Letter to the DES re Official Languages Act

Mike Jennings


Corporate Development Unit,

Department of Education and Skills,

Marlborough Street,

Dublin 1 D01 RC96.                                                          

DATE15 January 2016

A chara,


Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla


As a response to the Department of Education and Skills’ invitation for submissions from interested parties on the preparation of a draft Irish language scheme in accordance with section 15 of the Official Languages Act 2003, IFUT sends the following comments. In the first instance, IFUT welcomes the aim of increasing and improving the quantity and quality of services provided for the public through Irish by public bodies, acknowledging the Department’s wish that the new scheme, to replace the Department’s second scheme, will be implemented over a three year period from 2016-2019.


IFUT would like to commend the Department on the work achieved under that second scheme, in particular the efforts related to the translation of documents and material from the website. While comprehensive, the scheme’s aims, nevertheless, can be broadened, we feel. The development of the Irish language as a language in regular use requires continued attention and supervision. In particular, we would ask the Department to support the work of the Inspectorate, and to renew efforts to recruit, promote and upskill proficient staff in this context.


As regards the Department’s Irish Language capacity, we feel it could benefit from a nexus with Maynooth University’s Language Centre that conduct the standardized and accredited Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge examinations (linked to the Common European Framework of Reference for Language Learning), and as such, that the standard of service that is provided across the department could be better judged and key interfaces with the public improved accordingly. IFUT would also encourage the Department to renew its efforts in other simple ways, as expressed to Head Office by the general membership:


  • Síne fada: the “síne fada” in a person’s name may cause problems if it is not correctly noted.  A person’s surname may end up as ” O’  ”  instead of “  Ó  “;  
  • Electronic lists available in both languages: if one is compelled to fill-in personal details electronically with an address box marked “county”, it would be very helpful if the database for counties was bilingual; and  
  • Renewed efforts should be made to ensure that telephone recordings in the Irish language show the best of pronunciation in the language.


We are very grateful for the opportunity to comment on the future scheme in this way, and wish the Department well in its work in this area. Sa chás gur féidir linn tuilleadh cabhrach a chur ar fáil, ní gá ach teagmháil a dhéanamh linn, agus fáilte.


Is muidne is le meas,

Mike Jennings,