Official Languages Bill 2002 [ Seanad ] : Second Stage (Resumed).

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

I referred yesterday to how long this Bill is in the pipeline and I am disappointed it does not reflect the multicultural aspect of modern Ireland. Irish and English are the official languages of the State and it is the Government's responsibility to help ensure everyone who achieves residency in the country has both an oral and written command of one or both languages as part of an asylum application. They should also have an oral and written knowledge of our laws and customs. That would be one of the main aspects of an official languages Bill to me and it would be a significant help to everyone. It would help immigrants to settle and blend in and make it easier for many people to accept them.

Our language and customs took thousands of years to develop and it is only right that our laws should reflect that. Without drilling them down other people's throats or making them feel inferior about their cultures, it is the job of the House to ensure the laws of the land reflect our core beliefs and values and to protect our language and customs, which have been handed down to us by past generations.

Again during this session of the Dáil, I cannot help but refer to cutbacks. I am in favour of the Bill but I find it hard to accept legislation that will have no real funds to enforce it. It seems to be a worrying trend in the House for a Minister to justify his or her existence by putting laws on the Statute Book but I fear those laws are without teeth. Has the Minister carried out any costings for this legislation? How much will implementing the legislation cost and will it offer value for money? The figures are not there to prove that. I wonder how much value we will get from this because on the past record of the Government we have not had value for money and that is worrying.

Bringing forward laws without teeth is a cynical, dangerous exercise because it brings the law into disrepute. It gives the message that the law is only to be obeyed if it is deemed important on the day. Sadly, this sentiment seems to run right through the Administration, from failing to properly implement the life-saving penalty points system, which clearly needs more gardaí to make it work, right across the board to motoring offences and tax evasion. We know the Revenue Commissioners are undermanned while the health boards are overmanned in administration and undermanned in frontline staff. The Revenue makes money for the State and what happens? Health boards spend or waste it. That is our little country.

It does not make much sense but that sums up the Government: there is no sense involved, just self-preservation. The Government has developed a name for trying to make itself look good by attempting to solve all problems on paper without enforcing policy, thus undermining the power of the House. I would be the first to defend the purpose of government but that is hard to do. There is nothing in the Bill which suggests it will exist other than in name only. There seems to be no real funding from the Department of Finance to back it up and while I hope that is not the case, I fear it is. If I am right, this has been another waste of scarce and valuable Dáil time and taxpayers' money.

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh an mBille seo. Mar a dúirt an t-Aire inné, seo ceann des na rudaí is tábhachtaí a deineadh don nGaeilge le fada an lá. D'fhéadfaí a rá nach bfhuil sin deacair mar ní mórán atá déanta ar son na Gaeilge ó thaobh dlí de le fada. Ach, tosach maith leath na hoibre agus is tosach maith é seo.

Tá éigcinnteacht i roinnt áiteanna san mBille agus tá cupla ceist agam a d'fhéadfadh an t-Aire freagra a thabhairt orthu nuair a bheidh sé ag labhairt ag deireadh na díospóireachta.

Tá a fhios againn go raibh a lán conspóide ann na blianta ó shin ar fud na Gaeltachta mar gheall ar stádas na Gaeilge agus mar gheall ar stádas an dátheangachais. Briseadh comharthaí bóithre agus sráideanna agus caitheadh isteach in aibhneacha iad. Tá an t-am sin thart anois. Tá borradh agus forbairt tagtha ar an nGaeilge leis na blianta anois. Ba cheart creidiúint a thabhairt do eagrais cosúil le Conradh na Gaeilge as ucht an obair a rinne siad. Rinne Bord na Gaeilge sár oibre agus tá súil agam go ndéanfaidh Foras na Gaeilge an obair chéanna.

Tá a fhios againn an sár obair atá déanta ag scoileanna cosúil le Scoil Móibhí agus Scoil Chaitríona, i mo dháilcheantair féin, scoileanna atá ann leis na blianta fada. Ba mhaith liom tréaslú, chomh maith, le Scoil an tSeachtar Laoch i mBaile Munna. Is beag duine a cheap go bhféadfadh aon chóras oideachais borradh a thabhairt don Ghaeilge in áit cosúil le Baile Munna mar tá a fhios ag gach éinne gur áit í a bhfuil sé deacair aon obair a dhéanamh inti. Ach tá sár obair déanta ag Míne Bean Uí Chribín, Dónal Ó Loinsigh agus ag daoine mar iad. Cuireann sé gliondar orm dul isteach ins na scoileanna sin anois agus an Ghaeilge a cloisint iontu. Scoil eile is ea Gaelscoil Cholmcille. Tá brón orm, faraor, nach bhfuil foirgneamh ag an scoil sin. Tá sí lonnaithe faoi láthair i halla chlub sacair i mo dháilcheantair agus ba cheart cúnamh a thabhairt di chun suíomh a cheannach.

Tá sár obair déanta freisin ag na naíonraí agus b'fhearr cabhair a thabhairt dóibhmar níl cabhair fhairsing go leor á fáil acu. Is íontach an chabhair gur féidir a thabhairt do ghrúpa trí dheontas €1,000 a thabhairt chun ranganna a chur ar bun do pháistí óga. Sin bunchloch chóras maith Gaelscolaíochta in aon áit.

Tá sár obair déanta freisin ag Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann chun cultúr na Gaeilge agus cultúr na tíre a chur romhainn. Reachtálann Cumann Lúthchleas Gael comórtas SCÓR. B'fhéidir go bhfuil an comórtas sin imithe i léig le déanaí ach bhí mé ag éisteacht maidin inné le huachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael agus dúirt sé go bhfuil suas le 75% de chlubanna i gcontaetha áirithe páirteach ins an gcomórtas sin agus go bhfuil an figiúir chomh híseal le 10% i gcontaetha eile. B'fhéidir go bhféadfadh Roinn an Aire cabhair a thabhairt don chomórtas sin. Níl a fhios agam an bhfuil comórtas díospóireachta Ghael-Linn ar siúl fós ach bhíodh tionchar an-mhor aige ar chaighdeán na Gaeilge ins na meánscoileanna i mBaile Átha Cliath a bhfuil aithne agam orthu.

Tá cuid mhaith suime ag na meáin cumarsáide i gcúrsaí na Gaeilge. Cuireann The Irish Times béim ar chúrsaí na Gaeilge le laethúil, go minic, agus go seachtainiúil ar a laghad. Leathnaíonn an leath-leathanach seachtainiúil an díospóireacht ar chúrsaí Gaeilge. Mar an gcéanna, tá cabhair an-mhaith tugtha ag Raidió na Gaeltachta agus ag teilifís na Gaeilge do dheimhniú agus leathnú na Gaeilge ag na daoine sin, cosúil liom féin, nach bhfuil líofacht na Gaeilge chomh maith sin acu. Ach is é Radio na Life an ghrúpa meáin i mBaile Átha Cliath is mó tionchar ar chúrsaí Gaeilge. Tá grúpa éisteoirí ag an stáisiún sin a bhfuil suim acu sa Ghaeilge agus a bhfuil adhmanna na Gaeilge á gcur chun cinn acu.

Ar an dtaobh eile den scéal níl mórán tacaíochta á thabhairt ag RTE. Ní bheinn sásta leis an tacaíocht atá á thabhairt ag na stáisiúin sin do chúrsaí Gaeilge. Níor chualas focal Gaeilge ariamh ar TV3. An mbeidh aon chumhacht ag an mBille seo chun cur in iúl do ghrúpaí mar TV3, Today FM agus ar uile, go bhfuil dualgas orthu cláracha Gaeilge a chur ar fáil. Ba cheart go mbeadh béim ar an public service remit atá ag na stáisiúin sin, má tá a leithéid acu.

Is é atá ar intinn san mBille seo ná cumhacht a thabhairt don Aire chun dréacht scéim a ullmhú ag na comhlachtaí sin san earnáil phoiblí. Cuirim fáilte leis sin. Tá adhmanna an Bhille réadúil go leor. Ní dóigh liom féin go n-athróidh cúis na Gaeilge go mór nuair a reachtálfar an Bille seo but we will achieve much with little steps. Tá plean sa mBille chun straitéis a cur le chéile ar feadh tréimhse trí bliain i ngach comhlucht poiblí. Thógfadh sé an am sin ar ghrúpa plean a chur i gcrích.

