Monday 20 November 2017

€2,700 a day cost of interpreters for courts

Interpreters for foreign nationals involved in hearings cost the taxpayer €76,800 a month. Stock picture
Interpreters for foreign nationals involved in hearings cost the taxpayer €76,800 a month. Stock picture
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

IGbo and Edo - two African languages - are among an array of exotic tongues pushing the cost of the courts' translation service to more than €2,700 a day.

Interpreters for foreign nationals involved in hearings cost the taxpayer €76,800 a month, according to documents obtained by the Sunday Independent.

Cebuano and Tagalog, both native languages to the Philippines, and Chittagonian, an Indo-Aryan language spoken in parts of Bangladesh, are among the others catered for under the system.

People whose mother tongue is Creole, developed in colonial European plantation settlements in the 17th and 18th centuries, and Pashto, an Indo-Iranian language spoken mainly in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and India, have also been represented in legal hearings.

Yoruba, used in Nigeria and Benin, also needed specialist translators.

A trawl through the accounts of the Courts Service reveals 63 companies were paid €6,233,400 to translate more than 200 languages in the past five years.

Last year, €921,600 was spent on interpreting English for defendants and witnesses before the Irish courts. The provision of such services has been lucrative for a number of companies, with one earning €731,000 last year.

However, figures show that the overall cost to the exchequer has reduced significantly in recent years, falling from €1.6m in 2011.

New figures also show that the Health Service Executive (HSE) incurs substantial costs employing interpreters to help non-English-speaking patients.

Accounts show €3,838 is being set aside daily to provide the service. In 2011, total expenditure amounted to €1,199,000; last year it was €1,289,600.

Official HSE guidelines state that using professional translators helps minimise the possibility of medication errors and treatments not being followed correctly.

Sunday Independent

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