Dáil debates

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate

Irish Sign Language

4:05 pm

Photo of Anne RabbitteAnne Rabbitte (Galway East, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

Yet again, I thank the Deputy for raising this issue. Anybody who is listing to the debate this evening might not realise the relevance of the Irish Sign Language Act that was signed into law 2017 and the commencement order that we brought forward in December 2020.

It was not just one Department, however. It was a whole-of-government approach across all Departments and all public bodies. The Deputy referenced the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. To me, that is only a newly-formed Department. I am, therefore, prepared to be very reasonable and say that I understand why it could not contribute in the way it should have. However, the Deputy referenced other Departments and public bodies that should know better. They should know the value of communication and of allowing people the opportunity to be the very best they can be to perform in their roles and responsibilities and integrate with services and peers, but also to recognise that ISL is a form of communication.

It is their first language, no different from how I speak. This is my first language. When a person uses their hands to communicate or understand, we have said, as legislators, we recognise that. We recognise it to the extent we asked the public bodies and the Departments, for the past three years, to work with us. I look forward to bringing it in before Christmas. I hope all Departments will return their observations. I also hope that when it goes to the Cabinet, it will be accepted warts and all because we need to be honest. All the people want is to be honest. If we are honest with the people, we can start to make it better. I have run over my time and I thank the Ceann Comhairle.


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