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Wednesday, 13 Dec 2006

Official Languages Act 2003 (Section 9) Regulations 2006: Motion (Resumed).

Pléifimid na rialacháin um Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 (Alt 9) 2006. Rachaidh an comhchoiste seo chuig an Dáil agus an Seanad i ndiaidh dó scrúdú a dhéanamh orthu. Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire agus a oifigigh. Molaimid go bpléifimid na rialacháin alt ar alt. An aontaíonn na baill leis sin?

Tá cúpla seans de dhíth orainn chun rudaí ginearálta a rá. Tá mé sásta dul tríd alt ar alt, ach ba chóir dúinn cúpla focal a rá. Mar shampla, tá cúpla ceist agam ar mhaith liom a chur ar an Aire. An bhfuair muid aon seans chun dul i gcomhairle leis na heagrais ar leith a bheidh ag cur an ruda seo chun cinn? Tá nach mór 500 díobh ann. Ba é an deacracht a bhí againn leis na rialacháin eile, más cuimhin leis an Aire, ná nár chuaigh éinne i gcomhairle i gceart leis na daoine a bheadh ag cur an ruda chun cinn. An uair seo, ba mhaith liom go ndéanfaí dul i gcomhairle éigin leo siúd. Tá liosta de na heagrais ar leith ansin, agus tá nach mór 500 díobh. If we are to affect 500 groups with a regulation, rather than rowing afterwards, as we have done regarding previous regulations, it would make a great deal of sense to ask them their views before we implement it. That is not unreasonable.

There has been a misunderstanding. As the Senator knows, it is not normal to go through such a long process with regulations. Before they were ever put before the Cabinet, every Department was consulted. The obligation falls on them to ensure the agencies under their aegis and any way in which they might be affected are taken into account. I emphasise that a very thorough process has been followed. For example, the State introduces regulations regarding disability all the time. As Mr. Justice Hardiman pointed out, they all cause extra work for agencies. However, it is the duty of the State to provide the service. To be blunt about it, if the choice is between providing a service at a top level and the convenience of the agency, the State's obligation to provide the service for the public is much more important. Therefore, a thorough process has been followed regarding all Departments, which are themselves responsible for the agencies under their aegis.

If the Minister is happy that the parent Departments listed have consulted the 500 agencies, I will have to accept that.

I do not know whether they have. However, if a Minister introduces any other regulation, the same thing applies.

I know this will cause a major row in six months. Every one of those 500 different organisations will be affected. I agree with the Minister that if we decide they must do it, they must comply, and that is the end of it. It is not because of a little extra work. Ní hé sin an rud atá ag cur isteach ormsa. Is é an rud atá ag cur isteach ormsa ná na deacrachtaí a bhí againn cheana le grúpaí daoine ar cheapamar go ndeachaigh daoine i gcomhairle leo, and it did not happen.

If the Minister says he is happy either that the agencies have been informed and consulted or that they have not been told and he does not care because he told the parent Departments, I want that to be on the record. Although I did not conduct a survey, I spoke to the chief executive in one organisation who knew nothing about this. Everyone affected should know, since that is democracy in action. If the Minister says he has spoken to the parent Department and does not care beyond that, that is a mistake. I want a clear position on the issue.

I am happy to accept the Minister's assurance that this has been dealt with in the normal way. It is important that we do not create an exceptional situation regarding Irish and the rights of Irish speakers. What the Minister has outlined is what I have been used to through my years in the Oireachtas. There has obviously been very focused interaction with other Departments, and I was aware of that, as I thought every Member of the Oireachtas was aware. We had received signals from other Departments that it was happening.

They were given an opportunity to put their case regarding their functional areas, and it would be very difficult for the Minister to claim that he could speak on behalf of every Department. We would be surprised if any other subject were being discussed and we approached it in that way. It is important that the Minister has given us an in many ways unprecedented opportunity to go through the regulations word by word.

We make regulations every day of the week that affect all sorts of State agencies, Departments and so on. In most cases, all that happens is that the regulation made by the Minister is announced. I would not like the word to go out of this room, as might easily happen, that in some way less was done in this case rather than, to an exceptional degree, more.

This case was extremely unusual, the first reason being that a memorandum was brought to the Government with regulations. That does not normally happen. When one brings such a memorandum to the Government, each Minister gets the opportunity to make observations. They are meant to do so not only on their own behalf but regarding the implications for every agency under their aegis. Therefore, it is their responsibility as Ministers to ensure that there is no unfair or unintended impact on the agencies. In the normal course of events, no such consultation process takes place.

Second, we published the regulations in September. We are now in December, and they have been in the public domain for some time. Newspaper articles have been written about them, and two debates have been held in this committee. I know of no other regulation that has been discussed in this detail except when Deputy Michael Higgins, as Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, discussed the habitats directive and the regulations arising therefrom in the Dáil, and that was dealt with in one session rather than two. I may be wrong, but I recall no other regulation coming before a committee of the House and receiving such thorough scrutiny. We can decide this is an exceptional degree of consultation and that everyone has had a chance or someone may suggest some further form of consultation, but to imply that anyone has been short-circuited in the process is absolutely ridiculous. Some of my colleagues may even at this stage be wondering at how high we have raised the bar when it comes to future regulations that will have an impact across all sectors.

What Senator Ó Murchú says is extremely fair, namely, that we introduce all sorts of regulations to provide services, for example, those connected with disabilities. The sectors are essentially told the regulations have been made by the Minister and voted through the Oireachtas, and that is it. I do not see why something fundamental to the rights of Irish speakers should depend on the courtesy of agencies. With every other regulation, it is clear the State serves the people and not the other way around.

When were the draft regulations circulated to other Ministers? Did they make any observations?

Yes, some did.

From how many Departments?

I cannot give the Deputy a number.

I am not asking the Minister to name Departments.

I would not do so, in any case. I cannot supply a number, but I assure the Deputy that the system is quite simple. Every Department was asked for its observations, which came back. We then brought the regulation before the Cabinet, which decided to agree it, subject to an unusual process outlined at the time. Two extra things were done in this case: bringing it before the Government, involving going to the relevant Departments, which in this case meant all of them; and bringing it to the Houses of the Oireachtas for an open debate before implementation.

I will not push this to a vote, but I have a final point. It is interesting how defensive we have suddenly become. At the beginning I asked the simple question whether we had consulted people. I understood the Minister's first answer to be that we had done so through the Departments. I now understand that we have not done so, and I feel that it is a mistake. I will say no more than that.

It is very clear there is a certain process regarding all regulations. This case has been an exception to the rule only through having been subject to more discussion rather than less. Every one of us in his or her daily lives wakes up to new regulations and wonders where they originated. We have had a healthy debate on this, and going around in circles will not bring us any farther forward.

In the final analysis, it is a case for Members of the Oireachtas to advise me whether they feel an unfair burden has been imposed on any agency through these regulations. If that case is made, I have promised that I will listen. However, it is not a question for agencies to say they feel the burden is unfair because they do not wish to comply. That would be a funny way of running the State.

I was not suggesting that but merely that we should have spoken to them before doing this. The Minister says he will not do that. However, I certainly take his second point. Sna rialacháin seo níl aon áit in aon chor chun eisceachtaí a chur isteach ann. Ba mhaith an rud é go mbeadh a leithéid ann. If the Minister accepted the amendment I have just suggested, I would be very happy.

What amendment?

The amendment whereby people might make the recommendation that it might not be necessary in all cases. A Member of the Oireachtas could make a case to the Minister on their behalf so that they need not implement the regulation in full.

Is that not what we are doing today? We are going through the regulations individually, and members may be for or against them, adding their comments on the matter. That is why we are here.

The point is that, as I thought I just said, one should be able to make representations to the Minister to excuse certain organisations of an exceptional burden.

Regulations always have fairly universal effect. If one says that all buildings must be accessible to disabled people, one normally gives that wide effect. If there is a great exception because of historical or architectural reasons, one should provide for this. By their very nature, regulations have general effect. However, in making these regulations we have provided for exceptions, much to the chagrin of some bodies. When we scrutinise them, members will see that very early on we make an exception regarding a body, in effect because of its unique status.

Táimid ag dul ar ais aríst leis na rialacháin um Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 (Alt 9) 2006. An bhfuil an teideal go maith? Tá. An bhfuil an dara mír go maith? Tá. Cad é faoi mhír 3?

Ní fheadar faoi mhír 3. Ba cheart dúinn seans a chur isteach sa mhír sin d'eagrais fianaise a chur chuig an Aire ar eagla nach mbeidís in ann. Bheadh sé i bhfad níos mó d'ualach orthu aon rud a chur chun cinn. Ba cheart seans a bheith ag eagrais cás a chur faoi bhráid an Aire i gcásanna áirithe má cheapann siad go gcuireann na rialacháin seo ualach ró-mhór orthu in aon slí. Seachas an feidhmiú a bheadh ar gach aon cheann de na heagrais, bheadh seans acu cás a chur faoi bhráid na Roinne agus an Aire dá mba rud é go raibh ualach ró-mhór orthu é sin a dhéanamh.

Sin an mhír atá luaite maidir le comharthaí tráchta. Ba mhaith liom ceist a chur ar an Aire. Tá a fhios agam ó fhreagra a thug sé dom nach bhfuil aon dualgas ar an Aire Iompair mar gheall ar an cheist seo agus gur ghá leasú a dhéanamh ar an Acht um Thrácht ar Bhóithre 1961. An ndeachaigh an tAire i dteangmháil leis an Aire Iompair maidir leis an leasú sin a thabhairt chun cinn le bheith cinnte go mbeidh baint ag na rialacháin seo le comharthaí tráchta agus a leithéid?

Is é an bealach a ndéantar comharthaí tráchta ná é seo. Is lámhleabhar atá i gceist, agus tá sé sin i gceist ós rud é go bhfuil pictiúir agus léaráidí ann. Mar sin, is ceist don Aire Iompair é a dhéanamh. Is féidir leis an Aire Iompair an lámhleabhar a athrú gan dul ar ais anseo, agus dá bhrí sin, níl aon ghá le hathrú reachtaíochta, agus níl aon ghá é a bheith sna rialacháin, mar is féidir leis an Aire Iompair a mhacasamhail a dhéanamh faoi mar atá an dlí faoi láthair.

Ar iarr an tAire ar a chomhghleacaí athrú a dhéanamh?

Phléigh muid an rud go mion leis an Roinn Iompair agus an Roinn Comhshaoil, Oidhreachta agus Rialtais Áitiúil.

An bhfuil siad báúil?

Is ceist dóibh siúd é anois.

Tuigim é sin, ach bhí an tAire i dteangmháil leo.

Bhí mé i dteangmháil leis an Aire Iompair, agus rinneadh go leor plé air.

An féidir linn glacadh leis go bhfuil an tAire Iompair báúil agus go ndéanfaidh sé an t-athrú, mar sin?

Is féidir leis an Teachta ceist Dála a chur síos ar 1 p.m.

Tá sé sin déanta agam.

Tá plé leanúnach. Is féidir leis an lámhleabhar a athrú ag am ar bith, agus tá go leor mionoibre déanta ar an gceist sin. Is ceist dóibh siúd é sin a thabhairt ar aghaidh, agus tá sé in ann é sin a dhéanamh gan teacht ar ais anseo agus gan an dlí a athrú. Níl aon ghá an dlí a athrú.

Nuair a dhéileáil muid leis an Bhille seo sa chéad dul síos, ghlac muidinne leis go mbeadh feidhm ag an Acht ar gach uile rannóg. In ainneoin an mhéid atá á rá ag an Aire mar gheall ar an Aire Iompair, níor chóir go mbeadh feidhm aige maidir leis an teanga. Tá feidhm aige maidir le dearadh na gcomharthaí agus cá háit a lonnaítear iad, an dath atá orthu agus mar sin de. Ba chóir go mbeadh an teanga a bheadh ar na comharthaí sin rialta ag an Acht agus ag an Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta dá réir, áfach. Tá an tAire i gceannas maidir leis na teangacha oifigiúla agus gach rud a thagann as an Acht sin.