Tá ceachtanna gur féidir a fhoghlaim faoi láthair. Dá gcuirfí comhfhreagras ag comhairlí cosúil le Bárdas Átha Cliath trí Ghaeilge d'fhaighfí freagra ar ais trí Ghaeilge. Ní thiocfadh an freagra ar ais go scioptha ach thiocfadh sé. Molaim bainisteoir na cathrach, John Fitzgerald, agus na hoifigigh Gaeilge atá ag an mbárdas as an obair atá déanta acu chun rudaí beaga a chur chun cinn. Tá treoir ins na hoifigí, cuirtear fáilte roimh comhfhreagras i nGaeilge agus tá comharthaí dátheangacha timpeall na háite. Ba cheart go mbeadh a leithéid á dhéanamh go forleathan ach níl a fhios agam an bhfuil sé.

Cuireann an córas ceard oideachais díomá orm uaireanta. Cuireann cuid des na coistí béim ar leathnú na Gaeilge, cosúil le Tiobrad Árainn ag Labhairt, ach tá coistí eile timpeall na tíre agus is beag cabhair a thugann siad don Ghaeilge. An bhfuil cumhacht ag an Aire cur ina luí orthu san go bhfuil dualgas orthu plean a chur le chéile agus a chur i gcrích.

Ní maith liom an coincheap sin go mbeidh cigire ag cur scrúdú ar gach chomhlucht poibli agus ag gearradh píonóis orthu. B'fhéidir go bhfuil sin riachtanach ach bheadh sé i bhfad níos fearr dá mbeadh nascadh ann den carrot and stick approach. Níor mhaith an rud é a dhul ar ais go dtí an cultúr a bhí ann nuair a thosaigh mé ag teagasc, leis an chigire ag teacht isteach agus ag déanamh comháirimh ar an méid ama a chaith duine ag múineadh na Gaeilge agus ábhar eile. Ní theastaíonn go dtiocfadh an cultúr sin ar ais. Tá súil nach agam bhfuil sin ar intinn an Aire nó an Rialtais a dhéanamh.

Níl mórán daoine sásta le caighdeán múinteoireachta na Gaeilge sna bunscoileanna anois. Conas is féidir teanga a mhúineadh ó cheithre bhliain d'aois go dtí 12 bhliain d'aois agus ansin tagann daltaí amach ag deireadh an thréimhse sin agus is beag eolas atá acu ar an teanga labhartha? Tá fadhb againn agus caithfimid díriú uirthi. Níl mé cinnte go bhfuil módhanna múinteoireachta don Ghaeilge chomh nua-aimseartha le múineadh na Fraincíse ná na Spáinníse agus a leithéid. Ba cheart go mbeadh múineadh na Gaeilge ar an leibhéal céanna le múineadh aon teanga eile mar is í an daratheanga í do fhormhór na ndaoine.

Ní féidir bheith ró-chriticiúil ar na múinteoirí ach tá ceist le cur agus gá le freagra a fháil cén fáth go bhfuil caighdeán na Gaeilge chomh híseal sin ag formhór na ndaoine. Tá baint ag an chuid is mó againn anseo leis an mhúinteoireacht agus rinne muid iarracht Gaeilge a mhúineadh. An bhféadfaimís lámh a chur ar ár gcroí agus a rá go raibh muid sásta leis an chaighdeán a bhí ag na daltaí ag deireadh na mblianta sin? Ní raibh mé sásta riamh leis.

Conas is féidir le caighdeán an-ard a bheith ag Gaelscoil Bhaile Munna nó Scoil Lorcáin agus ni féidir an caighdeán céanna a aimsiú i scoileanna eile? Is féidir a rá go bhfoghlaimíonn siad achan ábhar trí Ghaeilge. B'fhéidir gur fearr, má theastaíonn uainn borradh a thabhairt don Ghaeilge, béim a thabhairt ar scolaíocht lán-Ghaeilge.

Bhí scéim fiontair as Gaeilge i DCU agus níor cheap aon duine go mbeadh cohort scolairí le fáil le staidéar ollscoile a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge. Tharla sé, áfach, mar thóg uachtarán na hollscoile ag an am, Danny O'Hare, suim sa chúrsa agus bhí foireann bhreá aige a dhírigh isteach ar chúrsa a chur ar fáil i gcomhoibriú leis an Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta agus an Higher Education Authority . An bhfuil aon seans ann go bhféadfadh cúrsaí cosúil leis sin a chur a fáil sna hinstitiúidí teicneolaíochta nó sna hollscoileanna eile? Chabhródh sin le cás na Gaeilge.

Tá mé sásta go dteastaíonn ón Aire Bille a chur romhainn a bheidh iontach tábhachtach don Gaeilge. Nuair a bheidh sé ag labhairt ag deireadh na Céime, b'fhéidir go bhfreagróidh sé na ceisteanna a chuir Conradh na Gaeilge. Deir lucht an chonartha faoin Bhille gur cheart dúinn a chinntiú go mbeidh seirbhísí Gaeilge ó chomhlachtaí poiblí gan cheist sa Ghaeltacht, go mbeidh an Gaeltacht mar aon riaracháin a riarfaí trí Ghaeilge agus go bhfaighfear freagra i nGaeilge ar chomhfhreagras Ghaeilge chuig comhlacht poiblí. Is amhlaidh atá cúrsaí le comhfhreagas Gaeilge chuig an Aontas Eorpach. Ba mhaith leis an chonradh go mbeadh comhsheasamh ag an Ghaeilge leis an Bhéarla ar fhoirmeacha, ar fhógraí agus i seirbhísí idirghníomhacha na comhlachtaí poiblí faoi mar atá cúrsaí i dtíortha dátheangacha eile.

Más féidir freagra a thabhairt do na ceisteanna sin agus na cinn eile a cuireadh, beidh mé an-sásta. Molaim an Bille seo agus tréaslaím leis an Aire.

Cuirim fáilte roimh roinnt rudaí áirithe i mBille na dTeangacha Oifígiúla. Níl mé ag cur in iúl nach bhfuil laige ag baint leis an Bhille seo. Cén Bille a tháinig riamh os comhair an Tí seo nach raibh laige ag baint leis? Níl mé ag rá nach bhfuil Bille i bhfad níos láidre ag teastáil ag an bpointe seo agus i bhfad níos mó infheistiú airgid in éineacht leis. Níl aon dabht ach go bhfuil.

Is é seo, áfach, an chéad Bhille dá leithéid a theacht os ár gcomhair, Bille ara bhfuil gach duine a thugann tacaíocht don teanga náisiúnta ag feitheamh le fada an lá. Cuirim fáilte roimhe toisc go dtugann sé an seans aitheantas agus stádas oifigiúil nach raibh ann ar chor ar bith don Ghaeilge go dtí seo a chur ar fáil.

In alt 20(4), tá an chuid is tábhachtaí den Bhille sa mhéid is go mbunófaí oifig chomisinéir na dteangacha oifigiúla, coimisinéar a bheidh neamhspleách i gcomhlíonadh a aidhmeanna agus is í Uachtarán na hÉireann a cheapfaidh an duine mar choimisinéar. Ba chóir go mbeadh an post nua seo rí-thábhachtach ó thaobh stádas na teanga náisiúnta a cosaint agus a feabhsú ins na blianta os ár gcomhair amach.

Tá dóchas agam go mbeidh sé mar aidhm ag an gcoimisinéir caighdeán a bhaint amach in Éirinn a bheadh ar chomh-chéim le córas Cheanada. Níl aon dabht ná go bhfuil obair mhór le déanamh chun a leithéid a bhaint amach ach níl fáth ar bith nár chóir don Rialtas agus don choimisinéir an cuspóir sin a chur rompu agus a bhaint amach má tá siad dáiríre ar chor bith ar an gceist seo.

