Official Languages (Equality) Bill 2002: Committee Stage (Resumed).

SECTION 24.
Question again proposed: "That section 24, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
Mr. Ryan: Bhí muid anseo ar feadh tamaill fhada inné agus ní raibh mé in ann bheith anseo Dé Máirt. Rinne mé iarracht inné bheith chomh dearfach agus ab'fhéidir liom. Tá mé i bhfabhar prionsabail an Bhille so bhí an-díoma orm nuair a chuala mé aréir go raibh an tAire ar an raidió ag tabhairt amach nach raibh Páirtí an Lucht Oibre anseo Dé Mháirt. Ba chóir go mbeadh náire air a leithéid d'úsáid a bhaint as an Ghaelainn chun party politican broadcast a dhéanamh ar Raidió na Gaeltachta.
Brisfidh sé an spiorad a bhí istigh sa Teach seo má leanfaidh an tAire ar aghaidh mar sin. Tá sé olc go leor nach bhfuil sé sásta glacadh le leasú ar bith, agus geallaim don Teach seo go nglacfaidh sé le leasaithe sa Dáil, cé nach bhfuil sé sásta éisteacht linn anseo. Titfidh sé amach, áfach, nach raibh a fhios ag éinne go dtí tráthnóna Déardaoin seo caite go raibh an Bille seo, atá ar an chlár oibre le bliain go leith, le bheith anseo Dé Mháirt. Ansin téann an tAire ar an raidió ag tabhairt amach faoina daoine nach raibh i láthair le baint leis na rudaí a bhí eagraithe chun gnó an Aire a dhéanamh. Más mar sin a theastaíonn ón Aire go ndéanfar an díospóireacht bíodh sé mar san, ach mí mar sin a theastaigh sé uaim-se. Tá a fhios ag an Tigh gur láimhseaíleas ceist na Gaeilge sa Tigh seo ariamh. Níor thugas faoi éinne agus níor ionsaíos éinne. Tá an Ghaeilge ró-thábhachtach domsa chun í a úsáid chun dul i gcoinne dhaoine eile. Má tá sé d'aidhm ag an Aire an Ghaeilge a úsáid chun party political broadcast a dhéanamh ar Raidió na Gaeltachta, bíodh sé mar san againn agus beidh. Ach ní ghlacfaidh mé lena leithéid.
Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Éamon Ó Cuív): Níl a fhios agam ar éist an Seanadóir leis an rud a tharla ar Raidió na Gaeltachta. Cuireadh ceist orm cén fáth a laghad daoine a bheith sa Teach agus a bhí Dé Máirt. Mhínigh mé gur nós é sin ar Chéim an Choiste. Cuireadh an cheist orm an dara huair agus dúirt gurb é an gnáth rud a bhíonn ann ná go mbíonn úrlabhraí na bpáirtithe éagsúla ann agus mar sin nach mbeinn ag súil le leath de Fhine Gael a bheith anseo. Is iad siúd a bhí ag cur na ceiste agus dúirt mé go raibh daoine ó na páirtithe éagsúla ach nach raibh éinne ann ó Pháirtí an Lucht Oibre. Ba fíric é sin.
Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 25.
Mr. McHugh: I move amendment No. 52:
In page 30, line 31, after "so." to insert "After the Commissioner has ruled on a complaint a person has made or which has been made on behalf of that person nothing in this Act shall prohibit that person from initiating legal proceedings should he/she choose to do so."
This is an important addition because the rationale behind it is to allay any misunderstanding and specifically to strengthen section 25 in favour of the citizen. It comes from a citizen's rights point of view and it is important that this amendment be included.
Éamon Ó Cuív: Ní feidir liom glacadh leis seo. Mar a mhínigh mé cheana, ní chuireann an Bille seo isteach ar aon cheart bunreachtúil. É sin ráite, níl mórán ciall le coimisinéir a chur in áit agus seans a thabhairt don saoránach, muna bhfuil sé in ann sásamh a fháil, dul go dtí na cúirteanna. Ní bheadh aon chiall leis an dara córas a chur i bhfeidhm, is é sin le rá córas cúirte chomh maith le córas coimisinéara.
Tá mé go mór i bhfábhar chóras an choimisinéara mar feictear dom go bhfuil sé i bhfad níos éasca ag an gnáth phobal a gcearta a bhaint amach trí chóras coimisinéara ná mar a bheadh dá gcaithfidís dul chun na cúirte leis na cearta atá san mBille seo fháil. Mar sin, níl i gceist agam glacadh leis seo. Ní fheicim go mbeidh gá ag an saoránach dul go dtí na cúirteanna. Is é atá i gceist ag an mBille seo go mbeidh coimisinéir ann agus dualgas láidir air cearta an tsaoránaigh a chosaint. Más gá, is féidir leis an gcoimisinéir dul chun na cúirte. Is ar an ábhar sin nach bhfuil i gceist agam glacadh leis an leasú seo.
Amendment put and declared lost.
Section 25 agreed to.
SECTION 26.
Question proposed: "That section 26 stand part of the Bill."
Mr. Ryan: Chím nach bhfuil oifig an choimisinéara faoi scáth an Acht um Shaoráil Faisnéise. Tá a fhios agam nach mór is maith leis an Rialtas an Freedom of Information Act. Ní thuigim cén fáth nach bhfuil oifig an choimisinéara faoi scáth an Achta sin. Tá, mar shampla, the Office of the Director of Telecommunications Regulation, now transmogrified into ComReg agus coimisinéirí agus rialóirí cosúil leis an electricity regulator faoi scáth an Achta um Shaoráil Faisnéise. Níl sé éasca a thuiscint cén fáth, ach amháin ar chinneadh dearfach a deineadh ag an Rialtas, go bhfuil eisceacht á dhéanamh anseo. Tá a fhios agam nach bhfuil Oifig an Ombudsman faoi scáth an Achta sin ach tá sé soiléir gurb é an fáth leis sin go bhfuil ról faoi leith ag an Ombudsman. Ach is a mhalairt de scéal ar fad atá anseo. Is é mo thuairim gurb í an tslí is fusa ná an coimisinéir a choimeád ón Achta um Shaoráil Faisnéise.
Éamon Ó Cuív: Breathnóidh mé ar an gceist sin arís. An bunús atá leis seo ná gur Ombudsman é an coimisinéir. Beidh an cineál feidhme céanna ag an ombudsman seo agus atá ag an gháth Ombudsman. Go deimhin, b'fhéidir go mba cheart dom ombudsman na Gaeilge a thabhairt air in ionad coimisinéir na Gaeilge. Tharraing an difríocht focal sin go leor cainte ins an meáin ag pointe amháin. An bunús atá leis seo gur ombudsman é agus ní thagann Oifig an Ombudsman faoin Acht um Shaoráil Faisnéise.
Breathnóidh mé ar an gceist arís. Bheimís ag déanamh idirdhealú an-mhór idir é agus an Ombudsman, ainneoin gur ombudsman an coimisinéir ach go bhfuil feidhm eile ag an Ombudsman. Bheadh sé spéisiúil fáil amach an bhfuil Ombudsman na leanaí ag dul leis an nósmhaireacht céanna leis an Ombudsman. Nuair a bheidh an t-eolas san agam breathnóidh mé arís air.
Mr. Ryan: Glacaim leis go bhfuil an tAire chun smaoinimh faoi seo. Tá deighilt bhunúsach idir an gcoimisinéir seo agus an Ombudsman. Tá sé soiléir in alt 33 nuair a deirtear:
Nothing in this Act shall be construed as conferring a right of action in any civil proceeings in respect of any failure to comply with any duty imposed by or under subsection (1) of section 19.
Níl a leithéid ag baint leis an Ombudsman. Má dhéanann an gnáth Ombudsman fiosrú faoi rud, níl aon bhac dleathúil ar dhaoine na cúirteanna a úsáid chun pé rud atá i gceist a leanúint, tar éis don Ombudsman an jab a dhéanamh agus ní bheadh sé ceart go mbeadh. Is iad na aidhmeanna atá ag an reachtaíocht seo, a bhfuilimid ar aon aigne fúthu, má theipeann ar chomhlacht poiblí an scéim atá leagtha amach dó a chur i bhfeidhm an pionós is mó atá in ann dó ná go scríofar tuarascáil agus go gcuirfear os comhair Tithe an Oireachtas é. I gcás an Ombudsman, má mholann sí rud éigin agus má theipeann ar an eagraíocht Stáit an moladh sin a chomhlíonadh tá sé de chead ag saoránach an cheist a leanúint tríd na cúirteanna. Ní féidir a rá go bhfuil an stádas céanna ag coimisinéir na Gaeilge agus atá ag an Ombudsman. Sin an fáth gur chóir go mbeadh sé nó sí faoi scáth an Achta.