Ag éirí as an mhéid atá ráite ag an Teachta Ó Snodaigh, tuigim go raibh comharthaí tráchta luaite go sonrach sa bhun-Bhille é féin. Nach bhfuil sé sin fíor? Ag an phointe seo, nuair atá na rialacháin á bplé againn, tá sé fágtha amuigh. Tá eisceachtaí ann. As na comhráití a bhí ag an Aire lena chomhghleacaí, an tAire Iompair, an bhfuil aon amchlár leis na comharthaí mar atá luaite san Acht a chur i bhfeidhm?

Níor tugadh aon amchlár, ach tá go leor plé déanta.

An dtuigeann an tAire go mbeidh rud éigin á dhéanamh faoi seo le cur le forálacha an Achta, nó an eisceacht bhuan lánaimseartha atá ann?

Is é an bealach is simplí le tabhairt faoi na comharthaí bóthair ná an lámhleabhar a athrú trí leasú a dhéanamh air. Is féidir leis an Aire Iompair é sin a dheanamh, ach ní féidir liomsa é a dhéanamh. D'fhéadfadh sé é a dhéanamh ag am ar bith, agus tá mionphlé ar rudaí ar nós "dr." in áit "droichead" tar éis a bheith ar bun. Is ceist é sin don Roinn Iompair nuair a bheidh sí réidh dul ar aghaidh agus aon leasú ar mhian léi a dhéanamh ar an lámhleabhar.

Níl aon ghá le hathrú reachtaíochta má dhéanann an Roinn Iompair é, agus níl aon ghá le rialacháin ach oiread. Is féidir léi é a dhéanamh, agus tá sé déanta. Níl an Roinn Iompair ag iarraidh dul i bhfeidhm ar éinne eile seachas faoi na cumhachtaí atá aici. Sin an difríocht atá ann. Sin an fáth nach dteastaíonn rialacháin uaithi. Má athraíonn sí an lámhleabhar, tá sé uileghabhálach do chomharthaí bóithre ar fud na tíre.

Cén chumhacht atá ag an lámhleabhar?

Cumhacht dlí.

Nach féidir linne moladh a chur go dtí an tAire ar an bpointe sin, gur chóir go gcuirfí an méid atá á rá ag an Teachta chun cinn? Tuigim ón méid atá ráite aige go mbeadh comhionannas idir Gaoluinn agus Béarla sna comharthaí seo. An bhféadfaimis an moladh sin a chur chuig an Roinn Iompair?

Níl aon bhaint agamsa leis sin.

Tá sé sin i bhfad níos tábhachtaí ná a lán de na rudaí eile atá á bplé aige. Ba cheart dó sin a bheith ar na comharthaí bóthair tríd an tír.

Ní raibh aon rud luaite sa scéim a d'oibir an tAire amach leis an Roinn Iompair mar gheall ar chomharthaí tráchta. Faoi láthair, táimid ag labhairt faoi "d'fhéadfadh an Roinn nó an tAire é seo a dhéanamh maidir leis an lámhleabhar", ach is é an rud a bhíonn i gceist i gcónaí agus muid ag déileáil leis an Acht seo ná go mbeadh dualgas ann. Measaim gur ghá go mbeadh an dualgas sin ann. Ba bhreá an rud é dá mbeadh daoine eile ar an eolas faoin phlé mar gheall ar an lámhleabhar, toisc gur lámhleabhar millteanach mór é.

Níl aon amhras ach gur siombal idirnáisiúnta atá ann. Den chuid is mó, sin an treo a bhfuil mórchuid den domhan ag dul — siombalachas seachas foclaíocht. B'fhéidir gurbh fhiú, amach anseo, moladh go nglacfaí leis an tuairim gur chóir go mbeadh an dualgas ann agus é luaite sna rialacháin seo. Ba cheart don choiste déileáil leis mar ábhar ann féin agus moladh a chur ar aghaidh chuig an Aire ina dhiaidh sin.

Ba chóir go mbeadh na comharthaí bóithre dátheangach lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht, leis an Ghaoluinn a chur chun cinn, le comhionannas idir an Ghaoluinn agus an Béarla orthu. Sin an rud a tharlaíonn de ghnáth i dtíortha eile tríd an Eoraip agus in áiteanna eile. Ba mhaith an rud é moladh ón choiste seo a chur faoi bhráid na Roinne Iompair.

An aontaíonn achan duine leis sin? Go maith.

An bhfuil an tAire sásta é a chur isteach i mír 3 go mbeadh seans ag eagrais áirithe a gcás a chur faoi bhráid an Aire má tá ualach ró-mhór á chur orthu leis na rialacháin seo?

Cloisim a bhfuil le rá ag an Seanadóir. Bheadh sé an-neamhghnách go mbeadh a leithéid d'fhoráil i rialachán. Ní shamhlóinn go raibh aon chostas breise arbh fhiú caint air ar aon eagraíocht. Má théimid tríd ceann ar cheann, ní dóigh liom go bhfeicfimid aon rud ann seo a chuirfeas aon dua orthu. Mar shampla, cén costas a bhainfeas le stáiseanóireacht a bheith dátheangach, le Gaeilge agus Béarla go cothrom? Má táthar ag cur comharthaí nua suas, ní mór an costas é iad a bheith dátheangach. Táimid tar éis socrú le Foras na Gaeilge go mbeidh sé mar sin. Ní dóigh liom go bhfeicfimid aon chostas breise nó dua ar fiú caint air ar éinne.

Tá socrú déanta le Foras na Gaeilge go mbeidh na fógráin a bheas ar fáil uaidh caighdeánach ar fad. Mar shampla, má tá duine ag iarraidh "dún an doras", "oscail an doras", "amach", "isteach" agus mar sin de a chur suas, beidh sé sin ar fad réamhréitithe ag Foras na Gaeilge. Níl aon dua, costas nó trioblóid ag baint le leaganacha cearta Gaeilge a fháil. Bheadh sé spéisiúil, mar shampla, fáil amach cén áit a bhféadfadh sé tarlú go mbeadh costas nach beag curtha ar eagraíocht i ndáil leis na rialacháin seo.

Aontaím leis an Aire nach bhfuil aon deacracht ag baint le stáiseanóireacht agus rudaí mar sin atá clóbhuailte, ach baineann deacrachtaí ar leith le rudaí taifeadta. Mar shampla, má bhíonn orm córas nua teileafóin a chur isteach in oifig bheag chun an rud seo a chur isteach, ní thuigim go díreach an teicneolaíocht a bhaineann leis sin. Tá a fhios agam go mbíonn aon rud a dhéantar ar an taobh sin den tír i gcónaí costasach, áfach.

Ní thiocfainn chomh fada leis sin. Más féidir leis an Seanadóir cruthú dom go mbeidh costas mór ar eagraíochtaí beaga, breathnóidh mé air.

Munar féidir le dream nó eagraíocht é sin a chruthú, ní gá éisteacht leo. Sin an rud atá i gceist agam.

Cloisim an rud atá ráite ag an Seanadóir. Níl mé á chur as an áireamh ar fad. Ba é an rud ab fhearr liom a dhéanamh ná é seo. Mar shampla, glacaim leis nach mbeadh an Seanadóir ag iarraidh go mbeadh cead ag duine cás a dhéanamh maidir le stáiseanóireacht. B'fhearr liom go dtaispeánfadh an Seanadóir dom na háiteanna a gceapann sé go bhféadfaimis a bheith ag cur dua nach beag ar eagrais. Nuair a thiocfaimid chomh fada leis na míreanna sin, beidh an Seanadóir in ann é sin a thaispeáint dom. Is féidir linn é a phlé, agus má tá gá déileáil leis sin, is féidir linn é a dhéanamh.

Is dóigh liom gurb é mír 4 an chéad cheann eile.

Ní amháin go mbeimid ag súil go gcuirfear na rialacháin seo i bhfeidhm; táimid ag súil freisin go mbeidh comhoibriú dearfach ann ó na heagrais. Is é an deacracht a fheicim leis an bpointe atá ag an Seanadóir Ó Tuathail ná má bhíonn aon laghdú in aon chor nó aon tuiscint ann gur féidir le daoine gan na rialacháin a chur i bhfeidhm, is cinnte go ndéanfaidh siad a leithéid. Más rud é go bhfuil seans mar sin soiléiriú a dhéanamh sna rialacháin, ní dóigh liom go mbeimid in ann a bheith cinnte go gcuirfear i bhfeidhm iad le comhoibriú iomlán.

Tá mise sásta teacht ar ais air seo tar éis na díospóireachta ar na rialacháin éagsúla nach é.

Tá rún faoi bhráid na Dála amáireach. Caithfimid breathnú ar an gceist sin ag éirí as an díospóireacht inniu. Ba é an rud a bhí i gceist agam a dhéanamh ná plé a dhéanamh orthu seo le go ndéanfaimid amach cad iad na pointí a bheas déanta ceann ar cheann. Má chreidim go mba cheart leasú a dhéanamh air, dhéanfaí é.

An bhfuil an tAire á rá go bhfuil sé sásta féachaint isteach i scéal aon dreama a thagann chuige agus gur féidir leis cruthú go dearfach go bhfuil deacrachtaí aige?

Ní dúirt mé é sin.

Aon Seanadóir nó aon Teachta Dála atá istigh sa seomra seo——

Tá na Seanadóirí ag dul a dhéanamh pointí inniu. Smaoineoidh mé orthu, agus déanfaidh mé na rialacháin. Mar a dúirt mé ar ball beag, nuair a bheas a n-intinn déanta suas acu, beidh an Rialtas tar éis deis a fháil. Beidh an coiste seo tar éis dhá dheis a fháil orthu, rud atá fíorneamhghnách le rialacháin. Ansin, caithfidh mé cinneadh a dhéanamh. Éistfidh mé go tuisceanach le rud ar bith atá á rá anseo inniu, ach glacaim leis nach mbíonn vótaí i gceist agus muid ag plé rialachán mar seo, mar ní bheadh aon chumhacht ag aon rialachán sul a ndéanann an tAire é. Ansin, caithfidh mé iarracht a dhéanamh consensus a fháil, mar níl gach duine anseo, fiú, ar aon tuairim.

Ag dul ar ais chuig an bpointe atá ag an Seanadóir Ó Tuathail, agus muid ag dul tríd, má tá áiteanna ann a bhfeiceann sé go bhféadfadh sé dua nach beag agus nach bhféadfadh eagraíochtaí a shásamh go réasúnta a chur orthu, ba bhreá liom é sin a chloisteáil, agus déanfaidh mé machnamh air sin.

Maidir leis na comharthaí, tá fadhb i láthair na huaire, agus tá géarghá gur féidir an fhadhb sin a réiteach. Is é an chéad rud ná leasú a dhéanamh ar an Acht um Thrácht ar Bhóithre 1961 ag tabhairt chumhacht na Roinne Iompair do Roinn an Aire, atá freagrach as an tAcht a chur i bhfeidhm. Is é an dara rud ná é seo. Munar féidir é sin a dhéanamh, nó muna bhfuil fonn ar an Aire é sin a dhéanamh, cad mar gheall ar oifigigh agus Aire na Roinne sin a thabhairt isteach anseo agus é a phlé leo?

Sin an rud ciallmhar.

Molaim go ndéanfaimid é sin.

An-chiallmhar. Má athraíonn seisean an lámhleabhar, níl aon ghá dó an dlí a athrú. Is féidir leis é a dhéanamh. Tá an moladh atá déanta ag an Teachta thar a bheith ciallmhar agus stuama.

