we have roles in the Gaeltacht regions and in the HSE etc. Candidates themselves will consider many things when we offer them roles, including where they are going to be located and what the work is going to involve. Our role is to get people in the door. We have a volume of requests that come in from all over the system. We try to meet those requirements, but also those from the candidates’ perspective because these are their day-to-day jobs and it is important as well that they are in roles that they want to be in.

While creating a level playing field for everybody, we try to take into account opportunities where we can match both what the candidate and the client want.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Abair go bhfuil míle post lena bheith ann do dhaoine le Béarla an bhliain seo chugainn. Abair dá dtiocfadh ar an bpainéal Béarla duine an-chumasach ar fad agus go bhfaigheadh an duine sin an deichiú háit ar an bpainéal sin. Gheobhadh an duine sin tairiscint láithreach. Dá mbeadh duine sách saonta le dul ar an bpainéal Gaeilge agus nach raibh ach deich nó cúig jab le bheith ann agus go raibh an duine ar thaobh amháin den chúig ansin, d'fhéadfadh an duine a bheith ag fanacht píosa fhada go dtí go bhfaigheadh sé nó sin post. Dar liomsa, má tá Gaeilge agus Béarla ag duine, ba cheart, más rud gur jab le Béarla amháin a thiocfadh aníos i dtosach, go bhfaigheadh an duine sin an jab sin agus nach gcaithfeadh an duine fanacht ar an jab le Gaeilge. Tá Béarla ag na daoine seo. Ní féidir leis an duine le Béarla amháin cur isteach ar an jab le Gaeilge ach is féidir leis an duine le Gaeilge agus Béarla cur isteach ar an jab Béarla. Tá an tseirbhís ag rá go léimfimid thar na daoine sin.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

No, Chairman, that is not what I am saying.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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It is.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

The Deputy made the point that they actually have double the opportunity because they can apply for both. There is nothing to stop an individual from being on the Irish panel and on the English panel.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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An bhfuil sé sin-----

Ms Shirley Comerford:

They do not have to opt out, one over the other, or have to choose.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Nuair a bhí an fiche duine seo ar an bpainéal Gaeilge seo, an raibh siadsan ar an bpainéal Béarla freisin?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

No. The people on the English panel have to compete on the English panel but there is nothing to preclude an Irish speaker from competing on the English panel.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Cuirfidh mé an cheist ar bhealach eile. Cé mhéad duine a chuir isteach ar an bpainéal Gaeilge a chur isteach ar an bpainéal Béarla freisin?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

I do not have that detail with me.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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An bhféadfadh an tUasal Comerford teacht ar ais chuig an gcoiste leis an bhfreagra sin, lena toil?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

I certainly will. Is this in respect of the new 2018 competition for the clerical officers?

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Shíl mé gurb é an rud a bheadh i gceist anseo go mbeadh comórtas oscailte ann, Gaeilge agus Béarla, go mbeadh scrúdú le déanamh, go bhfaigheadh duine áit ar an bpainéal idir a haon agus 1,000, go mbeadh gach uile dhuine ann - daoine le Gaeilge agus Béarla agus daoine le Béarla amháin - go mbeidís san ord ar an bpainéal céanna ach go mbeadh "G" curtha leis na daoine a bheadh an dá theanga acu. Nuair a bheadh an tseirbhís ag iarraidh poist ina mbeadh an Ghaeilge riachtanach léimfeadh sí síos go dtí an chéad duine eile leis an gcáilíocht. Dá mba rud é go raibh poist le Béarla ag teacht aníos agus go raibh "G" in aghaidh a ainm nó a hainm, faigheadh an duine sin an post freisin.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

We explained earlier that we were running separate streams.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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B'shin an áit atáim-----

Ms Shirley Comerford:

The individuals had the opportunity to compete on both streams and whichever number came up first.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Cuirfidh mé geall nach uimhir a haon a bhfaigheadh an duine. B'shin dhá fhoireann agus b’shin an t-anró. Ní thuigim cén fáth, ó tharla gurb é an scrúdú céanna atá i gceist, nach féidir le gach uile dhuine dul ar an bpainéal céanna agus go gcaithfidh duine le Gaeilge cur isteach in dhá chomórtas le háit a fháil isteach sa tseirbhís phoiblí. Ní thuigim cén fáth go gcaithfear é sin a dhéanamh seachas duine ag cur isteach air agus má tá sé nó sí an dara duine is cumasaí ar na daoine ar fad a chuirfear isteach ar an liosta, go bhfuil an duine sin thuas ag uimhir a dó, agus cibé jab a thagann aníos ansin, bíodh sé le Béarla, nó le Béarla agus Gaeilge, faigheann an duine an jab sin.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

The purpose behind having the Irish-only panels is that we are looking for ways to attract people who want to work in Irish as well as people who have Irish and want to work in the general Civil Service. The idea behind it is that we are trying to expand the pool and to look for ways to encourage people to come forward and to engage with us through the Irish language, rather than having the Irish and English generalist panels combined.

We have situations, and Mr. Sinclair to my left is a good example of that, where he was on two panels, the Irish and English ones. He was appointed through the-----

Mr. Liam Sinclair:

I was appointed through the Irish panel.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

Was he higher up on the Irish panel than on the English panel?

Mr. Liam Sinclair:

Bhí siad an-chóngarach. Bhí mé in ann a fheiceáil go raibh mé á bhogadh ó uimhir 17 ar an bpainéal Gaeilge agus uimhir 1,500, nó uimhir éigin sa réimse sin, ar an bpainéal Béarla. Bhí an dá phainéal ag bogadh mar an gcéanna agus bhí siad cóngarach ar deireadh. Bhí an seans agam, dá mba rud é gur tháinig an post as Gaeilge ar dtús agus nach raibh mé ag iarraidh é, é a dhiúltú agus bheinn fós ar an gceann Béarla agus vice versa.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Fiú amháin bhí an tUasal Sinclair ina chuid den dá phainéal-----

Mr. Liam Sinclair:

Bhí buntáiste leis sin.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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-----agus níl aon soiléireacht againn cé mhéad duine a dhéanann é sin, a thuigeann é sin, agus a chuireann an iarracht bhreise seo cur isteach ar an dá phainéal. B'shin an áit a bhfuil an fhadhb ann.

Tá fadhb eile ag baint leis seo, ar ndóigh, mar gur ainmnigh nó níor ainmnigh na Ranna Stáit mórán post a raibh Gaeilge riachtanach iontu. Dúradh gur fhógair Ranna Stáit nach raibh aon phoist a raibh an Ghaeilge riachtanach iontu, fiú ar leibhéal an oifigigh chléireachais. Ar an gcaoi seo, tá an tseirbhís ag dúnadh go leor Ranna Stáit do dhaoine. Bheadh sé i bhfad níos fearr, fiú dá mbeadh an Ghaeilge ó dhúchas ag duine, dul ar an bpainéal Béarla.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

That is not within our control to be honest.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Tuigim é sin.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Tá lón machnamh anseo. Tá dhá phainéal i gceist. Níl na figiúirí ag an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí cé mhéad duine atá ag dul siar. Tá figiúirí tugtha dúinn ag dul siar go 2017. B'fhéidir go mbeidh na finnéithe in ann teacht ar ais agus na figiúirí a thabhairt dúinn ó 2016 ar aghaidh cé mhéad duine a chuir an dua ar an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí bheith ar an dá phainéal agus cé mhéad duine nach ndearna é sin.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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An raibh dhá scrúdú le déanamh?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

Yes.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Le teacht ar an dá phainéal, an gcaithfear dhá scrúdú agus dhá agallamh a dhéanamh?