Éamon Ó Cuív: Mar a dúirt mé, breathnóidh me air. Tá mórán den stádas céanna ann. Ar ndóigh, níl aon fhadhb nó aon chosc ar dhuine nach bhfuil sásta le freagra an choimisinéara ar dhul chun na cúirte. An t-aon rud nach féidir leis a dhéanamh ná an Bhille áirithe seo a úsáid mar chuid den chás – tá difríocht ann. Mar atá ráite cheana, is féidir leis an gcoimisinéir féin dul chun na cúirte. Má bhreathnaímid ar an gnáth-shaoránach, is é bealach an Ombudsman agus an choimisinéara an bealach is fusa agus is saoire. Bainfidh an bealach seo an dualgas de bheith ag dul isteach i gcúirteanna.
Feictear domsa gurbh é an gnáth-bhealach sin an bealach is fearr le cearta daoine i gcás rudaí mar seo a chinntiú. Is beag duine go bhfuil d'acmhainn aige bheith ag plé leis na cúirteanna, mar tá na cúirteanna daor. Is fearr i bhfad go bhfuil duine ceaptha leis an obair a dhéanamh ar a shon agus tacaíocht reachtaíochta aige. Mar a mhínigh mé inné, níl amhras ar bith orm ach go mbeidh dualgas an-láidir, dá bharr seo, ar na heagraíochtaí éagsúla ag plé leis an mBille.
Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 27.
Government amendment No. 53:
In page 32, subsection (2)(b), line 7, to delete “to”.
Éamon Ó Cuív: Leasú teicniúil ar an leagan Béarla atá i gceist anseo.
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 54:
In page 32, subsection (3), line 14, before "appropriate" to insert "it".
Éamon Ó Cuív: Mar a chéile leis seo – leasú beag teicniúil ar an leagan Béarla atá i gceist.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. McHugh: I move amendment No. 55:
In page 32, subsection (5), line 23, to delete "may" and substitute "shall".
This technical amendment may have been agreed by the Minister. It was listed as a Government amendment, as well as an amendment in my name, on the first Order Paper. Perhaps I can be given clarification in relation to this amendment so that it may be agreed.
Éamon Ó Cuív: Tá sé fíor-thábhachtach d'fheidhmiú éifeachtach na reachtaíochta seo go mbeadh discréid ag an gcoimisinéir maidir le feidhmiú fhorálacha áirithe atá sonraithe sa Bhille. Is sampla amháin an fhoráil áirithe seo ina bhfuil sé riachtanach go mbeadh discréid ag an Aire maidir le feidhmiú an fhoráil. Creidim gur chóir go mbeadh an coimisinéir i reacht a chuid nó a cuid discréid a úsáid maidir le cénuair a chuireann sé tuairisc ar aghaidh chuig Tithe an Oireachtais, ag cur san áireamh go mbeidh sé nó sí neamhspleách i gcomhlíonadh a chuid fheidhmeanna agus go mb'fhéidir go mbeadh roinnt de na moltaí nár comhlíonadh an-bheag i gcomhthéacs feidhmiú ginearálta na scéime atá aontaithe leis an gcomhlacht poiblí i gceist. Ar an gcúis sin, níl mé ag glacadh leis. Sílim féin go gcaithfear an discréid a fhágáil.
Mr. McHugh: I would like some clarification because on the first Order Paper, from which I am working, it is listed as a Government amendment. Perhaps it is a clerical error. If one is working from the second document, it is not listed as a Government amendment. Perhaps the error is on the first day's Order Paper. If I cross-reference with the amendments listed under section 27 on the second list, I can see that amendment No. 55 is not listed as a Government amendment. Perhaps the Minister may have taken a U-turn in the last couple of days.
Acting Chairman (Mr. Kitt): Níl sé anseo mar leasú on Rialtas. Baineann leasú Uimh. 56 leis an Rialtas, ach baineann leasú Uimh. 55 leis an Seanadóir McHugh.
Mr. McHugh: Stopfaidh mé ansin.
Éamon Ó Cuív: Sula nglacfar leis an alt seo sa mBille, b'fhéidir go mbeidh orm teacht thar n-ais ar Chéim na Tuarascála le leasuithe teicniúla eile.
Amendment put and declared lost.
Government amendment No. 56:
In page 32, subsection (5), line 23, after "made" to insert "to him or her".
Amendment agreed to.
Section 27, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 28.
Mr. McHugh: I move amendment No. 57:
In page 32, subsection (1), line 29, to delete "may" and substitute "shall".
Will the House agree to discuss amendments Nos. 57 and 59 together?
Acting Chairman: Amendment No. 57 will have to be discussed on its own as amendment No. 59 was already discussed with amendment No. 28.
Mr. McHugh: It was discussed yesterday. I would like to propose amendment No. 57, which relates to the issue of the privatisation of State bodies and whether the use of Gaeilge on stationery and signage is still an issue. This point was made under section 11 and I will not reiterate it. If a State company is privatised, will it continue to fall under the authority of this Bill in relation to the use of Irish on stationery? Will such a company have to continue to facilitate the use of Irish in the workplace?
Éamon Ó Cuív: Phlé muid seo inné i gcomhthéacs eile. Má bhreathnóidh an Seanadóir ar an sainmhíniú ar "comhlacht poiblí" ata sa mBille, feicfidh se go bhfuil sé thar a bheith leathan. Clúdaíonn sé an rud atá i gceist ag an Seanadóir. Táimid ag breathnú ar leasú a thabharfadh isteach, mar shampla, comhlachtaí a oibríonn faoi cheadúnas ón Stáit. Mar sin tá an cheist atá ag an Seanadóir clúdaithe cheana féin sa mBille faoin gCéad Sceideal. Tá sainmhíniú uafásach leathan ar chomhlacht poiblí sa Sceideal.
Amendment put and declared lost.
Government amendment No. 58:
In page 32, subsection (1), line 31, to delete "and".
Éamon Ó Cuív: Leasú teicniúil eile ar an leagan Béarla don Bhille atá i gceist anseo. Níl aon athrú ar an leagan Gaeilge.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 59 not moved.
Government amendment No. 60:
In page 32, subsection (1), lines 35 and 36, to delete "provisions, purposes or spirit" and to substitute "provisions".
Amendment agreed to.
Section 28, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 29.
Question proposed: "That section 29 stand part of the Bill."
Éamon Ó Cuív: Tá gach seans go mbeidh mé ag teacht ar ais ar Chéim na Tuarascála le leasú beag teicníuil a bhaineann leis an alt seo.
Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 30.
Mr. McHugh: I move amendment No. 61:
In page 34, line 18, to delete "may" and substitute "shall".
May I discuss amendments Nos. 61 and 62 together?
Acting Chairman: An bhfuil sé sin aontaithe? Agreed.
Mr. McHugh: I have proposed two amdendments to this extremely important section. It is imperative, for the effective operation of the legislation, that the commissioner publishes commentaries on its practical application on a regular basis. Without wishing to repeat what I said on Tuesday, I welcome the role of the commissioner under this legislation. There are grey areas in relation to the role of the commissioner and this is the reason I am proposing these amendments.
Mr. Ryan: Gabhaim leithscéal leis an Seanadóir McHugh ós rud é gur dheineas piggyback ar chuid dá leasaithe.
Tá mé cinnte go ndéarfaidh an tAire linn go bhfuil discréid ag teastáil ón gcoimisinéir. Ní aontaím go bhfuil discréid aige ar an ábhar seo. Seo an oifig is tábhachtaí sa Stát ó thaobh na Gaeilge de agus ó thaobh tacaíochta a thabhairt don nGaeilge agus rudaí mar siúd, agus ba chóir go mbeadh sé de dhualgas ar an gcoimisinéir na tráchtaireachtaí seo a gcur amach ó am go ham. Fiú amháin dá mba rud é nach raibh an t-alt seo sa Bhille bheadh an coimisinéir ábalta tráchtaireachtaí a chur amach mar níl sé ciúinithe de réir an Bhille. Má luaitear tráchtaireachtaí sa Bhille ba chóir go ndéarfaí go bhfuil sé de dhualgas ag an gcoimisinéir iad a fhoilsiú. Sin an fáth go dtacaím leis an dá leasú seo.