Is féidir linn an tAire a thógaint isteach chun an rud a phlé leis. Molaim go gcuirfimid an cuireadh sin chuig an Aire Iompair chomh luath agus is féidir.

Aontaím leis an moladh sin, ach an bhfuil aon dualgas air an lámhleabhar a athrú faoin Acht seo?

De bharr gur lámhleabhar é, ní thagann sé faoin Acht. Is pointe beag dlí é. De réir mar a thuigim — ní saineolaí dlí mé — de bharr nach rialachán é ach lámhleabhar, ní fheidhmíonn Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 anseo. Níl aon soláthair san Acht teanga maidir le lámhleabhair. B'shin í an fhadhb. Caithfidh sé a bheith i bhfoirm lámhleabhair, áfach, mar tá léaráidí ann. Tá cuid de na léaráidí a bhfuil focail scríofa orthu, mar shampla, "Géill slí".

Is lámhleabhar é, ach is dlí é, mar a dúirt an tAire.

Is ea. Má táthar ag iarraidh go mbeidh ar na comhairlí contae agus na húdaráis áitiúla ar fud na tíre rudaí áirithe a dhéanamh maidir le comharthaí tráchta, is é an rud is simplí ná cur ina luí ar an Aire Iompair an lámhleabhar a athrú. An lá a n-athraíonn sé an lámhleabhar, tá feidhm leis sin, ach caithfidh chuile dhuine dul dá réir le haon chomhartha nua a chuirfear suas. Tá sé an-simplí.

Tabharfaimid cuireadh chuig an Aire Iompair teacht chuig cruinniú sa bhliain nua.

Cuirfidh mé aguisín leis sin. Munar féidir linn aon dul chun cinn suntasach a dhéanamh leis an Roinn agus an Aire Iompair, caithfimid teacht ar ais chuig Roinn an Aire.

An bhfuil Uimh. 3 go maith? Tá. Is é an chéad rud eile ná leathanach 7, Uimh. 4, fógairtí taifeadta béil.

Táim sásta leis sin, ar aon nós.

Ba mhaith liom rud a dhéanamh soiléir. Tá míthuiscintí faoi na fógraí taifeadta. Is éard atá scríofa ná "fógairtí a tharchuirtear le teileafón agus atá beartaithe lena gcloisteáil nuair atá oifigí an chomhlachta dúnta". Beidh a fhios ag an Seanadóir féin go nglaonn sé ar áit agus faigheann sé "The office is closed. It will open again on Monday morning", agus mar sin de. Chaithfeadh sé sin a bheith dátheangach.

An mbeidh an leagan Gaeilge i dtús áite nó an leagan Béarla? Céard a bheidh i gceist ansin?

Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil sé sin ráite.

De réir mar atá sé scríofa "i nGaeilge nó i nGaeilge agus i mBéarla", tá tús áite ag an nGaoluinn.

Aon áit a bhfuil an Ghaeilge luaite, tá sí ar aghaidh ar an mBéarla i ndlí. D'aontaigh muid leis sin ar an mbunús gurbh í an chéad teanga oifigiúil, ach níl aon dualgas, go bhfios domsa, ar an nGaeilge a bheith roimh an mBéarla. Is ceist don eagraíocht é cén bealach a ndéanfaidh sí é.

De réir na rialachán seo, beidh sé ar chumas aon eagrais an leagan Béarla nó an leagan Gaeilge a chur i dtús áite, ach an féidir le heagras cinneadh a dhéanamh gan ach an leagan Gaoluinne a chur amach?

Is féidir é a dhéanamh go teicniúil, ach is beag eagraíocht a dhéanfas é. Mar shampla, d'fhéadfadh Údarás na Gaeltachta é a dhéanamh.

Tiocfaidh mé ar ais chuige sin.

Dúirt an tAire go raibh sé ag díriú isteach ar fhógairtí taifeadta a chuirfí amach agus oifigí an chomhlachta dúnta. Nuair a bhíos ag caint, ba é (c) go mórmhór a bhí ag cur isteach orm, mar gheall ar na deacrachtaí a bheadh ann le fógraí taifeadta atá ag teacht trí chóras ríomhaire. B'shin é an ceann is mó a chuir isteach orm.

Such announcements might be a little confusing. Let us assume that an English-speaking person such as me is ringing Údarás na Gaeltachta. It could be confusing to hear only Irish being spoken. Could one have a message stating that, owing to regulations under the Official Languages Act 2003, the announcement will be made in Irish first and then in English? I can think of other bodies such as corporations and county councils which might decide to have the Irish version first, but it might be helpful for those who do not speak the language if they were notified that the Irish version would come first.

Ar an chuid seo de na rialacháin, tá roinnt rudaí i gceist. Fáiltím roimh an chéad chuid, (1)(a), (b) agus (c). Tá fadhb agam le cuid (2), áfach. Sa lá atá inniu ann, is féidir leis na ráitis a bheith taifeadta go dátheangach, nó fiú go trítheangach, más gá. Má chuirim glaoch ar Ambasáid na Fraince, is i bhFraincis a fhreagraítear an fón. Ansin, is féidir fanacht ar an líne go dtí deireadh na teachtaireachta, agus beidh rúnaí ann. Is féidir teachtaireacht a fhágáil tar éis an "beep", agus is féidir é sin a rá i dtrí theanga go han-tapaidh. Agus duine ag dul trí aerfort nó a leithéid, cheana féin ag Aerfort Bhaile Átha Cliath, cluineann sé nó sí na fógraí slándála i dtrí nó ceithre theanga, an Ghaeilge ina measc. Is féidir é a dhéanamh, agus go háirithe sa lá atá inniu ann, leis an teicneolaíocht chomh flúirseach agus chomh solúbtha sin, d'fhéadfadh na fógraí a bheith dátheangach, ar an laghad, gach áit sa Stát seo. Chomh maith leis sin, tá eagrais Stáit ag obair thar lear. Táim ag smaoineamh anseo ar leithéidí Bord Fáilte, no pé teideal nua atá air, agus ambasáidí an Stáit timpeall an domhain. Níl ann ach mionrud, ach léiríonn sé féinmheas na tíre seo. Agus duine ag glaoch ar eagrais Stáit, is léir go bhfuil féinmheas acu, agus tá an rud céanna fíor i gcás eagras atá á maoiniú ag an Stát. Ba é an rud a bhí i gceist i gcónaí san Acht seo ná iad siúd atá ag fáil airgid ón Stát. Tá maoiniú mór ann, agus is dualgas beag bídeach atá i gceist anseo.

Bheadh taifead á rá go bhfuil foireann an eagrais ar saoire go ceann coicíse — "We are on holiday for the next two weeks. Please leave a message". Tá sé sin simplí, agus tarlaíonn sé ina lán eagras cheana féin gan an dualgas a bheith orthu. D'fhéadfaimis dualgas a chur ann, agus tá breis is dhá bhliain i gceist lena chomhlíonadh de réir na rialachán seo. Tá mí Eanáir 2009 luaite anseo, agus tugann sé sin deis do na heagrais seo ar fad déanamh cinnte de go bhfuil siad in ann na fógraí seo a dhéanamh dátheangach, ar a laghad.

Tá an méid atá ráite ag an Teachta Ó Snodaigh réasúnta agus praiticiúil go leor. Tá taithí againn leis an Bhéarla, an ghnáth-theanga labhartha, agus tá an tuairim ann go gcaithfimid cur suas leis na teangacha eile. Cuireann gach tír a teanga féin chun cinn. Tá dul chun cinn mór déanta maidir le cur chun cinn na Gaeilge le roinnt blianta anuas. Tá an tAcht teanga á chur i bhfeidhm anois, agus bhí feachtas mór le cúpla bliain anuas stádas oibre agus oifigiúil a thabhairt don teanga i gComhphobal na hEorpa. D'éirigh linn an cás sin a bhaint amach, agus anois is dócha go bhfuil daoine ag cur ceisteanna.

Agus iad ag plé le heagraíochtaí nó comhlachtaí Stáit sa tír seo nó thar lear, nár cheart comhartha nó aitheantas de chineál éigin a thabhairt don Ghaeilge, atá ina teanga oifigiúil sa tir seo agus teanga oibre ag leibhéal na hEorpa? Ní chosnódh sé mórán airgid, agus ní bheadh deacracht mhór ar bith, is cuma cén tír ina bhfuiltear, nuair a chuirtear glaoch ar eagraíocht oifigiúil de chuid na tíre seo, go mbeadh an Ghaeilge agus an Béarla le cluinstin i bhfógraí simplí. Is moladh réasúnta é. I ndiaidh an mhéid atá déanta, muna ndéanaimid é seo, níl a fhios agam an bhfuil muid dáiríre ar chor ar bith.

Bheinn beagáinín amhrasach faoin moladh a bhí ag an Seanadóir Feighan, is é sin le rá, fógra a thabhairt go mbeidh an fógra ar an nguthán dátheangach toisc reachtaíocht Stáit. Tá sé beagáinín cosúil le health warning, agus níl mé ró-chinnte faoi. Tá pointe ag an Seanadóir ag an am céanna. Ba cheart dúinn daoine a ullmhú don chóras seo, agus níl a fhios agam an bhfuil aon airgead i gceist ag an Roinn chun roinnt fógraí a chur amach sa dtreo is go mbeidh a fhios ag daoine roimh ré gur mar seo a bheas sé.

Chomh maith leis sin, más rud é go bhfuilimid ag caint faoi Ghaelú na timpeallachta, bím i gcónaí beagáinín amhrasach faoi iarraidh ar dhaoine a rogha a thaispeáint. Cuireann sé i gcuimhne dom an t-am ar tháinig fógra amach ó Bhord Soláthair an Leictreachais. Roimhe sin, bhí na cuntais ar fad dátheangach, ach ansin bhíodh ar dhuine dul agus ceann i nGaeilge a lorg. Ní dóigh liom go raibh sé sin i measc na gcearta a bhí i gceist againn do Ghaeilgeoirí i ndáiríre. Caithfidh an teanga a bheith ar fáil agus feiceálach sa timpeallacht féin.

Má thuigim na rudaí i gceart anseo, is fógraí amháin atá i gceist anseo ó thaobh teileafón de. Níl i gceist seirbhísí freagartha a chur ar fáil. An bhfuil an tAire cinnte de sin?

Níl sé i gceist seirbhísí freagartha a chur ar fáil.

"If you wish Éamon Ó Cuív, press 1. If you wish Senator O'Toole, press 2."

Tá sé sin i gceist.

Ní aontaím leis sin ar chor ar bith. People have enough trouble with such systems nowadays in English, particularly older and middle-aged persons who are not familiar with the terminology used. I have little doubt that if someone who does not speak Irish picks up a telephone and hears a message in that language first, he or she will hang up. It might well act as an obstacle in accessing information or content. Let the Minister try the ESB or Eircom as matters stand. It is difficult enough for any of us and if there is the added issue for those who do not speak Irish that they must hear the Irish version first, it will have a considerably detrimental effect on accessing information.

I reiterate that there is no requirement for the Irish version to be included first, but neither is there anything against an organisation such as Údarás na Gaeltachta or my own Department deciding to have it first.

Or Irish only.

That would be a legal option, but unlikely to be adopted. It does not apply to such messages as "Níl Éamon Ó Cuív san oifig faoi láthair. Beidh sé ar ais ar ball. Éamon Ó Cuív is not in the office at present. He will be back soon." They are for permanent, computer-generated messages only. This is provided for under paragraph (c) — "announcements created and transmitted by means of a computerised messaging service or computerised telephone answering service". Táimid ag caint ar chuidiú caighdeánach amháin. Má fhágann duine teachtaireacht ar an fón ar nós "Éamon Ó Cuív has gone out for the afternoon and will not be back until tomorrow", that is perfectly allowable; níl aon rud ina aghaidh sin. Más rud é go bhfuil sé in-built sa ríomhaire sa fón, chaithfeadh sé a bheith dátheangach ón 1 Eanáir 2009. D'fhéadfadh sé a bheith i mBéarla i dtosach agus i nGaeilge ina dhiaidh sin.

