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State bodies warned on Irish language

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STATE bodies which fail to honour obligations under the Official Languages Act may be systematically recorded so remedial action can be taken. (Photo: Clare Cullen)

STATE bodies which fail to honour obligations under the Official Languages Act may be systematically recorded so remedial action can be taken. (Photo: Clare Cullen)

STATE bodies which fail to honour obligations under the Official Languages Act may be systematically recorded so remedial action can be taken. (Photo: Clare Cullen)

State bodies which fail to honour obligations under the Official Languages Act may be systematically recorded so remedial action can be taken.

That was the message from An Comisineir Teanga, Ronan O Domhnaill, when he appeared before the Oireachtas committee on public oversight yesterday. Mr O Domhnaill said criticisms levelled in the annual report and other publications by his office were given appropriate attention.

But he said there was a real need for a register of public bodies which are failing to honour their obligations under the 2003 Official Languages Act.

The act sets out the levels of service which such organisations are obliged to provide through the medium of Irish.

"There is a need for a central register to systematically record public bodies which are not complying with the legal obligations in this and indeed in other regards," he said.

The Comisineir Teanga, who was appointed to the post last spring, was speaking to the TDs and Senators as part of a review of the role of the office based in Connemara, Co Galway.

That review is central to moves to amend the 12-year-old legislation which sets out language rights. Mr O Domhnaill said that as part of the review process, this Oireachtas committee could potentially take on the role of developing a register of offenders and offences to record those continually in breach of the legislation. He said this would effectively give parliamentary recognition to such breaches of law.

The Comisineir also said that moves to amend the 2003 act were now a golden opportunity to remedy another problem.

He said the current legislation did not have an easy method of bringing new State bodies under the ambit of the existing legislation.

"For this reason, I welcome a provision in the heads of the current draft amendment bill to bring new State bodies automatically under the legislation.

"This will empower me to deal with a significant range of complaints which I receive at present but which I do not have the authority to deal with," he said.

Irish Independent