Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (Amendment) Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed)

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Ní raibh mé anseo nuair a thug an tAire Stáit a óráid níos luaithe, ach fuair mé an deis an méid a bhí le rá aige a léamh idir an dá linn agus níl aon rud sa mhéid a dúirt sé a thagann salach ar an méid a bhí le rá agamsa níos luaithe.

Tá cúpla rud le rá agam a threisíonn an méid atá ráite agam cheana. Measaim go bhfuil an seacht mbliana atá luaite sa Bhille i bhfad ró-ghearr mar thréimhse don athbhreithniú tréimhsiúil. Seacht mbliana nó níos lú atá sa reachtaíocht don athbhreithniú tréimhsiúil ar An Caighdeán Oifigiúil, ach níor cheart dúinn a bheith ag athrú An Caighdeán Oifigiúil gach uile seacht mbliana nó níos minice ná sin. Má tá an t-athbhreithniú seo de dhíth, ba chóir go dtarlódh sé nuair is gá, nó ar a laghad, go mbeadh tréímhse de 20 nó 30 bliain i gceist. Foilsíodh An Caighdeán Oifigiúil deireanach a bhí againn i 1958. Ach níor fhan rudaí mar a bhí ó 1958 ar aghaidh. D'úsáideadh an tréimhse idir an dá linn chun soiléiriú a dhéanamh ar na rialacha sa Chaighdeán Oifigiúil.

Impím ar an Aire Stáit athrú a dhéanamh ar seo. De ghnáth, ní mholfainn é seo, ach anois sílim gur ceart go mbraithfeadh an t-athbhreithniú ar chead nó ar threoir ón Aire go dtabharfaí faoi. Amach as seo, ba cheart go dtabharfadh Aire éigin an treoir gan tabhairt faoi athbhreithniú níos luaithe ná 20 bliain nó mar sin ó fhoilsiúchán an chaighdeáin. I dtíortha eile, ní dhéantar athbhreithniú ar An Caighdeán Oifigiúil, go háirithe i dtíortha na hEorpa. An ceann deireanach a bhí mise in ann teacht air ná an ceann a rinne na Gearmánaigh. Rinne siad athrú beag le déanaí agus d'athraigh siad an siombail a bhí acu don dá "s" agus tá sé inghlactha anois an dá "s" a úsáid seachas an siombail a bhí acu. De ghnáth, ní dhéantar athbhreithniú rialta ar chaighdeán oifigiúil.

Tá ceist agam don Aire Stáit, ach b'fhéidir nach mbeidh mé anseo don fhreagra mar tá cruinniú agam ag a cúig a chlog. Maidir leis An Caighdeán Oifigiúil atá muid tar éis a fhoilsiú, an é seo An Caighdeán Oifigiúil céanna atá in úsáid i bParlaimint an Aontais Eorpaigh nó an bhfuil siadsan fós gafa leis an sean Caighdeán Oifigiúil? An bhfuil muid cinnte go bhfuil an stádas céanna ag An Caighdeán Oifigiúil atá in úsáid anseo againn agus atá ag an caighdeán atá in úsáid i bParlaimint na hEorpa? An bhfuil an seasamh céanna acu?

Rinne mé moladh go ndéanfadh Rannóg an Aistriúcháin obair éigin ar réimse focal atá de dhíth orainn nó a bheadh in úsáid againn go rialta. Ba chóir go mbeadh a leithéid de "glossary" ar fáil dúinn. Tá an foclóir parlaiminteach atá ar fáil go huile agus go hiomlán tubaisteach. Scríobhann mé ar a chúl na focail nach féidir liom teacht orthu. Is cóir go mbeadh "glossary" éigin mar sin ar fáil againn go gasta, b'fhéidir ar an idirlíon nó a leithéid.

Tagann foclaíocht nua chun cinn, go háirithe focail theicniúla nach bhfuil teacht tapaidh againn orthu.
Ar ndóigh, tá caighdeán oifigiuil ann ach tá a lán chanúintí ann. Ní gá ach féachaint ar an méid canúintí Béarla atá ann. Uaireanta, bíonn ar lucht scannánaíochta na hÉireann fo-theidil a chur ar scannáin Éireannacha agus iad á chur go Meiriceá. Is cuimhin liom go raibh fo-theidil ar an scannán "Into the West" nuair a taispeánadh é i Meiriceá, in ainneoin gur i mBéarla a bhí sé. Mar an gcéanna leis "The Commitments". Tá canúintí difriúla ann, agus beidh i gcónaí. Rud beo is ea teanga a bhíonn ag athrú de shíor. An rud nár chóir a bheith ag athrú ná an caighdeán oifigiúil. Má tharlaíonn sé sin bíonn orainn na leabhair agus na téacsleabair a athrú agus tréanáil breise a chur ar fáil do mhúinteoirí agus do aistritheoirí.
Molaim an méid atá sa Bhille, ach amháin gur féidir é a dhéanamh níos foirfe agus níos loighiciúla tré mhion athraithe.

Ba mhaith liom cúpla focal a rá ar an mBille agus déanfaidh mé mo dhícheall cuid de a rá as Gaeilge agus an chuid eile trí Bhéarla.

I am delighted speak on this important legislation. It is incumbent on all of us sa Teach níos mó a dhéanamh chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn i gcónaí. I am coming at it, having been here for the Bill the Minister introduced earlier this year an bhrostúil ar fad. I walked out of the Chamber on that occasion because of the haste with which that legislation was being put through. I honestly believe gur rud uafásach é legislation mar sin a bhrostú tríd an Oireachtas. The Minister will be aware of what I am talking about. I met Conradh na Gaeilge this morning, as I am sure did the Minister on many occasions. I often have interactions with it. In fact it had 66 amendments to that Bill agus ní raibh oiread agus ceann amháin that was listened to, accepted or discussed. Measaim go raibh 193 amendments ar fad ar an mBille sin agus níor tháinig oiread agus ceann amháin ar an úrlár anseo. That is very disappointing. I pay tribute to the limited staff of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission who are here today and listening and ag déanamh a ndíchill chun an Bille a chur trí Ghaeilge. It is being glibly dealt with by this legislation, and it has been in the past under successive Governments.

The previous Government, under Deputy Ó Cuív, set up a working group, or study group - I am not sure of the ainm - and there were discussions with different parties invited, and some people failed to turn up or show interest. Is mór an trua é sin. We have to be serious about this. While we are in straitened times financially, if you take na rudaí a raibh an Teachta Ferris ag caint faoi, the people with disabilities, the cuts and the horrible austerity, I understand we have to be seen to be moderate in expenditure in putting translation in place. However, it behoves us to do it. It is our national language, an teanga, and we should have the proper capabilities, staff and facilities in the House to translate into our national language.

I was startled to find some figures today from the Department of Oideachas agus Scileanna. Cúpla bliain ó shin bhí 3% of daoine ag obair anseo, mná agus fir, ábalta an obair sin a dhéanamh. Anois, níl ach 1% atá ábalta an obair sin a dhéanamh. I am talking about the translation into Irish. That is a worrying fact, whether it is the result of retirements, redundancy schemes or whatever. If we are serious we have to ensure our public servants are able to translate Bills into Irish.

Bhí mé ag caint le fear ar maidin a thóg páirt sa choimisiún atá ag Uachtarán na hÉireann, Michael D. Higgins. He has a pretty large consultation taking place with young people. Measann gach duine go mbeidh jabanna nó airgead nó rud mar sin as the main topic of that consultation, but no. Cad a tharla? Suim sa Ghaeilge agus slite eile chun an Ghaeilge a fhoghlaim agus a mhúineadh ins na scoileanna is the topic that came to the top in the consultation process. I was talking to buachaill amháin a bhí ins an consultation sin. He told me that was the topic that emerged as of greatest interest to the people in the group. How they were selected níl a fhios agam, but they were on it and fair dues to them and I commend the Uachtarán as rud mar sin a dhéanamh. It was the change in this modern day of the teaching practices of Irish and better and easier ways of learning it that emerged as the interest. I am sure it was bright and intelligent people who were on this commission and it is amazing in these times that was the issue which arose. We should sit up and heed that, seas suas and cluasa a oscailt. In spite of all the student grants, fees and SUSI - I think Siobhán is the Gaeilge ar SUSI - and issues like that, this is the issue that arose. It is a healthy sign of our heritage, dúchas and language. I am delighted with rud mar sin and that we have that opportunity and that despite all the austerity and different issues go bhfuil suim ins an Ghaeilge, ins an teanga fós.