Éamon Ó Cuív: Ní hé go bhfuil discréid ag an gcoimisinéir. Teastaíonn discréid uaidh maidir le tuarascálacha speisialta. Mar a fheicfear in alt 31, beidh air tuarascáil bhliantúil a cur ar fáil a chuimseoidh a chuid oibre agus a chuirfidh síos ar cén chaoi ar éirigh leis agus ar na nithe a d'éirigh i gcaitheamh na bliana.
De bhreis ar an ghnáth thuarascáil chuimsitheach ar obair na bliana táimid ag iarriadh deise a thabhairt dó tuarascálacha a réiteach ar nithe faoi leith. Feicimid é sin i gcás Oifig an Ombudsman, sa mhéad is go gcuireann sé tuarascáil bhliantúil amach a dhéanann tagairt do na cineáil cásanna is mó a tharraing deacracht dó i gcaitheamh na bliana. Chomh maith leis sin, feicimid an Ombudsman, ó ham go chéile ar a dhiscréid féin, ag foilsiú tuarascálacha speisialta, mar shampla, an tuarascáil ar cheist an úis a bhain leis na Coimisinéirí Ioncaim. Tugann an t-alt seo an cumhacht breise sin dó.
Thiocfainn go hiomlán leis an Seanadóir go mba cheart go mbeadh dualgas ar an gcoimisinéir tuarascálacha rialta a gcur amach agus beidh, faoi alt 3. In aghaidh na bliana a déanfar sin.
Labhrás Ó Murchú: Tá sé soiléir ón díospóireacht a bhí againn maidir leis an gcoimisinéir cé chomh tábhachtach is atá an post seo. Is é an coimisinéir a chinnteoidh go n-éireoidh leis an gcóras atá i gceist againn. Ag faire ar an Ombudsman, faoi mar a bhí againn go dtí seo, tá a fhios againn go raibh neamhspleáchas ag gabháil leis agus go raibh sé sásta labhairt amach. Beimid ag brath go mór ar choimisinéir dá leithéid a bheadh neamhspleách agus a mbeadh tuairimí láidre aige nó aici. Beidh an chuid is mó de fheidhmiú an Achta ag brath ar an gcoimisinéir.
Mr. Fitzgerald: I wish to make some brief comments on this section. Senators Ó Murchú and Ryan have referred to the provision that the commissioner may prepare and publish commentaries on the practicable application and operation of the provisions. That is a central sentence in the Bill. It poses a fundamental question as to who owns the Bill.
I can only speak from my perspective and from the aggregate of my life experiences, growing up, going to school and college, teaching for 12 years and then coming into this House. I taught the Irish language as best I could for 12 years. I taught in an inner city school across the road from here. I tried to imbue a love of the language in the pupils and if I did nothing else I would be happy. I think there is a little bit of evidence of my efforts both around and outside the city to prove that.
As somebody who was not very proficient in spoken Irish, I set out from the beginning to imbue a love of the language in my pupils. I am motivated by those factors and from the influences I had from my students and from the people around me who were all imbued with a love of this distinctly Nationalist identity which the language has. This is irrespective of the percentage of the population that uses it as daily speech.
This Bill is a milestone in the development of the Irish language. It comes at a critical juncture. The Minister is at another crossroads, in a sense, as to the direction of the language in the future. This Bill belongs to everybody living in Ireland. It does not just belong to me as an Irishman but it belongs to every person living in this country, whether that person is an Irish citizen, a foreign citizen who is residing here or a citizen of another country who is staying here temporarily.
The Bill is holistic and there is a flexibility and widely-embracing approach and philosophy underlying it. The Bill reaches out to people of all ages, nationality and culture who come to reside here. It demonstrates our welcome and friendliness towards them. It has a spirit of enablement, facilitation and encouragement. The Bill will be a success in making a significant advance in furthering the use of our native language.
Some people use Irish every day in their daily lives and have Gaeilge ó dhúchas. I use Irish occasionally like many other people. We use Tá and Níl in this House during divisions. Many of us proudly sing the national anthem even when we cannot sing. There are many people who cannot speak any Irish but who are proud to sing the national anthem. There are those who welcome the appearance of bilingual road signs and bilingual publications. These people are also delighted by the fact that their friends are able to engage in bilingual social intercourse, even though they may not be able to participate to the degree they would wish.
It is important not to target critical and crucial legislation of this nature at certain organisations that are professionally involved in the promotion of the language. It must also not just be targeted at teachers of the language or at places where the promotion of Irish is carried out in a structured way. It should be aimed at society in general. It would be a travesty if a message went out that the Bill is anything other than all-embracing in its approach and philosophy. This legislation seeks to reach out and encourage partnership in terms of the use of the language in the 21st century. The need for that partnership was emphasised yesterday by the Minister and Senator Ó Murchú.
What is at issue here is the environment of Ireland. People say that the language is catered for under the Constitution and that it is the first official language of the people. That type of "doff the hat" attitude was prevalent in the past. I do not wish to personalise this but, as a teacher, the Acting Chairman will be familiar with the "doff the hat"/"tá sé lá breá" attitude. There is no such thing as doffing one's hat to the Irish language. I reject that kind of accusation. The perpetuation of allegations of that nature in the past did far more harm to the promotion of the Irish language than many other criticisms that were levelled at it.
I referred yesterday to the informal way Bord na Gaeilge broke down so many barriers. Community organisations were pleased to embrace the spirit, promotion and vitality that seemed to emanate from Bord na Gaeilge. I witnessed this in my constituency where a number of community organisations, including shops and businesses, made a bilingual effort. This created a friendliness about the use of the language in ordinary everyday intercourse, whether shopping, socialising, having a drink in the pub or whatever. There was a friendly feeling that encouraged one to participate, which is very important. There should never again be an assertion among people who have a love for the promotion of the Irish language that A, B, C or D is a "doff the hat" merchant. That day has, hopefully, passed and we have entered a more enlightened period. We have learned from the experiences of other countries which are finding it difficult to promote the growth of their native languages.
A medium which has helped to popularise the Irish language in recent times is TG4. I confess that I do not switch over to TG4 each night and decide to give myself half an hour of intensive listening and viewing of Irish language communication. However, I am drawn to TG4 through sport. While I participated in it most incompetently, I have a great love and passion for sport. I have a great passion for sports people and sports commentaries. The contribution TG4 has made, not just to sport but – through it – to popularising the use of Irish in an informal setting, has been monumental. I laud it loudly and enthusiastically for the manner in which it has done so.
I am sure the Minister is aware that Dr. Éamonn Ó Hogáin recently edited an Irish-English dictionary of political terms, which was a fantastic initiative. I used it recently when making a contribution and it is a good ready reference. When speaking to the Minister outside the Chamber, I was pleased to hear that he has an idea in mind to publish a dictionary of terms or phrases that would be used in ordinary social intercourse. This is a marvellous idea and I encourage him to bring it to completion and promote it throughout the country. It would be a great promotional exercise in a very informal, friendly – I keep using the word "friendly" because it is key to this entire area – environment throughout the country.
Irish is a central part of our uniqueness, distinct identity and nationhood. Every Irishman and Irishwoman, irrespective of whatever negative experiences they may have had growing up or going through school and facing people like me in the classroom, has within them the love of their nationhood. They have within them the acknowledgement that Irish is a central and key part of that nationhood. The central message of the legislation, which I warmly welcome, is that it is for the benefit of all the people of Ireland.
Mr. McHugh: I welcome the holistic arguments Senator Fitzgerald put forward. We need to be careful in regard to the Irish language. If we choose a completely holistic approach, we might take our eyes off the ball. In many Gaeltacht regions, there are native Irish speakers who have a capacity to speak in Irish. These people should be facilitated in every way possible. The amendments propose that district courts within Gaeltacht boundaries should have a facility for bilingualism for native Irish speakers. When I visit pubs in Gaeltacht areas, I hear native Irish language speakers but I cannot become involved in the conversation. These people are not being arrogant by speaking Irish. It is a defence mechanism which is being manifested because they feel that sufficient systems are not being put in place for them to speak Irish.
There should be a two-tier approach in this regard. Native Irish speakers should be a facilitated as a priority. Any requirements necessary for native Irish speakers, including hearings in the Circuit Court and correspondence to and from Government Departments, should be facilitated. I would include myself in the category of people who feel the Irish language is an important component of Irish society. That was reflected by my participation in a summer school at Glencolumbkille, trying to refresh my Irish language skills. I signed up to the course available here in Leinster House and, hopefully, by next September, I will have refreshed my Irish even further. I am part of that section of the population, referred to by Senator Fitzgerald, that is eager to learn the Irish language but has had negative experiences in doing so. We should not use this as a crutch anymore. People should get on with it.