D'ardaigh an Seanadóir ceist. Is é an taithí atá ag na heagrais Stáit Gaeilge, go bhfios domsa, ná go mbíonn na taifid nó na fógraí seo dátheangach cheana féin. Níor chuala mé éinne ag casaoid nach raibh sé nó sí in ann teacht ar an eolas. Ní chreidim go mbíonn aon chonstaic ar dhaoine teacht ar Údarás na Gaeltacht, Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta, an Roinn Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta, nó iliomad eagraíochtaí eile ós rud é go bhfuil na rudaí seo dátheangach.

To answer the question raised regarding touch-tone systems, there is a certain county council which blows my mind, since there are approximately seven choices before one is connected to an operator. One is told to dial the extension number of an individual if one knows it. If one wants the planning department, one is told to press 2. For other options, one is told to press 3, 4, 5 or 6, and it takes an age. Other organisations seem to have a more efficient way of disseminating information and one can reach a switchboard operator fairly fast. Nowadays, in many cases, if one already has the extension number, one tries ringing straight through. In other words, if one knows the person in the office whom one wishes to contact, he or she gives one a direct number.

An extremely simple solution is used internationally, since this is not the only country in the world with two official languages. Belgium is only one of hundreds with two. One rings through and there is a recording stating "Má tá an tseirbhís uait i nGaeilge, brúigh 1. If you require the service in English, press 2." From then on, one gets only the language one has chosen, which is extremely simple and effective. It answers the question.

One would think we were reinventing the wheel. Shílfeadh duine nach raibh an rud seo déanta ag daoine, agus tá tíortha áirithe a bhfuil trí nó ceithre theanga i bhfeidhm iontu, agus níl muidinne ach dátheangach. Tá freagraí faighte cheana féin trí theicneolaíocht ag daoine chomh gar sin dúinn agus an Bhreatain Bheag chun na fadhbanna seo a leigheas. Éiríonn leis na daoine gan Bhreatnais a gcuid gnó a dhéanamh sa Bhreatain Bhig. Éiríonn le daoine gan Phléimeannais a gcuid gnó a dhéanamh sa mBeilg gan mórán dua, agus ní chreidim go bhfuil na seirbhísí acu siúd níos neamhéifeachtaí ná na seirbhisí atá againne faoi láthair. The answer to the problem is to examine best practice internationally. All we need do in certain cases is look at our nearest neighbour in Wales. The Welsh have overcome these problems and I have no doubt people access public services there just as successfully as they do here.

This issue arose when people started talking about mindless translation. The one point everyone missed in that debate was the one concerning the prevalence of mindless composition. We spend much more on composing documents than on translating them — ten times more — and approximately 20 times as many are composed as translated. The big question about waste in the State, if we are worried about it, should have been how many such reports we all threw in the wastepaper basket every day. No one ever reads them, but no one cares about this as long as they are in English. The minute anything is in Irish, however, questions are raised. The same is true in this case. If one wishes to go abroad and hear a bilingual message, one should go to Wales. Years ago I was very much struck when I went to London — not the valleys of Wales — that on all telephones one had three choices. One could press a button to hear messages in French, English and Welsh. It is a question of adapting technology.

The second point is that no one is saying a message intended for people abroad cannot be bilingual. However, we are saying it need not necessarily be so, since there are circumstances where it might not be suitable. If we agreed to Senator O'Toole's exception, it would be one of those cases in which people would argue for opt-outs. For example, Aer Rianta runs airports abroad and I presume they will be covered by this. The ESB also conducts commercial business abroad and will be caught by this. We have more than embassies abroad. I make no bones about the fact that there are sensitivities regarding North-South bodies, but we have not accepted all of them. I suggest we allow a minor degree of discretion, since there are circumstances similar to those regarding which Senator O'Toole tried to persuade me to make a general exception. As it might not really fit with what was intended by the Act, we, therefore, felt it might be better to make an exception.

I am disappointed that Senator O'Toole is not here but I understand the Seanad sitting is commencing. Luaigh sé ceist chostas do dhreamanna beaga. De bharr go mbíonn costais ag baint leis na fógraí taifeadta seo a leasú, ní thagann na rialacháin seo isteach go dtí Eanáir 2009. Is féidir liom 2010 a chur isteach ansin; níl aon fhadhb leis sin. Ar ndóigh, ní mhaireann na gutháin agus na gléasanna seo go brách. Bíonn daoine ag déanamh athnuachana orthu, agus bheadh a fhios ag daoine agus iad á dhéanamh sin go mba cheart an fógra taifeadta a aistriú.

I hope no one will accuse me of xenophobia, but I sometimes feel that it might be nice if one heard a nice, friendly Irish voice in some of the messages played rather than some of the accents generated on computers. I would rather hear a Kerry or Donegal accent in being told how to operate a touch-tone telephone in Ireland than some of the ones that one hears. Putting our own stamp on such systems with our own voices might be a good idea. The Deputy will be aware of the recorded announcements one often hears on computerised telephone systems with very unusual accents. I often feel it is a pity computer companies do not facilitate firms in using staff who belong to their organisation.

When I phone Donegal County Council, I would like it if the computerised message was delivered in a Donegal rather than a Kerry or any other accent. As the technology will very shortly be much more user-friendly, one will be able to put on the computer what one wants rather than a pre-programmed anonymous voice from outer space. It should not pose problems, but if members believe it would be very expensive, I can allow another year for implementation. Computer technology does not have a very long life.

I am not sure I made my point properly. The cost of technology is one matter — I have no great expertise in that regard — but my concern is that many find the present systems difficult to access. I have no doubt that many will hang up if they hear an Irish message first, since the difficulty of making contact with certain bodies leads to frustration and anger. More than anything else, we run the risk that people who are already angry because they find these systems difficult will see Irish as another obstacle to accessing information or making contact. Instead of doing something to help provide services through Irish, goodwill towards the language could be damaged.

The Minister mentioned messages recorded on a specific day regarding contacting an individual in an office, but there are also computerised messages in offices when a person leaving the room, or who does not want to take calls, switches on the answerphone. In theory, one might have to access two computerised messages presented bilingually and there is nothing to prevent the first version being in Irish.

This is about being sensible and taking into account difficulties and how they might be exacerbated if we fail to address the problem in a much more structured fashion. We must not make it difficult for all those who cannot speak Irish to access information or contact individuals through a telephone system.

Tá roinnt rudaí tar éis teacht chun cinn anseo. Maidir leis na fógairtí taifeadta béil, sa lá atá inniu ann níl leithscéal ar bith ann muna bhfuil siad dátheangach ar a laghad. Níl ann ach cnaipe a bhrú, agus tá a fhios agam go bhfuil daoine ann ar fuath leo na teachtaireachtaí fada seo. Tá an ceart ag an Aire go bhfuil dream, comhairlí contae san áireamh, atá tar éis teacht timpeall air sin. Tá cleachtais níos fearr ag roinnt dreamanna ná ag dreamanna eile.

Tá aithne agam ar dhaoine, m'athair san áireamh, a chrochann suas an fón nuair a chloiseann siad a leithéid de theachtaireacht, mar níl an fhoighne acu. Níl féidir linn an domhan a athrú anseo trí rá gur cheart go mbeadh fógairtí tapaidh gasta ann le go mbeadh duine in ann teacht ar rúnaí chomh tapaidh agus is féidir. Níl aon fhadhb ann, ós rud é go mbeidh muid in ann cnaipe 1 nó cnaipe 2 a bhrú ag tús na teachtaireachta. Ina dhiaidh sin, bheifí ag déileáil le teachtaireachtaí as Béarla. Istoíche, nó i rith an lae, fiú munar féidir teacht ar dhuine, tá na teachtaireachtaí seo taifeadta roimh ré nó sa ríomhaire a dhéanann é. Ba choir go mbeadh sé sin ann ó thaobh gach uile eagrais a fhaigheann maoiniú sa Stát agus thar lear.

Tuigim an méid a dúirt an tAire mar gheall ar eisceachtaí thar lear agus Bord Soláthair an Leictreachais, ach ba chóir go mbeadh rud éigin sna rialacháin ag impí orthu siúd atá ag obair thar lear thar ceann an Stáit nó a bhfuil maoiniú ón Stát acu an dualgas atá orthu a aithint an chuid is mó de na teachtaireachtaí nó na bunteachtaireachtaí ar a laghad a aistriú. Uaireanta tagann fadhb suas, agus níl siad acu, nílimid anseo chun cás cúirte a thógaint in aghaidh Bhord Soláthair an Leictreachais má bhriseann sé an rial sa tSiombáib nó áit éigin eile muna bhfuil an teachtaireacht go huile is go hiomlán i nGaeilge agus i mBéarla. Caithfidh muid a bheith réalaíoch. Ach go háirithe le hambasáidí agus a leithéid, ba chóir go mbeadh na bunteachtaireachtaí a bhfuilimid ag caint fúthu, iad atá réamhthaifeadta, dátheangach. Tá mé ag caint ar na teachtaireachtaí a deireann go bhfuil an oifig ar oscailt ó 9 a.m. go dtí 10 p.m. amáireach, nó go bhfuil an fhoireann ar saoire agus an oifig dúnta. Má tá duine istigh san ambasáid nó in oifigí na gcomhlachtaí seo, ba cheart do chomharthaí ar nós "Doras éalaithe ar chlé" agus "Oifig an rúnaí ar an chéad urlár" — rudaí simplí mar sin — a bheith i nGaeilge. Sa deireadh thiar thall, táimid ag plé an Stáit agus na Gaoluinne, agus chomh maith leis sin ag léiriú don domhan mór gur teanga bheo bheathach í an Ghaeilge. Má chloistear í, tá an seans ann go n-úsáidfear níos mó í. Tugann sé spreagadh dóibh siúd a bhfuil Gaeilge acu í a úsáid leis na comhlachtaí seo. Uaireanta bíonn eagal ar dhaoine, agus b'fhéidir go sílfeadh siad go mbeidís ag cur stró ar an chomhlacht dá n-úsáidfís Gaeilge.

Ó thaobh fadhbanna leis na forais trasteorann de, tuigim é sin, ach tá súil agam go bhfuil an tAire ag déanamh obair mhór ó thaobh an Acht teanga atá molta do na Sé Chontae. Tá na daoine ansin ag féachaint ar Acht teanga na Breataine Bige mar eiseamláir, agus tá an cleachtas ann anois go ritear an tAcht sin trí Westminster seachas fanacht ar an Chomhthionóil, nach mbeadh na cumhachtaí ar fad aici chun rialacháin mar seo a dhéanamh. Bheadh na dílseoirí ag iarraidh go mbeadh an tAcht chomh lag agus is féidir, agus impím ar an Aire, más féidir leis labhairt leis an Aire Gnóthaí Eachtracha agus an Taoiseach, cur ina luí orthu iarraidh ar Tony Blair an reachtaíocht a rith trí Westminster chomh luath agus is féidir gan fanacht ar an Chomhthionóil, nó ní thiocfaidh sí. Agus é rite ansin, ní bheidh na deacrachtaí a luaigh an tAire maidir le fógraí dátheangacha ag na heagrais trasteorann. Más gá, is féidir an chuid sin a chur ar ceal go dtí go mbeidh an tAcht teanga i réim.