It behoves us here and the Department of Education and Skills, an Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna, chun ár ndícheall a dhéanamh chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn i gcónaí. We see now reform of local government, and many other reforms. The VECs are being disbanded. Ba mhaith liom cúpla focal comhghairdeachais a rá leis an VEC i dTiobrad Árainn Theas as an obair a rinne sé agus an adult education board which put ranganna Gaeilge on in many places over the years. A lot of good work was done by the VEC in all areas of adult education. They were the only people doing it.

Much good work was done by the VEC in all areas of education and in many cases, it was the only organisation doing it. Before this ever became an issue, the VEC staff were the people who did it and I must salute them and recognise this. The VECs now are being amalgamated into education boards and ní usáidtear aon fhocal Gaeilge in aon áit. There was not a word of Irish in the move or the changeover. Obviously, a lot of money will be spent in having a proper translation service in the Oireachtas, and rightly so, but the Departments of the State are only paying lip-service to it. I do not blame this Minister or the current Administration for this. As I stated, déanann the VECs a ndícheall i gconaí chun a lán rudaí a dhéanamh. They did a lot of obair stairiúil leis an Gaeilge agus bhí ranganna Gaeilge ar siúl acu i ngach halla agus gach scoil i ndeisceart Chontae Thiobraid Árann. They brought it out to people and instilled and instigated suim nua and suim speisialta sa Ghaeilge. Many of those who attended those classes had had bad experiences of learning Irish when in school. However, they returned and, in many cases, voluntary tutors conducted these classes, whom I must salute and offer comhghairdeas freisin. This was also done with other languages, including English for newcomers to our shores. Where is the joined-up thinking when our Departments are not using this?

For instance, while this will stray from the Bill somewhat, every day one can úsáid an Ghaeilge. Bíonn suim sa Ghaeilge if one uses it ag obair nó ar scoil agus ag rince agus sa teach tábhairne nó i ngach áit, agus beidh súil difriúil ann. If one takes the Luas project, which is overcrowded whenever one uses it but which is fabulous, its name uses Irish. It is a nice name and everyone understands it. An issue has arisen whereby the taxi signage will be changed very soon. An tAire Stáit, Deputy Kelly, is in charge of this and there has been outright refusal to allow an Ghaeilge a úsáid ar na gluaisteáin leis an mBéarla. There is a choice of English or Irish and, as this is a modern European city, Members know what the choice will be. However, is mór an trua that they could not have bilingual signs or that it could not be like the Luas. Is é an t-ainm as Gaeilge ná "tacsaí", and one has a choice of using either "tacsaí" or "taxi". Why could there not be a mixture of both? It would be in front of everyone's eyes, everyone would use it and it would be a much better way when this change takes place. Again, this concerns bureaucratic Departments not listening, not engaging in consultation and not allowing this. Given the experience of the Luas, why could the Department not use it on the taxis? It will be a major change that obviously will cost money. Consequently, it will not be changed again and there really is neither space nor room on the cars. The word "tacsaí" could be used. At the least, everyone would recognise the sign for a taxi, even if they were unable to read it in Béarla nó Gaeilge nó aon other language. Consequently, it would be nice to have it as "tacsaí". People would be proud of it as well.

As I stated in respect of the Department of Education and Skills, is there some kind of hostility to ár dteanga sa Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna? I think there is, because one must ask why all the people who were supposed to take part in that consultation process did not do so. When the committee was set up, why did they not help out and the translation people move in there to give their support as well? As I stated earlier, quoting figures from Conradh na Gaeilge, it used to be that 3% of daoine ag obair sa Roinn sin were ready, able and willing to do this kind of work in respect of the national tongue. However, that percentage has now fallen to less than 1.5%. These are not my figures but are cited by Conradh na Gaeilge. I told the Aire Stáit atá i láthair gur chur an Conradh síos 67 amendments to the Bill but not a single one of them was heeded. Moreover, I believe that approximately 160 amendments were tabled in total but not a single one was accepted during the rushing through an Teach seo of that Bille.

Mar rud eile, Ireland will assume the Presidency of an tAontas Eorpach. Cuirim fáilte roimhe agus roimh an G8 ag teacht go Lough Erne i bhFear Manach agus rudaí mar sin. I also welcome that the Taoiseach and the Airí will have the opportunity to chair European Council meetings and all that goes with that. However, cén fáth nach bhfuil an Ghaeilge in its proper place? Why is it not being used in its proper place in European publications? Why is Irish the only language, out of 23 languages in Europe, that is not where it should be? It is not published, it is not written and while it is recognised, it is not there. Moreover, I note we are paying for this and already have paid taxes to ensure our language is used in publications from the European Parliament. However, ours is the only language of 23 in this position and this should be corrected before anyone is invited here for The Gathering agus rudaí mar sin. We must do that as well - I look forward to and support that initiative - but we are not getting a fair bang for our buck. The Irish language is not to be put on the publications. While this is the case for the other 23 languages, ours is being left aside agus amach an doras, which is wrong. As I noted, we have paid already as we are paying a certain levy for such translation work, but it is not happening. I believe this is an issue our MEPs might take up but it certainly is an issue for an tAire Stáit agus an Taoiseach before we have our summits and cruinnithe i rith an tsamhraidh. I note Gaeleagras used to have beirt ag obair ach níl éinne ag obair ann anois. It is an empty office with no one there in that institution, which did much good work over the years. Níl fear nó bean ar bith ann, not a single one.

On examination, this Bill certainly can be brought through the House today. However, we must first get our house in order and there are many ways of so doing. There is no point in having the Bill and having all the back-up work done - I compliment those who helped the Minister in this regard and who worked on the Bill - but what good is it when legislation exists and when there are conditions that should be fulfilled but which are not being met? I refer to matters to which no credence is being given. Is mór an trua an rud sin. Members must be honest in this regard. Organisations such as Conradh na Gaeilge, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Glór na nGael and many other organisations, in which I have been peripherally involved, must be supported. Above all, however, they must be listened to. Éistigí leis na daoine sin, who are at the coalface and who are doing their best for language, culture agus an dúchas. They should be listened to and acknowledged. The State gives them some support financially, although that is getting tighter, but it is more important to what they have to say.

Moreover, when such organisations go to the trouble of suggesting amendments to a Bill, they should be listened to and not simply ignored completely. Bhí mise mar Theachta ar feadh cúig bliana agus b'é sin an céad uair a chonaic mé na Teachtaí go léir ar an dtaobh seo ag súil amach an doras in disgust at the manner in which that Bill was being treated. I know the Minister has a huge interest in Gaeilge. He is from Dún na nGall agus usáideann sé an Ghaeilge i gconaí, agus comhghairdeas as sin, but as for that kind of indecent haste and ignoring those who tabled more than 137 amendments, not one of which was even discussed, let alone accepted, one must call a halt, nó stad, anseo agus gan féachaint ar an issue mar sin.

I reiterate my question as to whether an anti-Irish mentality exists within the Civil Service.

I must put that question. We have had Billí, statutory instruments agus rudaí mar sin. These are ideals and visions as a nation is not a nation without its language, as Pádraig Pearse said. Why is there only a small percentage of people in the Civil Service who can do the business proficiently as Gaeilge? Perhaps that is wrong but it is what I was told by Conradh na Gaeilge this morning. Where was the commitment when a former Minister, Deputy Ó Cuív, set up the consultation body, as there was no meaningful or honest engagement? Something is very wrong.

I assume it was not the Minister of State who decided to reject those amendments without discussion but rather the officials who were drafting the Bill. I am not ruling out the Minister's involvement but it was highly insulting for the organisation which sent in amendments for them not to be discussed. Is there a mentality in the Civil Service that is going against our language? If there is, this legislation and the money used to drive it is useless and will remain so. Iarraim ar an Aire to put it under review to see what is going on and if the figures are right. The structure is to be changed without so much as a focal being changed. I welcome the changes in taxi legislation and there is an ideal opportunity for us to promote our Irish language and allow drivers to display it. There are many non-nationals and newcomers ag tiomáint tacsaí anois and it would be wonderful for them to be able to embrace ár dteanga. Tá siad ag tiomáint gach uair an chloig around the cities.

