Seanad debates

Wednesday, 1 November 2006

Official Languages Act 2003: Statements

 

3:00 pm

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Minister, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Glacaim buíochas leis an Teach seo as ucht deis a thabhairt dom cúpla focal a rá maidir le cúrsaí logainmneacha. Tá córas comhuaineach aistriúcháin ar fáil sa Teach, agus, mar sin, tá sé i gceist agam mo chéad ráiteas a dhéanamh i nGaeilge, ach freagróidh mé ceisteanna sa teanga ina dtógfar iad ag an deireadh.

Tá sé thar a bheith tábhachtach go bhfuil an díospóireacht seo ar bun inniu. Ba mhaith liom cúlra a thabhairt maidir le cén fáth gur tugadh isteach Cuid 5 d'Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla. Faoin Acht sin, is féidir leis an Aire an leagan Gaeilge de logainm a dhearbhú le hordú. Chomh luath agus a bheidh a leithéid d'ordú reachtúil déanta i leith aon logainm in aon limistéar taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht, is é éifeacht na reachtaíochta nua ná go mbeidh comhstádas agus comhfheidhm dlíthiúil ag leaganacha Gaeilge agus Béarla an logainm.

Maidir leis na limistéir Ghaeltachta, rinne me an tOrdú Logainmneacha (Ceantair Ghaeltachta) 2004 ar 21 Nollaig 2004, agus tháinig an t-ordú i bhfeidhm ar 28 Marta 2005. Tiocfaidh me ar ais chuige sin níos déanaí. I dtosach, áfach, ní miste a mheabhrú do Sheanadóirí gur ag leaganacha Béarla na logainmneacha amháin, laistigh agus lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht, a bhí an seasamh oifigiúil roimh theacht i bhfeidhm Cuid 5 den Acht ar 30 Deireadh Fómhair 2003.

Is ar Acht Logainmneacha (Foirmeacha Gaeilge) 1973 a bhí muid ag brath go dtí sin. Bhí an tAcht sin lochtach agus easnamhach. Cé gur cheadaigh sé leaganacha údarásacha Gaeilge de logainmneacha na tíre le haghaidh críche dlí, le bheith iomlán beacht, chiallaigh se chomh maith de réir dlí go raibh an logainm féin fós i mBéarla amháin. Bhí doiléireacht ann faoi sheasamh an leagan Gaeilge ach i gcásanna áirithe atá luaite sa dlí féin.

Bhí se thar a bheith míshásúil go raibh bun-logainmneacha na tíre — agus tosaíocht acu ó thaobh dlí de — i mBéarla amháin agus gan ach leagan Gaeilge a bheith ceadaithe le haghaidh críche oifigiúla, agus ansin amháin sa chás go raibh ordú cuí déanta ag an Aire. Is dá bharr sin a chinn me ar na forálacha a bhaineann le logainmneacha a bheith san áireamh sa mBille a leagadh os comhair Thithe an Oireachtais agus ar ghlac an tOireachtas leo mar Acht in 2003 — Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003.

Is éard a bhí i gceist leis na forálacha a tugadh isteach mar chuid d'Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla ná comhstádas a thabhairt do leaganacha Gaeilge logainmneacha na tíre tar éis dom mar Aire an t-ordú cuí a dhéanamh, ach amháin sa Ghaeltacht, áit a mbeadh tús áite ag an leagan Gaeilge. Cinnte, bhí sé riachtanach an t-athrú seo a dhéanamh gan dochar d'aon úsáid laethúil, do chomhfhreagras, ceadanna pleanála, d'ionchúiseamh no d'aon ní eile de rogha an phobail áitiúil féin. Ba mhaith liom a rá go sonrach agus go soiléir uair amháin eile go dtugann an tAcht cosaint shoiléir d'úsáid an leagan Béarla de logainmneacha Gaeltachta ach i dtrí chás. Is iad na cásanna ná: in Achtanna Oireachtais agus in ionstraimí reachtúla; i léarscáileanna mórscála, arna bhfoilsiú ag an Ordnance Survey nó lena cead, a bheidh forordaithe, an cineál léarscáile a úsáidtear i gclár talún seachas léarscáileanna turasóireachta; agus ar chomhartha bóthair nó sráide arna chur suas ag údarás áitiúil nó thar a cheann.

Níl aon tionchar, i ndáiríre, ar an ngnáthshaol ach ag an gceann deireanach sin, a bhaineann leis na comharthaí bóthair. Mar sin, is ar chomharthaí bóthair amháin a bheidh éifeacht no srian ó thaobh úsáide ó lá go lá ag Cuid 5 den Acht. Fiú ansin, níl aon éifeacht ag an Acht ar aon chomhartha seachas ar chomharthaí bóthair agus sráide arna gcur suas ag údaráis áitiúla amháin.

Is é an cúlra atá leis seo ná go raibh go leor agóidíochta sa Ghaeltacht sna 60í in aghaidh comharthaí bóthair dátheangacha mar gur bhraith pobal na Gaeltachta gurbh é an t-ainm Gaeilge an t-ainm ceart ar áiteanna sa Ghaeltacht. Chuir siad in aghaidh leaganacha Béarla de logainmneacha a bheith á mbrú anuas orthu ag lucht maorlathais, mar a b'fhacthas dóibh é. Mar thoradh air sin, i 1970 rinne Roibeard ÓMaoildhia, mar Aire Comhshaoil, ordú gurbh i nGaeilge amháin a bheadh gach comhartha bóthair ar a mbeadh logainmneacha sa Ghaeltacht.

Dá bhrí sin, ó 1970 ar aghaidh, is i nGaeilge amháin, de réir dlí, atá logainmneacha ar chomharthaí bóthair i gceantair Ghaeltachta, lena n-áirítear an comhartha "An Daingean" mar a bhí le feiceáil i roinnt mhaith nuachtán. Mar sin féin, áfach — agus is deacair a thuiscint cén fáth — lean na léarscáileanna a bheith i mBéarla amháin, agus is rud é sin a bhí ina ábhar mór mearbhaill.

Bhí se soiléir, ó thaobh an turasóra de, nach ndearna sé ciall dhá chineál comhartha bóthair a bheith ann d'áiteanna sa Ghaeltacht, cuid acu dátheangach agus an chuid eile i nGaeilge amháin. Luíonn se le réasún, mar sin, go bhféadfaí a bheith ag súil, má thuigeann an turasóir an comhartha i nGaeilge amháin laistigh den Ghaeltacht, go dtuigfeadh sé an comhartha céanna lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht. Ar an láimh eile, mura dtuigeann sé comhartha i nGaeilge amháin lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht, beidh deacracht den chineál céanna aige leis laistigh den Ghaeltacht. Gan amhras, is é fírinne an scéil ná nach gá go dtuigfeadh an turasóir ciall an logainm ar chomharthaí bóthair chun a dtreo a aithint agus slí a dhéanamh. Is é an rud is tábhachtaí don turasóir ná go mbeadh comharthaíocht bóthair mhaith ann agus go mbeadh sí mar a chéile chuile háit, agus go mbeadh sé éasca dóibh iad siúd a leanúint bunaithe ar an léarscáil.

Maidir le cén fáth nár roghnaigh an tOireachtas comharthaí bóthair dátheangacha i ngach áit, braitheadh go spreagfadh a leithéid de chur chuige tuilleadh agóidíochta agus míshástachta sa Ghaeltacht agus go bhfeicfí é mar chúlú on gcinneadh, bunaithe ar éileamh an phobail, a rinne Roibeard Ó Maoildhia i 1970. Glacaim leis go bhfuil dhá theanga sa tír seo, ach maidir le líon na gcainteoirí agus an méid a úsáidtear sa saol poiblí í, is í an Ghaeilge is laige den dá theanga. Tá gá, dá bhrí sin, le beartais faoi leith chun í a chosaint, go háirithe sa Ghaeltacht, mar a bhfuil sí fós coinnithe mar theanga labhartha an phobail.

Socraíodh, mar sin, gurbh é an cur chuige ba chomhsheasmhaí agus ba loighciúla ná go dtaispeánfadh gach comhartha bóthair an t-ainm oifigiúil amháin d'áiteanna sa Ghaeltacht. Rinneadh socruithe, áfach, go dtaispéanfadh léarscáileanna turasóireachta a chuir an Ordnance Survey amach an dá leagan den ainm, is é sin, an leagan Gaeilge agus an leagan Béarla, chun go bhféadfadh turasóirí an áit a bheadh á lorg acu a aithint ó mhapaí bóthair. Ní amhlaidh a bhí an scéal i gcónaí san am atá caite. Tá tugtha le fios freisin ag Collins agus ag an AA go ndéanfaidís amhlaidh, agus i gcás an AA tá ainmneacha dátheangacha ar áiteanna sa Ghaeltacht acu ar chuid dá léarscáileanna cheana féin.

Cuireann an chonspóid faoin ainm "An Daingean" an-bhrón orm. Maidir leis an logainm féin, tá ceisteanna agus argóintí a bhaineann leis an ábhar sin a phléifidh muid ar ball. Is é an rud is measa faoi chuid mhaith den díospóireacht ná an mí-eolas a bhain léi on tús. Fiú sa Kerryman an tseachtain seo chaite, dúirt an eagarfhocal é seo.