Tá eagraíochtaí sa tír seo atá ag troid agus ag déanamh sár oibre don chultúr Gaeilge agus don Ghaeilge le fada. Go minic bíonn siad ag snámh in aghaidh an easa. Creideann roinnt des na heagraíochtaí sin go bhfuil sé riachtanach an Bille seo a láidriú agus a fheabhsú le leasaithe éagsúla. Níl sé i gceist agam na leasaithe sin a gcur os comhair an Tí ag an bpointe seo ach iarraim ar an Aire féachaint go cúramach ar na leasaithe éagsúla atá á mholadh ag na heagraíochtaí sin agus, mar a dúirt an Teachta Carey, ar moltaí Chonradh na Gaeilge go háirithe. Iarraim air go ndéanfaidh sé féin agus a chomhairleoirí a ndícheall glacadh leis an oiread agus is féidir acu ionas go mbeidh seans go mbeidh aontacht ag baint leis an iarracht nua seo cothram na féinne a chinntiú don Ghaeilge sa tír seo agus nach mbeidh sé le rá ag aon duine, más féidir sin a bhaint amach, gur cailleadh an deis Bille éifeachtach a chur tríd an Dáil .

Tá i bhfad níos mó i gceist le teanga ná meán cumarsáide. Is í an nasc is bríomhaire idir dhaoine í. Is súil eile ar an saol gach uile teanga. Múnlaíonn sí meon aigne an chainteora agus saibhríonn sí ár gcomh-oidhreacht dhaonna. Sa lá atá inniu ann is teanga faoi bhrú gach teanga nach bhfuiltear á húsáid go forleathan i ngnóthaí oifigiúla agus ins na seirbhísí poiblí. Caithimid ar fad a admháil gur eisceacht í seirbhís phoiblí as Gaeilge, fiú sa Ghaeltacht. Is gá pleanáil agus reachtaíocht a bheith ar fáil chun é seo a leigheas, reachtaíocht a chinnteoidh, ar an gcéad dul síos, go mbeidh seirbhísí Gaeilge ar fáil ó chomhluchtaí poiblí gan cheist sa Ghaeltacht agus go mbeadh an Ghaeltacht mar aonad riaracháin a riarfaí trí Ghaeilge. Caithimid a chinntiú go mbeadh comh-sheasamh ag an nGaeilge leis an mBéarla ar fhoirmeacha, ar fhográin, ar fhógrái agus i seirbhísí idir-ghníomhacha na gcomhluchtaí poiblí, faoi mar atá cúrsaí i dtíortha dátheangacha eile.

Níl sé soiléir domsa go dtugann an Bille, mar atá anseo, aghaidh orthu siúd. Tugtar le fios, le heaspa seirbhísí poiblí as Gaeilge agus an Ghaeilge a bheith dúnta amach de facto ón saol poiblí in Éirinn, nach bhfuil mórán áit don Ghaeilge in Éirinn na haoise seo. Is beag spreagadh a thugann sé sin don té a bhfuil Gaeilge aige nó aici í a thabhairt ar aghaidh dá gclann agus is beag spreagadh a thugann sé don té nach bhfuil Gaeilge aige nó aici dul leis an teanga náisiúnta. Má ghlacann tú leis gur dlú-chuid dár bhféiniúlacht í an Ghaeilge, go bhfuil sí lárnach do shain-mhíniú chultúrtha an Éireannachais, is cóir tacú le roinnt mhaith leasaithe atá curtha os ár gcomhair amach cheana féin ag eagraíochtaí Gaeilge chun todhchaí na Gaeilge mar theanga bheo agus mar theanga phobail a chinntiú.

Is minic agus is fada muid ag éisteacht le gearáin faoi easpa téacsleabhar Gaeilge i scoileanna na Gaeltachta agus i scoileanna lán-Ghaeilge taobh amuigh des na ceantair Gaeltachta. Bhíos, breis agus 20 bliain ó shin, ag múineadh i scoil lán-Ghaeilge i mBaile Átha Cliath, scoil a bhí faoi stiúradh bhráthair uasail dhíograsaigh a rinne éacht chun oideachas trí Ghaeilge a cur ar fáil agus gach uile gné de chultúr na Gaeilge a spreagadh agus a mhúnlú, agus d'éirigh thar barr leis. Ach chuir sé as domsa i gcónaí go raibh mise ag múineadh stair na hÉireann as Gaeilge i scoil lán-Ghaeilge le téacsleabhair Béarla. Cloisim anois, ní hamháin go bhfuil easpa téacsleabhar Gaeilge ann ach go bhfuil easpa múinteorí le Gaeilge i meánscoileanna ins na Gaeltachtaí. Tá a leithéid do-chreidte i dtír a thugann cosaint bhunreachtúil don teanga náisiúnta. Ní easpa múinteoirí le Gaeilge amháin atá i gceist ach easpa dhaoine proifisiúnta éagsúla eile le Gaeilge ins na Gaeltachtaí. Bheadh i bhfad níos mó eolais ag an Aire faoi na nithe seo nár mar atá agamsa ach cloisim nach bhfuil aon pleanálaí l le Gaeilge ag déileáil leis an bpobal in oifig pleanála Chomhairle Chontae na Gaillimhe, agus í buailte le ceann des na Gaeltachtaí is mó sa tír agus ag plé le muintir na Gaeltachta gach uile lá. Níl rialacha na Cúirte Dúiche ar fáil i nGaeilge. Conas a d'fhéadfaí cás cúirte a chlos i nGaeilge? Tá teipthe ar dhaoine ceadúnas tiomána Gaeilge a fháil de bhrí nach raibh foirmeacha le Gaeilge ar fáil. Ní haon íonadh go bhfuil na Gaeltachtaí ag dul i léig.

Tá súil agam go bhfuil athrú bunúsach ag teacht leis an mBille seo. In ainneoin na deacrachtaí ar fad cuireann sé íonadh orm an dul chun cinn atá bainte amach ag na Gaelscoileanna. Tá trí chinn i mo dháilcheantair-se i gceartlár Bhaile Átha Cliath, dhá cheann i lár na cathrach i Sráid Mhaolbhríde ar láthair an Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta agus i gCearnóg Parnell agus an tríú cheann i gCabhrach, i gceantair lucht oibre, atá ag feitheamh le fada ar fhoirgneamh buan. Tá na páistí siúd ag obair i seomraí réamhdhéanta ach leanann siad ar aghaidh le sár-mhúinteoirí agus le tacaíocht íontach ó phobal Chabhrach. Nach bhfuil sé soiléir go bhfuil sé ri-thábhachtach féachaint chuige go mbeadh foirgneamh buan le gach áis ag Gaelscoil Chabhrach? An bhfuil mórán céille bheith ag plé an Bhille seo sa gcomhthéacs sin agus páistí óga i bpríomhchathair na hÉireann ag iarraidh oideachais Ghaelaigh a fháil agus gan ann ach botháin in áit scoile.

I and my party welcome this Bill. I regret that I cannot make my contribution as Gaeilge. I came through an educational system which did not equip me to speak the language fluently. Like many other Deputies and people of my age, I had a negative experience of the teaching of Irish in our schools. Corporal punishment was the norm and tragically for many young people of that era Ireland became synonymous with punishment. The brutal attempt to force children to learn the language had the opposite effect for many of us and created a resistance to embracing something that we all should love. That affected a generation, most of whom later in life recognised what they had been deprived of by this flawed educational system.

Many young people had a different experience when they encountered teachers who had a genuine interest in, and love of, the language. That transferred itself to the pupils of that era, who benefited accordingly. For too long the State relied totally on the education system for the revival of Irish. A much more comprehensive approach is now needed. Irish must be given its place in every walk of life. I welcome the Bill and commend the Minister for steering it to this point. He has a strong personal commitment to the Irish language and the Gaeltacht, as well as to the islands off our coast. Perhaps if that commitment were more widely shared by decision-makers, we would have a far stronger Bill. We would certainly have had it much earlier.

This Bill is about rights, and it must be said that no nation or group of people ever achieved their rights without struggle. Despite the fact that the 1937 Constitution describes Irish as the first language of the Irish people, Irish-speakers have had to fight for their rights in every decade since its adoption. The State let them down at every turn. Grass-roots campaigners have led the way. Without a campaign of protest and lobbying by Gaeltacht communities and lovers of the Irish language outside the Gaeltacht, we would not have had Raidió na Gaeltachta or TG4. At this juncture, I would like to commend their role both in developing the language, and creating an awareness, love and identification thereof. Over the last few months TG4 in particular – on occasion I have tuned in to watch Gaelic games from past decades – has had an influence on people who do not speak the language but have a certain understanding of it. I bring Deputies' attention to the fact that all correspondence and dealings with Kerry County Council are in Irish and English. If other county councils are not adopting that policy, I recommend it to them as another way of giving recognition to our language, politically as well as through local government.