It would be lovely for the visitors coming for The Gathering and our European Presidency to have a little bit of Irish put in front of them softly, as opposed to when we were ag dul go dtí an scoil. It was beaten into us. Dúirt mé go minic that we should have banned the teaching of Irish 20 years ago and everybody would be speaking it today. Now we must engage. I am heartened by the actions of the coimisiún, and despite the difficulties facing students, including grant issues, the cream always comes to the top. I would have thought, in the times we are in, that might not have been way but I am pleased. Sin rud iontach.

In the Bill there is reference to an leabhar, or I suppose we could call it the bible that has been brought together for use in Departments. Déanaim comhghairdeas leis na daoine a scríobh é. All the books and bibles in the world will be wasted if there is not a proper passion or ethos, with insistence from the machinery of the State that the language should get its rightful recognition. The officials dealing with it must have proficiency in Irish.

My Irish is not nearly as good as it could be. My seanmhathair, whom I did not know because she was dead before I was born in 1958, had no English. I come from a Breac-Gaeltacht and some in this House or commentators may say they find it difficult to understand me in English, not to mind Irish, but that is the lingo of Tiobraid Árann Theas and I do not apologise for it.

My seanmháthair did not have any English. Bhí mé ag éisteacht leis an raidió inné. It is amazing what one hears and learns every day, and I heard a scéal uafásach. In Galway they want to commemorate a certain fear whose life was taken 130 years ago, when the country was governed by British forces. He was charged with a crime and he did not have any English. The jury had no Irish and they decided his fate. The man in question was sentenced to death and hanged. Bhí an jury amach as an gcúirt ar feadh sé nóiméad. Tháinig siad isteach and they passed on the verdict. I heard the story on the radio, and it was indicated that what is now a car park was a Galway jail. Any of the people imprisoned who were executed or died were not put in marked graves, and they cannot be found today. It was a grave injustice that we expected a man to defend himself in his national tongue when he did not have Béarla and the jury had no Irish. I am thankful we have moved on from that and I salute the jurors for the work they do in this country. We should never forget the atrocities committed against our language, people, heritage and religion.

The officials in the Oireachtas and the Departments should recognise, in spirit and tone, the rightful place of the Irish language, its culture and our heritage, as well as all religions. It ill behoves people to damage an teanga. Nuair a fhaigheann an tAire Stáit am, I hope he will tell me if there is an anti-Irish bias, not only in the people atá ag obair in the Departments but gach duine. There may be only 1.5% of the people working here with proficiency in Irish, and there was a time when people had to have such a proficiency to join the Civil Service. The question must be asked.

Cén fáth nach raibh an tAire Stáit ag éisteacht when Conradh na Gaeilge sent in those 67 amendments? I was not aware until today that the organisation sent in the amendments but not one was discussed. Is mór an trua é. How will people respect this House and how will we engage with people outside the House? They want connectivity as they elect us. We are responsible to the people who go to vote.

I have a ceist eile, although it has nothing to do with this Bill. We voted in a referendum two weeks ago. A returning officer brought it to my notice when I arrived in a polling station that if there is a general election, the names would be listed alphabetically. I know people who have changed their name by dropping an O to get further up a list, as there is meant to be an advantage in being near the top. Why was the "Níl" box not at the top of the ballot paper? It is a simple but interesting question, and somebody should provide an answer. Why was the format of the ballot changed? The "Yes" box was put before the "Níl" or "No" box under the question.

Who made this change? We have a long tradition of listing the names of candidates on ballot papers in alphabetical order and it is tough if a candidate's name begins with "Z". We also have a long tradition of transparency and rudaí mar sin. Why was this change made to the ballot paper?

Some people vote by listing their preferences beginning at the top of the ballot paper, which is their right and privilege and we must salute everyone who votes. Does official Ireland believe it can do as it likes? We, the elected representatives of the people, are not holding them accountable. Members of the Oireachtas are held accountable, as is appropriate, and we should ensure the faceless bureaucrats who make such decisions are also held to account. Who makes these decisions? Who has allowed the situation to arise in which only 1.5% of officials in the Department of the Education and Skills are ábalta gnó a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge? While I do not have a vendetta against officials, we experience this problem all the time. Whether in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine or elsewhere, the law is always on the side of officials who have scant regard for ordinary citizens.

So, ar son an Bhille, I will conclude. Tá mé buíoch díot as éisteacht liom. I thank the Acting Chairman, Deputy Olivia Mitchell, for her forbearance. I would like to get some freagra ón Aire Stáit nó ó dhuine éigin san Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna ar na ceisteanna a chuir mé.

I am pleased to say a few words on the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (Amendment) Bill 2012. Deputy Mattie McGrath referred to the Gaeltacht legislation the House debated some time ago, which laid down in law the structures for Údarás na Gaeltachta. I congratulate the newly appointed members of the new board of Údarás na Gaeltachta, all of whom have considerable experience and will implement the requirements and measures provided for under the Act. I congratulate, in particular, two members from my constituency, Seosamh Ó Laoi from An Spidéal and Dairíona Nic an Iomaire, both of whom are highly competent individuals with considerable experience in Gaeltacht affairs, education, business and the arts. Coming from strong Gaeltacht areas, they are obviously native Irish speakers who will bring much talent to the new board.

This morning I attended a lá eolais organised by Conradh na Gaeilge which discussed the challenges facing the native language. Notwithstanding these challenges, it is clear that we still have a vibrant language and hundreds of thousands of citizens continue to be deeply committed to Irish and passionate about its future. If the language is to flourish, we must anticipate and recognise the threats it faces. These threats are exacerbated by the reality that most daily use of Irish occurs in the education system or is confined to specific geographical areas. Furthermore, in the face of globalisation and the rise and prominence of a small number of increasingly influential languages such as English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, it is more vital than ever that we promote and enhance an Caighdeán Oifigiúil. By doing so, we will facilitate the evolution of Gaeilge, which involves the addition of new, often complex, terminology in a structured fashion. The Bill achieves this and, more significant, when reviewing an Caighdeán Oifigiúil, it stipulates that consultation is required not only with the relevant Ministers, namely, the Ministers for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Education and Skills and Justice and Equality, but also members of the public.

Tá saibhreas teanga in úsáid gach lá ag muintir Ghaeltacht na Gaillimhe chomh maith le daoine sna Gaeltachtaí eile agus ní mór a chinntiú go léireofar é seo san Chaighdeán Oifigiúil. Mar sin, tá súil agam go mbeidh béim an phobail soiléir sa Bhille um Choimisiún Thithe an Oireachtais mar a bhí sa Bhille Gaeltachta le déanaí, an t-achtú is cuimsithí a bhaineann lenár dteanga le blianta, agus ba cheart moladh a thabhairt don Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta agus don Aire Stáit.

The other main objectives of the Bill concern the translation of legislation, including statutory instruments. This issue was fought out in the courts when the Supreme Court ruled against the previous Government by striking down a declaration that there existed a constitutional obligation to translate statutory requirements and instruments. To provide for a stronger footing for the translation of legislation, the Government has correctly moved to consolidate the State's legislative translation services within the Houses of the Oireachtas. It makes sense that the Government should lead by example.

An updated version of An Caighdeán Oifigiúil has already been circulated to all Oireachtas Members and is proving to be of exceptional use and value in our parliamentary and representational duties. However, while the court found that the Constitution does not require simultaneous translation of Acts of the Oireachtas, it also ruled that translation is required within a reasonable period. While time limits or deadlines were not specified, the Oireachtas has a duty to all citizens, especially those for whom Gaeilge is their daily language, to strive towards simultaneous translation. Furthermore, I welcome the provisions which place an onus on Ministers and Departments to translate statutory instruments and so forth when requested to do so.

There is a requirement under previous Acts to translate official Government and local authority publications such as reports, county development plans and a variety of other documents. Trying to read such translations, which have been translated word for word, I and many others with much better Irish than I have, including native Irish speakers, have found that the meaning has been lost. Given the difficulty of doing direct translations into Irish, it will be necessary to take greater cognisance of the need to make the written word more easily understood.

