The Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2019 was approved by Cabinet and published in December 2019. The Bill had commenced second stage when the election was called earlier this year. It is due to recommence at Second Stage this week. Minister Catherine Martin has taken the opportunity to strengthen the provisions in the Bill to improve services for Irish speakers.
While the publication of the Bill was broadly welcomed at the time, there were a number criticisms in relation to certain aspects of the Bill from the Green Party in opposition, the Coimisinéir Teanga and Irish language groups such as Conradh na Gaeilge.
In the Programme for Government, we made a commitment to “Strengthen and enact the Official Languages Bill by the end of 2020 and include periodic reviews to monitor the overall objective of ensuring that 20% of new recruits to the public service are Irish speakers.”
Along with a deadline of 2030 for the 20% recruitment target, the amendments presented include additional powers for An Coimisinéir Teanga and the establishment of an advisory committee to plan delivery of services in Irish in Gaeltacht areas.
As Green Party Irish Language and Gaeltacht Affairs spokesperson, I believe that these amendments represent a big win for Minister Martin and the Green Party, and indicate our commitment to Irish as a living language, which was reflected in our manifesto and in the commitments we enshrined in the Programme for Government.
Le gach dea-ghuí,
An Comhairleoir Peter Kavanagh
Urlabhraí Ghaeilge/Irish Language Spokesperson
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