There should be a facility for that grouping of people and that must be done through the community brief. I agree with Senator Fitzgerald's point on ownership, but in order to have ownership people have be empowered. The only way people can empower themselves is by initiating groups and committees. The committees can be set up,ad hoc, to organise table quizzes, getting Irish language signage for shops and placenames and involving people at local level. That is the second tier on which the Bill should be focused and which the Minister is looking at in holistic way.
Sometimes people mistake it as arrogance when they see an Irish speaker in a group who will not speak anything other than English. Native Irish language speakers feel angry that there are no proper mechanisms in place to facilitate them. We should never take our eye off the ball in facilitating and looking after a native Irish speaker.
The language is sadly declining but, not looking at it pessimistically, it can be rejuvenated.
Labhrás Ó Murchú: What Senator McHugh has just said should be made compulsory reading for everyone interested in the Irish language. We often hear about those who have not got a good command of Irish and we are concerned for them. Senator McHugh made an impassioned plea for the language, though he himself will be at some disadvantage as a result of the progress made by this Bill. He is right that there is anger, not among the people who are anti-Irish language, but among Irish speakers themselves who regard Irish as their language, be they from the Gaeltacht or outside.
The Seanad has acknowledged on many occasions that one of the greatest developments in regard to the Irish language is the establishment of the gaelscoileanna. Now, there are waiting lists for these schools and situations where schools are seeking to expand in extra buildings. Native Irish speakers feel they have rights and want to ensure they are not seen as second-class citizens.
Much that Senator McHugh has said actually underpins the Bill. We are disagreeing on one fraction of the approach. I take on board what Senator Ryan said, that the attitude in the House has been one of teamwork and co-operation. That is one of the reasons we have had no hostile debates in the House. Agus tá daoine – Senator Ryan agus mé fein agus daoine eile – ag labhairt Gaelige anseo sa tSeanad go minic.
I feel many of the items that came up during the debate on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, have the same focus in the debate. How much should we write in stone? How far should we further the powers of the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Deputy Ó Cuív, the commissioner and the almost 300 associated bodies? They all will have not only the power but also the responsibility.
When the passage of the Bill is finished, the message from the House should be that this is an historic development. It is powerful in its own right and underpins the right that already exists in Bunreacht. The major task will happen when the Bill is enacted. Much will depend on the speed at which we approach the task, the professionalism and the public relations.
I listened to the Pat Kenny radio show when the officer responsible for bilingualism in Canada was in Dublin at the invitation of Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge. I was encouraged listening to the guests on the show at the absence of hostility on a mainstream radio programme to the Irish language. The Irish participants were, with a sense of pride, saying that they had done their education through Irish and had gone to the Gaeltacht. I could see a whole new impetus in the language. I believe this is what is needed to underpin that.
I will monitor the implementation of this new plan on a regular basis. I am sure it will be done by Deputies. We will ask questions to see how the Bill is working. We will ask the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Deputy Ó Cuív, to discuss it in the House. This will not be put on a shelf; it will be an organic development. With the spirit shown by Senator McHugh and other Senators, the partnership we have established will be genuine and historic. I praise Senator McHugh for his last statement.
Éamon Ó Cuív: Beidh ar an gcoimisinéir uair sa mbliain tuarascáil chuimsitheach a chur ar fáil don Teach ar imeachtaí na bliana faoi alt 31. Ar an ábhar sin, is rud breise é seo gur féidir leis tuarascála eile a réiteach agus sin an fáth go bhfuil alt 30 ann. B'fhéidir go bhféadfadh duine a rá gur cheart go mbeidís a mhalairt bhealach chuile thart, ach sin ceist eile ar fad.
Tacaím go mór leis an gcineál smaoinimh atá ag an bpobal uilig don nGaeilge. Is í an teanga náisiúnta í, ní amháin do lucht labhartha na Gaeilge ach do mhuintir na tíre ar fad, is cuma an bhfuil Gaeilge acu nó nach bhfuil. Níl duine ar bith sa tír nach mbraitheann go mbaineann an Ghaeilge leis, a bheag nó a mhór, ar bhealach éigin. Tá an t-amhrán náisiúnta i nGaeilge, úsáideann gach duine téarmaí oifigiúla i nGaeilge agus tá súil agam go gcuirfidh an Bille seo le feiceáil na Gaeilge i measc an phobail, fiú i measc an phobail nach bhfuil Gaeilge acu.
Ní ón nGaeltacht me. Rugadh agus tógadh i mBaile Átha Cliath mé. Ní bhfuair mé mo chuid oideachais trí Ghaeilge ach oiread. Murach gur teanga náisiúnta na hÉireann í an Ghaeilge, ní bheadh an oiread speise agam sa nGaeltacht ó thaobh teanga de. Is breá liom muintir na Gaeltachta ach is breá liom muintir na Galltachta fosta. Ní chreidim go leanfaidh muintir na Gaeltachta nó Gaeilgeoirí na tíre ag labhairt na Gaeilge muna bhfuil an Ghaeilge mar teanga náisiunta, mar ní tréibh faoi leith iad lucht labhartha na Gaeilge, is gnáth-Éireannaigh iad. Is gnáth-Ghaillimhigh nó gnáth-Thír Chonailligh nó gnáth-Chiarraíocha iad na daoine sna Gaeltachta ansin. Feictear sin agus aon cheann acu ag imirt i gcluiche cheannais. Mar sin, níl aon todhchaí ag an nGaeltacht, dar liomsa, ach mar chuid den náisiún iomlán.
Tá an Bille seo ag freastal ar riachtanais na nGaeilgeoirí ach tá sé ag freastal chomh maith, ar an riachtanas coitianta atá ann imeasc an phobail agus ar éilimh na ndaoine a scríobhann chugam, "I have no Irish but I was very disappointed to see that State company X has stopped putting up bilingual signs and they are all now in English only. I think this is retrograde". Faighim go leor de na litreacha sin. Tá an Bille seo chomh mór do na daoine sin agus atá sé don chainteoir dúchasach.
Ba mhaith liom tacú leis an méid atá ráite ag na Seanadóiri. Thagair an Seanadóir Fitzgerald do TG4. Tá rud amháin déanta ag TG4. Is é sin go bhfuil an Ghaeilge curtha aige i go leor seomra suite agus cistiní na tíre mar chuid nádúrtha de shaol na seachtaine. Déanfaidh an Bille seo an rud céanna ina bhealach féin don Ghaeilge. Ag an am céanna caithfidh sé freastal ar riachtanais na ndaoine sin ar mian leo an chuid is mó dá saol a chaitheamh trí mheán na Gaeilge.
Question, "That the word proposed to be deleted stand," put and declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.
Mr. McHugh: I move amendment No. 62:
In page 34, line 18, after "commentaries" to insert "at least twice during his/her official term of office".
Amendment put and declared lost.
Section 30 agreed to.
SECTION 31.
Question proposed: "That section 31 stand part of the Bill."
Mr. Ryan: Aontaím le gach rud adúirt mo chomh-Sheanadóirí faoi thodhchaí na Gaeilge. Níl aon easaontas eadrainn faoi san.
Tá ceist agam ar an Aire agus níl mé ag iarraidh a bheith cantalach. An gceapann sé go bhfuil sé ceart i gcónaí freagairt as Gaeilge do Bhaill an Tí seo a labhrannn Béarla leis? Molaim dó smaoineamh ar an gceist seo. Tá argóintí ar an dá thaobh di. Tá a fhios againn an saghas cainte a úsáideann Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh nuair a athraíonn sé ó theanga go teanga agus tá an cumas sin ag an Aire. Tá an cheist seo dírithe orm féin chomh maith leis an Aire. Cé acu is fearr chun cabhrú le húsáid na Gaeilge ins na Tithe seo? Tá sé de nós ag Airí na Gaeltachta le fada gan ach Gaeilge a úsáid ach ba chóir smaoineamh faoi.