The great gaelscoileanna movement did not come about because of a Government initiative but because communities the length and breadth of Ireland wanted their children educated through Irish. The State did not provide, so they had to provide for themselves. They began mainly in rough and ready accommodation and had to lobby the Department of Education and Science for recognition. Some of those schools are still operating in dreadful conditions, but the State eventually had to recognise and support them, and their now being a thriving part of the education system is a great sign of hope. I would also like to mention the role of the GAA in many areas of the country in promoting the language and making facilities available. In this city, I am very familiar with Naomh Fionnbarra over in Cabra and its role in bringing the Irish language to young people.

I commend the Irish language organisations which campaigned over many years for legislation such as this. They did a tremendous amount of work, and I know from my colleagues who are working on the details of the Bill for Committee Stage that their input has been important in improving it. There are serious weaknesses in the Bill, which my colleagues, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, have identified. We must see the rights of Irish-speakers in the Gaeltacht and outside copper-fastenend to a greater extent than in this Bill. There is real concern that section 32 may obstruct citizens from using the courts to vindicate their rights when a public body does not carry out its duty to them under it. There is also a concern that there may be a delay in the Bill's implementation. I urge the Minister to give serious consideration to all amendments on Committee Stage and take them on board in a spirit of co-operation. Such a spirit exists throughout this House towards this Bill in terms of Members' contributions and a desire to see the Bill passed.

At the start of the last century there was a great spirit of co-operation among Irish people about the revival of the Irish language. At the end of the 1800s there was a revival of the language, Gaelic games through the GAA, and Irish culture in general. That ran parallel to the struggle for independence. Sadly, that unity was broken in the cause of independence, and the Irish language suffered accordingly. We must revive that sense of common purpose in the cause of our national language. There is goodwill right across Irish society towards the Irish language, including among people such as myself who are not Irish-speakers but have a love for it and try to encourage their children to avail of their education through the medium of Irish.

We must also mention the plight of the Irish language in the Six Counties. Tribute must be paid to the tremendous work of the Irish language community in the North. Despite discrimination and, in many cases, persecution of the language by the British authorities, they have made the language blossom in their communities. In particular, one must recognise the role played by those, in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, who effectively took their lives in their hands to promote the language in the Six Counties. People kept it alive and now we see the end result. The Irish language is thriving in many communities throughout the Six Counties, and that is a testimony to all who worked so hard to keep it alive and maintain that sense of identity in their communities. They have also put the language on the political agenda in the peace process. Legislation such as this is also needed in the Six Counties so that we can have the rights of Irish speakers protected on an all-Ireland basis.

A recent study has shown that several different languages in the world are declining faster than the planet's wildlife, primarily as a result of colonisation and exploitation. Many languages have died out over the past 200 years, and many more are on their way out. That is a terrible tragedy as, when a language dies, a whole culture built up over many centuries also dies. Our forefathers did a tremendous job keeping the Irish language alive in terribly difficult circumstances, and we must not allow it to decline. We must promote it as best we can and ensure that it becomes the first language of our people. The Irish language is our national identity.

I welcome this very important Bill seeking to restore our native language. I commend the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Deputy Ó Cuív, and our spokesperson, Deputy Fergus O'Dowd, on their commitment to the Irish language. I only have the cúpla focal, although I would like to have much more. However, just as in Deputy Ferris's case, in both the national and primary schools which I attended it was not sexy. Now, however, it is becoming a very sexy language. Everyone is trying to learn it, as one sees in the gaelscoileanna cropping up all over the country. That initiative came not from the Government but from local communities which came together to try to restore the Irish language.

There are three gaelscoileanna in County Wexford – in Wexford town, Enniscorthy and Gorey, the last of which started only within the last two or three years. Without wishing to bring politics into the Bill, one must see the conditions that teaching staff and pupils endure in the gaelscoileanna, especially that in Wexford town, which received a promising letter by the previous Government, which was subsequently reneged on. We heard enough about that earlier this week. If we are to restore the Irish language, the gaelscoileanna should be given proper facilities to carry out teaching. We must ensure that the Irish language is restored not simply in the west – Galway, Clare, Cork, Kerry and Donegal – but right across the country in the more rural parts of other counties such as Wexford, Wicklow, Carlow or any of those in the south-east. If we do not teach our native language to our youth, it will be totally forgotten in some parts of the country.

We should commend the media, including TG4, Foinse and RTE, on the manner in which they carry out their role in regard to restoring the Irish language. I would like to be able to read Foinse, a very important newspaper and one of the few which is fully Irish language, from cover to cover. However, I can only try to understand the articles through the photographs. I commend Foinse on its work and it is good to see that one of its reporters is always in the Oireachtas and reporting on Dáil debates. I also commend TG4 and, in the same way that I look at the photographs in Foinse, I read the subtitles on TG4 when looking at “Ros na Rún” or other programmes. However, it is unfortunate that programmes such as “Ros na Rún” are made in the west but not in other parts of Ireland. It might encourage the use of Irish if programmes were made in County Wexford or in other counties.

Deputy O'Dowd pointed out to the House that it may have been the economic climate in Ireland which led to the decline of the language. People had to emigrate after the Famine and native speakers had to leave their native land, leaving a small number behind. It is only now that the language is beginning to get back on its feet. I hope it is increasingly promoted.

For whatever reason, many of our people are not fluent in Irish, as the Minister mentioned. However, they feel, as I do, the same ownership of the language as fluent speakers. I have ownership of the language in the same way as the Minister, Deputy Ó Cuív, and Deputies O'Dowd and Ferris. We all own the language and it is good to hear it spoken. When I hear people speaking Irish in a shop in County Kerry, I do not know what they are saying. They could be talking about me or otherwise.

They would not do that.

Nonetheless, it is great to hear them speak the language. It is important that Irish is well preserved in all parts of Ireland. It is good to note the number of Departments which will be influenced by the Bill. We too easily forget our native language. When I was going to school, Irish was a tough language to learn and it was not the done thing at that time. However, I hope the measures in the Bill will be implemented. With regard to the Gaelscoileanna, the Minister should ensure that proper funding is put into teaching because the language must be taught in the schools if it is to be preserved.

Our native language is often used in the context of the activities of the GAA. It is great to see the continuation of Scór na nÓg, an event I took part in at junior and senior level at a younger age. It is good that the language and our culture is preserved within the GAA, which organises Irish recitations, solo singing and other events in which the Irish language must be used. In a recent Tops of the Town event in Wexford, Irish had to be used as part of a scene for over five minutes. That encourages the use of the language, especially among the young, which is important so that the language is not forgotten. Irish is mainly spoken in the west, in counties Cork, Kerry, Galway and Donegal. We must try to persuade the people to restore it to other parts of the country.

It is good to note the Minister's commitment to the Bill and I am delighted that all parties support it. I am sure that Deputies O'Dowd, Ferris and others will be making amendments to the Bill, and I hope the Minister gives them due consideration to get the best possible use from the Bill. There are amendments which I will be discussing with Deputy O'Dowd. I ask the Minister to support the amendments and to ensure that the Bill is brought into force as soon as possible and not left on a shelf, though I accept that there is a three-year timescale for implementation of the Bill's provisions.

I know of the Minister's commitment to the language and that he is a fluent Irish speaker. It is the everyday language he uses in his constituency. That commitment will ensure that the Bill is implemented, and in the right way. My party may be on the other side of the House in less than three years and it may be our job to implement the Bill.

I am not so sure.

I am sure Deputy O'Dowd and others will make sure that the Bill will be properly brought forward and implemented. I thank the Minister for bringing it before the House. On behalf of the Fine Gael Party, I thank Deputy O'Dowd for the job done in regard to the Bill.

