Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs
Question 43: To ask the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the action he has taken in regard to the breach of his Department's statutory language scheme in failing to ensure Department interviews were held in Irish or in English in specific cases and in failing to ensure staff training in both languages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23860/09]
My Department's Language Scheme under the Official Languages Act 2003 provides that Departmental interviews through Irish or English will be available to staff, subject to advance notice by interviewees of their language choice. Notwithstanding the clarity of this provision, my Department agreed, following an investigation and correspondence from An Coimisinéir Teanga in November 2007, to provide that for all future competitions for internal promotion an amended application form would be used where applicants would be able to indicate their language choice for interview (except in cases where Irish is a particular requirement for the post).
In relation to the provision of staff training in both languages, my Department's Language Scheme contains a commitment to provide appropriate training and development for staff in both official languages. In this regard, my Department is required to operate in accordance with national procurement requirements and, during the process of tendering, requests training providers to provide training to staff both in Irish and English. In the case of two competitions for promotion, my Department encountered difficulties in sourcing specific specialist courses through Irish, resulting in the provision of training through English only, and this issue was also investigated by An Coimisinéir Teanga. My Department has now put arrangements in place to ensure that where the market is unable to provide training in Irish, this will be delivered in-house by a member of staff attached to the Training Unit who is proficient in Irish.
Both of the above approaches are encompassed in my Department's Human Resources Strategy 2008-10 and its Training and Development Strategy 2009-11.