Government approves Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2019
Highlights of the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2019 include:
- An objective for 20% of new recruits to the public service to be competent in Irish
- The introduction of Language Standards in place of Language Schemes
- A new National Plan for the Provision of Irish Language Services
- The accommodation by public bodies’ ICT systems of the Irish language version of a person’s name.
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Government Chief Whip and Minister for State for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Seán Kyne today announced that the Cabinet has approved the publication of the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2019.
Central to this Bill is the manner in which Irish language services are delivered and in which Irish language speakers are recruited to the public service. 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% 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.
Speaking at an event organised in Government Buildings to mark the progress made to date in implementing the language planning process, an 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.
Minister of State Sean Kyne, commented: ‘
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.
Note to editors:
On 14 July 2003, the Official Languages Act 2003 was enacted. This important piece of legislation provided a statutory framework for the delivery of public services through the medium of the Irish language. It obliged Departments of State and public bodies named in the First Schedule of the Act to provide, at a minimum, certain services through the medium of Irish. It also provided for the requirement of those public bodies listed in the First Schedule to prepare a scheme which would set out the services to be provided through Irish.