Is é cuspóir ginearálta an Bhille comhionannas a chothú don Ghaeilge agus don Bhéarla mar theangacha oifigiúla an Stáit agus foráil a dhéanamh maidir le cearta teanga an tsaoránaigh ina chaidreamh nó ina caidreamh leis an Stát. Táimid anseo ag caint faoi chomhionannas agus faoi chothram na féinne don teanga. Tá ar gach duine anseo obair air sin agus gan bac leis na daoine nach bhfuil aon mheas acu ar an nGaeilge. Ach, san am gcéanna tá daoine eile sa tír seo nach bhfuil Gaeilge ná Béarla acu agus tá orainn go léir smaoineamh ar na daoine sin. Tá a lán teangacha á labhairt sa tír seo inniu agus tá ar gach duine obair ar son chearta síbhialta agus ar son chothram na féinne do gach duine.

Inniu táimid ag iarraidh rud éigin a dhéanamh ar son na teanga. Sin an rud tábhachtach. Níl mé sásta le halt a 3, go ndéanfar caiteachas maidir leis an Acht a íoc as airgead a dhéanfaidh an t-Oireachtas a sholáthar le toil an Aire Airgeadais. Beidh an t-Aire Airgeadais ag cur a lámh isteach arís. Tá ar gach duine troid chun an t-Aire Airgeadais a choimeád amach as an mBille seo.

I welcome the debate on the Official Languages Bill 2002. This debate is about our language and culture, and about equality, respect and citizens' rights. I fully support the Irish language movement in its heroic efforts to save and develop our language. I commend and salute the efforts of the movement, its magnificent defence of our language and its deep respect and understanding of other languages and cultures in Ireland and abroad. The vision of the Irish language movement is one of openness, respect and diversity, and is one of the Ireland of the future and the Ireland to which I want to belong.

However, this progressive view of Ireland does not always get fair representation in our national media. The Irish language movement has to put up with the labelling brigade in Irish society, which seems hostile to the Irish language. These people should be dealt with head-on. They are in education, the media and the cultural and economic sectors of society and they appear to have an attitude to our language which smacks of racism and lack of respect for equality.

I pay tribute also to TG4 for its excellent work on this front, although I admit that most of my viewing involves the coverage of GAA matches, which is excellent. The work of TG4 is objective, professional, cultural and, most importantly, balanced and fair. Seo cothrom na féinne do gach duine. We could do with some of that cothrom na féinne from the mainstream media, but sin scéal eile agus díospóireacht eile.

I also thank and pay tribute to the Gaelscoileanna and the magnificent work they do. However, I must sound a word of caution. They must not let people box them in or let them away with the elitist term that crops up every now and again in the national media. In other words, they should broaden their base and ensure that pupils from all sections of society are welcome in their schools. That is an essential part of any educational strategy. The vast majority of them do that but it is something of which we have to be conscious.

I pay tribute to schools like Scoil Cholmchille and Scoil Neasáin, which are located in my constituency. I have always supported those schools both here in the Dáil and on Dublin City Council. They are doing an excellent job with the pupils, and I thank the parents and teachers for their magnificent work. Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.

Ag an am céanna, tá daoine eile cosúil le Liam Ó Cuinneagáin in Oideas Gael i nGleann Cholmchille i dTír Chonaill ag déanamh mórán oibre le daoine ó Éirinn agus ó thíortha eile. Tá lucht an oidis ag múineadh na Gaeilge agus bíonn a lán ceol agus craic ann freisin. Tá ar an Rialtas éisteacht leis na daoine sin – tá a lán nósanna acu agus sin an tslí ar aghaidh.

Liam Ó Cuinneagáin introduced radical new ideas on the teaching of Irish to children in disadvantaged schools over 50 years ago. I had the privilege and honour of working with Liam on this issue and saw the fresh, radical approach he brought to the poorest schools in society. According to the Combat Poverty Agency report, some of those schools were among the worst 33 in the country in terms of economic disadvantage, yet they came up with radical ideas which were based on activities. The approach has to be activity based and the oral language must come first.

These types of strategies must be introduced nationally and the pressure has to be taken off teachers in terms of text books and grammar. We must concentrate on the oral language and have children speaking Irish before we even think about introducing books. There are examples of that good practice in many of our schools and these should be used to assist all our pupils.

There is massive support for the language but we need to harness that more effectively and efficiently. We should also use the new inter-culturalism that exists today as a way of learning about languages and language teaching. Many teachers talk about the way non-national pupils adopt to learning a language. They appear to have no difficulty in learning Irish, nor do they carry baggage in that regard, unlike our own children.

It was said years ago that if someone was learning two languages it would damage their study of mathematics or English reading. That is a myth and our non-national pupils have proved that. They have come here without English and learned the language, and they have also got very involved in Irish language classes. I have met children who have developed very high standards of Irish. Learning languages is good for pupils and learning one's own Irish language is good for the country. There is need for further research on this issue as there is great potential for developing new ideas and programmes.

I pay tribute to the many Irish language teachers who have worked hard in this area. They have also been to the forefront in terms of the whole inter-culturalism debate, anti-racist policies and, more importantly, the implementation of those policies. They have shown leadership and vision and they have made their mark on society. I commend them.

Many teachers in disadvantaged schools have done great work in developing a more inclusive community and more inclusive schools. Some of the poorest schools in the State have been to the forefront in developing Irish language programmes suitable for their pupils while, at the same time, taking radical and creative steps to assist their non-national students. This is the Ireland we should all be working towards building for the future.

Section 9 provides that public bodies have a duty to ensure that persons can communicate with and receive services from them in either of the official languages, subject to a scheme under section 15. This is a constant thorn in the side of many Irish language speakers and activists. I urge the Minister to recognise that and ensure that respect and equality are always at the top of the agenda. There are many talented Irish language speakers who must be recruited into our public services. Irish language speakers have rights and those rights must always be respected. We have to end immediately the practice of spending a few hours or days finding a civil servant with Irish to resolve a problem for a constituent or a taxpayer. We have to deal with these issues head-on. Putting them on the long finger is not an option.

Section 10 states that public bodies have a duty to ensure that the official languages are used on signage, stationery and advertisements. This is an important section as it sends out a strong message that is based on respect for our language and culture while ensuring fairness and equality. This section of the legislation should be implemented in a caring and professional way.

I strongly welcome section 21 which provides for the establishment of the office of official languages commissioner and the fact that he or she will be independent. We have great respect for independence in this House. It is important that the commissioner is independent, objective and respectful of citizens' rights. The commissioner can also be a thorn in the side of the political, social, cultural and economic establishment. This appointment is healthy for the Irish language but also for democracy. Section 31 provides that the commissioner will prepare an annual report on his or her activities which will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. That will give the office more teeth and credibility, and is also in the public interest. It is all about accountability.

Under section 32 the powers of the Ombudsman remain unaffected by the provisions of the Act. I welcome that section. Reference was made earlier to teaching methods and some valid criticisms were made by Deputy Ferris and others in that regard. We have made mistakes in the past in terms of teaching but we now have young, radical, creative teachers with great experience who are going into our primary schools with a love of their language. We should listen to their ideas and strategies. Again, the emphasis has to be on the oral language and enjoying learning the language at an early stage.

Our language must be valued as an important asset of Irish life but we appear to be moving away from it. With the advent of the Celtic tiger and rampant consumerism, we have forgotten about this valuable jewel. I am talking particularly about the cultural side. When we consider that people travel from America and Japan to Glencolumbcille to learn the Irish language and get involved in cultural events, we can see the massive potential in that. People from different traditions and religions meet there and in the tradition of Tone and Connolly, get involved in learning the Irish language. There is a message in that for us in terms of the development of such a valuable resource. From an economic point of view, it makes common sense. Something as valuable as the Irish language should be linked to tourism plans. All tourism and development plans should include a section on the Irish language, which has the potential to attract thousands of tourists. One need only listen to visitors from the United States or Japan relate their positive experiences of meeting Irish speakers in Connemara, Donegal, west Kerry and other parts of the country to realise this.

We need to move away from the notion à la the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform of having continental style cafés on our streets and instead look towards our culture and history which we should value and cherish. Tourists come here because we are different. Let us respect this difference and do our best to accommodate diversity. We need to market this angle of our society more aggressively. I call on those involved in the tourism industry to take note of the significant potential this area holds.

History shows that Connolly-ites have always been strong supporters of the Irish language. As an old-fashioned Connolly-ite, I am glad to be associated with the language and would like, in a small way, to represent that tradition in this debate.