Only Minister Ó Cuív can explain why he and his department failed so miserably in applying any foresight or element of democracy or consultation to the Placenames (Ceantair Gaeltachta) Order 2004 which is at the root of all the controversy in West Kerry.

Is fiú go mór dom, sa chomhthéacs sin, cur síos a dhéanamh ar na céimeanna a ghlac me chun an t-eolas is forleithne a chur i láthair an phobail agus na bpáirtithe leasmhara uile. Ba é seo an chéad uair ariamh a raibh dul i gcomhairle phoiblí ag Aire faoi logainmneacha. I mí Iúil 2003, d'eisigh mo Roinn preaseisiúint ar cheist na logainmneacha, agus tá 15 fógra eile eisithe ó shin a bhaineann le logainmneacha. Tá mé á cur sin ar fáil do Bhaill an Tí seo.

I mí Mheithimh 2004, cuireadh dréachtchóip den ordú chuig na grúpaí pobail go léir i ngach ceantar Gaeltachta — timpeall 80 ar fad, agus 15 cinn acu i nGaeltacht Chiarraí — chuig na comhairlí contae cuí agus chuig Údarás na Gaeltachta. Bhí sí ar fáil ar láithreán gréasáin na Roinne Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta freisin. Tar éis sin, ritheadh próiseas comhairliúcháin dhá-mhí faoina raibh deis ag na pobail áitiúla sna ceantair Ghaeltachta éagsúla na logainmneacha a bhí molta ag an gCoimisiún a phlé.

I bpreaseisiúint i mí Iúil 2004, tugadh cuireadh do phobail agus do dhaoine áitiúla a dtuairimí faoi na leaganacha Gaeilge a bhí molta san dréachtordú a chur faoi bhráid bhrainse na logainmneacha sa Roinn faoin 31 Lúnasa 2004. Tugadh poiblíocht don phróiseas sin sna meáin éagsúla Gaeilge agus Gaeltachta, go háirithe ar Raidió na Gaeltachta, TG4, Foinse agus , agus mar thoradh air sin bhí díospóireacht bhríomhar faoi leaganacha áirithe de na logainmneacha ar na meáin sin.

Ar 23 Iúil 2004, vótáil bord Údarás na Gaeltachta d'aonghuth i bhfábhar an dréachtordaithe, agus léirigh sé a dtacaíocht iomlán, d'aonghuth, ina leith. Tá 20 comhalta ar bhord Údarás na Gaeltachta. Toghann toghlach na Gaeltachta 17 acu go díreach, agus ceapann an tAire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an triúr eile, an cathaoirleach san áireamh. Is daoine Gaeltachta iad an triúr a cheapann an tAire freisin.

I mí Mheán Fómhair 2004, rinne oifigigh de chuid na Roinne Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cur i láthair eile do bhord Údarás na Gaeltachta chun deis a thabhairt dó plé iomlán a dhéanamh ar mhionsonraí an ordaithe agus ar na himpleachtaí a bhainfeadh leis. I mí Aibreáin 2005, bhronn me cóipeanna ceangailte den Ordú Logainmneacha (Ceantair Ghaeltachta) 2004 ar ionadaithe na gcomharchumann Gaeltachta agus na gcomhairlí chontae cuí.

Níl ansin ach liosta garbh, gan trácht ar chláracha a rinne oifigeach mo Roinne ar Raidió na Gaeltachta ag plé na ceiste go mion, altanna a ritheadh i bhFoinse agus i , míreanna nuachta a ritheadh ar TG4, agus araile. Cuireadh an t-eolas faoin ordú seo chuig gach seomra nuachta sa tír, Gaeilge agus Béarla, gan trácht ar ghlaoanna gutháin agus nótaí eolais a scaipeadh orthu. Ní féidir le mo Roinn ná mé féin tada a dhéanamh faoi muna bhfuil suim ag na meáin Bhéarla i gcúrsaí Gaeilge seachas nuair atá drochscéal ann.

Ba mhaith liom glacadh leis an deis seo chun na fíricí a bhaineann le cás An Daingin a chur ar thaifead an Tí seo. Cé mhéad ama atá fágtha agam?

Mary Henry (Independent)
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The Minister may have as much time as he wants. I am very interested in it.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Minister, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Ba mhaith liom glacadh leis an deis seo chun na fíricí a bhaineann le cás An Daingin a chur ar thaifead an Tí seo. Tá breis is 2,300 logainm clúdaithe faoin Ordú Logainmneacha (Ceantair Gaeltachta) 2004, agus, go bhfios dom, níl fadhb ná deacracht léirithe ach i gcás amháin, agus mar is eol don tír ar fad faoin tráth seo, is dócha, is é sin An Daingean i nGaeltacht Chiarraí.

Tá se tábhachtach go gcuimhneofaí gur foilsíodh dréacht den ordú roinnt míonna roimhré ar mhaithe le dul i gcomhairle le pobal na Gaeltachta. Teastaíonn uaim go mbeadh sé seo rí-shoiléir. Mar sin, bhí an deis ag páirtí ar bith aon tuairimí a bhí aige maidir leis an dréachtordú a nochtadh sula ndearna me an t-ordú. Mar thoradh ar an bpróiseas seo, fuarthas 33 aighneacht san iomlán ar an dréachtordú, a bhain le suas le 250 logainm. Cuireadh na haighneachtaí faoi bhráid Choimisiún na Logainmneacha, agus rinneadh roinnt leasuithe ar an ordú bunaithe orthu sin. Rinneadh an t-ordú ar chomhairle a fuair me on gcoimisiún.

Níor tháinig aon aighneacht chugam faoin Daingean nó Daingean Uí Chúis. Tá an-phlé déanta maidir le cé acu is cirte. Tá an leagan oifigiúil, "An Daingean", ag dul siar i bhfad. Bhí Pádraig Ó Siochfhradha, "An Seabhac", más buan mo chuimhne, iar-Bhall den Teach seo, mar chathaoirleach ar Choimisiún na Logainmneacha nuair a moladh "An Daingean" mar an leagan údarásach. Ní dóigh liom go bhféadfadh éinne a rá nach raibh aon eolas ag an Seabhac ar Ghaeilge Chorca Dhuibhne. Lena chois sin, ní mór dom a lua go bhfuil "An Daingean" leagtha amach mar ainm an bhaile ar chomharthaí bóthair laistigh den Ghaeltacht ón mbliain 1970 anall, agus go bhfios dom ní bhfuarthas oiread is gearán nó aighneacht amháin ag clamhsán gur "Daingean Uí Chúis" ar cheart a bheith ann in áit "An Daingean".

Ba mhaith liom díriú anois go sonrach ar an bpobalbhreith a reachtáladh sa Daingean le gairid agus a tharraing go leor poiblíochta, ní amháin go háitiúil ach go náisiúnta agus go hidirnáisiúnta. Mar atá ráite agam go minic roimhe seo, de réir na comhairle dlí atá faighte agam ón Ard-Aighne, níl aon éifeacht dlíthiúil, faoi na hAchtanna Rialtais Áitiúil 1946 agus 2001, ag an bpobalbhreith seo, mar nach féidir leis an bpobalbhreith an t-ordú faoi Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 a chur ar ceal.

Agus é sin ráite, dúirt me go soiléir le toscaireacht ó Chomhairle Chontae Chiarraí, nuair a chas me léi i mí an Mheithimh i mbliana, nár bhain se liomsa an cinneadh a dhéanamh, ná aon tuairim a thabhairt ina leith, má bhí an chomhairle contae ag iarraidh pobalbhreith a reachtáil mar reifreann comhchomhairleach. Mheabhraigh mé don toscaireacht an uair sin, áfach, nach mbaineann an próiseas atá leagtha amach sna hAchtanna Rialtais Áitiúil leis an bpróiseas comhchomhairleach a bhaineann le Cuid 5 den Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003.

Agus é sin ráite, dúirt me le baill na comhairle, dá dtiocfaidís chugam tar éis na pobalbhreithe, mar ionadaithe tofa an phobail, le hiarratas a bheadh indéanta faoin dlí, go mbeinn breá sásta staidéar a dhéanamh air. Ag an gcruinniú a bhí agam leis an toscaireacht ó Chomhairle Chontae Chiarraí i mí an Mheithimh, rinneamar plé ar thrí rogha éagsúil maidir le hainm oifigiúil bhaile an Daingin. B'iad na trí rogha sin: an t-ordú a athrú le "Daingean Uí Chúis" a chur in áit "An Daingean"; an tOrdú Logainmneacha a chúlghairm i gcás "Dingle" agus "An Daingean" amháin; agus "An Daingean" a athrú go "Dingle Daingean Uí Chúis".