While it is fine to welcome the use of translations, one must also consider the strength of the Irish language in various areas. I spoke during the debate on the Gaeltacht Bill about the work done in Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh in Cnoc na Cathrach, where the principal, Dairíona Nic an Iomaire, and her staff have done great work over the years to promote Irish in Galway city. This has had a major impact and large numbers of students are now educated in the city's gaelscoil system. As it happens, although the area in which Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh is in the official Gaeltacht, it was neglected to some degree before the school was established. In my area, we also have an all-Irish school, Scoil Bhaile Nua in Moycullen. The standard of Irish in other schools in Galway is also improving, for example, in Boleybeg Bearna.

Yesterday, the Minister, Deputy Deenihan, and Minister of State, Deputy McGinley, met Oireachtas Members from Galway West to discuss Aer Arann services to the Arann Islands, which are of major concern to muintir Árann. As with so much in this day and age, the problem is one of finance. I ask the Ministers again to make every effort to ensure funding is found to protect the public service obligation for an air service to the Arann Islands, which is one of the strongest Gaeltacht areas. While such a service will not ensure the survival of the language, it will certainly play a major role in maintaining the islands' population and provide possibilities for the language to grow by enabling people to stay on the islands. It is a great worry to hear people who have lived on the islands for many years, especially older people, say they will consider moving to the mainland if they are not certain they will be able to leave the islands when necessary. I welcome the Bill and ask the Minister to give serious consideration to the issue I raise concerning Aer Arann.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Bill. One of my few regrets since becoming a Member of the House was my decision not to participate in a previous debate on the future of Irish and ways in which we can preserve Irish as a vibrant language.

I did honours Irish in the leaving certificate and was almost fluent. In the years since, however, I have lost most, if not all, of the language because of working abroad and living in a home where Irish is not the chosen language. I am acutely aware of this issue now that I have a young son and a young daughter in primary school who are learning the language for the first time. Their father, who used to be fluent many years ago, is not in a position to converse with them. As they make their way through education, I have decided to reacquaint myself with my old líofacht.

During the summer, I experienced something that brought home to me what a signature part of our national identity our language is at home and abroad. It was in Malawi, of all places. With Trócaire, I visited Malawi to see the work being done. I was being taken around a village many miles and hours outside of Lilongwe, Malawi's capital city. When I asked the man who was taking me around what his name was, he told me that it was Padraic, which is Irish for Patrick. It was spelled exactly as we would write it here at home. He had the language because he had attended an Irish missionary school in Malawi and was taught by an Irish priest. Other people who I met in Malawi also had Irish names.

Although I am no longer in a position to be able to comment in Irish on a Bill such as this, I want that ability so that I can make a few points. I am determined that, before this Dáil comes to an end, I will speak as Gaeilge across an entire Bill, be it legislation on the language or some other topic. As an Irishman, I am conscious of what an absence it is in my identity that I cannot speak Irish.

When I saw this Bill on the agenda and read through it, I wanted to make a number of pertinent observations on the use of the language within the Oireachtas and abroad. First, my experience tends to be the direct opposite of Deputy Mattie McGrath's. He referred to how he saw Irish being used or not used abroad, for example, at EU events. The first time that I attended a meeting of the Conference of Community and European Affairs Committees of Parliaments of the European Union, COSAC, which was held in Brussels earlier this year, my colleague, Deputy Jim Daly, addressed it almost entirely in Irish. His contribution was translated, allowing other participants to understand it and to respond. While I am unsure of how simultaneous translation is facilitated across all European meetings, the facility is provided at every formal and informal EU meeting that I have attended. It has been used by colleagues from this House to convey their views on issues of relevance to Ireland. Parliamentarians from other countries had the opportunity to have those contributions translated so that they might understand them.

Second, Ireland will hold the EU Presidency next year. One only has an opportunity to realise the value of such events when one sees them occurring in other countries. I have no direct memory of our last Presidency. It offers us the opportunity to convey the role of our national language to foreign representatives visiting Ireland. When those meetings are held in Dublin and elsewhere, it is important that we make use of our language whenever possible and conduct as much business as we can in Irish.

Third, the constitutional convention will begin later in the year. It is important that the use and translation of Irish be facilitated in such a forum.

When a similar Bill is before us in the years to come, I look forward to being able to address my comments to the Minister of State entirely in Irish.

I look forward to that. Go n-éirí go geal leis an Teachta.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire Stáit agus cuirim fáilte roimh Bhille um Choimisiún Thithe an Oireachtais (Leasú) 2012. Is léir go bhfuil Bille ciallmhar os ár gcomhair. Beidh seirbhís lárnach ar fáil agus ní bheidh easaontas nó amhras faoin gcaighdeán. Tá an ceart ar fad aige gur cóir go mbeadh foinse amháin ann ó thaobh chaighdeán na Gaeilge de. Cé go raibh sé aisteach tuigim na cúiseanna leis an aonad aistriúchán i Roinn an Aire Stáit. Is léir go bhfuil sé ciallmhar go mbeadh gach rud lárnaithe i Rannóg an Aistriúcháin faoi Choimisiún Thithe an Oireachtais.

As a member of the Commission, I welcome the Bill and this opportunity to contribute on it. It is important that our two languages be treated in the same way. This is in accordance with the Constitution and is the will of every party in the House.

I will delve into the history. It was only as late as 2008 that the former Government approved the translation of all statutory instruments into Irish. In June 2011, the current Government decided to review the official standard of Irish. This is welcome, as Irish is a living language and, like all languages, new terms are being introduced. Consider the history of Irish after the State's foundation and the work done to modernise it. At the time, there was a great deal of criticism to the effect that a certain aspect of the language was being lost, namely, spellings and how it was expressed. However, modernisation was necessary.

Also in June 2011, the Government identified the need to consolidate translation services within the Houses. It is important that there be consistency among translation services. There should be no diversity. The new unit will be responsible for translating primary and secondary legislation and for ensuring that the official standard of Irish is reviewed no less than once every seven years. The staff have already been transferred to the Houses' central translation unit to facilitate this change in anticipation of the Bill.

Cost savings will accrue, particularly in the short and medium terms. I note the annual cost of translating the output of statutory instruments made per annum is estimated at €325,000 and circa €3.3 million over a ten-year period. While there are savings to the Exchequer, there is an increased cost to the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission. The commission has made very successful efforts to reduce the cost of the Houses of the Oireachtas in recent years. The budget in 2009, for example, was €138 million while the budget for this year is €115,590,000. We will endeavour to continue to make savings. Is there a transfer of funding from the previous services to the Oireachtas or must the Oireachtas absorb that under its current budget?

The Bill contains a number of provisions in regard to the translation of legislation. It provides for the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission to translate statutory instruments by Ministers or by people other than Ministers at the request of Ministers to do so. Similarly, it provides that Ministers may make arrangements, if they so wish, for the translation of statutory instruments other than by the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission. The commission can arrange for people other than staff members to assist in the translation of statutory instruments as it considers appropriate. The Bill will allow the commission to charge fees for the translation of statutory instruments. Perhaps the Minister of State would outline the details of how that will transpire because it also relates to my previous point on costs to the commission.

This could mean we will be able to cater for the amount of legislation before the House at a given time. A serious amount of legislation is coming through currently and the model proposed in the Bill will improve the translation of statutory instruments on demand subject to availability of resources within the Department or other public bodies. I welcome the Bill as progressive and I commend the Minister of State on bringing it forward.

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh an deis seo labhairt ar chúrsaí Gaeilge agus léirmheas a dhéanamh ar pholasaí an Rialtais seo i leith na Gaeilge, nó b'fhéidir níos cirte a rá, easpa pholasaí an Rialtais seo i leith na Gaeilge.

I dtosach báire, ba mhaith liom tabhairt chun cuimhne cuid de na beartais a chuir na rialtais faoi Fhianna Fáil i gcrích i leith na Gaeilge agus na Gaeltachta ó 1997 go dtí gur fhág muid oifig sa bhliain 2011. Is ceann de na rudaí is bunúsaí a rinneadh an t-am sin, i 2002, ná gur tugadh cúram na Gaeilge d'Aire sinsearach a bhí ag suí ag bord an Rialtais. Creidim go bhfuil go leor de na fadhbanna atá ag éirí anois ag éirí as an easpa d'Aire sinsearach atá freagrach as an Ghaeilge ó lá go lá ag bord an Rialtais.