I have learned a great deal from previous contributions to this debate but we have much more to learn. On a broader level, the Irish language is also a civil liberties issue. Many friends of mine who speak the language do not feel they receive equal respect in our society or many areas of our economic and social life. We must respect the civil liberties of Irish speakers. I question the sincerity of those who claim to be interested in civil liberties but are unwilling to support and advocate the protection of Irish language activists.

I will support the progressive amendments which will be tabled on the legislation and ask the Minister to listen carefully to contributions and accept the proposals made therein.

Beidh mé ag éisteacht leis na Comhaltaí eile sa Teach. Tá a lán Teachtaí Dála a bhfuil Gaeilge mhaith acu agus tá ar gach duine anseo éisteacht leo. Ach tá orainn freisin tacaíocht a thabhairt do Chonradh na Gaeilge agus don obair atá ar siúl aige. Beidh mise ag éisteacht leis an gconradh mar táimid ag caint faoi chearta theanga an tsaoránaigh.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an seans seo díospóireacht a dhéanamh ar Bhille na dTeangacha Oifigiula 2002. Tá súil agam gur tosach na hoibre atá ar siúl againn inniu agus a bhí inné. Cé go bhfáiltíonn cuid mhaith des na heagraíochtaí a bhaineann leis an nGaeilge agus atá ag iarraidh an Ghaeilge a cur ar aghaidh, roimh an mBille a bheith curtha i láthair tá lochtanna leis an mBille go dteastaíonn ó na heagraíochtaí go ndéanfaí díospóireacht a dhéanamh fúthu agus leasaithe a gcur chun cinn. Tá súil againn go mbeidh an t-Aire ag éisteacht níos doimhne leis an Dáil nó mar a rinne sé sa Seanad, nuair nár ghlac sé le han-chuid leasaithe a cuireadh chun cinn, leasaithe a chuirfeadh feabhas ar an mBille.

Ba é seo an chéad Bille a chonaic mise ariamh a chuaigh trí Chéim na Tuarascála sa Seanad gan aon leasú ón bhFreasúra. Bhíodar 100% sásta leis.

Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil sé chomh simplí sin. Deirtear gur thug an t-Aire le fios nach mbeadh sé sásta, abair, glacadh le leasaithe.

A mhalairt ar fad a bhí fíor. Gheall mé go scrúdóinn ceisteanna, tháinig mé féin ar ais le leasaithe ar Chéim na Tuarascála agus ghlac an Fhreasúra go hiomlán le gach rud a chuir mé ar aghaidh, d'aon ghuth.

Beidh lá eile ag an bPaorach nuair a rachaidh an Bille ar aghaidh go Céim an Choiste sa Dáil. Is maith an rud é, ar aon nós, go bhfuil an díospóireacht ag tarlú.

De réir Theidil Fhada an Bhille, tá an Ghaeilge á cur chun cinn chun críoch oifigiúil ins an Stát agus chomh maith leis sin tá cothramaíocht á chur i bhfeidhm maidir leis an dá theanga oifigiúil, an Béarla agus an Ghaeilge. Measaim go n-aontódh formhór na ndaoine leis na bunspriocanna úd. Ba bhreá liom dá mbeadh díospóireacht i bhfad níos leithne agus níos doimhne maidir le húsáid agus stad na Gaeilge ins an Stát faoi mar atá i láthair na huaire, is é sin an Ghaeilge faoi mar atá imeasc ghnáth daoine, i measc lucht labhartha na Gaeilge agus ins na réigiúin Gaeltachta, agus faoi cad atá i ndán don Ghaeilge mar theanga labhartha agus mar theanga chultúrtha agus liteartha.

Creidimidne atá i mbun feachtasaíochta polaitíochta ar bhonn sóisíalach agus Marxach gurb iad na coinníolacha eacnamaíochta, go mórmhór, a mhúnlaíonn bunsmaointe nó coinsias na ndaoine agus a fhágann rian láidir ar an sochaí. Is de bharr na coinníolacha eacnamaíochta agus polaitíochta a bhí i réimeas i stair na tíre seo go bhfuil an Béarla mar theanga an tromlaigh ins an Stát agus ar oileán na hÉireann go ginearálta. Tháinig na coinníolacha úd i réimeas de bharr an impiriúlachais Bhreatanaigh agus de bharr an ról a d'imir an t-impiriúlachas i stair na tíre seo. Is cinnte gur deineadh géar leanúint ar chultúr agus ar theanga na nGael ach is brú eacnamaíochta is mó a thug an Béarla mar theanga an tromlaigh ins an tír seo. Gan dabht, bhí tionchar mór ag an imirce ar an scéal chomh maith, i measc lucht labhartha na Gaeilge. Is cuimhin liom é seo ó mo m'áit dhúchais féin nuair a bhí mé i mo leanbh. D'fhás an meon nárbh aon mhaith an Ghaeilge dos na daoine óga a mbeadh orthu imeacht ós na Gaeltachtaí ar fud na hÉireann go háiteacha nach raibh an Ghaeilge mar an teanga labhartha nó go mbeadh orthu imeacht as an tír ar fad go dtí Sasana, na Stáit Aontaithe, Ceanada, an Astráil, an Nua Shéalainn nó mar sin. Ar ndóigh, bhí bonn leis an smaoineamh úd. I bhfad ó shin nuair a chuaigh ár ndaoine thar lear agus gan Gaeilge acu bhí sé an-dheacair dóibh. Ach, tá sé tragóideach go ndeachaigh an meon sin in i bhfeidhm ar dhaoine ins an tslí inar tharla, gur ligeadh an Ghaeilge féin le sruth agus an Béarla amháin a cuireadh ina háit.

An freagra atá ar an ndeacracht sin ná an dátheangachas a chothú. Is é sin go mbeadh úinéireacht ar an teanga i measc na ndaoine agus, leis sin, ar an saibhreas a thiocfadh le teanga na Gaeilge ó thaobh cúrsaí litríochta, filíochta, amhránaíochta agus a leithéid de. Tá sé tragóideach chomh maith go n-imíonn tuismitheoirí óga as an nGaeltacht le pósadh nó chun obair a fháil agus nach labhrann siad an teanga lena gcuid leanaí. Is cailliúint mhór dos na leanaí í sin, ní hamháin ó thaobh an chultúir agus a leithéid de, ach más rud é go dtéann leanbh ar scoil agus é nó í dátheangach beidh buntáiste i bhfad níos láidre ag an leanbh úd ag foghlaim teangacha eile an domhain. Bíonn solúbthacht áirithe in aigne an linbh atá dátheangach ón gcliabhán. Ba cheart go ndéanfaí beart éigin dearfach faoi sin chun obair spreagtha a thabhairt do dhaoine ó bhunús Gaeltachta agus dóibh atá lonnaithe taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht ach tá sé ar intinn acu go spreagfaidís an dátheangachas ó thús.

Ní aontódh mo chairde sna heagraíochta Gaelainne liom ach ní chreidim go mbeidh an Ghaelainn arís mar phríomhtheanga labhartha tromlaigh na tíre seo de bharr na coinníollacha eacnamaíochta, cultútha, cumarsáide agus domhanda atá ag brú isteach orainn i láthair na huaire agus atá ag múnladh saoil agus meoin na tíre go mór. I measc mionlach tábhachtach, beidh an Ghaelainn i gcónaí mar theanga tábhachtach dóibh agus beidh an cultúr a bhaineann léi an-thábhachtach dóibh ó thaobh cúrsaí litríochta, filíochta agus amhránaíochta agus an cultúr go ginearálta de.

I bhfad níos leithne ná an grúpa úd go bhfuil an Ghaelainn ar thoil acu, bheadh éileamh leathan i gcónaí ag daoine ar thuiscint ar an dteanga, don eolas bunúsach a bheith acu ar an dteanga. Ní hé go dteastódh uathu, nó b'fhéidir nach bhféadfaidís, bheith líofa amach is amach i labhairt na Gaelainne ach go mbeadh tuiscint bunúsach acu. Tóg gné dár saol chomh simplí le logainmneacha na tíre, tá sé cinnte go dtugann tuiscint ar an Ghaelainn eolas i bhfad níos daingne ar phréamacha na tíre agus an sochaí. Dá bharr sin amháin, is fiú do dhream an-leathan dár ndaoine go mbeadh ar a laghad buneolas acu ar an dteanga.