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Cé a rinne an cinneadh dhá phainéal a bhunú? Cén uair a tháinig sé sin isteach?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

We do not use exams for clerical officer grades so it is not an onerous application process. We can have a look at the numbers that have come through but 64 people have come through since 2016, as I alluded to in my opening statement. I am not expecting the numbers will be hugely different from that but we will certainly have a look at it and come back to the committee on that. On why we are running the Irish language-only competitions, it is about trying to address that issue of encouraging people to apply through Irish, making it as easy as possible for candidates to apply and having a look to see if this will make a difference. We are not sure at this stage because we have yet to run the competitions but it is being done in an effort to try to increase that candidate pool and encourage people to come forward and compete.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Má chuirim isteach ar an dá phainéal, an mbíonn orm dhá agallamh a dhéanamh nó cén bealach a chuireann duine isteach air?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

One will have to do two interviews. They are two separate processes and streams.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Seo í an fhadhb i gcónaí le bheith mar Ghaeilgeoir. Seachas é a bheith ina bhuntáiste, cuireann sé tuilleadh anró ar dhaoine. Don duine atá dátheangach, ba cheart go mbeadh sé ina bhuntáiste, ní ina mhíbhuntáiste. Ba cheart go bheidís in ann pacáiste leis an dá rud in éineacht a fháil le chéile agus go bheidís go huathoibríoch ar an bpainéal le Béarla mar ipso factotá Béarla acu ar aon chaoi. Dá mbeadh mise ag cur isteach air, táimid ar ais sa rud a chuireann alltacht orm. Is é sin ná go bhfuil duine an t-am ar fad ag iarraidh either anró breise a chur orthu féin nó caithfear tosú ag déanamh tomhas cé acu an bealach is fearr le dul ar aghaidh. Cuireann daoine an cheist orthu féin an gcuirfidh siad síos go bhfuil Gaeilge acu nó nach gcuirfidh siad síos é.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

As we said earlier, our intention in this is to try to broaden the candidate pool and encourage Irish speakers to compete because, as it stands, the numbers are so low that we had to do something.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Aontaím go gcaithfidh an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí daoine le Gaeilge a earcú ach ná smaoiníodh muid riamh ar dhaoine le Gaeilge go bhfuil siad gan Béarla. Tá Béarla acu. Áfach, smaoinímid ar dhaoine le Gaeilge agus nach bhfuil Béarla acu. In ionad é a bheith ina bhuntáiste go bhfuil Gaeilge agus Béarla ag daoine, cuirimid i mbosca na Gaeilge iad agus deirtear amhail is nach raibh aon Bhéarla acu. Tá Béarla den scoth acu. Sin é an áit a bhfuil an fhadhb.

Ms Shirley Comerford:

I would contend that is not how it is viewed. Our view is they are like gold nuggets and we have to try to do whatever we can to try to encourage and support people through our processes. We cannot turn around to any candidates and tell them they can compete in one process but not in another, or that if they compete in one process, it entitles them to a role in another process. We have to be clear because, as the Deputy knows, recruitment and selection are fairly litigious. We have codes of practice and rules and regulations we have to adhere to. We are looking to do something a little bit different here to see if that makes an impact. It is not just the design of the competition itself. We have been doing other things, such as reaching out to the second and third level institutions, going on roadshows, and targeted media campaigns. It is all in an effort to widen the candidate pool because we recognise the importance of having as many bilingual and Irish-speaking individuals in the public service and Civil Service as possible. What we were doing was not giving us sufficient numbers to meet that need.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Is dócha nach leor fós an méid atá á dhéanamh. Tá géarchéim agus dúshlán ann. Sa dara seisiún inniu, beimid ag plé an Ghaeilge san Aontas Eorpach agus an próiseas atá ar siúl i dtreo stádas iomlán ó thaobh na Gaeilge de san Eoraip, comhthreomhar leis na hiarrachtaí atá á dhéanamh ag an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí. Is aisteach an rud é nach mbeidh an maolú ar an nGaeilge i 2022 ach tá na dúshláin céanna ag an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí. Tuigim ón ráiteas tosaigh go bhfuil sibh ag obair as lámh a chéile ó thaobh na Gaeilge a chur chun cinn san Eoraip. Rud atá níos tábhachtaí domsa ná cad atá foghlamtha ag an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí ó thaobh na bearta atá déanta san Eoraip. Tá na dúshláin céanna ann ach tá orthu na dúshláin sin a shárú roimh 2022. Beidh siad os ár gcomhair i gceann tamaill, ach de réir mar a thuigim, tá solúbthacht i gceist. Ní raibh siad in ann teacht ar dhaoine so bhí orthu an cleachtas a athrú agus daoine a earcú i mbealaí éagsúla. Cad atá foghlamtha ag an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí as sin?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