Achtaíodh Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla i 2003, a leag amach don chéad uair, ar bhealach cuimsitheach, dualgais an Stáít maidir le seirbhísi a chur ar fáil do shaoránaigh i nGaeilge. Ag éirí as an Acht sin, bunaíodh Oifig an Choimisinéara Teanga agus níl aon amhras faoi ach go bhfuil obair iontach déanta ag an oifig sin faoi stiúr Sheáin Uí Chuirreáin. Baineadh amach stádas oifigiúil oibre don Ghaeilge san EU tar éis oibre éachtach taidhleoireachta ar an ard leibhéal. Tugadh stádas don chéad uair don Ghaeilge i dTuaisceart Éireann faoi Chomhaontú Aoine an Chéasta. Ag éirí as sin, bunaíodh Foras na Gaeilge, an chéad aisíneacht oifigiúil a bhí in ann tabhairt faoi cheist na Gaeilge ar bhonn uile-oileánda.

Tugadh Coimisiún na Logainmneacha isteach faoi choimirce Roinn na Gaeltachta agus cuireadh dlús leis an obair ann le, mar shampla, forbairt an tsuímh www.logainm.ie. Bronnadh scoláireachtaí ar dhaoine sna hollscoileanna le staidéar a dhéanamh ar logainmneacha, le déanamh cinnte go mbeadh daoine ann a bheadh oilte ar an obair thábhachtach seo amach anseo. Chomh maith le sin, d'athraíomar bealach cheapacháin an choimisiúin agus nuair a chuireamar an struchtúr nua ar bun don choimisiún, thug an coimisiún nua chun oibre le flosc iontach agus rinneadar obair iontach faoi cheannas Sheosaimh Uí Bhraonáin.

Bunaíodh Coimisiún na Gaeltachta, agus ag éiri as sin rinneadh an staidéar teangeolaíochta ar an nGaeilge sa Ghaeltacht, tionscamh atá an-tábhachtach i gcomhthéacs na straitéise 20 bliain. Lean sin ar aghaidh agus chuireamar An Stráitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge le chéile agus aontaíodh í mar pholasaí Rialtais i 2010. I saol na cumarsáide, tugadh airgead ón gceadúnas teilifise do TG4 don chéad uair agus bunaíodh Raidió Rí Rá agus anocht FM ar Raidió na Gaeltachta atá dírithe ar an aos óg. Cuireadh go mór le stádas na Gaeilge san Acht Oideachais agus bunaíodh COGG, eagras a bhfuil an-chuid oibre déanta aige ó thaobh an oideachas trí Ghaeilge.

Ó thaobh na Gaeltachta de, leasaíodh Acht Údarás na Gaeltachta le hionadaíocht a chinntiú do gach contae a bhfuil Gaeltacht ann. Rinneadh forbairtí móra ar scéim na gcoláistí Gaeilge agus feabhsaíodh cúrsaí slándála iontu agus cúrsaí caighdeáin ó thaobh Gaeilge agus cóiríochta. Cuireadh scéim na gcúntóirí teangan agus scéim na gcampai samhradh ar bun. Níl aon amhras freisin ach go ndearnadh obair mhór ar infreastruchtúr fisiciúil agus sóisialta na Gaeltachta agus na n-oiléan. Chomh maith le sin, cuireadh rochtain cheart ar fáil chuig na hoileáin ar fad, na hoileáin Ghaeltachta san áireamh.

Thugamar airgead breise agus cúnamh d'Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann le dlús a chur leis an obair an foclóir stairiúil ar an Ghaeilge, an ceann Gaeilge-Gaeilge, a fhorbairt, agus fostaíodh daoine i nDáilcheantar an Aire Stáit leis an obair sin a chur chun cinn. Ar ndóigh, tosaíodh freisin ar an obair ar an leagan nua don fhoclóir Béarla-Gaeilge agus tá an obair sin ag dul ar aghaidh faoi láthair.

Sula dtiocfaidh mé chuig ábhar an Bhille seo - tagróidh mé don obair atá déanta againn ar chaighdeán na Gaeilge sa chomhthéacs sin - tá sé tábhachtach cur síos a dhéanamh maidir le cinntí an Rialtais i leith na Gaeilge, cinntí atá ag cur na Gaeilge siar lá i ndiadh lae. An chéad chinneadh, ceann nár chosain aon airgead ná nár shábháil aon airgead, ná gan Aire sinsearach Gaeilge a bheith ag bord an Rialtais. An dara cinneadh ná deireadh a chur le hOifig an Choimisinéara Teanga mar oifig faoi leith. Tá an tAire Stáit féin tar éis a admháil nach bhfuil aon sábháil le déanamh as sin agus nach bhfuil ann ach buille don Ghaeilge. Níl ann ach iarracht a dhéanamh obair an choimisinéara a lagú. Rinneadh cinneadh deireadh a chur le Coimisiún na Logainmneacha, arís gan aon sábháil i gceist, nó ceann chomh beag agus nach fiú é a áireamh. Tá cinneadh déanta freisin deireadh a chur le húdarás daonlathach Gaeltachta tofa ag an bpobal. Tá deireadh curtha le go leor scéimeanna ag an Aire Stáit agus tá bagairt déanta aige ar an seirbhís aeir go na hOileáin Árann. Níl aon rud curtha aige in áit scéim labhairt na Gaeilge.

Bíonn daoine ag rá, ar son an Aire Stáit, go raibh i gceist ag an Rialtas deiridh cumhachtaí fiontraíochta a bhaint ón údarás. Ní fíor sin.

Má bhreathnaíonn an tAire Stáit ar an straitéis 20 bliain, feicfidh sé nár tógadh aon chinneadh mar sin riamh. Níor smaoinigh an Rialtas sin ar deireadh a chur le bord tofa Údarás na Gaeltachta. Níor tháinig aon togra faoi bhráid an Rialtais le linn mo thréimhse mar Aire - bhí mé ann go dtí an deireadh, os rud é go raibh mé i measc an seachtar deiridh a bhí ann - ag moladh go gcuirfí deireadh le húdarás tofa sa Ghaeltacht. Ní cheart scéalta nach bhfuil fíor a scaipeadh.

Is léir nach dtuigeann ar éigean duine ar bith sa Teach seo cúlra na scéala seo - cúlra na gcinnití atá déanta ag an Aire Stáit - i gceart. I mí Márta 2010, rinne an Rialtas deiridh cinneadh coiste stiúrtha a bhunú chun athbhreithniú ar Chaighdeán Oifigiúil na Gaeilge a dhéanamh. Socraíodh go mbeadh an Rialtas amháin freagrach as an gcaighdeán. Ní hé go rabhamar, ach an oiread le Coimisiún Thithe an Oireachtais, chun pointí beaga gramadaí a phlé ag bord an Rialtais. Bhíomar ag iarraidh go mbeadh an Rialtas freagrach as an gcaighdeán. Bhí sé mar aidhm againn go mbeadh na dreamanna ar fad a bhaineann leas as an gCaighdeán Oifigiúil timpeall an bhoird nuair a bheadh an t-athbhreithniú ar an gcaighdeán ar siúl. Bhíomar ag súil freisin go mbeadh an caighdeán inúsáidte i rith ghnáth-obair an lae, seachas caighdeán a bheadh feiliúnach do chúrsaí aistriúcháin an Oireachtais amháin. I gcás teanga ar bith, ba cheart go mbeadh an caighdeán mar uirlis ag an bpobal, seachas na saineolaithe amháin.

Ar an ábhar sin, bhunaíomar coiste ar a raibh ionadaíocht ag na spéiseanna éagsúla ar fad a theastódh uainn i gcomhthéacs aon athbhreithniú ar an gcaighdeán. Bhí saineolaithe teanga, aistritheoirí, ionadaithe ó Fhoras na Gaeilge a bhíonn ag plé le foclóireacht agus téarmaíocht, daoine ón nGaeltacht, daoine a bhfuil cleachtadh acu bheith ag múineadh na Gaeilge do dhaoine ón nGalltacht agus daoine ó na meáin a úsáideann an teanga gach lá ar an gcoiste. Bhí an tOllamh Dónall Ó Baoill mar chathaoirleach air. Is ceart go mbeadh an Ghaeilge oifigiúil caighdeánach á húsáid ag na daoine seo go léir. Tugadh cuireadh d'oifigigh as Rannóg an Aistriúcháin an Oireachtais páirt a ghlacadh sa choiste seo. Dhiúltaigh said glacadh leis an gcuireadh sin. Sotalacht a bhí ann, sotalacht atá á íoc go maith ag an Aire Stáit leis an gcinneadh atá déanta aige.