Caithfimid cuimhniú go bhfuil daoine sa tír seo nach bhfuil an Ghaelainn acu agus nach bhfuil suim acu an Ghaelainn a bheith acu. Ar an oileán tá 1 milliún a tháinig ó phréamacha difriúla ar fad ón bpréamh Ceilteach – leis na céadta blianta tháinig siad ó Alban nó ó Shasana agus ní raibh baint acu leis an Ghaelainn. Ní cheart go mbeadh meon ag lucht labhartha na Gaelainne ag caitheamh anuas ar an gcuid sin dár ndaoine mar is Éireannaigh iad, tá an cultúr atá acu siúd chomh bunúsach is atá an Ghaelainn do dhaoine eile. Sin an fáth a chaithfidh an dá theanga ar an oileán seo bheith ar chomhchéim i gcónaí agus go mbeadh an meas ag gach dream ar an dream eile cé acu teanga is túisce a labhrann siad, nó más rud é nach bhfuil aon tuiscint ag dream áirithe ar an dteanga. Tá dhá theanga náisiúnta sa tír seo – an Béarla agus an Ghaelainn – agus is le meas ar an chultúr a bhaineann leo, agus le meas ar na daoine a labhrann pé acu teanga a féidir linn dul chun cinn ar bhonn mhaith.

Ó thaobh an Bhille féin, tá mé buíoch de na daoine agus na heagraíochtaí a bhí i dteagmháil liom féin agus le Teachtaí Dála eile. Tá an-díospóireacht le déanamh fós ar chuid de na haltanna sa Bhille. Má thógaimid alt 6, cearta teanga san Oireachtas féin, ba cheart go dtabharfaí leasú chun cinn chun an t-alt sin a dhéanamh níos leithne agus níos ginearálta ná mar atá sé i láthair na huaire mar tá sé ro-chúng. Ba cheart go mbeidh sé de cheart ag duine ar bith a mbeidh baint aige nó aici le cúrsaí Oireachtais úsáid a bhaint as an Ghaelainn. Ba cheart an t-alt sin a leathnú.

Ó thaobh tuarisc na Dála ar RTE, ní fheadar an bhfuil mé cruinn air seo mar ní fheicim "Oireachtas Report" gach oíche, ach níor chuala mé riamh díospóireacht, nó cuid de, istigh anseo as Gaelainn.

Níor taispeánadh aon chuid den díospóireacht seo. Is cosúil nár ceapadh go raibh tábhacht ar bith ag baint leis an Bhille áirithe seo. Bá mhór an náire é.

Caithfear tabhairt faoi sin. Bhí deifir chomh mór sin orm ar maidin nach raibh am agam féachaint an bhfuil an clár ar siúl anocht toisc go bhfuil an Dáil ina shuí Dé hAoine. Ba cheart go gcuirfidís tuairisc amach nuair a bheadh daoine ann a labhair as Béarla agus as Gaelainn. Tá súil agam nach gcuirfidh siad amach na Teachtaí a labhair as Béarla amháin agus dream a thabhairt do lucht labhartha na Gaelainne. Ba cheart go ndéanfaí sé mar ghnáthrud go mbeadh fotheidil i mBéarla ar an scáthlán nuair atá daoine ag labhairt as Gaelainn san Oireachtas. Tá sin thar a bheith fusa a dhéanamh, tá TG4 ar fheabhas le fotheidil, agus caithfidh RTE an rud céanna a dhéanamh agus molaim dó sin a dhéanamh ag tosnú le clár na hoíche anocht.

Baineann an Bille go mór le Rannóga agus comhlachtaí Stáit agus an prionsabal gur cheart go bhféadfadh aon saoránach a ghnó nó a gnó a dhéanamh as Gaelainn más mithid leis nó léi agus gan stró ar bith a bheith ag baint leis sin. Aontaím amach is amach leis an bprionsabal úd.

Caithfimid smaoineamh níos mó ar na céimeanna atá leagtha amach ins an mBille chun dréachtscéimeanna a bheth glactha i rannóga Stáit nó i gcomhluchtaí poiblí. Tá na céimeanna an-chasta i mórán slite agus b'fhéidir go bhféadfaí an obair sin a dhéanamh níos tapúla ná mar atá sé leagtha síos i láthair na huaire. Nuair a thiocfaidh an Bille ar ais ar Chéim an Choiste tá súil agam go ndéanfar soiléiriú ar an scéal úd. Tá jab mór oibre le déanamh leis na Rannóga agus na comhluchtaí poiblí.

Beidh an Bille an-thábhacht ins an nGaeltacht féin. Tá brú uafásach ar na Gaeltachtaí agus ar lucht labhartha na teanga iontu. Tá an-dheacrachtaí ag tuismitheoirí ins an nGaeltacht gur mhaith leo go mbeadh an Ghaeilge á labhairt ag a cuid leanaí, de bharr an bhrú atá ag teacht ó na meáin cumarsáide agus a leithéid. I ndáiríre, níl leigheas air sin ach iarracht a dhéanamh na meáin cumarsáide Gaeilge a chothú.

Tá cupla leasú gur cheart a cur chun cinn maidir le húsáid na Gaeilge ins an nGaeltacht. Tá sé do-chreidte go bhféadfadh breithimh a bheith ag suí i nGaeltacht nó taobh leis agus gan an Ghaeilge acu. Is cinnte gur féidir le duine dul isteach agus aistriúchán a fháil ach níl sé sin maith go leor. Aon chúirt atá ag suí ins an nGaeltacht ba cheart go mbeadh an Ghaeilge ag an mbreitheamh, ag na hoifigigh, ag na cláraitheoirí agus a leithéid. Ba cheart go mbeadh sé uathoibritheach go bhféadfadh duine dul isteach agus gnó a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge nó trí Bhéarla. Ní aontaím leis an smaoineamh a chuir duine éigin ar aghaidh nár cheart go mbeadh Béarla ar bith ins na cúirteanna ins an nGaeltacht. Ach is cinnte gur cheart go mbeadh an Ghaeilge go líofa acu siúd atá ag déanamh eagraíochta ar na cúirteanna ann.

Tá súil agam go mbeidh níos mó ama againn chun an pointí seo a mhion-chíoradh.

Ba mhaith liom cúpla focal a rá. I could probably only add the Ár nAthair after that. I am delighted to see this Bill before the House. My own Irish is weak but I have a great love of the language and all my children were educated through Irish. One of the things I would like to do when I have the time after I leave this House is to spend more time learning the language. I love the sound and antiquity of the language. The greetings used by people on the street in the past, Dia dhuit and Dia is Muire dhuit, remind us of some of the things we are quick to jettison and bring us back to the spiritual sense of the language rather than the materialism of everyday life.

I was struck by the story I heard about the Pope when he visited Drogheda. He started the mass with the words "In ainm an Athar agus an Mhic agus an Spioraid Naoimh". One fellow at the back of the crowd of about one million turned to the fellow beside him and said "Begob Mick, he's going to say the whole thing in Polish". It is good that we can make a joke like that. There was a time when we were too sensitive about the language. Now we have become more confident about it. I hope this continues.

In my experience of working in the European Union – I was European Affairs Minister and am now chairman of the Oireachtas committee on European Affairs – I have observed people speaking their own language and others. That gives me the impetus to see the importance of protecting our language.

I welcome this Bill. I hope funding is available for it and that it will be fully implemented. One thing I find fault with, and I do not direct this at the Minister of the day or anybody else, is that for many years we have not got any extra all-Irish secondary schools in Dublin. This goes back to when I was chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts from 1987 to 1993. Every time the Secretary of the Department of Education or the Secretary of the Department of the Gaeltacht appeared at the committee I would ask them when we would have more all-Irish secondary schools in Dublin.

If we are serious about saving the language it is in Dublin that it will be saved. I connect that deliberately to what I have to say about the European Union. Parents travelling throughout Europe see other citizens of the EU speaking their own languages. They return here encouraged to keep the Irish language for their children. The explosion of Gaelscoileanna in Dublin shows that parents are voting with their feet. They do want their children educated through Irish but what happens at the end of primary school is what happened to my own children. The choice is to go to Coláiste Íosagáin or Coláiste Eoin on Stillorgan road or perhaps out to Tallaght. There are not enough all-Irish secondary schools available. I used to ask about this year in and year out but always got the same poor response.