Luaigh an tAire pointe eile maidir leis na tuairiscí dátheangacha seo a chaithimid sa bhruscar mar ní bhaineann siad linn. Is é an freagra air sin ná nach gá tuairiscí bliantúla mar sin a fhoilsiú má athraítear an dlí. Is féidir iad a fhoilsiú ar an Idirlíon anois agus is féidir leo siúd ar mhian leo é a dhéanamh iad a chlóbhualadh ansin. Dá dtugaimis an t-airgead a chaithimid ar na tuairiscí bliantúla ar fad a chlóbhualadh do na leabharlanna chun ríomhairí a cheannacht, bheadh an pobal in ann dul isteach agus a rá gur mhaith leis an tuairisc sin. Bheadh sé sin i bhfad níos éifeachtaí, agus bheadh na leabharlanna timpeall na tíre i bhfad níos mó, le níos mó úsáide á baint astu.

We have only one hour left in this room, after which another meeting is to begin. Members should bear this in mind, since we are not yet halfway through the regulations.

I disagree with the Minister in his adduction of the Belgian example. I wish we were bilingual or multilingual like the Belgians, but I envisage problems with this issue. Let us imagine that the director of services in a local authority has decided that the Irish version should come first; I can see people hanging up. I am one of a broader church and wish that I were able to understand the language, but I do not. It would be counterproductive when it comes to promoting Irish. If a corporation, local authority or any other public body decides to have the Irish version first, something with which I do not have a problem, there should be an announcement to the effect that under the Official Languages Act 2003, the message will be given first in Irish and then in English. Otherwise people would turn off. I do not mind, but I would like to see a regulation for commonsense purposes. Some 99% of the time this regulation will be very effective and welcome, but I am afraid one might have some people, whom I would not call overzealous, who would try to impose their own vision, which we would be powerless to stop. In Údarás na Gaeltachta or some other public body much closer to the Irish language that situation could arise.

Le blianta anuas, tá sé soiléir go bhfuil na baill ar na húdaráis áitiúla an-bháúil don Ghaeilge, agus ba é ceann de na cúiseanna leis sin ná an obair a bhí déanta ag Foras na Gaeilge. Le blianta anuas, bhíodar ag gabháil timpeall agus seimineáir a chur ar siúl le cáipéisí agus mar sin de. Is é an taithí atá agamsa agus mé ag dul timpeall na tíre ná go bhfuil ag éirí leo. Más féidir linn tógáil ar an bhunchloch sin agus na baill go mórmhór a mhealladh linn san obair seo maidir leis an dátheangachas, tá mise lán-chinnte go gcabhróidh sé go mór linn ar an talamh. Níl aon amhras faoi, áfach, ach go bhfuil athrú an-mhór san atmaisféar toisc na hoibre a bhí déanta ag Foras na Gaeilge, agus b'fhéidir go bhféadfadh an Roinn labhairt leis an bhForas ar an bpointe sin amháin. Bheadh sí ábalta ceist a chur air conas is féidir leis feachtas faisnéise a chur ar siúl chun an córas a mhíniú. Má bhíonn na baill ar aon aigne, beidh siad ag caint faoi seo ag cruinnithe, agus beidh sé sna nuachtáin áitiúla agus ar an raidió áitiúil. Bíonn sé thar a bheith cumhachtach má bhíonn an tacaíocht sin againn.

The idea of pressing 1 if one wants Irish and 2 if one wants English circumvents a great deal of what we have been talking about.

Tá fadhb eile ann. Cuir i gcás go bhfuil dream áit éigin a bhfuil teanga aige nach í an Ghaeilge nó an Béarla. Má ghlaonn siadsan isteach, cén teanga ina mbeidh an fógra "Más Gaeilge atá uait, brúigh 1. Más Béarla atá uait, brúigh 2", agus an tríú agus an ceathrú teanga ina theannta? Tá an tír seo i bhfad níos ilteangaí ná a bhí, agus feicim fadhb eile ansin. Ní dóigh liom gur féidir béim ró-mhór a ligint ar an stró a bheadh ann do dhaoine nach bhfuil taithí mhaith acu ar an gcóras teileafóin nua-aimseartha. Sin an rud, agus pé rud a deirtear, cuirfear an milleán ar an nGaoluinn más rud é go dtagann sé as an rud seo go mbeidh sé níos deacra do dhaoine teacht ar eolas nó dul i dteangmháil le daoine ar an teileafón a oibríonn in údaráis éagsúla ar nós na n-údarás sláinte.

Is dócha gurb é an cuspóir atá againn leis seo sa deireadh thair thall ná tabhairt le fios don phobal i gcoitinne gur féidir leis a ghnó a dhéanamh leis an Stát nó le comhlachtaí Stáit i nGaeilge nó i mBéarla. Tá an dá theanga againn, agus níl mé ag déanamh tagartha do na daoine a bhfuil an Teachta Ó Sé ag déanamh tagartha dóibh, na Sínigh, na Polannaigh agus daoine eile. Tá deacracht mhór ansin, ach táimid ag iarraidh an deacracht atá againn leis an dá theanga oifigiúil a réiteach agus tabhairt le fios do dhaoine go bhfuil an ceart céanna acu a gcuid oibre a dhéanamh i nGaeilge agus atá acu i mBéarla. Go minic, i m'oifig anseo agus sa bhaile, nuair a chuirimse scairt ar aon Roinn, an chomhairle contae, an coiste gairmoideachais, nó na seirbhísí sláinte, tá sé á dhéanamh cheana féin. Deirtear liom "An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta", mar shampla, agus léiríonn sé sin go bhfuil sé seo ag dul ar aghaidh cheana féin. Ní raibh éinne ag gearán liomsa nach dtuigeann sé cad é atá dul ar aghaidh. Seans go bhfuil muid ag iarraidh deacrachtaí a chothú nach bhfuil ansin ar chor ar bith.

Part of this reminds me of something that happened some years ago. I was visiting a certain institution in the North of Ireland with a person with a very non-Irish and non-English name, Shah. On the way in we were both asked to present our passports. They took his passport and wrote down the name, afterwards taking mine and asking me to spell the surname. I said "Ó C-u-í-v". It was not written in any Gaelic script but in the ordinary Roman variety. The person turned to me and said that he could not read it because it was in Irish. He could not read five letters because they were in Irish, but he had no problem reading the name of the other person, since there was no mental block to doing so.

Sometimes we will have to put up with exceptions. We have discussed this with the Canadian language commissioner. One has to put up with people, no matter how sensible the scheme, who blame the Irish language for everything, including the fact that they cannot read five letters, "Ó C-u-í-v". There are people who have that mental block, who cannot read an English-language sign because the Irish version is underneath, something that I have witnessed. They claim that they cannot read it because it is bilingual. I do not know what to do with people of that mindset. If we as a State perpetually bow to that mindset and the criticism that we get from people with difficulties, we can forget about Irish.

The other side is practical, since I do not want to listen to long recordings in English only, Irish only, or in any language, because I abhor such long menus. If one hangs on, one finds that the organisation with the longest menu also has the slowest operator. I do not know why it happens like that. One would think that there had been so many menus given that there would be no queue for the operator, but in my experience there is a direct relationship between the length of the menu and the difficulty in getting the operator. With those with the short menus, I always seem to be able to get the operator quite quickly.

The easy answer is international: one gives a choice of language, however many are involved. If one wishes the service in Chinese, one should press 3. For Lithuanian, it is 4, and for Polish, it is 5. One says that in the respective languages, since it is no good saying it in Irish to a Pole who does not speak it and who may not even speak English. That is the whole idea of having a choice of languages. That gets one over one's problem.

There is nothing to stop any organisation from installing an Irish-only system tomorrow. If an odd director of services suddenly gets a fit and installs an Irish-only system, confusing all his customers, and his organisation wishes that, there is nothing in current law to prevent it. In these regulations, we have not instructed anyone to give preference to one or other language, since that is a matter for the organisation. The realpolitik is that virtually every organisation here will have English first for the sake of administrative convenience. However, many do not give the citizens the choice of using the first official language, and we are trying to ensure that they do. Braitheann an tosaíocht ar an eagraíocht. It will depend on the organisation, and no one in this room can be blamed if someone does something that is very awkward for the citizenry, because he or she is ill disposed or has a hang-up, not being service-minded. If it is not in the regulation, one cannot blame that regulation.

Dúirt an Teachta Ó Snodaigh go mba cheart daoine a mhealladh, ach ní féidir rud a bhaineann le "Tá súil agam ..." a chur isteach i rialacháin. Tá sé ina riail, nó níl sé ina riail. Má dhéantar riail as, caithfidh sé a bheith ann i ngach aon chás, agus sin an fáth nach bhfuil mé sásta dul síos an bóthar sin maidir leis na rialacháin a bheith bainteach le fógraí taifeadta thar lear. Feicim cásanna arbh fhéidir leo bheith ina n-eisceachtaí. Ní hé sin le rá nach féidir linn teacht ar réiteach, mar shampla, leis an Roinn Gnóthaí Eachtracha, go mbeidh na taifid ar fad ar na gutháin dátheangach. Is féidir an réiteach sin a dhéanamh. Go deimhin féin, d'fhéadfaimis é a phlé i gcomhthéacs na bpleananna atá acu, ach ní cheapfainn go mbeadh sé réalaíoch go mbeadh sé riachtanach i ngach aon chás agus gach aon eagraíocht Stáit a bheadh ag feidhmiú thar sáile. Ní bheadh sé ciallmhar, agus ceapaim go mbeadh fadhbanna ansin.

Senator Feighan made the interesting point that this is not Belgium, where French and Flemish are equal. That is true in one sense, but it does not change the reality that one is providing for the customer. There are plenty of people in Belgium to my knowledge who do not know Flemish or French. The challenge of providing bilingual services for them if one is Flemish speaking and the message begins in French is exactly the same as if one is English speaking and the message begins in Irish, and vice versa. There is no difference to the individual ringing if he or she does not know the second language. If one knows both Flemish and French or Irish and English, it makes no difference which language the message is in.

The only difference is that Belgium might have more bilingual people and language communities more equal in number. The challenge for the individual who does not know the second of the two languages is the same, however, and many countries have overcome that challenge in announcements. If, having been introduced to someone from Wales or Belgium, one said that one foresaw substantial problems regarding service delivery as a result of a requirement to be bilingual in recorded announcements, he or she might find that very strange, since they have no such problem.

There was one other warning. The Canadian language commissioner said that for the first ten or 15 years after the passing of the Canadian language Act there were people who saw all sorts of difficulties. After a while, it bedded down, and people got used to it. People resist change and find it difficult, and sometimes the perceived difficulties far outweigh the practical problems. There is sometimes a bedding-down process when one changes things, but I do not think there are any real difficulties.

I will return to the Deputy's case. I would love to be able to write into the regulations that if there are more than five sentences in the system, the operators should include commands to press 1 and 2, cutting the message down. They should cut down the long messages anyway. However, it is not my role to tell people to formulate user-friendly messages, and there are many in English only that are far from that. I hope the effect of this regulation might be that when companies consider their messaging systems those with formulations that are not user-friendly will make them so.

Are there any further comments on this topic? We have been at it for a considerable period and run the danger of repeating ourselves. Perhaps we might move on to——

Perhaps I might clarify something. Do members propose that I amend any of the provisions?

Yes. Is é an leasú atá i gceist agam ná an ceann maidir le fógraí taifeadta béil thar lear. Tuigim go mbíonn eisceachtaí ann, ach measaim gur chóir go nglacfaimis leis go mbeidh siad dátheangach agus gur féidir, ag deireadh na reachtaíochta seo, áit a bhfuil eisceachtaí eile luaite, déileáil le heisceachtaí nó fadhbanna a bheadh ann. Tá cásanna práinneacha agus a leithéid de rud luaite ansin. Bheadh an leithscéal ag an eagras gan an fógra a bheith aige i nGaeilge chomh maith. Abair go mbeadh tine san áit nó go mbeidís ag fanacht le haistriúchán ó dhuine éigin chun an fógra sin a thabhairt. Tá na heisceachtaí sin i gceist, agus is féidir linn déileáil leis i mír 10 de na rialacháin seo.