Maidir le halt 31, rud atá ráite agam féin agus ag an Seanadóir Feargal Quinn go minic go bhfágaimid iomana ama ag eagraíochtaí Stáit chun tuarascála a chur le chéile. Tógfaidh sé ocht mí tar éis deireadh bliana go dtí go bhfoilseofar tuarascáil an choimisinéara don bpobal. Beidh sé mhí, ar a mhéad, aige chun na tuarascála a cur le chéile agus beidh dhá mhí ag an Aire chun smaoinimh faoi sula fhoilseofar é.
Cén fáth go gcaithfidh an oiread sin ama a chur ar leataobh le tuarascáil bhliantiúil a chur le chéile agus a choimhéad in oifig an Aire sula bhfeicfidh an gnáth-duine é? Tá na tréimsí ama ró-fhada.
Éamon Ó Cuív: Tá dá mhí ann mar caithfear é a chur faoi bhráid chruinniú den Rialtas agus má thiteann rudaí i rith dtréimhse saoire d'fhéadfaí bheith ag fanacht i lár an tsamhraidh ceithre seachtaine leis an chruinniú sin. Tógann sé seachtain nó coicís fosta é a chur faoi bhráid don Rialtas mar caitear a chur isteach seachtain roimh ré. Ansin caithfidh me dhul ar aghaidh agus an rud a chur faoi bráid na dTithe. Níl dhá mhí míreasúnta.
Cíallaíonn an sé mhí le tuarascáil go gcaithfidh sí bheith faighte ag deiridh mí na Meithimh má chríochnaíonn an bhliain ar an bhliain fheilire. Chuile uair a bhíonn cruinniú agam leis na Státseirbhísí sinsearacha den Roinn, téimid frid liosta de na comhlachtaí agus eagraíochtaí Stáit atá faoinár mbráid atá ceaptha tuarascáil bhliantúil a chur ar fáil. Sé ceann de na cráchroí a bhíonn orainn ná cloí le spriocanna ama. Bhí comhlacht amháin agus bhí náire orm mar bhí mé ag dul isteach le tuarascáil 2001 don Rialtas. Is historial artifact sin.
Beidh ar an chomhlacht a dhéanamh laistigh de sé mhí. Dá bhfaighinnse chuile thuarascáil atá dlite agam mar Aire óna heagraíochta éagsúla taobh istigh de sé mhí, bheinn thar a bheith sásta. Breathnóidh mé air arís ach ar a laghad tá spriocdháta an-chinnte ansin. Dá n-éireodh liom gach ceann atá faoi mo chúram a fháil taobh istigh den am sin, ní bheadh mórán gearán ann.
Is cuimhin liom nuair a ceapadh mar Aire Stáit mé, bhí nós ag mo Roinn aon cheist Dála faoin nGaeltacht a fhreagairt i nGaeilge. Bhí an ceart sin ag Airí ach bhí Teachta Dála amháin agus ní raibh aon Ghaeilge agus bhí sé beagnach trína chéile. Ó thaobh freagairt cheiste Dála, an gnáthrud a dhéanaim ná á freagairt sa teanga ina gcuirtear an cheist. Tá mé ag cloí leis an nós sin ó shin, go mór mór nuair is ceist ó Aire nó duine faoi leith mar glacaim leis go bhfuil an freagra ag teastáil ón duine sin go n-úsáidfear sa dáilcheantar é.
Tá an Bille seo éagsúil ar dhá bhealach. Tá córas comhuaineach sa Teach so éinne a thiocfadh isteach anseo, bheadh sé díreach mar a bheadh sé i bParlaimint na hEorpa agus duine ag labhairt Fraincíse. Bheadh sé in ann dul i muinín an chórais aistriúcháin.
Ní léir dom mórán speise ag na meáin Bhéarla san ábhar seo. Thug mé faoi deara arú aréir nár tugadh aon suntas don díospóireacht ar fad ag RTÉ ach oiread in "Oireachtas Report" agus is cuma an raibh daoine ag labhairt i nGaeilge nó i mBéarla. Tá fíorspeis, áfach, ag na meáin Ghaeilge, na meáin leictreonacha agus na meáin scríofa ann. Tá siadsan ag cur dua orthu féin tuairiscí a réiteach bunaithe ar a bhfuil ráite anseo. Is éascaíocht don duine nach dtuigeann an Ghaeilge agam agus an dheis chomhuaineach ann le haistriúchán a fháil ar an bpointe ar an mBille is tábhachtaí a bhaineann leis an Ghaeilge. Is beart ciallmhar é a rá go mbeadh ar laghad taifead ag Raidió na Gaeltachta agus TG4 go bhféadfaidís a úsáid díreach mar atá sé mar tá speis acu san ábhar seo agus tá siad ag caint air le blianta nuair nach bhfuil speis ar bith ag na meáin Bhéarla. Sin an fáth go bhfuil me ag labhairt na Gaeilge le trí lá anuas.
Question put and agreed to.
Section 32 agreed to.
SECTION 33.
Mr. Ryan: I move amendment No. 63:
In page 36, lines 1 to 4, to delete subsection (1).
I will have to speak in English, because I can neither understand nor pronounce some of the words in the Irish language version of section 33(1). To a degree it illustrates a point I was making yesterday about how, when we get involved in too much technicality, many of us tend to lose – or at least I do – our reasonable fluency in the language. I find it extraordinary that having gone through all of this we then say that if a public body produces a report under section 19(1) or produces a policy under that section, "I gcás ina ndaingneoidh an t-Aire scéim faoin Acht seo, rachaidh an comhlacht poiblí ar aghaidh leis an scéim a chur i gcrích". Tá sé sin soiléir. A company or a body is supposed to do it once the scheme is put in place, but nobody can make it do it. Is féidir leis an gcoimisinéir brú a chur orthu agus is féidir leis tuarascáil a chur ós comhair na Dála agus ós comhair an tSeanaid. Ach má theastaíonn ón gcomhlacht gan rud a dhéanamh níl aon slí ag éinne, ach amháin ag an gcoimisinéir, chun brú a chur air. Ní thuigim cén fáth go bhfuil an fo-alt san ann agus sin an fáth go bhfuil an leasú seo á mholadh.
Éamon Ó Cuív: Tá an coimisinéir in ann a chinntiú go gcuirfear i bhfeidhm é ar an gcaoi céanna go bhfuil an tOmbudsman in ann a chur ina luí ar eagraíochtaí Stáit gníomhú dá réir. I gcás go dtarlaíonn sé ariamh go ndiúltaíonn an Stát-chóras do orduithe a thagann óna leithéid den gcoimisinéir teanga nó den Ombudsman atá bunaithe ag Oireachtas Éireann, ní dlí ach ain-dlí a bhéas sa tír.
Mr. Ryan: Tá sé déanta ag an Rialtas seo. Dhiúltaigh sé moladh ón Ombudsman faoi cháin ioncaim a chur i bhfeidhm sé mhí ó shin.
Éamon Ó Cuív: Tá sé á chur i bhfeidhm.
Mr. Ryan: Níor cuireadh i bhfeidhm é.
Éamon Ó Cuív: Tá sé á chur i bhfeidhm. Tá sé san mBille Airgeadais. B'fhéidir nár thug an Seanadóir faoi deara é, ach tá.
Beidh deis ag Tithe an Oireachtais sa gcás go ndiúltaítear glan. Glacaim leis go seasfaidh Tithe an Oireachtais leis an rud a déarfadh an coimisinéir. Más fochomhlacht Stáit é glacaim leis go mbeidh ar an Aire ordú a thabhairt don fochomhlacht Stáit cloí le leagan amach an choimisinéara teanga. Sa chás go bhfuil mé mícheart agus go dteipeann go hiomlán ar chóras an choimisinéara is é a bheas le déanamh ná córas an choimisinéara a scrios agus córas dlí a chur ina áit.