Maidir leis an gcéad rogha díobh seo, is é sin an t-ordú a athrú le go mbeadh "Daingean Uí Chúis" ann in áit "An Daingean", an ceann is fusa. Níl aon deacracht agamsa agus tá sé seo curtha in iúl agam do Chomhairle Chontae Chiarraí. Dúirt mé léi siar i nDeireadh Fómhair 2004 go ndéanfainn é sin láithreach. Níor thángthas chugam ó shin, áfach. Tá sé mínithe agam do Chomhairle Chontae Chiarraí go bhfuiltear míchinnte maidir leis na himpleachtaí dlí a bhaineann leis seo. Is é sin, ní bheadh aon amhras ach go dtiocfadh sé ar ais go dtí Dingle. Níl mé cinnte cad a tharlódh don leagan Gaeilge. Tá breis comhairle á lorg agam anois ó Oifig an Ard-Aighne ina leith. D'fheadfaí go gcaillfeadh an leagan Gaeilge a stádas dlíthiúil ar fad. Ní bheadh sé féaráilte a rá le comhairle contae rud a dhéanamh muna mbeimis cinnte cén toradh a bheadh air.

Maidir leis an tríú rogha, is é sin "An Daingean" a athrú go "Dingle Daingean Uí Chúis", tá sé mínithe agam don chomhairle contae — agus ní mór dom é a rá go soiléir arís — nach féidir liom, faoin dlí, logainm dátheangach a cheadú do cheantar Gaeltachta. Tá sé curtha in iúl agam don chomhairle contae nach féidir liom ná leis an Rialtas glacadh le hiarratas uaithi ar éileamh a leithéid d'athrú a dhéanamh.

Ardaíonn sé seo an cheist cén fáth nach n-athraím an dlí. Mar atá ráite agam cheana féin, ar ndóigh, tá 2,300 ainm i gceist leis an Ordú Logainmneacha a rinne mé. Ó tharla go bhfuil an chuid is mó de na pobail Ghaeltachta sásta leis an méid atá curtha i gcrích maidir le stádas dlíthiúil a gcuid logainmneacha, bheadh sé i gcoinne an daonlathais dlí atá aontaithe ag an mhórchuid de mhuintir na Gaeltachta a athrú. Sin an áit a bhfuil an fhadhb. Ón bplé agus ón rud a chloiseamar — agus ní féidir le héinne a rá nach bhfuil a fhios ag an saol Fódhla maidir leis an ordú a rinneadh — ní léir go bhfuil aon éileamh nó míshástacht go ginearálta sna Gaeltachtaí, agus go mórmhór sna Gaeltachtaí láidre ina labhraítear an Ghaeilge mar theanga pobail. Mar sin, mar lucht déanta reachtaíochta, caithfimid breathnú ar an gceist sin.

Mar fhocal scoir, ós rud é gur iarr an phobalbhreith ar na toghthóirí vótáil ar aon rogha amháin, rogha atá dodhéanta faoin dlí i mo thuairim, scríobh mé chuig bainisteoir Chomhairle Chontae Chiarraí sula raibh an phobalbhreith críochnaithe, agus lorg mé cruinniú le comhairleoirí Chontae Chiarraí chun an dlí a bhaineann leis an gceist seo a mhíniú go soiléir, mar aon leis na roghanna réadúla atá ann dóibh a phlé. Sílim go bhfaighidh muid an bealach is fearr ar aghaidh má shuímid síos agus má bhreathnaímid go fíorchúiseach ar na fíor-roghanna atá ann taobh istigh den dlí. Má tá siad ag iarraidh an dlí a athrú, ba cheart dúinn é sin a phlé, agus míneoidh mé na próisis a gcaithfí dul tríothu agus an comhairliúchán a chaithfí glacadh le pobal i bhfad níos leithne dá mbeadh a leithéid sin i gceist.

Beidh mé ag casadh le comhairleoirí Chontae Chiarraí ar 17 Samhain 2006, agus tá súil agam go mbeidh plé réadúil tairbheach dearfach againn i dtaobh na ceiste seo. Tá socrú á dhéanamh freisin agam freastal ar chruinniú poiblí i mbaile an Daingin féin le deis a thabhairt don phobal an cheist a phlé liom go díreach. Nuair a bheas an plé sin ar fad déanta, tabharfaidh mé deis don chomhairle contae teacht ar ais chugam agus moltaí a dhéanamh. Tar éis dom na moltaí sin a fháil, déanfaidh mé scrúdú orthu, agus féachfaidh mé cén bealach is féidir linn dul ar aghaidh ón áit ina bhfuil muid.

Is é an áit ina bhfuilimid ná gur achtaíodh dlí sa Teach seo a thug, den chéad uair, stádas do logainmneacha Gaeltachta agus Gaeilge ar fud na tíre. Is fiú a aithint sa tír seo gurb í an Ghaeilge an chéad teanga oifigiúil. Ar 1 Eanáir, beidh sí ina teanga oifigiúil oibre san Aontas Eorpach. Ní raibh muid ach ag tabhairt stádas dlíthiúil cothrom do na logainmneacha Gaeilge ar fud na tíre. I mórchuid na gcásanna, b'shin iad na bunlogainmneacha, mar tagann an chuid is mó de na logainmneacha Béarla ón nGaeilge sa chéad áit.

Maidir leis an nGaeltacht, tá cás faoi leith ann. Mhol mé é, agus ghlac Tithe an Oireachtais leis sin. Nuair a bhí an díospóireacht ar bun sa Teach seo, iarradh orm go leor rudaí eile a dhéanamh maidir le comharthaíocht agus rudaí eile sa Ghaeltacht. Glacadh leis seo. Rinne mé dianmhachnamh ar an gceist seo maidir leis na comharthaí dátheangacha taobh istigh agus taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht agus na comharthaí bóthair. Shíl mé ag an am gur ghlac mé le comhréiteach a bhí meáite, is é sin, go mbeadh na léarscáileanna dátheangach agus na comharthaí mar a chéile taobh istigh agus taobh amuigh den nGaeltacht.

Go ginearálta — agus feictear dom go bhfuil glactha leis seo ar fud na Gaeltachta — tá fadhb sa Daingean agus sílim gurb é an t-aon réiteach air seo anois ná go bpléifear é seo leis an gcomhairle contae. Ina dhiaidh sin, éistfidh mé go beacht agus go cúramach le moltaí na comhairle contae. Nuair a bheas siad sin faighte agam, feicfidh mé céard is féidir a dhéanamh leis an fhadhb seo a réiteach.

4:00 pm

Photo of Joe O'TooleJoe O'Toole (Independent)
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Fáiltím roimh an Aire, atá istigh sa Teach arís inniu, agus go mór leis an alt deireanach nuair a dúirt sé go raibh sé sásta an rud seo a phlé agus go n-éistfeadh sé leis na moltaí a bheadh ag teacht ó Chiarraí ar an cheist chasta seo, cé nach bhfuil sí chomh casta sin.

Is maith an rud é seo a chur ar an taifead inniu. Aontaím go mór lena lán de na rudaí atá ráite ag an Aire. Mar shampla, aontaím go mór leis an méid a dúirt sé dhá bhliain ó shin sa Dáil i rith Chéim an Choiste d'Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla. Dúirt sé go raibh locht ag baint leis an dlí mar a bhí agus go raibh doiléireacht mar gheall ar stádas oifigiúil ainmneacha áite Gaoluinne sna Gaeltachtaí. D'aontaigh gach aon duine leis sin.

An uair sin, chuireamar leasú síos ó Fhine Gael le go mbeadh dátheangachas ann sa tslí is go mbeadh stádas oifigiúil ag an ainm Gaoluinne. Níos mó ná sin, chuir Sinn Féin leasú eile síos le go mbeadh ainm dátheangach ann ach le tús áite ag an nGaoluinn. Sin an méid a dúirt an tAire anseo inniu. Dúirt sé gur chóir go mbeadh comhstádas leis an ainm. Níl a fhios agam go beacht cad is brí le "comhstádas" nuair nach bhfuil ach an t-aon ainm amháin in aon teanga amháin i gceist, ach tuigim an méid a bhí ar aigne aige. Bhíos go mór i bhfabhar tús áite a thabhairt don ainm Gaoluinne, agus dúirt mé é sin leis an Aire go minic an uair sin.

Where did it go wrong? Ag féachaint ar an gconspóid sa Daingean, mar a dúirt mé go minic leis an Aire, tá trí ainm againn ar an áit sin. Tá An Daingean, Dingle agus Daingean Uí Chúis ann. Úsáidim "An Daingean" i gcónaí cosúil le duine in north Wicklow a déarfadh "Newtown" i gcomhair "Newtownmountkennedy". Déarfadh duine eile "Carrick", and he might be talking about Carrick-on-Shannon if he lived near it, or Carrick-on-Suir if he lived near there. Dá gcuirfí ceist ar dhuine i mBaile Átha Cliath cad as a dtáinig sé, áfach, déarfadh sé "Carrick-on-Shannon" nó "Carrick whatever". Is é an tslí chéanna dúinn. Agus mé ag caint le duine ó m'áit dúchais féin anseo sa chathair, is "An Daingean" a déarfaimis lena chéile. Dá mba rud é go rabhas ag caint le aon duine eile, is "Daingean Uí Chúis" a déarfainn nó "Dingle". Tá áit ar leith ag na teangacha.