I want members to be clear about what is going on here. We must be out of this room by 11.45 a.m. The discussion must conclude by then, since we must send a message to the Dáil by tomorrow. It is not a matter of our moving to another room. Members should be brief, if possible. I know that people want to put their points across, and I do not want to stymie debate. Let us keep matters as concise as possible.

Thar lear, tugann teanga stádas don tír, lasmuigh de cheist seirbhíse in aon chor. Tuigim an pointe atá ag an Teachta Ó Snodaigh, agus más rud é go bhfuil aon slí ann chun úsáid a bhaint as an Ghaeilge chun an stádas sin a léiriú do dhaoine lasmuigh den tír, beidh sé sin go maith. Tuigim conas mar atá an scéal sa bhFrainc, mar shampla. Níl aon amhras faoi go mbíonn Rialtas agus muintir na Fraince i gcónaí ag iarraidh a chinntiú go mbeidh stádas ag a dteanga ar fud na cruinne. B'fhiú féachaint ar conas is féidir comhoibriú a dhéanamh leis an Roinn Gnóthaí Eachtracha maidir leis seo. Tá sé seo ann. Tá mé lán-chinnte go mbeidh na hambasadóirí ar aon aigne linn faoi seo chomh maith. Aon am a raibh mé lasmuigh den tír ag déileáil leis na hambasáidí, rinne siad iarracht ag ócáidí poiblí a chinntiú go raibh an Ghaeilge ar a laghad le clos chun an stádas sin a chothú agus a léiriú.

Aontaím gur cheart stádas a thabhairt don Ghaeilge ag leibhéal oifigiúil aon ambasáide nó eagrais Stáit atá taobh amuigh den tír. Mar a dúirt mé, tá an teanga aitheanta ag leibhéal na hEorpa cheana féin. Tá sí oifigiúil, agus caithfidh muidinne ár gcuid féin a dhéanamh de. Ba cheart go mbeadh comhartha éigin ag tabhairt aitheantais go bhfuil dhá theanga oifigiúil againn agus go bhfuil an Ghaeilge ann sna focail fháilte a chuirtear roimh dhaoine in aon teangmháil le hambasáid nó le consuls general taobh amuigh den tír. B'fhiú go mór amharc air sin, agus cuireann sé iontas orm nach bhfeiceann an tAire é féin é sin.

Is é an moladh atá agamsa ná nach síneoidh an tAire an rialachán seo go fóill. Ba cheart dúinn níos mó taighde a dhéanamh ar an scéal.

I propose that the Minister postpone signing this regulation until several issues have been gone into more thoroughly. First, what exactly are the technical options? Are they available? We can talk about what is available in other countries, but we see how backward we are regarding broadband provision, for example. There is a need for further investment in our telephone system, an issue of broad concern.

The people have an inalienable right to conduct their business through Irish. That is a given, and there is no problem with it. However, I greatly fear the implications of this regulation. I accept the Minister's point that it is at the discretion of any organisation whether it gives a message in Irish first. The difference between Belgium and Ireland is that there is no one here who cannot speak English.

There are some in my constituency.

I suggest that there would be very few.

Not too many, but they exist.

They are older people in general, although that does not mean that they have any fewer rights than anyone else. My point is that it is very largely true to say that there is no one in Ireland — except that very small group — currently unable to speak English. In the countries mentioned by the Minister there are people who speak one language but not another. In Ireland virtually everyone who speaks Irish also speaks English, and that makes matters somewhat different. The Minister should delay signing this until the issues, including the multilingual situation, have been considered. We must explore the technology. It is very easy to give flippant answers and say that this or that can be done. I do not think the Minister has conducted any real research into the capacity of our telephone system.

That is repetition once again. I call Senator Feighan.

I would like an amendment dealing with areas outside the Gaeltacht. Most people would support it.

We do not have the time, or we will not be able to go through the rest of the regulations.

Most people would support it. If I hear a message in both Irish and English, it helps my knowledge of the former. In this situation, where corporations, county councils or public bodies wish to have the Irish version of a message first, there should be an announcement to the effect that under the Official Languages Act 2003, the message will be given in Irish and in English.

Perhaps I might clarify that. Is the Senator saying that it should be so when the telephone is answered?

Yes, to avoid a situation that might be counterproductive and turn people off.

Perhaps the Senator might give me an example in practice.

I have given the example of a local authority or public body that decides that people would like to hear the Irish version first. Someone might ring up and hear the Irish version. As Deputy O'Shea said, they would just hang up, since they would not understand it. It would be easier in such a situation to clarify that, as is their right, they will use Irish first.

What I do not understand is why suddenly a public body might do that, when no one, to my knowledge, has done it hitherto, as would have been perfectly legal. There is no ban in having a message in Irish only.

The Minister is misinterpreting the Senator who has spoken of a situation where the first message is in Irish, in which case not everyone would wait for the English version.

My point relates to why a county council would do that.

This is what we are here to do. This is what we are debating.

This is where there are misunderstandings. The county councils, as the law stands, could have a message in Irish only and forget about their customers. They do not do so since they do not find it practical or sensible, but they could, since there is nothing in the law to stop them doing so today. They could also have bilingual messages, with Irish first and English second. Most of them, for practical reasons, choose not to do so. If they have a bilingual service, the order is the other way around.

These regulations impose no obligation on anyone to have the Irish version first. Therefore, I am not changing any requirement in that regard. I am not making it obligatory to have Irish first and English second. I am not changing the status quo but saying that if one has English first, one must follow it with Irish. I cannot, therefore, see why we are trying to deal with a problem that has never arisen and is a million-to-one shot to arise in future, unless people ill-disposed to Irish set out to cause mischief and damage the language. However, if they did so, there would be nothing that I might legally do to stop them.

There are three proposals. We were discussing the last there. The other two relate to the provisions for overseas and delaying implementation until we know that the technology exists. Perhaps the Minister might briefly address those specific topics.

Caithfimid smaoineamh ar na milliúin daoine de shíolrú Gaelach lasmuigh den tír. Mar shampla, tá 40 milliún acu i Meireacá Thuaidh, agus tá siad ag cur i bhfad níos mó suime ina n-oidhreacht anois.

There are 40 million people of Irish extraction in North America, and I recently received a list of all the educational institutes in America that provide courses through Irish, of which there are very many. We must bear in mind that the nation of Ireland is not only on this island but outside too. Caithfimid a bheith cinnte go mbeidh cothromaíocht le fáil dóibh siúd freisin.

Tá a fhios againn nach bhfuil fadhb leis an teicneolaíocht, atá ar fáil ar fud na cruinne, agus go hiondúil is comhlachtaí idirnáisiúnta a dhéanann na gutháin seo. All the technology is available. It is up to those who go to the market to make sure they buy technology that deals with similar situations. It is available — there no question about that. We know there are some very good practices, but we also know there are some very bad practices, even in a unilingual country like Ireland. There are some abominable practices in certain agencies. The length and complexity of recorded messages can cause frustration.

Senator O'Toole referred to smaller bodies. I could delay the coming into operation of this provision until 2010. That would give the system that is agreed an extra year to get into order. That should deal with that. I do not have any particular problem with that. We know exactly where the technology is available. We know how it can be done because we have plenty of international examples. There is a minority in Wales, for example — very few Welsh speakers do not understand English. It is very similar to the position in this country. Many of these issues have already been dealt with in a practical sense in many organisations. Maidir le thar sáile, ní bheadh sé praiticiúil to make a general inclusion without having an exclusion. Breathnóidh mé air i gcás na hambasáide. Smaoineoidh mé ar sin.

Sílim gur céim ar gcúl a bheadh ann é a chuir siar go dtí 2010. Luaigh an Aire 2009 ar dtús. Tá go leor den mhoill air. D'fhéadfadh sé teacht isteach ar an 1 Eanáir 2008. Tá bliain iomlán againn chun é sin a dhéanamh. Go ghinearálta, aontaímid leis an rud atá i gceist — go mbeidh an fáiltiú i nGaeilge agus i mBéarla, nó i mBéarla agus i nGaeilge. Nílimid ag chuir dualgas ar éinne teanga amháin a chuir roimh teanga eile. Táimid ag rá chomh maith gur chóir go mbeidh sé le feiceáil ag an leibhéal idirnáisiúnta chomh maith. An bhfuil freagra ag an Aire ar an cheann sin?

An ghlacfadh sibh leis dá dtiocfaimis ar chomh-réiteach? Mar shampla, b'fhéidir nach mbeadh an dualgas seo ar chomhlachtaí tráchtála Stáit atá ag feidhmiú taobh amuigh den tír agus nach bhfuil aon baint acu go díreach leis an tír. Breathnóimid ar é a dhéanamh——

Cad faoi gach ambasáid?

——leis na hambasáid.

Nílimid ag lorg go mbeidh seirbhísí Ghaeilge ar fáil lasmuigh den Stáit. Táimid ag lorg fógraí réamh-taifeadtha i nGaeilge.


Bheadh an-iontas orainn dá mbeadh ar chomhlacht stáit as tír eile, ar nós Statoil, gach rud a chuir in Ioruais sa tír seo. Bheimis ag lorg Béarla agus Gaeilge, seachas Ioruais. Níor mhaith liomsa é dá mbeadh dualgas áirithe ar comhlacht Stáit éigin de chuid na hÉireann ina mhalairt de bhealach. Dá mbeadh fo-comhlacht nó gníomhaíocht éigin in Éirinn ag comhlacht stáit as an tSeapáin, bheadh sé ceangailte dá mbeadh ar na fógraí a bheith sa tSeapáinis. Tá mé ag rá "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" ó thaobh na comhlachtaí tráchtála Stáit. Nuair a tógaimid rud isteach, ba chóir go tógaimid isteach é go hiomlán. Bheadh sé i bhfad níos réadúil díriú ar na rialacháin anseo. Ní stopann siad éinne amach anseo rialacháin eile a dhéanamh. Díríonn na rialacháin seo ar na hambasáid, mar shampla. Tá sé sin chomh fada is atá mé sásta a dhul.

Is é sin an fáth a luaigh mé gur féidir linn athrú a dhéanamh sa chuid seo. Is féidir linn déileáil le eisceachtaí mar Statoil nó a leithéad i Cuid 10, an aít ina bhfuil na eisceachtaí eile a bhaineann leis na rialacháin. Is é sin an treo gur chóir dúinn a leanúint.

Is féidir an chás céanna a dhéanamh má thógann tú isteach nó amach iad. Cloisim an rud atá á rá ag na comhaltaí.

Are we happy with the response given by the Minister in respect of section 4?

We are not happy with it, but we have heard it.

Baineann cuid 5, ar leathnach 9, le stáiseanóireacht. An bhfuil sé go maith?

Tá fabhb agam leis an chuid a bhaineann le stáiseanóireacht. Tá an dáta 2011 ró-fhada uainn. Athraíonn comhlachtaí stáiseanóireacht thar oíche, uaireanta. Nuair a athraíonn an Rialtas, gach uair a toghtar Dáil nua, athraíonn an stáiseanóireacht thar oíche. Caithfear an stáiseanóireacht a athrú nuair a bunaítear Roinn nua. Tá costais i gceist — is é sin an fáth gur glacaim leis nár chóir go mbeidh sé ag tarlú láithreach. Measaim gur chóir go mbeadh 2009 an dáta úd. Luaigh an Aire an bhliain 2009 maidir leis na fógairtí taifeadta béil. Ní thuigim cén fáth go mbeidh stáiseanóireacht áitithe ag comhlacht nuair atá sé atá ag obair sa Stáit seo, agus stáiseanóireacht difriúil nuair atá sé ag obair thar lear. Má tá an comhlacht ag fáil maoiniú, ba chóir go mbeadh a stáiseanóireacht i nGaeilge amháin, nó go mbeadh sé dátheangach. Measaim nach gcuirfeadh sé isteach nó amach ar obair na gcomhlachtaí Stáit, nó obair na gcomhlachtaí atá ag fáil maoiniú ón Stáit, dá mbeadh an stáiseanóireacht dátheangach, nó fiú trítheangach, timpeall an domhain. Is iad sin na príomh-phointí atá le déanamh agam maidir le stáiseanóireacht.