Is gnáth shaoránach mé féin. Uair amháin bhí orm dul chun cúirte ar mo shon féin i dtaobh rud sibhialta a bhain leis an nGaeilge, b'shin liostáil ar pháipéar ballóide – agus is aisteach nach féidir leis na meáin, go minic, an taobh ceart den scéal sin a fháil. D'iarr mé rialú ar chúirt agus chuaigh mé ann gan abhchóide mar ní raibh mí in achmhainn abhchóide a íoc. Rinne mé an cás seo a leanas: nuair atá tú ag liostáil ainmneacha i nGaeilge agus ag déanamh innéacs de ainmneacha Gaeilge tá sé seafóideach an réamh-mhír Ní, nó Ó nó Uí a chomháireamh san innéacs. Má dhéanann tú é sin faigheann tú Uí Chuív, Ní Chuív agus Ó Cuív in áiteacha éagsúla san innéacs tar éis gur gach uile sheans gur den teaghlach céanna iad. Fuair mé rialú ón gcúirt go raibh an ceart agam ach feicim daoine fós – tráchtairí móra le rá agus cuid acu ina n-abhchóidithe – ag déanamh seafóide de seo agus ag rá gur rud neamhghaelach é tosú ar liosta ainmneacha le: Cuív, Éamon Ó; Cuív, Áine Uí; agus mar sin de. Ba cheart dóibh breathnú ar bhreithiúnas na cúirte. Tá a fhios ag éinne a bhfuil taithí aige ar an nGaeltacht nach ndeirtear tí Ó Catháin nó tí Ó Cúalán ach tí Chatháin agus tí Chúaláin. Déantar tagairt do Mhairtín Ó Cadhain go minic mar an Cadhnach agus ní mar an Ó Cadhnach. Sin an t-aon uair amháin a raibh ormsa dul chun cúirte faoi rud agus ní dhéanfainn é dá gcaithfinn dul i dtuilleamaí abhchóidithe agus mar sin de mar ní bheadh a luach agam, bheadh an iomarca anró ag baint leis agus an iomarca éiginnteacht ag baint leis faoin toradh.
Sin an fáth go ndeachaigh mé bóthar an choimisinéara. Tá sé leagtha sa bplean go soiléir go gcaithfear freagra a fháil ar ais in nGaeilge má scrítear i nGaeilge. Má déantar faillí ar nós freagra i mBéarla a thabhairt ar litir i nGaeilge nach mbeadh sé éasca sin a fhágáil ag an gcoimisinéir agus a bheith cinnte go gcuirfidh an coimisinéir i gceart é gan aon chostas nó dua. Tá an focal dua thar a bheith tábhachtach ag an saoránach.
Cuirim mo mhuinín sa choimisinéir mar creidim go bhfuil bunús leis faoin reachtaíocht atá molta. Bheadh sé seafóideach, mar sin, nach dtrustaimid an córas seo agus go bhfuilimid ag tarraingt córas cúirte isteach freisin. Sin an fáth go bhfuil mé ag seasamh leis an leagan amach atá anseo. B'fhearr liom an rud seo a choinneáil amach as na cúirteanna agus gléas éifeachtach a chur ar fáil don ghnáth-phobal gan dua agus gan costas. Is é mo thaithí ar ghnath-phobal, ar ghnáth-Ghaeilgeorí agus ar ghnáth-phobal na Gaeltachta go ndéanfaidh siad rud má tá sé éasca, áisiúil agus simplí. Má tá dua agus anró ag baint leis déarfaidh siad, "Maise, tá Béarla agam" agus gabhfaidh siad bealach an Bhéarla. Déanaimid uilig é, mé féin san áireamh. Ní smaoiním ar phlé le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta nó le mo Roinn féin i mBéarla. Ach déanaim gnó i mBéarla le cuid mhaith de na Ranna Stáit mar ní fiú an t-anró an trioblóid. Cuirfidh an coimisinéir é sin i gceart dom agus ní bheidh orm é sin a dhéanamh níosa mó.
Ní cheist do na cúirteanna í seo. Is ceist don gcomisinéir í. Déanfar an t-uafás machnaimh ar an té a chuirfear i gceannas ar an oifig. Caithfidh duine éifeachtach a bheith ann a churfidh an córas seo i bhfeidhm go diongbháilte agus go seasmhach.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Is amendment No. 63 being pressed?
Mr. Ryan: Dá mba rud é gur ardaíos leasú faoi éifeachtacht nó faoi cé acu is fearr do dhuine, an coimisinéir nó an chúirt, d'aontóinn leis an Aire. Aontaím leis ina iomlán go bhfuil sé níos fearr agus níos simplí go bhfuil coimisinéir ann. Sin an fáth go bhfuil Ombudsman againn chomh maith. Tá sé i bhfad níos éasca ag an ghnáth duine a bheith ábalta dul go dtí an Ombudsman chun deacrachtaí a bhaineann lena chearta dlí a shocrú.
Tá sé mar an gcéanna lena lán rudaí, ach hí hionann é sin agus a rá nach bhfuil sé de cheart ag daoine dul os comhair na cúirte chun rud éigin a fháil. Is é an bunús leis na cearta atá agam mar shaoránach i gcónaí ná go bhfuil na cúirteanna ann chun iad a chosaint má dhéanann éinne iarracht iad a thógáil uaim. Ní hionann é sin agus a rá go mbímse os comhair na cúirte i gcónaí. Ní rabhas os comhair cúirte – parking and speeding fines excepted – ariamh. Ní rabhas os comhair cúirte ariamh ag lorg mo chearta daonna a chosaint. Ní raibh gá dom, mar glactar leis go bhfuil sé de chead agamsa dul os comhair na cúirte, agus, toisc go bhfuil sé de chead agamsa, cosantar mo chuid cearta. Is é sin an t-aon rud atá ann anseo.
Níl mé ag iarraidh a rá nach bhfuil an tslí atá leagtha amach ag an Aire níos éifeachtaí. Níl mé a rá nach n-aontaím leis, ach deirim i gcónaí – mar a tharla leis an Ombudsman le déanaí – gur féidir le Rialtas diúltú agus gan moltóireacht ón Ombudsman a chomhlíonadh. Sin an rud a dhéanann an Rialtas. Glacann sé le cuid dá thuarascáil, ach ní ghlacann sé leis an tuarascáil ina iomlán. Is féidir leis na daoine i gceist dul os comhair na cúirte faoi, dá mba rud é gur theastaigh sé uathu é a dhéanamh.
Sa Bhille seo, áfach, diúltaítear an cead sin do dhaoine. Beidh plean ann, agus má tá comhlacht Stáit ann nach bhfuil ag comhlíonadh an phlean, is é an t-aon fhreagra a bheidh ar fáil do dhaoine ná go gcuirfear tuarascáil os ár gcomhar anseo. Tá díomá orm, mar tá an Bille go léir lagaithe ag an fho-alt seo, agus ba chóir go dtógfaí amach as é. Tá súil agam go dtógfar amach as an mBille é sula rachaidh sé trí Thithe an Oireachtais.
Ní úsáidfear an ceart go minic. Mar gheall ar an gcoimisinéir, is beag duine a bheidh ag dul os comhair na cúirte, ach tógann sé an bunús agus an bunstruchtúr. Déanann sé damáiste don mbunstruchtúr atá sa Bhille seo muna bhfuil ceart dlí ag daoine na polasaithe seo – I will say it in English, for it is a little complicated.
This section essentially provides that one does not have the right to go to court to require a public body to act as it is supposed to do. It is as simple as that, and that idea is quite extraordinary. Arguments about effectiveness or efficiency are simply diversions, for the fundamental fact is that a citizen of this State will not be able to require a public body to do something which it is, we are told, legally obliged to do.
I have interesting questions about whether this subsection is constitutional. They give people duties in law and then say that, even if they do not do as they are supposed to do, one cannot do anything about it other than write a report to the Oireachtas. It is an affront to the Bill's intent and has nothing to do with efficiency. It has to do with ensuring that people will have those rights only to the degree to which the Commissioner is satisfied to vindicate them. Where public bodies wish to be awkward, there is no process by which the citizen can have his or her rights appropriately vindicated through the courts. The subsection is very wrong.
Mr. McHugh: I know that the amendment is not my own, but if Senator Ryan is willing, I would like to add something. We are not on new ground here, for there was a similar experience in this respect on the Education for Persons with Disabilities Bill 2002. The citizen's right is being interfered with here. Denying a right to the courts is a fundamental error, and I agree wholeheartedly with Senator Ryan.
Éamon Ó Cuív: An t-aon rud nach féidir dul chun cúirte faoi ná alt 19(1) maidir le feidhmiú na bpleananna. Is féidir le duine dul chun cúirte faoi gach ceart eile. Ta sé lárnach do ról an choimisinéara an chuid sin a chur i bhfeidhm ar son an phobail ar fad. Tá aimhreas ormsa faoin díograis a bhíonn ar chomhairleoirí dlí an t-am ar fad an bealach a oscailt chun na cúirte. Cuirim an cheist orm féin i gcónaí cén fáth a bhfuil an oiread sin díograise ar lucht dlí an iliomad rudaí a bhfuil baint ag abhcóidí agus aturnaethe leo a thabhairt chun cúirte. Ar ndóigh, chuirfeadh lucht dlí comhairle i gcónaí ar dhaoine go mbeadh siad ag fáil airgid ar an iliomad bealaí ionas go gcaithfear airgead an Stáit in ionad a bheith ag déanamh an ruda agus ag cur an ruda ceart. Seachas é sin a dhéanamh, bíonn siad istigh i gcúirteanna agus i bhfiosrúcháin nó áit ar bith.