Ag féachaint ar an méid atá ráite ag an Aire, táim an-soiléir ar an méid seo. Nílim ag rá an mhéid seo chun conspóid a bheith agam leis an Aire. Táim cinnte sa mhéid seo. Maidir lena bhfuil ráite ag an Ard-Aighne, deireann sé mar gheall ar an bpobalbhreith nach bhfuil aon éifeacht dlíthiúil aici faoi na hAchtanna Rialtais Áitiúil 1946 agus 2001 mar nach féidir leis an bpobalbhreith an t-ordú faoi Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 a chur ar ceal. That is a classic miscall. It is absolute truth, except that níl aon duine ar domhain ag iarraidh é sin a bhrú siar scornach an Aire. That is not what is going on here. Ní raibh pobalbhreith ag muintir Dhaingin Uí Chúis chun ordú a chur ar ceal. Ní hé sin an chúis gur thógadar an phobalbhreith nó gur chuir an chomhairle contae í ar siúl in aon chor. Ba é an rud a dheineadar ná é seo. Bhí pobalbhreith acu chun ainm nua a roghnú. Ní raibh siad ag déanamh aon cheangail idir an phobalbhreith agus Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla. Let us be clear that they are two separate issues. Unfortunately, they have been connected. Áit éigin eile, deireann an tAire nach cuid den phróiseas comhchomhairleach a bhaineann le Cuid 5 d'Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla é. This is right. I do not know of any kind of próiseas comhchomhairleach atá i gCuid 5 d'Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla seachas dul i gcomhair le Coimisiún na Logainmneacha. This is not part of that and nobody is saying it is.

For the Minister to keep emphasising that the plebiscite has no place in the Official Languages Act and that it is not part of a consultation process under the Act is correct but irrelevant. Ní bhaineann sé ar chor ar bith leis an méid a bhí ar siúl acu. Dheineamar plé air sin. Ní rabhamar in ann cúlú siar nó an t-ordú a chur ar ceal trí aon cheann de na próisis sin, agus is é sin an fáth gur chuamar go dtí na hAchtanna Rialtais Áitiúil.

Fuaireamar an méid seo amach. Ní chuireann Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla na hAchtanna Rialtais Áitiúil ar ceal. The Act does nothing to reverse the Acht Rialtais Áitiúil. Mar atá fhios go maith ag an Aire, fiú san t-aon reference in aon chor atá ann, ní féidir le Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla aon chinneadh atá déanta faoin Local Government Act 2001 a chur ar ceal. Gan amhras, níl tús curtha leis an Local Government Act 2001, so níl aon relevance ag baint leis sin ach oiread. Ní chuireann Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla an tAcht Rialtais Áitiúil ar ceal, agus mar sin, b'fhíor don Ard-Aighne nuair a dúirt sé nach féidir leis an bpobalbhreith an t-ordú a chur ar ceal ach oiread. They are not connected and stand on their own two feet.

Ar an dtaobh eile den scéal, ní bhraitheann an tAcht Rialtais Áitiúil ar an Aire Ghnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta. Níl aon stádas oifigiúil ag an Aire sin in aon cheann de na hAchtanna Rialtais Áitiúil. It is true for the Minister to say that he does not have to take direction from the plebiscite in Dingle to reverse the decision under the Official Languages Act. The two processes are separate. There is no process provided in the Act for the people to speak in the way they did.

Is é an rud a chuir isteach go mór orm ná go raibh Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla ag baint ó mhuintir na nGaeltachtaí a gceart sibhialta chun cinneadh a bheith acu ar ainm a n-áit dúchais féin. That was my point in getting involved. Dúirt mé gur cheart an ceart sin a thabhairt ar ais dóibh, and they can decide on whatever name they wish. Ní bhraitheann na hAchtanna ar a chéile. They are separate institutions. Ní dhéanann an próiseas san Acht Rialtais Áitiúil aon idirdhealú idir Gaeltacht agus Galltacht. That is an absolute fact, a legal fact. The Local Government Act 1946 makes no distinction between "Gaeltacht" and "Galltacht". The Minister knows what is listed, including civil parishes, localities, etc., ach ní dhéantar aon idirdhealú idir Gaeltacht agus Galltacht.

I am not raising these points for argumentation. Tá sé seo ráite agam tar éis dianscrúdaithe a dhéanamh ar an Acht agus dul i gcomhairle le habhcóide agus people of great distinction, in their own eyes at least, about the implications of the Act. Nothing I would put on the record today is incorrect and therefore a solution exists if we want it. Ní dhéanann an próiseas san Acht Rialtais Áitiúil aon idirdhealú idir Gaeltacht agus Galltacht. Is féidir leis an Rialtas cinneadh a dhéanamh.

Under the 1946 Act, the returning officer in the plebiscite makes the decision thereon and then the county council makes the application to the Government, rather than just to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government or the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. In this sense, tá an ceart ag an Aire nuair a deireann sé nach bhfuil an fhreagracht air chun éisteacht leis an plebiscite. Ó thaobh bhunphrionsabail an daonlathais de, chun aon rud a dhéanamh ba chóir dóibh dul i gcomhairle leis an bpobal, and in fairness to him, tá sé sin ráite aige go minic ó tógadh an plebiscite.

It is very simple. The 1946 Act sets out an absolutely legal process. It was incorrect for the Minister to say, at some stage, that the county council was not acting within the appropriate legislation. It was acting within the 1946 Act, as amended by way of the Act of 1953, the guidelines of 1956 and an amendment in the 1990s.

Under the process, a certain percentage must vote in favour of the proposal, which they did, after which the council makes an application for a change of name to the Government. This process is legal and sound in all sorts of ways. It is not correct to use the argument about the tie between the plebiscite and the Official Languages Act. The Minister is correct in that they are two separate issues and follow two separate patterns. There was no way to go through with it under the Official Languages Act. The Minister must therefore convince the Government go bhfuil the people of Daingean Uí Chúis, An Daingean nó Dingle, mar a ghlaonn sé air, ar aon aigne, nach mór, gur chóir an t-ainm a athrú. De réir dealraimh agus an mhéid atá ráite acu, is é an rud a theastaíonn uathu ná "Dingle Daingean Uí Chúis".

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Minister, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Mar ainm amháin.

Photo of Joe O'TooleJoe O'Toole (Independent)
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Mar ainm amháin. Sin an rud a bhí ann. Sin an rud atá ráite. Gan amhras, tá a lán de seo ag brath ar an Rialtas.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Minister, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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No.

Photo of Joe O'TooleJoe O'Toole (Independent)
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Caithfidh mé an méid seo a rá. Ó thosaigh an chonspóid seo, tá sé seo ráite agam. Mar nach bhfuilim i mo chónaí san áit sin, níor chóir go mbeinn á rá cad é ba cheart a bheith ann mar ainm. Fágaim é sin faoi mhuintir Dhaingean Uí Chúis, An Daingin, nó Dingle. Is é an rud atá á rá agamsa ná gur chóir don chinneadh a bheith déanta acu siúd.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Minister, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Mar eolas dom féin, bheadh sé ina chuidiú dá mbeadh sé seo pléite. Is é an bhrí a bhaineann an Seanadóir as an vótáil ná go bhfuileadar ag iarraidh go mbeadh ainm nua amháin ar an mbaile, "Dingle Daingean Uí Chúis", agus gurbh é sin amháin a bheadh oifigiúil. B'shin an bhrí a bhain an Seanadóir as an bpobalbhreith. Muna bhfuilimid soiléir cé air a vótáil siad, beidh fadhb ann. B'fhéidir go bhféadfadh an Seanadóir a mhíniú cad é an cinneadh an fuaireamar.

Photo of Joe O'TooleJoe O'Toole (Independent)
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B'fhearr liom go rachfaí i gcomhair le coiste mhuintir Dhaingin Uí Chúis chun é sin a phlé leo. Tá sé an-tábhachtach. Is é ceann de na rudaí a thit amach ná é seo — an ainm Gaoluinne nó Béarla é Dingle? Tá sé chomh Gaelach le "hata" nó "corp" nó 24 other words that I could give the Minister in Irish that are absolutely English in origin.

I have never doubted the Minister's commitment although we differ very much on this issue. I will defend him in other ways. People were galvanised over this matter and difficulties arose. Dúirt an tAire go raibh brón air mar gheall ar an gconspóid. Má tá brón ar an Aire, tá brón ormsa chomh maith. Nuair a cuireadh an deighilt idir muintir an bhaile mhóir agus muintir na tuaithe mórthimpeall orthu, I was sad about that. I was even sadder go raibh an feachtas seo curtha i gcomhthéacs go raibh sé i gcoinne na teangan agus na Gaeltachtaí. The biggest mistake ó thaobh straitéise de i ndeireadh na dála nuair a bhí an plebiscite ag dul tríd ná gur éirigh sé party political ina dhiaidh sin. These were major strategic mistakes.