Tá a fhios ag an Aire Stáit gur thosaigh an coiste a chuid oibre ar bhealach meáite. Chuaigh siad i gcomhairle leis an bpobal ag gach céim den phróiseas. Chríochnaigh siad an saothar i mbliana. In ionad an obair sin a fhoilsiú, tá an tAire Stáit tar éis é a chur sa reoiteoir. Cé go raibh dream thar a bheith saineolaíoch i gceist - bhí na spéiseanna éagsúla ar fad clúdaithe - níl sé sásta an obair a rinne siad a fhoilsiú, fiú. Idir an dá linn, shocraigh Rannóg an Aistriúcháin an Oireachtais ar chaighdeán eile a thiomsú, beag beann ar chinneadh an Rialtais. Cá bhfuair siad an fhoireann? Cá bhfuair siad an t-am chun é sin a dhéanamh? Cén fáth a raibh an dúbláil seo ar bun acu? Bhí coiste eile ceaptha ag an Rialtas chun an obair seo a dhéanamh. Is dream iad seo nach bhfuil in ann an obair a leagadh rompu a dhéanamh.

Fuair mé litir ón gCeann Comhairle le soiléiriú nach bhfuil 394 Acht aistrithe fós, in ainneoin forálacha na Bunreachta agus an méid atá in Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla maidir le Achtanna a fhoilsiú sa dá theanga. Ag an am céanna, bhí an dream seo in ann tabhairt faoi caighdéan a réiteach, sa bhreis ar an gcaighdeán a bhí á dhéanamh ag coiste a bhí ceaptha go ceart agus go cóir, gan dul i gcomhairle le héinne nó dea-chleachtas a leanúint. Níor leag an dream seo amach an bunús ar a bhíodar ag obair ar an gcaighdeán, rud a bhí déanta ag an gcoiste a bhí ceaptha ag an Rialtas. Tá a fhios agam nach dtuigeann mórán daoine sa tír an ábhar seo. Ní cheist mhór í i gcomhthéacs na dúshláin atá romhainn. Ní dhéanann sé sin leithscéal ar bith don rud atá déanta ag an Aire Stáit.

Tá a fhios ag na hoifigigh atá in éineacht leis an Aire Stáit gur bunaíodh an t-aonad aistriúcháin mar gur theip ar Choimisiún Thithe an Oireachtais Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 a chomhlíonadh. Níl sé ar chumas an Oireachtais na hAchtanna a haistriú sách sciobtha. Cé gur tairgíodh breis foirne agus breis teicneolaíochta dóibh, níl an job déanta acu go fóill. Os rud é go raibh muid dáiríre faoin Ghaeilge, ní raibh muid sásta obair an Rialtais á fhágáil faoi Rannóg an Aistriúcháin, nach bhfuil ag déanamh an jab bunreachtúil atá acu. Is cúram de chuid na Ranna Stáit, seachas Tithe an Oireachtais, na hionstraim reachtúla a aistriú.

Mar nár theastaigh uainn aon leithscéal a bheith againn - bhíomar dáiríre faoi seo - shocraíomar ar aonad ar a mbeadh smacht ag an Rialtas a bhunú taobh amuigh de Rannóg an Aistriúcháin na Tithe seo. Bhí fonn orainn a chinntiú, nuair a bheadh ionstraim le n-aistriú, nach mbeadh muid ar brath ar eagraíocht - Choimisiún Thithe an Oireachtais - a loic cheana féin ar na dualgais a bhí acu. Tá an tAire Stáit tar éis forlámhas iomlán maidir le haistriú Achtanna agus an obair bhreise seo a dhéanamh a thabhairt do dhream atá ag teip ar an jab bunreachtúil agus reachtúil atá le déanamh acu. Níl aon rud déanta aige chun leigheas a chur ar na fadhbanna ollmhóra atá ag Coimisiún Thithe an Oireachtais agus ag Rannóg an Aistriúcháin, ar chúis amháin nó cúis eile. Ní féidir a rá go raibh easpa acmhainní i gceist, mar tairgíodh na hacmhainní dóibh.

Tá a fhios ag an Aire Stáit go maith go bhfuil sé mar pholasaí ag an rannóg agus ag an gcoimisiún sa Teach seo Achtanna a aistriú ar bhonn bliain reatha. Ciallaíonn sé sin nach bhfuilimid sásta níos mó a rá faoi reachtaíocht a achtaítear i mí Eanáir nó mí Feabhra ná go mbeidh siad déanta roimh dheireadh mí na Nollag. Tuigeann an tAire go ndeireann Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla nach féidir Acht a fhoilsiú gan é a bheith ar fáil sa dá theanga. Ciallaíonn sé sin go bhfuilimid ag fanacht na míonna agus na míonna leis na haistriúcháin seo a fháil, gan trácht ar an riaráiste de 394 Bille.

Níl aon leithscéal do seo. In aon tír dhátheangach eile, mar shampla sa Bheilg, an gceapann an tAire Stáit go mbeadh sé inghlactha ag éinne go bhfoilseofaí, mar shampla, an leagan Francach d'Achtanna na Beilge ar bhonn bliain reatha? An t-éileamh a bheadh ann ná go mbeadh an dá leagan ann ag an am céanna agus go bhfoilseofaí na hAchtanna de réir mar a ritear iad. Má táthar in ann é sin a dhéanamh ar fud an domhain, d'fhéadfaí é a dhéanamh anseo, dá mbeadh an cur chuige ann. Ach níl an toil, an spéis ná an cur chuige ann. Séard atá á dhéanamh ag an Aire Stáit leis an mBille seo, ná tá sé ag cur leis an gcineál mí-éifeacht agus an dearcadh gur cuma faoi aistriúchán, mar níl inti ach an Ghaeilge, agus tá sé ag cur moille ar fhoilsiú Billí.
Is cuimhin liom Brian Ó Luineacháin, go ndéana Dia grásta ar a anam, fear a bhí thar a bheith báthúil don Ghaeilge, ag teacht chuig bord an Rialtais agus ag rá go gcaitfeadh muid soláthar faoi leith a dhéanamh sa Bhille seo nach mbeadh Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla bainteach leis an mBille seo, mar go gcaithfeadh an leagan oifigiúil a bheith foilsithe díreach tar éis don Bhille dul trí Thithe an Oireachtais. Dúirt sé nach raibh sé de chumas ag Rannóg an Aistriúcháin, rud a bhféadfaí a dhéanamh i chuile tír eile, é sin a dhéanamh sách sciobtha dó agus go raibh éigeandáil ag baint le seo. Mar is eol don Aire Stáit, tharla an rud céanna le Bille i rith a thréimse sa Rialtas.
Tá a fhios agam nach mbeidh éinne ag mairseáil ar na sráideanna, ach is céim bheag eile é an Bille seo den chúlú agus den scrios atá á dhéanamh i dtaobh na Gaeilge. Tá sé chomh maith ag an Aire Stáit a fhógairt anseo anocht go bhfuil deireadh curtha ag an Rialtas leis An Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge, go bhfuil sé caite i dtraipéisí aige agus nach bhfuil i gceist ag an Aire Stáit, ag an Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna ná ag an Rialtas ach a laghad agus is féidir leo a fháil away leis a dhéanamh i dtaobh na Gaeilge feasta. Is náire dóibh é sin. Is náire gach atá déanta. An rud is aistí faoin rud ar fad ná nach bhfuil oiread agus pingin le sábháil de thoradh ar an chuid is mó den ionsaí atá déanta acu ar an Ghaeilge agus ar an Ghaeltacht. Mar sin, níl an gnáth leithscéal a úsáideann an Rialtas seo fíor sa chás seo. Níl sé fíor. Is ionsaí ar an Ghaeilge é agus níl aon bhaint aige le hairgead. Ní hamháin gur cuma leis an Rialtas seo, ach is léir go bhfuil daoine sa Rialtas go bhfuil gráin acu ar an Ghaeilge agus dá fhad uathu í, is ea is fearr leo é.

