Bill sets target for one-fifth of public service recruits to be competent in Irish language
A fifth of those recruited to the public service should be competent in the Irish language under a new plan underpinned by legislation.
The Cabinet has approved the publication of the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2019, which builds on the landmark Official Languages Act 2003.
The bill provides for the drawing-up of a formal National Plan identifying gaps in the delivery of public services through Irish and a suite of actions required in order both to fill those gaps and improve service delivery through Irish generally over time.
It will be an overarching objective of the National Plan that 20 per cent of those recruited to the public service should be competent in the Irish language.
Another significant element of the bill is the replacement of the existing language scheme regime by the introduction of language standards for categories of public bodies. In addition, a new requirement will be introduced requiring public bodies to introduce measures to accommodate the Irish language version of a person’s name on their ICT systems.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “The publication of the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2019 is a big leap forward. It will ensure that Irish speakers can interact with the Government and access public services through a high standard of Irish.
“I believe that this legislation will make a big difference to the Irish language and to the life of the language in this country.”
Seán Kyne, minister of state for the Irish language, the Gaeltacht and the islands, said: “I am very pleased that the Cabinet has approved the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2019 and I hope to have it presented to Dáil Éireann prior to the Christmas break. I would like to thank An Taoiseach and my colleagues for their continued support in relation to the bill.
“I am seeking to ensure that there will be greater oversight of delivery of public services in the Irish language by introducing a new statutory committee, the Irish Language Services Advisory Committee.
“Central to this new approach will be the establishment within my Department of a new unit dedicated to driving on the implementation of the policy underpinning this new legislation.
“I expect that these measures will result in a more dynamic approach to increasing the number of Irish speakers in the public sector providing services to the citizen.”