The Minister should talk and listen to the people and recognise that they employed the process under the 1946 Act, on foot of which the application is made to the Government and not to himself. The Minister's strong point is that he could make a decision on the order and reissue it. I agree that it would be difficult to take two names, or the name Daingean Uí Chúis, from the big list. He could just withdraw the whole list and issue the new one an hour later.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Minister, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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I can do that.

Photo of Joe O'TooleJoe O'Toole (Independent)
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That would make perfect legal sense. Ultimately, we must determine our objective and arrive at a solution that will give equal status to the Irish name and make it official for the first time.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Minister, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Ní féidir linn aisghairm a dhéanamh.

Photo of Labhrás Ó MurchúLabhrás Ó Murchú (Fianna Fail)
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I dtosach, is mian liom fáilte a chuir roimh an Aire agus, go mórmhór, an ráiteas a chuir sé os ár gcomhair inniu. Tá sé tábhachtach, i ndáiríre, na fíricí a bheith á phlé againn agus, b'fhéidir, an mhíthuiscint atá ann i láthair na huaire a chuir ar ceal. Ní dóigh liom go gcabhraíonn an mhíthuiscint sin le aon chás. Is cinnte nach gcabhraíonn sé le muintir Chiarraí nó muintir na Gaeltachta. Is cinnte nach gcabhraíonn sé le chur chun cinn na Gaeilge freisin. Tá an-áthas orm go bhfuil ráiteas cuimsitheach curtha os ár gcomhair. Ba chóir dom a rá gur beag Seanadóir a chuireann an Ghaeilge chun tosaigh níos mó ná an Seanadóir O'Toole.

Photo of Joe O'TooleJoe O'Toole (Independent)
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Go raibh maith agat.

Photo of Labhrás Ó MurchúLabhrás Ó Murchú (Fianna Fail)
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Labhraíonn sé as Gaeilge sa Teach seo go minic. Is trua é nach mbíonn níos mó den Ghaeilge le cloisteáil anseo. Tuigim nach bhfuil aon drochthoil i gceist sa díospóireacht seo. Is maith an rud é go gcuireann an bheirt againn ár dtuaraimí ar aghaidh go minic ar an Ord Gnó. I slí, cruthaíonn sé sin go bhfuil an Ghaeilge beo — gur beo-theanga atá i gceist.

Bheadh ár lá tagtha, i ndáiríre, dá mbeadh díospóireacht mar seo le cloisteáil ar thuarascálacha an Oireachtais ar RTE. Chruthódh sé sin — má labhrann duine i nGaeilge, nó má úsáideann duine an Ghaeilge — go mbeadh an stádas chéanna ag an Ghaeilge is atá ag an Bhéarla. Tá mé lán-cinnte go raibh sé sin mar aidhm nuair a tháinig an reachtaíocht nua i dtaobh na Gaeilge isteach. Bhí sé i gceist dáiríreacht a chruthú maidir leis an Ghaeilge. Bhí go leor tacaíocht béal maidir leis an Ghaeilge le cloisteáil le blianta fada anuas. Thaispeáin an tAire, an Teachta Éamon Ó Cuív, ón tosach go raibh sé in ann a bheith raidiceach nó bunúsach. Ag an am gcéanna, bhí sé ag iarraidh a thaispeáint nach féidir linn an Ghaeilge a chur ar aghaidh i measc an phobail i gcoitinne gan reachtaíocht bunúsach a bheith ann. Nuair a bhí an gníomh sin á phlé i dTithe an Oireachtais, bhí sé soiléir go raibh an-tacaíocht ann dó. Is beag easaontas a raibh ann, rud a thug an-dóchas dom. Nuair a fhéachaim siar ar na conspóidí a bhí ann maidir leis an Ghaeilge uair amháin, go mórmhór sna 1960s, cuireann sé an-díomá orm. Ní chóir, i ndáiríre, go mbeadh easaontas ann maidir le aidhm náisiúnta, ach tharla sé sin sna 1960s.

Nuair a thóg an tAire an reachtaíocht nua isteach, bhí sé soiléir go raibh sé ag iarraidh an phobal ar fad a mhealladh leis. Dhein sé é sin i dtosach trí bheith ag caint le an-chuid daoine agus ag lorg aighneachtaí maidir leis an Ghaeilge. Labhair sé leis na heagrais Ghaeilge ar fad. Tháinig sé isteach sa Teach seo chun labhairt faoin reachtaíocht. Bhí sé ag iarraidh sinn uilig a aontú agus an phobal ar fad a mhealladh leis. Fiú amháin sna fíricí a chuir sé os ár gcomhair inniu, tá sé lán-cinnte nach raibh aon caimiléireacht nó uisce faoi thalamh i gceist. Dúirt an Seanadóir O'Toole go glacann sé agus glacann gach duine macánta sa tír seo go bhfuil croí an Aire san áit ceart. Go mórmhór, tuigimid go bhfuil sé ag iarraidh na cearta cuí a thabhairt do mhuintir na Gaeltachta. Is fiú féachaint siar ar na 1960s, nuair a bhí cearta sibhialta na Gaeltachta á phlé. Bhí náire orm mar Ghael go raibh orthu troid ar son na cearta sin. Má fhéachaimid ar na sean-scannáin, ar nós "Reeling in the Years", is minic a fheicimid píosaí áirithe ón nGaeltacht ag déanamh cur síos ar an gcoimhlint a bhí ann ag an am. Sa chás seo, bhí an tAire ag iarraidh a chinntiú nach mbeadh ar muintir na Gaeltachta dul amach a thuilleadh chun troid ar son a gcearta. Is é sin a bhi sé ag iarraidh a dhéanamh.

Nuair a bhí mé thíos i nDún Chaoin coicís ó shin — iarradh orm seminar a bhí á reachtáil ag Ionad an Bhlascaoid Mhóir a oscailt go hoifigiúil — bhí seans agam labhairt le muintir na Gaeltachta. Caithfidh mé a rá go raibh an-díomá orthu go raibh an conspóid seo ag dul ar aghaidh. Bhí náire orthu go raibh sé ag tarlú. Luann siad i gcónaí gurb í "An Daingean" — seachas "Dingle" — an t-ainm atá acu don bhaile le blianta fada anuas, fiú amháin sa litríocht. Cheap siad mar mhuintir na Gaeltachta go mbeadh áthas ar dhaoine i ngach chuid den Ghaeltacht — Dún Chaoin, An Daingean, Conamara nó aon áit eile — go raibh seasamh agus stádas ceart á bhaint amach acu agus go raibh cosaint dleathach acu maidir leis sin.

Dúirt an tAire inniu go bhfuil 2,300 logainmneacha i gceist sa díospóireacht seo. Bhí mé chun an phointe céanna a dhéanamh. De réir mar a thuigim é, is í An Daingean an t-aon áit amháin, as an 2,300 áiteanna atá i gceist, a tháinig chun tosaigh maidir leis an gceist seo. B'fhéidir nach bhfuil aistriúchán ceart á dhéanamh agam ar an sean-ráiteas go ndéanann eisceachtaí dlí olc. Táimid ag plé le pobal na Gaeltachta, An Daingean ina measc. Más rud é go bhfuil sé i gceist eisceacht a dhéanamh sa chás úd, ach gan bacadh leis an 2,300 áiteanna eile, beidh deacrachtaí ag an Aire maidir le sin. Ní raibh an tAire ag smaoineamh ar An Daingean nuair a thosaigh an díospóireacht agus an reachtaíocht seo — bhí sé ag smaoineamh ar chearta an phobail i gcoitinne. Fuair mé glaoch gutháin ó The New York Times sé nó seacht mí ó shin. Beidh an-áthas ar an Seanadóir Coghlan a chloisteáil go bhfuil poiblíocht mhór á fháil ag An Daingean amuigh i Nua Eabhrac. Níl aon amhras faoi ach go bhfuil ag eirí leis an bhfeachtas ar aon nós, mar go bhfuil an-chuid phoiblíocht ag dul leis seo. Tá sé soiléir os na fíricí atá á chuir os ár gcomhair nach bhfuil aon chosc á chur ar éinne an t-ainm "Dingle" a úsáid. Is bun-phointe é sin. Má táimid ag smaoineamh ar conas a úsáidtear na hainmnithe éagsúla, táimid ag caint faoi Achtanna agus ionstraimí an Oireachtais, léarscáileanna áirithe agus na comharthaí bóithre ata á chur suas ag na húdaráis áitiúla. Níl an scéal sin amuigh go poiblí. Tá sé tábhachtach go mbeadh an scéal sin amuigh.

Tá saghas díomá orm go raibh ar an Seanadóir O'Toole imeacht, ach ba mhaith liom an pointe a rinne sé maidir leis an bpobalbhreith a fhreagairt. Is cuma cad a bhí ag teastáil, mar ní raibh aon amhras faoin toradh a bheadh ann — go mbeadh ar an Aire nó ar an Rialtas an dlí nó an t-ordú a athrú. Tá súil agam gur thuig mé an rud a bhí á rá ag an Seanadóir O'Toole. An bhfuil sé ag rá anois go mbeadh muintir An Daingean sásta le "Daingean Uí Chúis" nó, mar thugamar féin air na blianta ó shin, "Daingean Uí Chúise"? An mbeadh na daoine san áit sásta le sin amháin ar na comharthaí bóithre? De réir mar a thuig mé an tAire, d'fhéadfadh sé féachaint ar sin. An bhfuil sé sin indéanta? Thuig mé ón Aire go mbeadh sé sin níos simplí. Ní féidir an dá ainm a bheith ann, mar níl sé sin istigh sa reachtaíocht. Is é sin an phointe a bhí á phlé ag an Seanadóir O'Toole.