Ba mhaith liom buíochas a thabhairt do na Teachtaí uilig a ghlac páirt sa díospóireacht seo agus as na tuairimí a chuir siad os ár gcomhair. Bhí díospóireacht againn ar an Bhille seo sa Seanad an mhí seo caite. Is Bille tábhachtach é agus tá tábhacht leis an rud atá muid ag iarraidh a dhéanamh. I mo thuairim, léiríonn an Bille seo chomh tábhachtach agus atá an focal scríofa sa Ghaeilge.

Tá ár gcanúintí againn go léir, is cuma as cén pháirt den tír muid. Tá canúintí i ngach teanga. Mar adúirt duine éigin anseo inniu, tá na mílte canúint sa tSín, ach níl ach teanga scríofa amháin acu. Sin an cuspóir atá againn leis an Bhille seo, go mbeidh na focal scríofa sa teanga mar a gcéanna, is cuma cad í an chanúint atá ag duine. Tá sin indéanta i dteangacha forbartha ar fud an domhain agus is luaithe a dhéanfaidh muid sa Ghaeilge é sin, is ea is fearr.

Tógfaidh mé an méid a bhí le rá ag an Teachta Ó Cuív ar dtús, ó tharla nach bhfuil sé anseo agus go bhfuil sé úr i m'intinn. Leis an rud a bhí ar siúl ag an Teachta Ó Cuív bheadh muid fágtha le dhá caighdeán. Ar dtús, bhí an caighdeán a thug Rannóg an Aistriúcháin isteach i 1958 agus ar tógadh muid go léir leis - gach múinteoir, dalta agus gach duine atá thar 50 bliain - agus lena raibh muid an-sásta. Is mór an trua é nach ndearnadh uasghrádú ar an chaighdeán sin. Níl a fhios agam cé ar atá an locht. B'fhéidir go bhfuil cuid den locht ar an Teachta Ó Cuív agus na daoine ar an dtaobh sin den Teach a chaith tréimhsí fada anseo, nár bhac siad le haon uasghrádú a dhéanamh ar an chaighdeán. B'fhéidir gur sin an rud a tharla.

Cad a rinne an Teachta? Chuir sé coiste dá chuid féin ar bun, an t-Ionad Aistriúcháin. Ansin, séard a bhí againn ach an dream anseo, Rannóg an Aistriúcháin, a chur amach an chéad chaighdeán i 1958 agus a rinne go leor oibre air, agus ar an dtaobh eile dúirt an Teachta Ó Cuív, agus é ina Aire ag an am, go raibh sé chun a chaighdeán féin a bheith aige agus chuir sé an t-Ionad Aistriúcháin ar bun thall i mBóthar Mespil agus bhí an t-ionad sin an-ghnóthach.

Ba mhaith liom ard-mholadh a thabhairt don Ionad Aistriúcháin agus an coiste stiúrtha as an obair a rinne siad. Ní easaontaím leis an Teachta Ó Cuív faoin obair a rinne siad. Bhí sár obair idir lámha acu. Bhí speisialtóirí san ionad agus lucht Gaeltachta agus daoine acadúla agus daoine le cáilíochtaí sa teanga, i bhfad níos mó ná atá agamsa ná ag éinne eile anseo. Ba mhaith liom a dhearbhú sa Teach seo go bhfuil meas agam ar a saothar agus gabhaim buíochas leo as. Níl sé fíor go mbeidh an saothar sin caillte. Níl sé caillte. Tá an saothar sin go léir curtha ar ais agus tá sé i dtaisce anseo againn i Rannóg an Aistriúcháin. Nuair a bheidh an chéad uasghrádú eile á dhéanamh ar ghramadach na Gaeilge agus ar chaighdeán na Gaeilge, beidh muid ábalta úsáid a bhaint as sin. Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil an oiread sin difríocht eatarthu. Ach tá rud amháin nach féidir linn cur suas leis agus is é sin go mbeidh dhá caighdeán ag dul ar aghaidh lámh ar lámh agus céim ar chéim. Níl muid chun glacadh le sin agus nílim chun mo leithscéal a ghabháil leis an Teachta Ó Cuív nó aon Teacht eile maidir le sin.

Sílim go raibh an méid a bhí le rá ag an Teachta Kitt an-tomhaiste ar fad. Chuir sé fáilte roimh an rud atá á dhéanamh againn. B'fhéidir go raibh sé ceart go leor, nuair a bhí airgead chomh fairsing le móin sa tír seo agus nuair a bhí sé á chaitheamh ar fud na tíre agus ar fud an domhain, airgead a chaitheamh mar a mhol an Teachta. Ach b'fhéidir gur sin an fáth go bhfuil an deacracht againn inniu atá againn. Ar ndóigh, bhí an Teachta Ó Cuív ina shuí ag bord an Rialtais a rinne na cinntí sin agus ní cóir dearmad a dhéanamh ar sin.

Dúirt an Teachta Ó Cuív nach bhfuil aon pholasaí ag an Rialtas. Tá polasaí ag an Rialtas. Thug an Rialtas tacaíocht iomlán nuair a bhíomar sa bhFreasúra don straitéis 20 bliain. Thug muid tacaíocht iomlán don Ghaeilge mar theanga oifigiúil i bParlaimint na hEorpa. Thug muid tacaíocht iomlán d'Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla i 2003. Thug muid creidiúint don Aire ag an am é sin a dhéanamh, ach deireann an Teachta nach bhfuil aon pholasaí ag an Rialtas. Tá polasaí ag an Rialtas. Tá coiste ar bun ag an Rialtas, faoi chathaoirleacht an Taoisigh é féin. Bhí cúig nó sé cruinnithe den choiste sin againn, ceann acu coicís ó shin. Beidh an chéad cheann eile go luath sa bhliain úr. Tá an coiste ag plé le cúrsaí tábhachtacha a bhaineann le cur i bhfeidhm pholasaí na Gaeilge agus an straitéis, ní hamháin sa Roinn féin agus sa Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna ach sna Ranna eile a bhfuil baint acu le cur chun cinn na Gaeilge.

Nílim ach bliain agus ocht mhí in oifig, ach tá cuid mhór rudaí ag dul ar aghaidh sa Roinn. Thug muid isteach Bille Gaeltachta. Táimid i ndiaidh bord nua a chur isteach ar Údarás na Gaeltachta. Ní mar seo a tharla nuair a bhí an Teachta Ó Cuív ina Aire.

D'fhág siad Údarás na Gaeltachta gan phríomhfheidhmeannach buan ar feadh trí bliana, beagnach. Tháinig muidne isteach agus an chéad rud a dúirt mé na go mbeadh Údarás na Gaeltachta ann. Is féidir leis an Teachta Ó Cuív a bheith ag rá nach raibh aon phlean deireadh a chur leis an údarás nuair a bhí sé féin ina Aire, ach tá na figiúiri ansin. Sa bhliain 2008, bhí €620 milliún de airgead caipitil ag Údarás na Gaeltachta, in 2009 bhí sé anuas go dtí €16 milliún, in 2010 bhí sé anuas go dtí €10 milliún agus nuair a tháinig mise isteach bhí na figiúirí ansin romham, thíos go dtí €6 mhilliún. D'éirigh na deacrachtaí eacnamaíochta níos deacra ó shin ach d'éirigh linn anuraidh é a choinneáil ag €6 mhilliún, agus brú uafásach ar an Státchiste ó thaobh chúrsaí sláinte de, ó thaobh chúrsaí oideachais de agus ó thaobh chúrsaí leasa shóisiala de. Ach d'éirigh linn an t-airgead a choinneáil agus táimid ag iarraidh é a dhéanamh i mbliana arís.

Bhí mé ag éisteacht leis an Teachta Ó Cuív agus mheasfá nach raibh sé in aon Rialtas le 20 bliain. Is é an rud atá le déanamh agamsa sa Roinn, le mo chomhghleacaí, an tAire, an Teachta Deenihan, agus leis na hAirí eile, an ghéarchéim eacnamaíocht a tugadh dúinn le huacht a réiteach. Táimid ag déanamh ár ndíchill é sin a dhéanamh agus, ar ndóigh, tá an bhróg ag teannadh orainn go léir, agus ar an Ghaeltacht chomh maith.

