Thursday, 30 May 2013

Questions (25)

Brian Stanley

Question:

25. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his views on the latest annual report of the Coimisinéir Teanga his assertion that there is no secure stable basis to the system for confirming language schemes, on the widespread failure of public bodies who fall under the Official Languages Act to bring in and implement new language schemes; and his plans to ensure that more language schemes are agreed and implemented. [26245/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

Under the Official Languages Act 2003, the purpose of the language schemes is to increase over a period of time the quality and quantity of services available in Irish from public bodies. As Minister of State, my role is to agree language schemes with public bodies and the role of An Coimisinéir Teanga is to monitor the implementation of those schemes by the public bodies concerned. Language schemes remain in force for a period of 3 years or until a new scheme has been agreed. A total of 108 schemes have been agreed and are being implemented by public bodies. Those schemes cover a total of 194 public bodies. In addition, there are 122 draft schemes being prepared by public bodies that are currently the subject of active discussion with my Department. I am hopeful of a positive outcome with regard to those discussions and that, as a result, further schemes will be agreed during 2013.

Although there are approximately 600 public bodies covered under the First Schedule of the Official Languages Act, I am satisfied that the 108 schemes being implemented cover the majority of public bodies who have regular contact with the general public. I recognise that the preparation and implementation of schemes can be a challenging and complex process for public bodies, particularly in the current economic climate with the pressure on resources. The system of language schemes is being examined as part of the review of the Official Languages Act being undertaken by my Department.

Regarding the 2012 annual report of An Coimisinéir Teanga, I should point out that An Coimisinéir Teanga is independent in the fulfilment of his statutory functions. The Deputy will understand, therefore, that it would not be appropriate for me to express any view in relation to the work of An Coimisinéir Teanga. Further information on agreed schemes and draft schemes is available at www.coimisineir.ie.