Bhí an tAire thar a bheith oscailte anseo. Ní amháin gur ghlac sé le comhairle fíor-leathan nuair a bhí an reachtaíocht á chur i bhfeidhm agus nuair a bhí an t-ordú á chur le chéile, ach chomh maith leis sin thug sé seans do gach dream teacht chuige, faoi mar a dúirt sé. Níor tháinig éinne ar aghaidh maidir leis An Daingean ag an am. Cuireann sé ionadh orm, cé gur bhfuair an Aire breis agus 30 aighneachtaí ar fad, nár tháinig éinne chuige maidir leis An Daingean. Cad ina thaobh gur thosaigh an conspóid úd níos déanaí? Níl a fhios agamsa, ach tá an tAire tar éis rá go mbeadh sé lán-sásta labhairt le hionadaithe na comhairle, agus tá an ceart aige labhairt leo siúd atá tofa. Tá sé sásta labhairt le comhairleoirí ó Chiarraí chun an rud seo ar fad a phlé agus a mheas, agus tá mé lán-chinnte go mbeidh sé sásta a bheith réasúnta sa chás seo, faoi mar a bhíonn sé i gcónaí. Tá sé tar éis cruthú arís nach bhfuil sé ag iarraidh aon rud a bhrú ar éinne eile. Ní bheadh sé ceart anois, áfach, na cearta atá bainte amach ag muintir na Gaeltachta a bhaint díobh arís nó aon mhíthuiscint a chothú maidir le stádas 2,300 logainm bailte, sráidbhailte, bhailte fearainn agus mar sin de.

Ba bhreá liom, faoi mar a dúirt mé go minic anseo, go mbeadh dea-thoil arís le feiscint maidir leis an gceist seo. I ndáiríre, ní hé seo croílár na ceiste maidir leis an Ghaeilge. Is é an reachtaíocht agus an tAcht féin an rud is tábhachtaí. Tá suas le 600 no 700 eagras poiblí a mbeidh orthu seirbhís dhátheangach a chur ar fáil. Sin an dea-scéal, an scéal mór i mo thuairim. Tá an rud seo timpeallach ar fad, agus tá an tAire tar éis an doras a fhágáil ar oscailt. Beidh sé ar fáil chun an stádas a bhaineann leis féin agus an fhreagracht atá air mar Aire a mhíniú do mhuintir Chiarraí tríd na comhairleoirí. B'fhéidir gur chóir dúinn go léir fanacht leis sin agus féachaint cad a thiocfaidh as.

Photo of Paul CoghlanPaul Coghlan (Fine Gael)
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Is mór an trua go bhfuil conspóid ar ainm Dingle. I do not possess the beautiful Irish of the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Deputy Ó Cuív, nor that of Senator Ó Murchú and Senator O'Toole.

There is no doubt regarding the Minister's love of the Irish language and his interest in all the Gaeltacht regions of our country. He went into great detail on the history of this matter, the wishes of the people of the Gaeltacht, the road signs and the actions of the former Minister, Bobby Molloy, in ordering Irish names for places in the Gaeltacht, including An Daingean. I always thought Daingean was a town in Offaly and I do not think the people of Dingle wish to rob Offaly of a placename.

Like Senator Ó Murchú, I knew the town as Daingean Uí Chúis when I was growing up. I bow to Senator O'Toole's superior knowledge as it is his native place and I reiterate and endorse everything he has said on this subject.

The people of Dingle were happy as things were. As the Minister pointed out, more than 2,300 placenames were involved and it is great that only one is giving difficulty. I do not see history as being of major importance in this issue. We have a difficulty. I believe we should put it right and I have no doubt this can be done.

The Minister suggested the plebiscite has no legal effect and that one cannot cancel an order. He met Kerry County Council in June and is prepared to meet it again on 17 November, for which I salute him. As Senator O'Toole pointed out, a committee is in place and, while I am not sure a public meeting is necessary, we should do whatever it takes to solve this issue. The Minister mentioned advice he received from the Attorney General but, again, I suggest there must be ways around such obstacles and I am sure the Attorney General would be helpful in this regard. If we cannot allow a bilingual name, we should change the law or, as Senator O'Toole suggested, change the order. Only one placename presents a difficulty so I would have thought it could be easily surmounted.

I gratefully accept that the Minister will examine recommendations received from Kerry County Council and the people of Dingle. We should not construct a straitjacket by proceeding with preconceived notions. The Minister said he is prepared to see what can be done on this issue and I think that is constructive. I believe that a proper solution can be found through the Minister's advisers and other individuals who are prepared to be helpful. As Senator O'Toole said, the people did not vote to cancel an order, they voted to choose a new name.

I also endorse a great deal of Senator Ó Murchú's sentiments. He rightly states that the Minister was anxious to give the people of the Gaeltacht their rights and there is no doubt about the result which, as democrats, we all accept. It is not acceptable in legislation but, I believe, we can put the legislation right. Senator Ó Murchú said he believed the Minister would be happy to be reasonable.

Some 93% of the people of Dingle have expressed their desire to reinstate what they believe to be the town's historical bilingual name, Dingle Daingean Uí Chúis. We have already gone into detail on the plebiscite, which was held under the rules of the Local Government Act 1946. Dingle is as entitled to the protections and benefits of that Act as any other town in the country. No judgment has been made to the contrary and we are confident that any court in the country would uphold Dingle's right to the plebiscite. I am happy the Minister will meet Kerry County Council. The rules of the Act state Kerry County Council is obliged to present the results of the Dingle plebiscite to the Government, at which point the Minister may or may not choose to act on the result. I do not wish to prejudice the outcome of the consultations to take place on 17 November.

I support Dingle's call on the Government to recognise the result of the plebiscite because the citizens have voted to reinstate what they see as the town's historical names. All Irish towns have an official Irish name and an official English name and I join those citizens in asking the Minister to acknowledge, as I am sure he does, their democratic wishes. I ask the Minister to make the necessary adjustments to the placenames order or perhaps, as Senator O'Toole proposed, withdraw the order and replace it with another, following the consultations.

I do not wish to labour this issue and I do not wish to be divisive. I salute the Minister in his love and support of the language and Gaeltacht. If he goes to Dingle and Kerry County Council with an open mind, bearing in mind what has happened, I have no doubt this minor difficulty can be overcome and a happy outcome found. I hope the talks on 17 November go well.

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Fianna Fail)
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Tá an tAire sásta bualadh le comhairleoirí i gCiarraí ar an 17 mí Shamhna agus cuirim fáilte roimhe sin. Tá súil agam go mbeidh sé in ann cúrsaí logainmneacha a réiteach mar tá conspóid ann faoi láthair. Bhí an tAire ar an raidió cúpla lá ó shin agus cuireadh ceist air faoin logainm cheart — Dingle nó Daingean Uí Chúis. Dúirt sé ar an chlár sin go scríobhfadh sé le bainisteoir Comhairle Chondae Chiarraí agus tá sin déanta aige agus tá an cruinniú socraithe.

Senator Coghlan made the point about Daingean in County Offaly as if it is the only Daingean in Ireland. There is a CD available entitled "Daingean Uí Chúis Abú". Níl an CD ag moladh an Aire, tá sé ag caint faoi turasóirí a bhí ag iarraidh dul go dtí Ciarraí ach shroich siad Uíbh Fhaillí. If it was as simple as that, there might be a resolution but there are many places called Daingean, such as the place near Tuam in County Galway and Daingean Heights in Galway city. It is a popular placename, it is not as simple as Senator Coghlan makes out.

Is cuimhin liom an t-ordú a rinne Bobby Molloy nuair a bhí sé mar Aire sa Roinn Rialtas Áitiúil, go mbeadh Gaeilge amháin ar gach comhartha bóthair le logainm Gaeltachta air. Bhí an-fhadhb ag an am, le gluaiseacht cearta sibhialta i gConamara ag iarraidh go mbeadh an logainm amháin ar na bailte agus scrios siad comharthaí ansin. Tá muintir na Gaeltachta sásta leis an tslí go bhfuil an tAire ag iarraidh an fhadhb seo a shocrú. Is breá liom a chloisteáil ón Aire go bhfuil sé ag dul go Condae Chiarraí agus ag éisteacht leis na comhairleoirí ansin.

