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Disagreement between the government and the Oireachtas Irish Language Committee over the delay in a Language Bill

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The Government’s program promised that a new language bill would be enacted before the end of 2020 but this will not happen until the spring of next year at the earliest

Disagreement between the government and the Oireachtas Irish Language Committee over the delay in a Language Bill

There is disagreement between the Government, the Irish Language Committee of the Oireachtas and the Houses of the Oireachtas themselves regarding the latest delay in the new Language Bill.

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The government’s program promised that a new bill would be enacted before the end of 2020 but this will not happen until the spring of next year at the earliest because more time is needed to resolve the proposed reforms.

The Irish Language, Gaeltacht and Irish Speaking Community Committee yesterday decided to postpone the discussion to be held on this bill until 20 January.

The Minister of State for the Gaeltacht, Jack Chambers, told Tuairisc.ie that he was disappointed that the next stage of the bill’s journey through the Houses of the Oireachtas was further delayed. The Minister of State said that the bill went through the second stage in the Dáil on 8 October and that he hoped that the next stage would begin this week but that there were delays due to the number of amendments proposed by the opposition.

“The Government recognized in the Program for Government the need for a stronger Language Bill and, last month, Minister Martin and I received the Government’s support for proposing a number of amendments that will strengthen the Bill,” said Minister of State Chambers. with Tuairisc.ie.

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“The Bill went through Second Stage in the Dáil on October 8th, and we expected the Committee Stage to begin tomorrow. Unfortunately, however, due to the number of amendments proposed by the opposition, over 300 of them, Coiste na Gaeilge, na Gaeltachta and Pobal Labhartha na Gaeilge informed us yesterday that they would not be ready to start the Committee Stage until the new year.

“Certainly, I am disappointed because I fully understand the importance of this legislation. I hope that there will be no further delays and that we will be able to move the Bill forward as quickly as we can in January, ”he said.

However, the Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, said that the “attitude” of the government and the state in this regard shows that “they are in no hurry” to undertake the work “needed” to “save” the Irish language.

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The Sinn Féin TD said the bill would hardly be enacted before Easter 2021.

“It is an insult to the Irish language and to Irish-speaking TDs that the basic business of the Oireachtas cannot be conducted in Irish,” said Ó Snodaigh.

He said that an attempt to use the Irish language in the Houses of the Oireachtas is not fair and that he is to complain to Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl and Minister for the Gaeltacht Catherine Martin about the disrespect shown to the Irish community. Irish in this particular case.

Snoddy said that the committee would have made much more progress if the new bill had not been sent to the wrong committee by the Minister of State, a mistake that was not corrected until a few weeks later.

“We would have been far ahead of this Bill if it had not been for the mistake made by Minister of State Jack Chambers who sent the Bill to the wrong Committee and did not correct his own mistake until over a month later. He also did not even publish the amendments he had announced, or as promised, the draft standards that would be helpful to those preparing amendments, ”said Ó Snodaigh.

A Sinn Féin spokesperson and the Chair of Coiste na Gaeilge said that he did not find fault with the staff of the Bills Office “who are working under pressure” but that it is clear that they do not have sufficient resources or support to do the work required for the Committee able to perform his duties ”.

Cynthia Ní Mhurchú

“I made every effort,” said Ó Snodaigh, “to assist the service [Oifig na mBillí] in the Houses of the. to make the job easier for them – I announced well before the deadline that I was tabling a number of amendments; I asked them for a deadline that suited them well in advance; and to help I submitted 90% of my amendments more than a week before the deadline – even before the Minister himself introduced the government’s amendments. ”

In a letter to the Oireachtas Irish Language Committee, the Bills Office admitted that they had received most of the amendments before the deadline but said that they expected as much work as was involved and needed more time to complete the work.

Over 300 amendments to the bill have been proposed and these amendments are 40,000 words.

The Bills Office stated that the amendments were in both Irish and English and as the bill is bilingual, the amendments must be translated into both languages.

“It is true that many of the amendments were tabled well in advance of the deadline, last Friday, and this was very helpful, especially for the Department. [Aistriúcháin], ”He said.

It was stated that the Translation Division and the Bills Office had experience of processing bilingual bills but that “there was no full picture of the amount of work involved until the deadline, last Friday, when all the amendments were complete. received and screened ”.

Speaking at a meeting of the Oireachtas committee yesterday, Aengus Ó Snodaigh said that he had been informed that the work to be done on the amendments submitted to date would be ready by the time work was returned to the Houses of the Oireachtas following the recess. Christmas.

However, Ó Snodaigh said there was a risk of another delay in January. As it was decided to postpone the discussion of the bill, parties have another opportunity to propose amendments and the Bills Office would also have to process those amendments.

Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary said it was “incredible” that a bill was being discussed to strengthen Irish language services and, at the same time, that the resources were not in the Houses of the Oireachtas provide the required service to the committee.

Independent TD Catherine Connolly said she was disappointed that the bill was further delayed but that it was “the fault of the Bill itself” because it is so “weak”. She said the number of proposed amendments showed how weak the bill was.

Connolly also said she felt “sorry” for the Bills Office but “no pity” for the Government.

Giving evidence before the Oireachtas Irish Language Committee yesterday, barrister and former broadcaster Cynthia Ní Mhurchú said that the new bill would be swimming against a waterfall if it did not ensure that enough people with Irish were recruited to provide services. available to Irish speakers.

Ní Mhurchú said that a “professional career path” must be provided for young people who speak Irish to encourage them to enter the civil service.

She said that the lack of posts in the civil service with an Irish language requirement is a major problem.

Well-known writer Liam Mac Cóil said that the Irish language community was being denied their language rights because today’s civil servants have the same attitude and culture as their “dark” weather counterpart.

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