Tuigim go bhfuil Acht teangan le teacht i bhfeidhm sa Tuaisceart, chomh maith leis an Phoblacht. Tugtar aitheantas don Ghaeilge sa Tuaisceart. Ní fheicim cén fáth nach mbeidh an rud céanna ag eagraíochtaí atá ag obair taobh istigh den oileán seo, is cuma má tá siad i dteagmháil le daoine sa taobh Thuaidh nó sa taobh Theas den oileáin. B'fhéidir go mbreathnóidh an Aire ar an méid sin.

Is category B, which is outlined on pages 10 and 11, already in force? Has it been in force since 1 December last? Is that a typo?

We will have to amend some of these things.

An bhfuil a thuilleadh le rá ag an Aire?

An t-aon rud atá le rá agam ná go dtiocfaidh sé seo i bhfeidhm. Nuair a thiocfaidh sé i bhfeidhm, tá sé i gceist go mbeidh feidhm láithreach leis le dream ar bith a chuirfidh ordú nua isteach le haghaidh stáiseanóireacht. Má tá sean-stáiseanóireacht agat, is féidir leat dul ar aghaidh á usáid go dtí go rithfidh tú as, nó go dtiocfaidh an bhlian 2009. Dá líonfadh dream éigin cliste an seomra seo le stáiseanóireacht a sheasfadh le cheann deich mbliana, bheadh orthu stáiseanóireacht nua a fhoilsiú tar éis 2009. I gcás comhlachtaí áirithe a chuireann rudaí amach ar ríomhairí, táimid ag tabhairt gnáth-saolré dos na sean-riomhairí. Nuair a chaitheann siad na sean-ríomhairí amach, beidh orthu a bheith in ann an rud a dhéanamh i gceart leis na ríomhairí nua a gheobhaidh siad ina áit. Is é sin atá á moladh againn. Sílim go bhfuil sé réasúnta. Tá sé chun an-difríocht a dhéanamh. Rithfidh go leor eagraíochtaí as stáiseanóireacht go fíor-luath. Ag an am gcéanna, ní bheidh an sean-argóint ann gur chuir mise costais mór millteanach ar an Stáit. Níl mé ag rá go gcaithfear an sean-stuif a chaitheamh amach agus stuif nua a fháil ina áit. Ní creidim go bhfuil aon comhalacht Stáit ann go bhfuil soláthar stáiseanóireachta de níos mó ná dhá bhliain nó trí bliana acu.

Baineann cuid 6 le comharthaí.

Ba mhaith liom an pointe céanna a dhéanamh maidir leis na comharthaí atá ag comhlachtaí thar lear. Ní fheicim go mbeadh aon fhadhb ann dá mbeidís dhátheangach. Ní chóir dúinn eisceacht a dhéanamh ó thaobh an comhlacht forfheidhmithe. Tuigim go bhfuil fadhb ann, ach measaim gur féidir teacht timpeall ar sin trí iarracht ar Rialtas Shasana an Acht teanga sa Tuaisceart a chuir i bhfeidhm chomh luath agus is féidir. Tabharfaidh sé sin an aitheantas cuí don Ghaeilge. Ní bheidh an leithscéal ann go bhfuil an eisceacht seo sna rialacháin.

Tá mé tar éis an cheist thar sáile a phlé. Tá mé tar éis freagra a thabhairt ar sin. D'ardaigh daoine ceisteanna faoi aistriú lógóanna. Tá mé tar éis a bhfuil le rá agam maidir leis an cheist thar sáile a rá. Nil mé chun an cheist a fhreagairt arís.

Tá an dáta 2026 luaite ag deireadh na chuid seo de na rialacháin. Measaim gur ceap magaidh é sin. Ba chóir go mbeadh dáta i bhfad níos gaire luaite ó thaobh na comharthaí atá i gceist sa chuid seo de na rialacháin. Ba chóir go mbeadh dáta níos fearr againn, mar shampla 2011, 2015 nó 2016. Ba cheart dúinn déileáil leis an dáta 2026 go tapaidh chun dualgas a chuir ar na comhlachtaí na athruithe sin a dhéanamh níos luaithe. Cuid 5(d) ata i gceist agam. An féidir athrú a dhéanamh sa chás sin? Tá an dáta 2011 luaite i gcuid 5(c). An féidir é sin a tharraingt siar go dtí 2009 nó a leithéid? Má táimid chun dualgas a chuir ar comhlachtaí, ní chóir dúinn an dualgas sin a chuir ar athló. Ní bheidh mórán dúinn ag suí anseo i 2026 — tá súil agam go mbeidh saol eile agam seachas a bheith ag suí anseo. Is féidir linn na cinnithe seo a thógáil i gcrích faoin am sin. An féidir linn dátaí difriúla agus níos réadúla a chuir i bhfeidhm, seachas na spriocdátaí atá sa chuid seo de na rialacháin?

Ní thuigim cén fáth go bhfuil an bhliain 2026 luaite anseo. Cén fáth go bhfuil sé chomh fada amach uainn ag an nóiméad? Ní thuigim cad atá i gceist i gcuid 6(4), a deireann "d'ainneoin ghinearálacht an Rialacháin seo, féadfaidh comhlacht poiblí comharthaí a chur in airde ar comharthaí iad atá de réir Chóras Idirnáisiúnta na nAonad". Ní thuigim díreach cad atá i gceist ansin.

Cén bhliain ina bunaíodh Fianna Fáil?

Comóradh céad bliain a bheidh i gceist. Tá sé ró-fhada siar.

Tá míniú an-simplí ar an dá rud. Tá cead "km", mar shampla, a úsáid mar is comhartha idirnáisiúnta é a úsáidtear i go leor teangacha nach bhfuil leagan eile sa teanga áitiúil. Aithnítear an frása sin go hidirnáisiúnta. Táimid ag déanamh soláthar gur féidir "km" a úsáid.

Tá go leor comharthaí ar fud na tíre i nGaeilge agus i mBéarla. D'fhéadfadh sé a tharlú i gcuid acu go bhfuil an Ghaeilge agus an Bhéarla beagnach ar chomh-mhéad, nó ar chomh-mhéad, agus iad i ndathanna éagsúla. Bíonn sé de thuairim ag daoine go bhfuil ceann amháin níos sonraíoch ná an cheann eile. De ghnáth, tagann siad go hiomlán le spiorad an Achta taobh amuigh de sin, más rud e go bhfuil an leagan Gaeilge ceart air agus an leagan Béarla ceart air. Táimid ag rá sa chás sin go dtabharfaimid saolré iomlán nádurtha don chomhartha sin agus don dream a chuir suas é. Nuair a bheidh an chomhartha caite, caithfidh na teangan ar an chéad comhartha eile a cuirfear ina áit a bheith ar aon mhéid agus teacht le na rialacháin. Is é sin an méid atá i gceist ansin. Ar ndóigh, athrófar an t-uafás comharthaí as seo go cheann 2026. Nuair a n-athrófar comhartha mar go bhfuil a saolré caite, caithfear comhartha nua a chuir suas de réir na rialacháin.

I will make it very clear. I am talking about a sign that already complies with the language Act, in the sense that it has a correct Irish version on it, but does not comply with the Act in respect of the prominence or size of the Irish lettering. It might be just a fraction too small. The Department has been advised that the normal life cycle of a sign can be up to 20 years. If a sign that is currently in place says "dún an doras — close the door", but the Irish version is a quarter of a millimetre smaller than the English version, or the typeface is not as visible or does not comply utterly with the Act, that sign can stay in place until its natural life cycle has come to an end, or 20 years have passed. If the sign is replaced within two years, the new sign will have to comply with the letter of the law, as set out in these regulations. If the sign was put up last week or at any other time in the last 20 years, it is okay — we will not force it to be taken down. I do not doubt that if I had it any other way, I would have a huge row on my hands. If I required bilingual signs that comply with the Act in every respect, other than the fact that the Irish version is not quite as prominent as the English version, to be taken down by a certain date rather than at the end of their natural life cycle, people would say that I was wasting State money by taking down bilingual signs and replacing them with other bilingual signs. I am trying to avoid such a conflict. I have to say I think my approach is very reasonable. If somebody takes down a sign this week because it is worn or dirty, and replaces it next week with a new sign, that sign will have to comply with the letter of the law as set out in the Act and the regulations.

Níl me ag gearán. Tuigim cén fáth a bhfuil 20 bliain luaite sna rialacháin, ach caithfear a rá gur tréimhse an-fhada atá i gceist. Dá mbeadh tréimhse deich mbliana i gceist, bheadh sé i bhfad níos éifeachtaí.

An féidir leis an Teachta a shamhlú cad a déarfadh daoine linn dá mba rud é go mbeadh scéal sna nuachtáin faoi cinneadh mar sin? It would read "Minister obliges companies to take down perfectly good bilingual signs because they are one eighth of a millimetre too small, or they are the wrong colour, or because the script is not as clear in Irish as it is in English." The headline would be "Millions of Pounds Wasted by the State".

Glacfaidh mé le sin nuair atá mé i mo Aire a bhliain 2016.

Baineann leathnach 19 le stáiseanóireacht agus comharthaí.

Molaim é go mór.

Nach bhfuil sé go maith?

I do not want to be awkward. What is the Minister's reason for not allowing public bodies to choose whether the Irish or English versions should go first? Is this just a recommendation?

An bhfuil an Seanadóir ag caint mar gheall ar cuid 9?

I am just throwing it out. I am not totally convinced that it should be left to public bodies to decide whether to put the Irish or English versions first. It is a minor detail.

Our experience with public bodies has been that they have taken the view, particularly in recent years, that least is best. There was a tradition of all Departments having headed notepaper le Béarla agus Gaeilge. I know we are not talking about notepaper in this instance, but the same principle applies. I have noticed over time the growing need for those who want to read the Irish version to be provided with a magnifying glass or a microscope. Certain bodies comply with the regulations on bilingual notices by doing as little as possible. There is not much need to protect English in this country, in practice. People make sure for practical reasons that English gets its place in the sun. I am trying to give the first place to the Irish language in a very small way. That means it should be used in the more prominent position. I think what will happen is that the bodies will ensure that the two languages have equal prominence. That will be the net effect of this. If they could get away with it, people would think of the most ingenious ways of putting the Irish language behind the door. That has been my experience.

Tá go maith. Baineann leathnach 22 le orduithe logainmneacha.

Tá fadhb agam leis an chuid seo.

Can I explain one aspect of this section? Bhí an Seanadóir O'Toole ar an míthuiscint go rabhamar ag rá go gcaithfear an leagan Gaeilge a úsáid — ní hé sin a bhí á rá agam. Bhí mé ag rá nuair a úsáidtear an leagan Gaeilge, caithfear an leagan oifigiúil ceart, atá leagtha síos in orduithe an Aire, a úsáid. Tá se tábhachtach go mbeadh sé ceart. We all have seen séimhithe, fada and all sorts of funny things. There is also the issue of the correct Irish place names and the only ones we can accept are those subject to a ministerial order. Tá fadhb áirithe amháin ann. Sé an leagan oifigiúil ar Chondae Lú ná Condae Lú, sin atá leagtha síos agus atá i bhfeidhm. Úsáideann an comhairle condae Lughaí, sin an rogha atá aige agus níl aon chosc air sin a dhéanamh ó tharla nach ainm áite ar chomhartha é. Níl aon fhadhb leis sin, ní bheidh ar an chomhairle fáil réidh le Lughaí.