The Chairman hit the nail on the head when she spoke about doing things differently and recruiting people in different ways. That is what we are trying to do.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Ní fheicim an fhianaise. B'fhéidir go bhfuilim beagáinín ró-chrua oraibh ach ní fheicim an fhianaise go bhfuil an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí ag breathnú ar bhealaí éagsúla chun daoine a mhealladh ó thaobh amuigh agus taobh istigh den rannóg féin. Cad atá á dhéanamh ag an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí chun daoine a mhealladh a gcuid Gaeilge a úsáid agus a fheabhsú?

Ms Shirley Comerford:

I understand what the Chairman is saying about the evidence because, again, this is something we are just trying. We will be running an Irish language-only executive officer, EO, competition, which will be advertised this week, and we will be running an Irish language-only higher executive officer, HEO, competition. We will be able to look at that in 2020 after we have run that competition to see if that has made an impact. That is one of the things we are doing differently to see if we can widen that candidate pool, as well as all the other things we are doing around reaching out to the second and third level institutions, partnering with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht on its roadshows, looking for ways where we can engage and work with Departments that have specific requirements. Those are things we are doing. I would like to think that at this time next year we will have some data so we can look at the correlations and see if it has made an impact and if it is any different.

Mr. Nicholas Meehan:

I might say something on behalf of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. As the committee will be aware, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has set up a committee, of which the Public Appointments Service, PAS, and ourselves are members, and they can also ask others to take part in this. As the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has said, "research will be commissioned aimed at identifying inter aliapriority areas for the recruitment of Irish speaking officials and the provision of services in Irish". Then the Department gives a list and we can provide the committee with details of that. Both the PAS and we are intimately involved with that group. As committee members know, it is a six-year plan and part of it is about recruiting functional bilinguals and more Irish speakers and examining how we can do that. There is also an issue in that our Irish-speaking people see careers in primary teaching, for example, whereas they may not be aware the Civil Service also offers rewarding careers for Irish speakers. People can move around in the Civil Service. If a person gets a job that requires Irish, he or she is not restricted to remaining in that area unless he or she wishes to.

The recent mobility scheme for clerical officers, COs, and EOs allows people to click on a button that allows them to stay in an Irish language area if they prefer to do so. If an Irish language job comes up they can apply for that themselves rather than applying for English-speaking jobs so we are trying to address the issue. We also have to recall that the moratorium was only lifted in 2015.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Tuigim é sin agus tá a fhios agam go bhfuil coiste idir-Rannach i gceist.

Mr. Nicholas Meehan:

It is a big-----

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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Tá a fhios agam é sin ach tá géarchéim ann ó thaobh na Gaeilge de agus ó thaobh cúrsaí earcaíochta de. Beidh dualgas breise oraibh nuair a thagann an Bille atá le foilsiú roimh dheireadh na míosa isteach.

Gabhaim buíochas leis na finnéithe. Tá seisiún eile againn agus bíonn sé deacair ar bhaill an choiste mar bíonn dualgais eile acu sa Dáil agus sa Seanad. Tá sé cabhrach dúinne cúrsaí a phlé anseo chun na fíricí a fháil. Gabhaim buíochas leis an Uasal Comerford, an Uasal Meehan, an Uasal Lyons, an Uasal McCabe, an Uasal Sinclair agus an Uasal Phelan. An chéad uair eile, b'fhéidir go mbeidh an cruinniú againn trí Ghaeilge. Is cuma liom faoi bhotúin ach tá gá leis an gcruinniú a fheidhmiú trí Ghaeilge. Go n-éirí libh le bhur dturas sa teanga. Beidh sos beag againn ar feadh cúpla nóiméad.

Cuireadh an suí ar fionraí ar 5.31 p.m. agus cuireadh tús arís leis ar 5.34 p.m.