Níl lucht dlí neamhspleách nuair a chuireann siad an chomhairle sin ar dhaoine, mar, ar ndóigh, cé atá ag déanamh buntáiste as an gcóras sin ach lucht dlí? Is minic a thagann daoine chugamsa sa dáilcheantar, agus iad ag bagairt dlí ar chomharsan as rud éigin, agus deirimse leo go minic gur cheart dóibh breathnú thart orthu féin agus ceist a chur cé hé an t-aon dream amháin a bhíonn ag déanamh gnó i gcúirt i gcónaí – na habhcóidí, na haturnaethe, agus an lucht dlí. Leis na táillí atá ann i láthair na huaire, ní bheag an gnó é.
Tá an Bille seo ann chun leasa na Gaeilge, ní chun leasa éinne eile. Creidim fós, má bhíonn muinín ann as an gcoincheap maidir leis na pleananna, an Stát, agus an chaoi go gcaithfidh an Stát bheith freagrach do leithéidí an chomisinéara, go mbeidh an coimisinéir in ann cinntiú go gcloífear leis na pleananna. Tá an Bille fréamhaithe ansin. Tá sé le haghaidh gnáthsheirbhíse laethúla, agus tá sé fréamhaithe sa gcoincheap nach mbeidh ar an saoránach dul chun na cúirte le bunseirbhísí a fháil mar a bhí cheana.
Gabh mo leithscéal má ta mé beagainín ciniciúil faoin mbrú síoraí atá á chur ag lucht dlí gach rud a chur os comhair na gcúirteanna. Go deimhin féin, leis an oiread airgid atá muid ag caitheamh ar tháillí cúirte, dá mbeadh an t-airgread sin againn, féadfaimis an t-uafás a dhéanamh leis na rudaí atá mícheart sa tsochaí seo, mar tá rudaí mícheart.
Luadh daoine atá ar mhíchumas. Creidim gur iomaí rud a bhféadfaimis a dhéanamh do na daoine sin murach go bhfuil an oiread sin airgid á chaitheamh ar tháillí do lucht dlí, daoine a bhíonn ag éilimh €2,500 in aghaidh an lae mar tháille le seirbhís a dhéanamh. An lá go bhfeicfidh mise táillí réasúnacha ón lucht dlí – má chreideann siad chomh mór sin sa gceart agus seachas sna táillí atá á n-éileamh acu – sin an uair a thabharfaidh mé aird orthu nuair atá siad ag iarraidh chuile rud a bhrú isteach sna cúirteanna.
Mr. Ryan: I have rarely in my life heard such a collection of populist nonsense.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: The Senator will agree that we have given the amendment a fairly good hearing.
Mr. Ryan: I do not believe that we have. We have smokescreens, diversions and populist nonsense from the Minister and I cannot express adequately in Irish my indignation.
The one time I almost ended up in court was as a prelude to what became the McKenna judgment. Two of the best barristers in the country were prepared to take the case on my behalf all the way to the Supreme Court for nothing. This populist nonsense that it relates to barristers making money is no more than that. It is a smokescreen and a diversion from the fact that the Minister will not give the citizens of the State the right to have enforced through the courts what these public bodies are supposed to do. If it is to be done through the courts, it will be done by barristers and solicitors who will probably do it for nothing. They may be paid if the body loses.
My former colleague, Mary Robinson, who subsequently became President, took on hosts of cases involving poor people before the courts where she never had a guarantee of payment. When she won on many occasions, she quite correctly sought her full fees when costs were awarded to the plaintiff, but she never had any guarantee of payment in most cases.
It is a diversionary smokescreen to refer to lawyers' fees. The issue is that the Minister will not give to pobal na Gaeilge the right to go to court to vindicate their rights. He wants to patronise them and do it for them. That is wrong. That is not a bill of rights for a minority in this country. It is a bill for patronage and patting on the head.
Éamon Ó Cuív: Níl an Bille seo ann don mhionlach agus mhínigh mé é sin cheana. Tá sé ann don phobal ar fad agus do chuile dhuine sa phobal. Tá a fhios ag an Seanadóir Ó Riain gur oileadh gach éinne atá ag cleachtadh sna cúirteanna anois – iad siúd atá ar na mbinsí agus iad siúd atá ins na cúirteanna – sa chóras dlí..
Mr. Ryan: Diversion.
Éamon Ó Cuív: Má thógtar cás mar atá luaite ag an Seanadóir Ó Riain, tá seans maith – seans chomh maith agus a bheadh ag capall i rás nach raibh ann ach dhá chapall – go ndeirtear, fiú má chailltear an cheist, gur tógadh an cheist mar ní a raibh speis ag an bpobal innti agus go n-íocfar na táillí. Tuigeann na habhchóidithe é sin. Is fíor annamh i gcás mar sin nach n-íoctar na h-abhchóidithe ar an dá thaobh agus is fíor-annamh nach muide, na cáin íocóirí, a bhíonn á n-íoc. Tosóidh mise ag éisteacht níos géire le lucht dlí nuair a thosós na táillí ag titim.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Government amendment No. 64:
In page 36, subsection (2), line 5, after "proceedings" to insert "(other than proceedings for judicial review)".
Éamon Ó Cuív: Leasú teicniúil é seo le soiléiriú breise a dhéanamh ar bhrí an fhoráil áirithe seo.
Amendment agreed to.
Question, "That section 33, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put and declared carried.
FIRST SCHEDULE.
Government amendment No. 65:
In page 38, paragraph 1, line 3, before "Each" to delete "(1)".
Éamon Ó Cuív: Leasú teicniúil é seo. Dá bharr seo, tá chuile sheans go mbeidh leasaithe eile teicniúla ag teacht ar aghaidh ar Chéim na Tuarascála.
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 66:
In page 38, to delete lines 5 to 19 and substitute the following:
"(1) Department of Agriculture and Food
Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism
Department of Communications, Marine and
Natural Resources
Department of Community, Rural and
Gaeltacht Affairs
Department of Defence
Department of Education and Science
Department of Enterprise, Trade and
Employment
Department of Finance
Department of Foreign Affairs
Department of Health and Children
Department of Justice, Equality and
Law Reform
Department of Public Enterprise
Department of Social and Family Affairs
Department of the Environment and
Local Government
Department of the Taoiseach
Department of Transport".
Amendment agreed to.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Amendments Nos. 67 to 72, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together by agreement.
Mr. McHugh: I move amendment No. 67:
In page 40, between lines 57 and 58, to insert "Insurance Companies".
I have tabled these amendments in the spirit of the Bill. Will the Minister examine seriously the issue addressed by them? If the spirit of the Bill is to encompass a large section of organisations, then it is important to recognise in the First Schedule bodies which are not part of the public sector, which are separate from the Departments mentioned and which would be perceived as part of public life, such as insurance companies, the National Car Testing Service, the Referendum Commission, the Law Society of Ireland, the Honourable Society of King's Inns and the Bar Council of Ireland. The amendments request the Minister to ensure that the Bill includes these bodies in the spirit of the legislation.
Mr. Ryan: B'fhéidir nach n-aontaím go hiomlán leis na leasaithe, ach tá ceist agam ar an Aire. Teastaíonn ó Chumann Onórach Óstaí an Rí agus Dlí-Chumann na hÉireann go mbeadh cumas na Gaeilge ag aon duine a fhaigheann cáilíocht uathu. Más mar sin atá sé, cén fáth nach mbéadh seo de dhualgas orthu? Faigheann an dá eagraíocht a dtábhacht agus a gcumhacht ón Stát toisc go dtugann sé an ceart dóibh déileáil le cáilíochtaí dlíodóirí idir barristers agus solicitors. Ní chím cén fáth nach mbéadh an dualgas ar an dá eagraíocht úd.
Chuireann sé ionadh orm nach bhfuil an Coimisiún Reifrinn mar cheann de na heagraíochtaí go bhfuil téarmaí an Bhille de dhualgas orthu. Beidh an coimisiún ag obair agus ag feidhmiú sna Gaeltachtaí agus ar fud na tíre, agus tá súil agam go leanfar ar aghaidh leis. Ba chóir go mbéadh an dualgas céanna ar an gcoimisiún agus atá ar eagraíochtaí eile a bhaineann le toghcháin.