There is a difficulty that we have so many towns and townlands with the same name — how many Gorteens and Caltras are there in each county? I have noticed this travelling around the country and I would not be happy with a coimisiún that states that Irish for Gort in Galway is An Gort, because we always refer to it as Gort Inse Ghuaire, in honour of King Guaire. My own village of Castleblakeney is named An Gallach but locally it is known as Gallach Uí Cheallaigh on account of the Kelly family, one of the most hospitable peoples ever in Galway. They ruled Hy-Many, an area known for hospitality. The coimisiún must look at other issues. We are discussing the idea of Dingle, Daingean Uí Chúis or An Daingean but there are other towns throughout Ireland where placenames have been changed or shortened and that is wrong. The old names say more about the history of a town and changing them is a backward step.

Tá súil agam go mbeidh an tAire ag an chruinniú ar an 17 mí Shamhna leis an fhadhb seo a phlé agus go mbeidh réiteach ar an scéal chomh luath agus is féidir.

Photo of Feargal QuinnFeargal Quinn (Independent)
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Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire. Is cuimhin liom seanfhocal ón scoil: éist le fuaim na habhann agus gheobhaidh tú iasc, listen to the sound of the river and you will catch a fish. It is a saying that I have used in my lifetime, listening to the public whether they are customers or citizens.

This debate is attracting a lot of crit

I supported the thinking behind the Bill for the same reason that I supported the establishment of TG4, which celebrated its tenth anniversary last night. We all want the Irish language perceived not only as acceptable but interesting, fun and useful. If a language is to be more than a museum piece, people must be able to carry out the main activities of their lives through that medium. Given the standing of the Irish language in the Constitution, it is logical that people should be able to conduct their business with the State in the national language.

I refused, however, to support the Bill because I thought it was putting energy, effort and expense into the wrong place. I feared, and rightly as it turned out, that the implementation of the Bill would have enormous implications for the cost structure of all public bodies. It has added a new layer of expense to the provision of every public service, to say nothing of the delays that have occurred while translation takes place, something we have raised on a few occasions.

The Act failed to acknowledge a key fact of Irish life: the majority of our citizens are not competent enough to conduct their business as Gaeilge. If everyone could speak Irish, we would not need the Act, but reality is different. That reality has been repeatedly denied by successive Governments of all hues. Our young people learn Irish from the first day they start school so why can so few people speak it? Why do so few adults wish to speak Irish in their daily lives? They may wish to use it but they do not feel competent enough to do so. How did we fail our children and what must we do to engender in them a love of the language? All of my children went to the Gaeltacht and came home enthusiastic about the language. It was a joy to see them coming out of reunions speaking as Gaeilge again but as time went on they failed to hold on to it. That is the issue the Act failed to address.

If we must invest money, enthusiasm and effort, it makes sense to devote that investment to improving the teaching of Irish in schools. There is a massive State apparatus devoted to the teaching of Irish and in spite of that the majority of young people do not learn the language effectively. Many young people leave school not just with a lack of enthusiasm but with a negative attitude towards the language. It must be possible to overcome this because other countries have succeeded in doing so. Some time ago I visited Israel where immigrants who cannot speak Hebrew when they arrive have consistently learned the language. We can learn from this example.

The current system of teaching Irish has utterly failed to engage the majority of the population, particularly students. Why have we failed so miserably? The reason is not that Irish is a particularly difficult language to learn or that we did not devote sufficient time or resources to its teaching. There must be another reason for the monumental failure to achieve the objectives we set ourselves.

I was pleased to read today that the Minister for Education and Science proposes to tackle the issue by taking a different approach. Her message appeals to me. Most of the communication in which we engage in daily life is spoken rather than written, whereas the teaching of Irish has been focused on grammar and written skills as opposed to speaking. The Minister appeared to send out a message today that she will change this approach.

If we genuinely have the interests of the Irish language at heart, we should not waste time making political footballs out of place names. Instead, we should ask questions such as those I have posed and pursue the answers regardless of where they lead us. For example, how can we achieve our objectives and obtain the best value for money? I was virtually a lone voice in the House when the Official Languages Act was being passed. I was interested to note, therefore, that in his first annual report, the Coimisinéir Teanga, whose office was established by the Act, stated:

It is estimated that almost 1,500 hours of tuition in the Irish language is provided to school pupils over a period of 13 years, from their first day at primary school to the end of secondary level. This clearly raises the question: is the State getting value for money from this investment, if it is true that so many are going through the educational system without achieving a reasonable command of the language — even in the case of students who succeed in getting a high grade in Irish in their final examinations?

There is much meat in this sentence. The passage continues:

I believe that there is an urgent need for a comprehensive and impartial review of every aspect of the learning and teaching of Irish in the educational system, so as to ensure that the continuous and substantial State investment in Irish will ensure that students, having spent thirteen years learning the language, acquire a reasonable fluency or command of the language by the time they complete their schooling. This is essential if we are serious about promoting Irish in every aspect of national life, including public administration.

These are not my words, but those of the Coimisinéir Teanga. Has the Minister, to whom the Coimisinéir reports, read these words? I note he is nodding his head. If that is the case, has he paid attention to them? He should use his time to do something useful to promote the Irish language rather than wasting time and money on a wild goose chase trying to bend the people of An Daingean or Dingle to his will.

There is considerable good will towards the language and the Minister's heart is in the right place. Although I do not have the solution, I believe that, with commitment, we will achieve the aims we have been striving to achieve for 80 years. While I wish the Minister well, I believe he has chosen the wrong path in concentrating his energies on the issue of place names.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Minister, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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I thank Senators for their contributions to this thoughtful debate. I will address my comments to Senator Quinn. Last week, Ministers from Scotland, Wales, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey had a most interesting discussion at the British-Irish Council. It was amazing to learn how similar are the circumstances prevailing in the various jurisdictions. Scotland, for instance, either has a language Act or is in the process of enacting one, while Wales already has legislation on languages which it intends to strengthen. Both countries regard these laws as vital bulwarks for minority languages.

The Welsh language is in a robust position. Speaking to my Welsh colleague, it was interesting to learn that Ireland is not in a unique position because Wales is experiencing precisely the same problem as we are. Welsh is taught in every school in Wales but the education system does not produce a large number of Welsh speakers. We teased out how we deal collectively with this problem and our discussions were most instructive.

On a broader matter, the Official Languages Act sought, in a minimalist fashion, to provide that Irish speakers will be entitled to certain basic services. It did not make any impositions on English speakers but laid down and made available to Irish speakers a small number of rights.

One of the problems about all debates on the language is that the truth is the first casualty. I saw estimates of the cost of translating official documents running into millions of euro but when I asked Departments how much the translation of documents under the relevant section of the Act had cost them in 2005, I learned that the sum total of these costs between 15 Departments and the Office of Public Works was €374,000. The cost of producing the same documents in English in terms of time and effort was far in excess of that figure.

The current cost of translation can be reduced to approximately €100,000 per annum because many documents, for example, annual reports and accounts, are produced in the same format every year. Machine translation facilities are available which will automatically translate any sentence that appeared in a previous document. It will even change figures if one inputs the changes. As Senators will be aware, the few documents requiring translation — strategy statements and so forth — tend to take a similar format every year.

The Official Languages Act has not cost a large amount of money. It has, however, freed up the incessant demands on my Department arising from the need to raid my Department's small budget for the Irish language every time someone needed to produce a document, however minor, in Irish.

Senator Quinn referred to the controversy arising from the naming of An Daingean or Dingle or Daingean Uí Chúis. Let us return to the facts. Prior to the enactment of the Official Languages Act, no Irish place name, with the exception of places such as Dún Laoghaire and Cobh, had official status and the legal entitlement to use the Irish language form was not clear in certain circumstances. The issue of whether I had a right to use the name "Corr na Móna" on a planning application had to be cleared up and we set about rectifying the matter. What did we do? We decided that, with the exception of the Gaeltacht, the Irish language version of a place name would have the same status as the English version. This would be a matter of choice for citizens. For the first time, there was no ambiguity and if a person in Donnybrook wanted to use the name "Domhnach Broc", there would be no question that he or she could use the Irish version in all cases and it would have equivalence with Donnybrook. Making this choice available afforded a right without removing any other rights.

In the case of the Gaeltacht we provided specific, legal protection and provision for the use of the English language on equal terms with Irish. Incidentally, the same position did not apply in reverse. We provided that the Irish version of a place name would be the official version but in every circumstance the use of the English language version would be specifically protected in law, without equivocation, except in three circumstances. The first of these was that the Irish version shall be used in the event that the Oireachtas passes an Act or makes a statutory order which refers to a town in the Gaeltacht. This provision does not affect citizens on a day-to-day basis.

The second exception was a provision that the Minister could make an order regarding Ordnance Survey maps. The only order made thus far relates to large-scale maps. That these maps were not bilingual effectively forced us to do all our business through English because they showed towns in the Gaeltacht such as An Ceathrú Rua and Ros Muc as Carraroe and Rosmuck, respectively. Given the choice, we decided that large-scale maps, as opposed to tourism maps, would show the Irish version of place names in the Gaeltacht.

