Written answers

Thursday, 19 January 2023

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Irish Language

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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156. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the steps he intends taking in 2023 to ensure more civil servants are capable of providing services through the medium of Irish; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1371/23]

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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The Irish Languages Services Advisory Committee was established by the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media in June 2022 in line with the Official Languages (Amendment) Act 2021. This Committee includes representatives from my Department and the Public Appointments Service and has been meeting regularly to prepare a National Plan for Irish Language Services. This Plan is to be delivered by mid-2024 and will focus on the overall objective of the Official Languages (Amendment) Act 2021, which is that 20% of recruits to the public service will be competent in the Irish language no later than 31 December 2030. The Committee is considering approaches to the future recruitment of Irish speakers.

Existing civil servants are being encouraged to pursue Irish language training courses via OneLearning- the Learning and Development Centre for the civil service based in my Department. At the start of 2023, OneLearning is launching Irish language courses due to commence on 6th of March, 2023. Courses provided by Gaelchultúr to Civil Servants on behalf of OneLearning (the Civil Service’s Learning and Development Centre) are now certified by Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge (TEG). TEG, provides a series of general Irish language proficiency examinations and qualifications and is the first certified system of its kind for adult learners of the Irish language. Full TEG certification is in place for advanced level and partial certification for all other levels since 2022, with a plan to have full certification for all levels in 2023. 583 enrolled in OneLearning Irish Language training in 2022. Enrolment for 2023 Irish language training is currently underway.

TEG qualifications will hold a particular value in the coming years for both learners and employers alike, as people with particular language skills will be sought for a wide variety of diverse roles across the civil and public service. Both Departments are examining ways to further support Irish-language learners within the system as well as creating more awareness around the language. One such additional measure to be taken is the addition of language awareness elements to some of OneLearning’s courses, focusing initially on customer service and junior manager.

A number of dedicated recruitment and promotion competitions exist which target Irish language speakers. PAS has held general civil service competitions for individuals with fluency in Irish at Clerical Officer, Executive Officer, Higher Executive Officer and Principal Officer level. There are currently panels in place for Irish posts at CO, EO and HEO levels and these panels will be drawn from as requests are received from Departments and Offices. New competitions for Bi-lingual candidates at CO, EO and HEO levels are expected to be advertised by mid-2023.

In addition, some Departments or Government Officers may also plan to recruit fluent Irish speakers directly under their local recruitment licence instead of through PAS.


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