Éamon Ó Cuív: Tá mé ag glacadh leis an leasú a bhaineann leis an gCoimisiún Reifrinn, sé sin leasú Uimh. 72. Maidir leis na leasaithe eile, glacaim leo i spiorad ach ní gá dom glacadh leo i scríbhinn agus míneoidh mé cén fáth. I gcás na leasaithe Uimh. 67 go 71, ceapaim go bhfuil seans ann go bhfuil míthuiscint ar an Seanadóir maidir le forálacha an chéad agus an dara alt den Chéad Sceideal a leagann na comhlachtaí poiblí a bheidh aitheanta mar chomhlachtaí poiblí chun críche an Achta. Ní thagann na comhlachtaí atá luaite sna leasaithe faoin bhforáil seo agus seo é an rud tábhachtach. Ina ionad sin, clúdaítear iad faoi alt 1(5) den Chéad Sceideal a bhfuil roinnt leasaithe á mholadh agam ina dtaobh. Ar an ábhar sin, seans go dteastódh an Seanadóir na leasaithe sin a tharraingt siar. Tá siad clúdaithe i alt 1(5) den Chéad Sceideal. Táim ag glacadh le spioraid iomlán an ruda atá an Seanadóir á rá, ach tá na heagraíochtaí ann cheana i bhfoirm eile. Táim ag glacadh le leasú Uimh. 72.
Labhrás Ó Murchú: Tuigim an rud atá i gceist ag an Aire nach comhlachtaí poiblí atá anseo. Ag an am gcéanna, chun aon dul chun cinn fiúntach a dhéanamh maidir le cur chun cinn na Gaeilge i measc an phobail, beidh sé thar a bheith tábhachtach go mbéadh na comhlachtaí sin ar fad sa chóras. Fé mar a dúirt an t-Aire, tá slite eile chun é a dhéanamh. Cuireann sé díomá orainn uilig go mbíonn ar na heagrais deonacha i gcónaí bheith ag seasamh an fhóid agus ag troid, ag lorg gnáth cúirtéise fiú, ó chomhlachtaí áirithe. Ní chóir go mbéadh sé sin amhlaidh. Ba chóir go n-aithneofar freisin gurb iad na heagrais Gaeilge céanna a bhí in ann a chinntiú go bhfuil an dea-thoil a bhfuil ann anois ann. Is iad siúd a lean ar aghaidh nuair a bhí na meáin cumarsáide agus dreamanna eile thar a bheith naimhdeach ó thaobh na Gaeilge.
Bhí na meáin agus dreamanna eile thar a bheith naimhdeach ó thaobh na Gaeilge de. Tá sinn sean go leor le smaoineamh siar ar cé chomh naimhdeach agus a bhí na díospóireachtaí ag an am sin. Ní cheist ionannais a bhí ann.
Bhí siad thar a bheith nimhneach ó thaobh stádas na Gaeilge. Féach cad é tá tar éis tarlú, áfach. Is féidir le héinne teacht suas agus a rá cad in a thaobh go bhfuil sin amhlaidh.
Cabhróidh an Eorap linn fiú. Tabhair faoi deara nach sinne an t-aon tír amháin atá ag iarraidh teanga a chaomhnú agus a chur chun cinn agus stádas ceart a thabhairt don teanga sin. Ní ghá ach féachaint ar an Fhrainc agus ar an Ghearmáin. Ní amháin go bhfuil siad ag iarraidh teanga a chaomhnú, tá siad thar a bheith daingean in a dtuairimí nach bhfuil aon teanga eile chun tús áite a bheith aici ar a dteangacha siúd.
Caithfimid aithint a thabhairt do no heagrais agus na scoileanna. Tá an-mheas againn ar obair na mBráithre Críostaí ar feadh na blianta ó thaobh chur chun cinn na Gaeilge agus bíonn dearmad déanta air sin go minic. Tá an sárobair déanta ag na daoine a bhí báúil leis an dteanga agus a bhí ag saothrú na Gaeilge. Thug siad an bunchloch dúinn agus ní chóir go mbeadh leisce ar an chomhlacht atá ag saothrú sa tír seo agus atá ag brath ar saoránaigh na tíre a bheith mar chuid den pháirtnéireacht seo.
Mr. McHugh: I welcome the Minister's acceptance of amendment No. 72. Perhaps we will come back to amendments Nos. 67 to 71 on Report Stage.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments Nos. 68 to 71, inclusive, not moved.
Mr. McHugh: I move amendment No. 72:
In page 44, between lines 60 and 61, to insert "The Referendum Commission".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 73:
In page 46, between lines 21 and 22, to insert the following subparagraph:
"(c) a body, organisation or group performing functions which previously stood vested in a body, organisation or group under public ownership or control,”
Éamon Ó Cuív: Foráiltear faoin leasú seo gur féidir scóip an Bhille a leathnú amach chuig comhlacht, eagraíocht nó grúpa a chomhlíonann na feidhmeannaigh a bhí dílse le dlí roimh seo do chomhlacht, eagraíocht nó grúpa faosi úinéireacht poiblí nó rialú poiblí. Beidh feidhm ag forálacha mar seo i gcásanna nuair a ghlactar páirt amach i socrú den chineál PPP le comhlacht poiblí chun roinnt feidhmeannaigh poiblí a scaoladh faoi chonradh, bóithre mar shampla.
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 74:
In page 46, paragraph 5(c), line 24, after “enactment” to insert “or by any licence or authority given under any enactment”.
Éamon Ó Cuív: Is leasú teicniúil é seo le soiléiriú a dhéanamh dá bhrí an fhoráil áirithe seo sa Bhille maidir le scóip an Bhille a leathnú amach chuig earnálacha den ngheilleagar seachas an earnáil phoiblí. Foráiltear faoin leasú seo go dtagann cuideachtaí a fheidhmíonn faoi cheadúnas ó Stát cosúil le banc tracthtála, gníomhaireacthaí eile a thugann iasachtaí, cuideachtaí arachais agus cuideachtaí teileachumarsáide faoin bhforáil seo. Clúdaíonn sin go leor de na ceisteanna a a cuireadh faoina míreanna eile.
Amendment agreed to.
First Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
SECOND SCHEDULE.
Government amendment No. 75:
In page 48, paragraph 2(b), line 10, to delete “removal,” and substitute “removal, and”.
Éamon Ó Cuív: Is leasú teicniúil é seo.
Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Second Schedule, as amended, be the Second Schedule to the Bill."
Mr. Ryan: Faoi fo-alt (3) den Dara Sceideal, más rud é i gcás duine a shealbhaíonn oifig an choimisinéara, go n-ainmeofar é nó í mar chomhalta den Seanad, an bhfuil sé fíor go mbeadh an coimisinéir ábalta páirt a ghlacadh i dtoghchán agus fanacht mar choimisinéir go dtí go gcuirfí na torthaí ar fáil? Más rud é gur féidir, ba cheart an Bille a athrú. Ní chóir go mbeadh duine mar seo ag glacadh páirte i bpolaitíocht. Leagtar síos go bhfuil sé le bheith neamhspleách agus ní chífar é a bheith mar sin má tá sé de chead aige páirt a ghlacadh i dtoghchán.
Éamon Ó Cuív: Is pointe cíallmhar sin. Seiceáilfidh mé. Glacaim gur foráil chaighdeánach é seo a tógadh as Acht an Ombudsman. Déanfaidh mé scrúdú air agus tiocfaidh mé ar ais ar Chéim na Tuarascála.
Question put and agreed to.
TITLE.
Government amendment No. 76:
In page 8, to delete lines 4 to 19 and substitute the following:
"AN ACT TO PROMOTE THE USE OF THE IRISH LANGUAGE FOR OFFICIAL PURPOSES IN THE STATE; TO PROVIDE FOR THE USE OF BOTH OFFICIAL LANGUAGES OF THE STATE IN PARLIAMENTARY PROCEEDINGS, IN ACTS OF THE OIREACHTAS, IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE, IN COMMUNICATING WITH OR PROVIDING SERVICES TO THE PUBLIC AND IN CARRYING OUT THE WORK OF PUBLIC BODIES; TO SET OUT THE DUTIES OF SUCH BODIES WITH RESPECT TO THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGES OF THE STATE; AND FOR THOSE".
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 77 not moved.
Title, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Report Stage ordered for Tuesday, 15 April 2003.
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