The third exception related to the vexed issue of signposts. There may be days when I wished former Minister, Bobby Molloy, did not do what he did. However, Bobby did what Bobby did and, in my view, left an impractical mess. In Eyre Square in Galway, the signpost showed Carraroe and Ceathrú Rua. By the time one got to Barna, Carraroe had disappeared but the map still showed only Carraroe. It was not too difficult with Carraroe but when one was dealing with a place such as An Fhairche or Clonbur, one really had a pain in one's head. I decided this had to be dealt with once and for all because I spent much of my life stopping at crossroads in Connemara to help people who were lost. The maps were saying one thing and the signposts were saying another.

I examined the options. The first was probably the most attractive, and I considered it seriously. It was that all signposts would show Carraroe and Ceathrú Rua and An Fhairche agus Clonbur, in other words, be bilingual both inside and outside the Gaeltacht. However, I said to myself: "Go there at your peril". While the people of the 1960s would not do it, the children nowadays would be out with the paint.

The second issue was that it is irrational to accept the concept that tourists — signposts are for tourists, not for people who can find their way around — in Eyre Square can understand only Spiddal but when they get to Barna can suddenly understand An Spidéal. My logic was that if the tourist could understand it in Barna, they could understand it in Eyre Square. The problem for the tourist was the map. The map showed only "Spiddal" and the sign showed only "An Spidéal" and so forth. I decided the way around it was to make all the maps bilingual and have the signposts consistently, inside and outside the Gaeltacht, showing the same thing.

I did something equally radical in the opposite direction. There was a nonsensical situation in the Gaeltacht, and it is amazing nobody ever talked about it, whereby if one found a signpost in the Gaeltacht for somewhere outside such as Westport, the signpost showed only Cathair na Mart, which is Westport in Irish. When one's map showed only Westport, how was one to find Cathair na Mart? If one looks at this from the tourism point of view, there were only two realistic choices, that is, have the map bilingual and the signs in Irish only or have both the map and the signs bilingual. However, the sign should show the same thing inside or outside the Gaeltacht. It is irrational, from a tourism point of view, to have it any other way.

I decided that the signpost inside as well as outside the Gaeltacht for a placename outside the Gaeltacht should show, for example, Westport and Cathair na Mart. People will criticise me for that but since there are two official forms of the name, it is rational that the signposts do not show Westport and Cathair na Mart outside and then only Cathair na Mart inside the Gaeltacht. I made the decision, therefore, that they would show both forms of the name; that is, a signpost in Doire na Maol would show Galway and Gaillimh.

Whatever one can say about the decisions I made, when one looks at it from a tourism point of view there is a certain consistency. There is an irony in this. I have been talking to my friends in Galway and have said to them, "By the way, do you notice anything strange in Galway these days?" They say they have not. When I ask if anyone has complained to them, they say they have not. I approached the radio station presenter, who hosts the equivalent of the Joe Duffy "Liveline" radio show, and asked if he had noticed anything in Galway. He said "No". I told him that somebody has carefully taken down Spiddal from every signpost around the city and all that is left is An Spidéal.

We have had a fantastic tourism season and the people of south Connemara have said it was the best ever. People in Spiddal said it was very good once the season got going. Apparently, the signpost issue was never raised by anybody in the tourist office. The simple reason is that the map shows Spiddal and An Spidéal. Foreign tourists are used to the bilingual situation. They know to keep following the signpost for An Spidéal until they find it. The interesting thing is that this happened and nobody paid any attention to it.

The issue of democracy was raised. We are all democrats but we make laws which all citizens must accept, even if they do not like them. We make laws every day that apply across the country. That is what we are elected to do. If one small group in a small village does not like the smoking ban, we tell them it is the law of the land. My problem is that 2,300 names appear to have great acceptance and one does not. I am told I am the big bad wolf because I am imposing something on the 2,300 with which they are not exactly comfortable. I am willing to listen to the people of Daingean Uí Chúis but it is a little disingenuous to say that there is a great flouting of democracy to expect that if one lives in the Gaeltacht and enjoys the great privilege of all that goes with it, one should do what the Gaeltacht people do. Nobody can pass a law which states that one can smoke in a pub in Caherciveen but one cannot smoke in a pub in Dublin. We tend to make our laws to cover specific areas or specific individuals.

The difficulty with this has been that to row back on the process would be to stir up an even bigger hornets nest of discontent. Even in Kerry there is great discontent. This issue went to the board of Údarás na Gaeltachta, which is a body elected by the people of the Gaeltacht, before I signed the order. We consulted with the board. D'aonghuth or unanimously it supported what I was doing. I will discuss it with the members of the board at the end of the week when I meet them again. The hurtful and damaging aspect of this is that newspaper editorials claim we never consulted. We did consult. I do not mean simply putting an advertisement in the newspaper. We wrote to all the community councils and told them what we intended to do. We instituted debates on all the radio stations, magazines and so forth. We went out of our way to try to make people aware of what we were doing.

I foresaw huge perils in this with the forms of the names. There is one form I do not like for Dooros which is Dúros. I would spell it Dubhros. I thought there would be murder locally but they did not complain so I did not change it. It would not be my choice of spelling because the name comes from dubh ros.

Senator Kitt mentioned Gort Inse Guaire versus Gort. What apparently happened is that a person named McLysaght, at the beginning of the last century, had an idea that an Irish name had to be long. He used names such as Daingean Uí Chúis, Gort Inse Guaire, Nás na Ríogh and so forth. In some cases, such as An Daingean agus Daingean Uí Chúis, there is authentic ancient validity for both versions. However, in other cases, there is little, such as Nás na Ríogh. That was only a reference to Naas in a poem. In that case it was similar to saying Galway of the tribes in a poem. That is all right in a poem but please do not put it on our signposts. We will stick with the simple Galway in English and Gaillimh in Irish.

Of course, as these names were taught in schools and were revivalist names, they caught on. However, the commission examined these. The commission is composed of a broad range of experts, ordinary people and people from the Gaeltacht and when it examines these names, one of the big guiding factors is what term the last native Irish speakers used if there are no Irish speakers in the area. The commission will testify to the fact that around Gort it was known as An Gort, not Gort Inse Guaire.

I recall a case when the then Minister, Deputy de Valera, overruled the commission on my advice. An Cnoc is the correct and historical name for Knock in County Mayo. In the 1930s a priest created the name Cnoc Mhuire or Mary's Hill. It caught on in the Gaeltacht and if one says, "Beidh oilithreacht go Cnoc Mhuire" or "There will be a pilgrimage to Knock", everybody knows it is Knock in County Mayo and not An Cnoc in Inverin. That is part of the ordinary discourse in the Gaeltacht so the official name was changed to Cnoc Mhuire.

I must defend the commission and its integrity in terms of the detailed work it does and the historical references on which it bases its work. In the case of An Daingean, I have no particular hang-up between Daingean Uí Chúis or An Daingean. However, it is wrong to say that a civil servant dreamed up this in the 1920s and it is a slight on the seabhac, Pádraig Ó Siochfhradha, to say it. An Daingean is historically well attested and so is Daingean Uí Chúis so which won the day? I can tell the Senator what won the day for An Daingean. If one goes back to the west Kerry Gaeltacht and talks Irish to the native speakers, they invariably use An Daingean. I was slightly amused to hear one of those proposing Daingean Uí Chúis — a colleague of the Senator — speaking about a sewerage scheme for the town of Dingle on Radio na Gaeltachta. He referred to a town called An Daingean five times in the interview and he was not talking about County Offaly. In reality, that is what they all use all of the time. If they want to discard that and use Daingean Uí Chúis I have no hang up about it, but to say that it is controversial to reaffirm what has been there since 1960 is to misrepresent the facts in the case.

My memory of the legal advice is contrary to what Senator O'Toole stated. I am always open to looking at things again, but I am bound by the Attorney General's advice. If the members of Kerry County Council suggest to me that they want a new name for the town of Dingle, that is, Dingle/Daingean Uí Chúis and that they want it done under the 1946 Act, I will look for further legal advice on the issue to see if it is legally possible. If it is, it must be taken into account in the further discussion. If it is not legally possible, I hope the House recognises that it is not acceptable for a Minister to act outside the law. In other words, I am bound by the Attorney General's advice whether he is right or wrong. That is a basic tenet by which I am ruled as a Minister.

The option to rescind the order is handy, but I am trying to find out if there is a snag to it as I do not wish to mislead anybody. I want to check this before people get into a hullabaloo about this and ask for things that they do not really want. I always thought that the people of Dingle wanted Dingle to be an official English language name and that Daingean Uí Chúis would be the official Irish language name, but not one composite name. A composite name would be very awkward, but if I am wrong, I am wrong. If I rescind the order, my understanding is that we revert to Dingle, but I must check what effect that has on any Irish language version. The 1973 Act has now been overtaken by the 2003 Act and we might end up without any Irish language version of the place. Before I do that, the people of Dingle/An Daingean/ Daingean Uí Chúis should be entitled to know the legal effect of any further actions we take on this issue.

Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghlacadh leis an Leas-Chathaoirleach as ucht an cúpla nóiméad breise a thabhairt dom. Shíl mé go raibh sé tábhachtach go mbeadh deis agam freagra comh-cuimsitheach agus is féidir a thabhairt. Go raibh maith agat.