I have a minor difficulty with the regulation regarding a commemorative plaque placed or erected at any location in the State on or before 1 December. Are we talking about plaques being in Irish and English?

We are going over the top. A plaque could be to the memory of a British citizen or might have nothing to do with the Irish language. Plaques are sensitive; they might be to someone's memory and, as such, the matter should be left to the discretion of those erecting them. It would be appreciated if they used Irish but there is so much writing on some plaques that it can take away from their significance. This should not be a law, rather it should be left to those involved to decide.

Tá ceisteanna agam faoi logos comhlachtaí. Níl ann ach siombail an chuid is mó den am ach úsáidtear go minic na príomhlitreacha ón eagras casta i mbealach éigin ag dearthóir éigin. Ba chóir go mbeadh an leagan Gaeilge ar an leagan oifigiúil i gcónaí ann do chomhlachtaí Stáit, cosúil le Córas Iompair Éireann. Tuigeann gach duine cad is CIÉ ann ach le déanaí úsáideann an Rialtas teideal Béarla ar dtús agus é ag bunú comhlachta Stáit. Rinne mé an argóint seo sa Dáil gur cheart don Gaeilge bheith ar an phríomh-theideal agus "in English" taobh leis. Tá daoine ag baint úsáide as Dublin Airport Authority mar an teideal oifigiúil. Má tá duine ag déanamh loga, úsáidtear DAA seachas an leagan Gaeilge, Údarás Aerphort Bhaile Átha Cliath, sa logo.

Caithfidh an Rialtas déileáil leis sin agus ba cheart do na hAirí éisteacht nuair atá daoine sna Tithe seo ag cur na ceiste faoin teideal oifigiúil. In aon reachtaíocht a bhunaíonn comhlacht nua Stáit is cóir go bhfuil an teideal Gaeilge ar an rud ar dtús agus nuair a mbímid ag baint le comhlachtaí Stáit agus comhlachtaí a fhaigheann maoiniú ón Stáit, go meabhraítear dóibh go bhfuil an Ghaeilge ann agus go bhfuil teideal Gaeilge acu, mar Bhord Soláthar Leictreachais, ESB. Tá a lán acu ann agus is trua go bhfuil na sean-chinn tar éis an Bhéarla a úsáid in áit na Gaeilge. Bus Átha Cliath atá ar Dublin Bus. Is cóir go dtabharfaí sin san áireamh.

Is trua nach bhfuil muid ag déileáil le fógraíocht ó na comhlachtaí Stáit agus comhlachtaí a fhaigheann maoiniú uaidh sna rialacháin seo. Ba chóir go molaimis go mbeadh fógraíocht dhátheangach acu agus go bhfuil dualgas ar na heagrais seo, seachas na dualgais ar Ranna Stáit, fógraí a chur sna nuachtáin Gaeilge chomh maith leis na nuachtáin Béarla nó fógraí dhátheangacha a chur isteach.

Tá logos tábhachtach mar is comhartha iad ar stádas na teanga. Bhí nós sa tír i gcónaí ainm Gaeilge a bheith ar chomhlacht Stáit — Aer Rianta, Aer Lingus, Córas Iompair Éireann agus mar sin. Bhí ainmneacha Gaeilge orthu, sin a nós faoi gach Rialtas go dtí seo. Anois ba cheart leanúint leis sin agus ní chuirfeadh sé isteach ar duine ar bith sa tír cé acu an bhfuil Gaeilge acu nó nach bhfuil. Tuigeann gach duine caidé an rud é Aer Lingus agus Bord na gCon. Cúlú tubaisteach imeacht ón nós.

Cuireann sé iontas orm go bhfuil eisceacht á dhéanamh agus go bhfuil fógraíocht fágtha ar leataobh agus nach bhfuil sé ceart faoi fhorálacha na Achta. Sa chuid is mó de na Ranna, tá na fógraí dhátheangach i láthair na huaire, ach anois tá muid ag tabhairt le tuiscint do no daoine nach gá é a dhéanamh mar mura ndéanfaidh siad é ní bheidh sé in éadan forálacha an Achta. Níl mé ag caint fiú faoi fhógraíocht sna nuachtáin Gaeilge agus Gaeltachta, Foinse agus agus mar sin, mar baineann an tAcht leis an tír ar fad so ba chóir go mbeadh fógraíocht dhátheangach ag Ranna agus comhlachtaí Stáit. Sin an rud a thuig muid nuair a bhí an tAcht ag dul fríd. Cuireann sé iontas orm nach bhfuil sé clúdaithe anois.

Tuigim agus aontaím leis an bpointe faoina fógraí agus na plaiceanna. Tá muid ag iarraidh an timpeallacht Ghaelú so caithfidh an Ghaeilge a bheith feiceálach an t-am ar fad. Níl amhras faoi sin maidir le plaiceanna mar go minic bíonn siad déanta dhátheangach ach an rud is tábhachtaí ná go bhfuil siad buan. Beidh daoine in ann a thabhairt faoina ndeara go raibh stádas ag an nGaeilge agus iad ag féachaint orthu. Sé an scéal céanna leis na fógraí. Níl mé ag rá go bhfuil gach duine ag dul gach fógra a léamh ach ní hé sin an pointe, tá muid ag caint faoin todhchaí. Seans go bhfuil costas i gceist ach sa chás seo, b'fhéidir go mbeidh an tAire sásta athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar an bpointe sin mar ní chuirfeadh sé isteach ar éinne ach is cinnte go gcabhródh sé le Gaelú na timpeallachta.

Tá mé sásta deis a bheith agam an scéal seo a mhíniú. Rinneadh na díolúintí seo a dhréachtú le cinntiú nach mbeadh dualgais nach raibh beartaithe faoina rialacháin ar aon duine nó ar aon chomhlacht poiblí. Ní bheidh gá ainm branda nó logo a aistriú. Tá ceist faoi seo curtha ag baill an choiste agus ag Conradh na Gaeilge. Tá áthas orm deis a bheith agam na ceisteanna seo a fhreagairt. Glacaim leis go n-aontaíonn na baill nach bhfuil ciall dá laghad le dualgas a chur ar an mBord Árachas Shláinte Shaorálaigh, VHI, nó ar mBord Soláthar Leictreachais, ESB, an logo atá acu a aistriú go Gaeilge tré ASS nó BSL a úsáid chomh maith leis an leagan atá acu. Bheadh fadhb eile ag an VHI dá mbeadh ASS ann.

Tarlaíonn sé san earnáil phríobháideach go rialta. Athraítear ainm an chomhlachta agus athraítear an logo dá réir.

An féidir leis an choiste a shamhlú dá ndéarfainn amárach go gcaithfeadh an VHI ASS, agus tá fadhbanna eile leis sin, a chur in áit VHI.

Bhí Conradh na Gaeilge ag úsáid sampla Dublin Bus ach má bhreathnaíonn duine ar an logo, áfach, tá caisleán atá mar shiombail ag Baile Átha Cliath ann ach má fhéachann duine air go cúramach, tá sé déanta as D agus B droim le droim. Oibríonn sé go hiontach i mBéarla ach déan caisleán as Bus Átha Cliath chomh néata leis an gcaisleán déanta as an D agus B. Sin dúshlán.

Sin dúshlán don dearthóir.

Is ainmneacha branda agus logos iad seo agus tá aithne fhairsing orthu i measc an phobail. Tá na comhlachtaí Stáit seo i gcomórtas le comhlachtaí eile agus níl i gceist agam aon dochar a dhéanamh dom íomhá.

I gcásanna áirithe eile, úsáidtear focal mar bhunús an logo, Revenue mar shampla, agus caisleán ann. Arís ní bheadh sé ciallmhar aon dochar a dhéanamh don nósmhaireacht seo ná do bhranda a bhfuil aithne fhairsing air i measc an phobail.

Faoi na rialacha seo, áfach, ní féidir a rá gur ionann teideal an chomhlachta agus logo nó cuid de agus mar sin nach bhfuil gá leis an teideal a bheith i nGaeilge. Tá sin tábhachtach. Agus mo Roinn ag plé na dréacht-rialachán seo leis an ndréachtóir parlaiminte, cuireadh an cheist an raibh gá an t-idirdhealú idir theideal agus logo a lua go sonrach sna rialacháin. Fuair muid comhairle nach raibh gá idirdhealú a dhéanamh de bharr brí an fhocail logo. Dár leis an Oxford English Dictionary, is ciall logo ná "an emblematic design adopted by an organisation to identify its products". Is léir nach ionann emblematic design to identify an organisation agus teideal an chomhlachta. Is é stíl an dhréachtóra pharlaiminte a bheith thar a bheith beacht agus reachtaíocht á scríobh. Mar sin, bheadh sé iomarcach an méid a leanas a rá idir lúibíní tar éis an fhocail logo.

Ní bhaineann an díolúine seo le teideal comhlachta i gcás go n-úsáidtear é leis an logo nó mar chuid de. Tá sin intuigthe mar chuid de na rialacha mar atá siad déanta amach. Mar sin ní deirtear é ach ní shin an bhrí leis an bhfo-rialachán seo. Má cheapann duine ar bith nach bhfuil seo soiléir, bheinn sásta dhul ar ais chuig an Ard Aighne.

Tá a fhios agam gur logo nua-chumtha ar Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin. Tá leagan Gaeilge ann, Ospidéal Mhuire na Leanaí Cromghlinn, curtha ar a bharr. Sin comhartha den rud gur féidir le daoine a dhéanamh.

An fadhb atá ann go simplí: níl i gceist againn go mbeidh ar VHI leagan Gaeilge a chur síos — tá focal eile sa Bhéarla a dhéanfadh deacair é ar aon nós. Aithníonn daoine nuair a fheiceann siad VHI mar sin go bhfuil VHI i gceist.

Tá sé bunaithe ar an teideal Béarla.

Tá sé bunaithe air.

Sin an fadhb, níl sé bunaithe ar an dá leagan.

Tá an caisléan ar Dublin Bus bunaithe ar dhá rud: an teideal Béarla DB agus ar an gcaisleán atá luaite go mór le Baile Átha Cliath. ESB, ní bheadh air an logo sin a athrú agus BSL mar cheann péire.

B'fhéidir nach n-aontaíonn daoine liom faoi seo agus ní fheicim aon chiall a bheith ag aistriú PAYE go IMAT agus VAT go CBL. Má tá acronyms ann i mbéal an phobail, FÁS as Gaeilge mar shampla, ba cheart iad a fhágáil mar atá siad. B'fhearr go mbeadh níos mo acu bunaithe ar an nGaeilge ach tá an oiread sin acronyms ann anois cosúil le VAT agus PAYE, má tá ar dhaoine dhul ar thoir acronyms sa Ghaeilge, chuirfeadh sé mearbhall orthu.

Ní cheart acronyms agus ainmneacha a aistriú. Más Aengus Ó Snodaigh atá ar an Teachta Ó Snodaigh, sin a ainm. Tig le duine a rá "What is that in English?" ach mura dteastaíonn uaidh go mbeadh ainm dátheangach aige, sin a ainm. Níl mise tugtha don siar-aistriú ar ainmneacha agus logos agus mar sin. Níl sé praiticiúil. Úsáideann daoine na tús-litreacha le pictiúir a dhéanamh agus bheadh an-fhadhb ann logos a aistriú.

Gabhaim buíochas leis an Aire agus a oifigigh.