Labhair an Teachta Kitt faoi Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge. Sílim go bhfuil sé sin ag dul ar aghaidh againn. Tá coiste ann faoi chathaoirleacht an Taoisigh, bíonn cruinnithe rialta againn agus táimid ag díriú isteach ar an oideachas go maith. Tá coiste idir-ranna againn a bhfuil na Ranna a bhfuil baint acu le cur i bhfeidhm na straitéise air. Tá mé féin mar chathaoirleach air sin agus tagaimid le chéile go rialta. Tá go leor rudaí ag dul ar aghaidh.

Thagair an Teachta Kitt, chomh maith leis an Teachta Ó Cuív, don choiste stiúrtha agus don chaighdeán oifigiúil. Ní dhéanfar dearmad ar na moltaí a rinne an coiste stiúrtha. Nuair a bheimid ag déanamh uasghradú ar an chaighdeán oifigiúil amach anseo, agus tá sé ráite go mbeimid á dhéanamh taobh istigh de thrí bliana, ní rachaidh an obair an-fhiúntach a chuireadar siúd ar fáil amú.

Maidir le struchtúir fhoireann Rannóg an Aistriúcháin, fuair an rannóg triúr aistritheoir ón lár-ionad aistriúcháin, duine amháin ag grád a 2 agus beirt ag grád a 3. Fágann sin go bhfuil 21 ag obair i Rannóg an Aistriúcháin i dTithe an Oireachtais. Tá riaráistí ann maidir le hAchtanna, ach tá sé sin ag dul ar aghaidh le blianta fada. Luaigh an Teachta Ó Cuív go raibh 394 Bille le haistriú. Níor tharla an riaráiste sin ar fad le mo linnse. Tá sé sin ag dul ar aghaidh le deich nó 15 bliana. Bhí seans ag an Teachta Ó Cuív tabhairt faoi sin nuair a bhí sé ina Aire ach ní fhaca mé aon rud ag tarlú. Leis an fhoireann bhreise atá i Rannóg an Aistriúcháin anois, déanfaimid gach iarracht, ar bhonn straitéise, tabhairt faoi na riaráistí sin. Glacfaidh sé am ach beimid ábalta tabhairt faoi.

Thagair an Teachta Kitt don chlár tacaíochta teaghlaigh. Bhí scéim labhairt na Gaeilge againn. Níl sé againn anois ach tá clár tacaíochta teaghlaigh againn.

Tá sé imithe, cosúil leis an gCoimisinéir Teanga.

Ó tharla gur thagair an Teachta don Choimisinéir Teanga, tá an coimisinéir ansin agus na cumhachtaí céanna aige agus a bhí. Tá sé lonnaithe thiar i gCois Fharraige, mar a bhí, tá an fhoireann chéanna aige agus a bhí agus tá siad lonnaithe ins an Ghaeltacht mar a bhí. Bhí daoine ag rá anuraidh go raibh deireadh leis an gCoimisinéir Teanga, go mbeadh sé ag teacht aníos anseo go Baile Átha Cliath agus mar sin de. Ní raibh sé sin fíor. Tá sé ag gníomhú faoin Acht agus is cinneadh de chuid an Rialtais é sin.

Maidir leis na hoileáin, caithfidh mé buíochas a thabhairt don Teachta Kitt. Bhí na pointí a rinne sé an-tomhaiste. Dúirt sé go dtuigeann sé go bhfuil deacrachtaí airgid agus deacrachtaí achmhainní ag an tír. Bhí na pointí a rinne sé an-tomhaiste ar fad. Luaigh sé an t-aer sheirbhís go dtí na hoileáin. Bhí cruinniú tairbheach againn inné le hionadaithe poiblí ó Ghaillimh Thiar in áit a phléigh muid an cheist. Tá achmhainní teoranta againn. Níl a fhios againn cad é an ciste a bheas againn an bhliain seo chugainn, ach beidh a fhios againn nuair a thiocfaidh an cháinaisnéis amach cad é an ciste a bheas againn. Ansin, beimid ag tabhairt cuirí arís do Aer Árann agus do mhuintir Árann chun scrúdú a dhéanamh ar an cheist agus chun a fháil amach an mbeidh aon réiteach ar an cheist an-chasta seo. Cosnaíonn sé a lán airgid an tseirbhís a choinneáil. Tá seirbhís an-mhaith farantóireachta go dtí na hoileáin chomh maith. Bhí mé féin ar an mbád go dtí na hoileáin agus caithfidh mé a rá go bhfuil seirbhís den scoith ar fáil. Is deas an rud seirbhís aeir a bheith ar fáil ach caithfimid amharc air i gcomhthéacs an méid airgid a bheas againn agus na moltaí a thiocfas ó Aer Árann féin agus ó mhuintir na n-oileán. Bhí cruinniú maith againn.

Bhí mé ag éisteacht go cúramach leis an méid a bhí le rá ag an Teachta Ó Snodaigh. D'fháilteoinn go mór le haon mholtaí a chuirfeadh sé le húsáid Gaeilge i dTithe an Oireachtais a chur chun cinn. Tá deacracht mhór againn ansin agus éiríonn an cheist seo bliain i ndiaidh bliana. Thagair an Teachta do úsáid na Gaeilge in Aontas na hEorpa chomh maith. Rinne an Teachta Donohoe tagairt dó sin chomh maith. Bí mé féin ag cruinniu amháin des na hAirí sa Bhruiséal agus thug mé an óráid i nGaeilge. Bhí gach duine ábalta mé a thuiscint mar go bhfuil na gléasanna aistriúcháin ansin. Tá an-suim ag an Taoiseach, agus muid ag teacht isteach ar an Uachtaránacht sa sé mhí amach romhainn, go mbainfimid go léir úsáid oiread agus is féidir as an nGaeilge. Nuair atá an Ghaeilge aitheanta ag leibhéal na hEorpa níl sé ach ceart go mbainfí úsáid aisti.

Shíl an Teachta Donohoe gur téarma ró-ghairid é seacht mbliana le huasghrádú a dhéanamh ar an chaighdeán. Níl a fhios agam faoi sin. Tá sé ró-fhada ó rinneadh an t-uasghradú deireanach ó 1958. Bíonn teanga bheo ag athrú i gcónaí agus sílim gur fearr go ndéanfar an t-uasghradú níos minicí ná í a chur ar an mhéar fhada.

Rinne an Teachta Mac Craith óráid an-leathan ar fad. Thóg sé ceist Údaráis na Gaeltachta agus easpa daonlathais. Ní aontaím leis sin ar chor ar bith. Tá údarás maith againn anois. Tá sé íslithe ó 20 go dtí 12. Cuireadh isteach baill úra an tseachtain seo agus tá mé cinnte go ndéanfaidh siad cúis an-mhaith ins an téarma atá amach rompu.

Labhair an Teachta Ó Cadhain ar an tseirbhís aeir go hÁrainn. Labhair an Teachta Neville mar dhuine de Choimisiún Thithe an Oireachtais agus thug sé tacaíocht don rud atá á dhéanamh againn, mar a rinne an Teachta Kitt.

Ina dhiaidh sin, labhair an Teachta Donohoe, agus chuir mé an-suim sa mhéid a bhí le rá aige. Rinne sé onóracha sa Ghaeilge san ardteistiméireacht ach tá sé go maith as taithí. Bhí sé thar lear, san Afraic, agus tuigeann sé anois cé chomh tábhachtach mar ghné dár gcultúr is atá an teanga.

Chuir sé áthas orm agus thug sé misneach agus muinín dom go ndúirt sé go bhfuil sé sásta dul i mbun an teanga a athfhoghlaim lena chuid páistí atá ag dul ar an scoil agus gurb é an cuspóir atá aige ná go mbeidh sé istigh anseo roimh dheireadh na Dála chun óráid a thabhairt trí Ghaeilge.

Gabhaim buíochas leis an Cheann Comhairle as deis a thabhairt dom an Bille seo a chur os comhair na Dála agus gabhaim buíochas leis na Teachtaí uilig a chuir fáilte roimh an mBille agus a thuigeann an obair agus an cuspóir a bhaineann leis an Bhille seo – obair dhá choiste a chomhthathú agus déanamh cinnte de go mbeidh Caighdeán Oifigiúil amháin againn sna blianta amach romhainn. I mo thuairim, rachaidh sin chun tairbhe go mór do theagasc agus d’fhoghlaim na teanga.

Question put and agreed to.