There was a college available in my own constituency on the canal between Crumlin and Harold's Cross bridge, Coláiste Caoimhghín. It was ideally located on a triangle half-way between Stillorgan and Tallaght where there are already Irish secondary schools. I campaigned hard to get that college acquired as a premises for an all-Irish secondary school but had no luck.

If we are serious about wanting to use the language in courts, parliament and public offices then let us be serious about creating the opportunity for people to learn the language. Pupils finishing at the primary level Gaelscoileanna should not have to leave it behind them there. The opportunity will best be provided by acquiring premises in Dublin for all-Irish secondary schools. A lot of effort goes into the Gaeltacht and I support that but if the Minister really wants to champion the Irish language he should do so here in Dublin.

There is a ready-made audience here. People no longer have the hang-ups they had years ago about the language when they felt they had to leave it behind as soon as they left school. People now want the language. A lot of people like me regret they do not have the command of Irish they would like. They want that for their children. The Minister should not just bring in an official languages Bill that puts legislation on the statute books and requires public servants to have Irish. He must give the public the opportunity to use Irish also by making available to them the opportunity to learn Irish.

There are people in the House like myself who would be prepared to do more of our work through the first language particularly as chairman of a committee. Will the Minister consider providing an intensive language course for Members, not an-hour-a-week course but one where people would go off for a few weeks, to equip them to conduct the business of the House and committees, in some part at least, through Irish. If this course was aimed at the technical language used in committees and the Houses it would be all the better. I would certainly be interested in such a course which would be useful and a good thing to do.

I have a few comments to make on Raidio na Gaeltachta and TG4. I like to listen to Raidio na Gaeltachta in the car. I find the music relaxing and can follow some of the language. I pay particular tribute to TG4, not just for its Irish language programmes but for its imagination. It forced onto the agenda the opportunity to record and transmit the work of committees in this House. The station has made a great effort in that direction and should be encouraged.

I particularly like to see TG4's documentaries and am obliged to it for a video of a recent one on the Second World War made in the first language. I watched it and was very impressed. I rang TG4 and they very kindly supplied me with a copy of it. The talk over in the first language is really excellent, and that sort of thing should be encouraged. A lot of people would be very happy to see more of those programmes and TG4 should be encouraged. It has shown imagination. When one rings TG4 with one's cúpla focal, they will try to converse in Irish and English. There is no hang up about that, which is a very good and welcome thing. I pay tribute to TG4 and express my thanks to the station.

There is one other point I wish to make in keeping with the spirit of this language. I notice in parts of Dublin in particular – and I think this may also be a problem in other places – that a lot of street names are going up in the English language only. That should not be accepted and local authorities should be reminded of their duty to put up signs in both languages. I have no wish to assimilate anybody. The important thing is integration and respecting different traditions. If people want to put up a sign in just one language – English or whatever – that is a matter for themselves and I respect their right to do so, but this is meant to be a bilingual community. Irish is the first official language and we should remind local authorities, county managers, chairmen of authorities and mayors that it is expected that street names and road signs going up in new estates go up in both languages.

It can be very confusing where there are signs up in two languages to have Bluebell Road or whatever written in English in one corner and then a different Irish translation somewhere else on the same road. That should not be accepted either. Somebody should put a bit of care into this. One of my daughters worked a bit on this in a local authority but I am not making the point on her behalf or anybody else's. I am making it on my own behalf. I really do think that these little details are important.

I am glad of the opportunity to say a few words on this Bill. It is a good day's work but let us not just now put this on the Statute Book and leave it there. Let us look at how we might actually expand opportunities for the public to gain a command of the language and use it. I have never felt such a readiness amongst the public to do this. There really is a will there and the best starting place would be more all-Irish speaking secondary schools for Dublin.

Tá áthas orm bheith anseo inniu le labhairt ar an Bhille thábhachtach seo. Tá brón orm nach mbeidh mé in ann a chaint as Gaeilge go hiomlán. Tá ranganna Gaeilge ar siúl san Oireachtas anois agus b'fhéidir, i gceann cúpla mí, beidh mé in ann sin a dhéanamh.

Many other speakers have talked about the difficulty of the Irish education experience and the fact that after being taught to many people for 14 years, Irish is not a living language used by people who participate in the education system. I spent ten years in that system, one mitigating factor being that I was born in the United States. Outside of that, I ran out of excuses. My father was a native Irish speaker as Arainn Mhór i dTír Chonaill and I have many direct relations still living on the island. The only thing I can say in my defence in this context is that Gaeilge Tír Chonaill is probably the least comprehensible form of Irish in existence.

My mother, born in Cork, was educated entirely as Gaeilge. Given that family background and the educational background, the fact that I am unable to converse fully in Irish is not only a personal loss but says something about how the language has been treasured in reality.

In bringing this Bill forward the Minister is making a sincere attempt to correct a lot of those inadequacies, and in that he should be supported. It is important that a clear message comes from this House in its practices as to how the language can be better cherished. Last Tuesday I hosted a visit from Coláiste Daibhíd in my constituency. I had the privilege of being on the board of management of the college for a number of years. While there are materials available about the workings of both Houses of the Oireachtas as Gaeilge, it strikes me that a lot more can be done. There are no interpretation facilities for full running commentaries in the visitors' gallery. The video in the new visitors' centre may exist but the option was not given of an Irish version. Even in this House, simultaneous translation should be an active, all-day running procedure, not just a translation of people speaking as Gaeilge for people who do not understand the language.

It is important that we get those things right. I have heard some of the contributions here which expressed wariness at the expense that would involve and noting that it would take money from other funding headings that people might consider more important. Obviously there are competing demands in our society at the moment but we should be wary of putting a price on protecting, enhancing and cherishing our cultural identity. I know the Minister is certainly thinking along those lines.

Part of the reason the Irish language is not spoken more readily, despite the fact that most people have quite an extensive foclóir, is because there is almost an implicit intimidation by many who can speak Irish fluently of those who cannot. This is not intended but the impression goes out that if one cannot speak Irish properly one should not speak it at all. That is the type of message that should be challenged if we want to encourage the use of Irish in any way in our society. There is goodwill out there and it can be tapped quite readily with the right imaginative response.

The other thing that needs to be done is the exercise of decoupling. Having responsibility for rural affairs, I know the Minister would be aware of how sensitive that subject is at the moment. In the context of Irish culture, however, the impression has gone out that Irish culture is a package and that it is about the language, the music and the dancing. However, the reality does not reflect that. These cultural elements can look after themselves. Where TG4 has been particularly successful is in putting Irish into a modern context that is vibrant and alive and reflects modern Irish society, which is not always about the céilithe at the crossroads or the playing of certain types of sports.

In my father's home of Aran Mór, the sport of choice is not Gaelic games but soccer. The music of choice is not the seisiún but country and western. If we can put forward the idea that Irish is a vibrant language that exists in different contexts then we will be well on the way towards promoting its use as an active language.

The reverse is also true. Last night I was at a social occasion meeting a friend in a local pub. He was part of a set dancing group and they were obviously cherishing the culture of Irish dancing but they did not associate it with the need to promote the Irish language. The same is true of Irish music.

The other aspect we need to look at in terms of promoting the use of the Irish language through Bills such as this is where multilingual societies have used legislation effectively to bring about the maximum use and protection of the languages that were deemed to be minority in usage, if not, as in our case, constitutionally. The best examples are Canada and Belgium. I know the Minister has gone through a long consultation process but there are still elements in the Bill that can be tweaked through amendments and I hope the Minister will be open to accepting such amendments. In general terms, the Minister should be congratulated on getting a Bill to this point in the legislative process. I am sure he will find the Opposition co-operative in terms of the intent and end effect of the Bill. I hope that on Committee Stage the Minister will be similarly open to considering the types of amendments Members suggested and which many organisations outside this House are promoting and proposing. In that respect, I am aware the Minister has been open to accepting some such changes.

I wish to refer to the effect this House can have on promoting the language and ensuring it is used to a greater extent. We need to consider the way in which we structure the business of the House to ensure that debates, including Committee Stage debates, have an element timewise or in other respects to provide for the use of the Irish language. That is a point Deputy Higgins made in his contribution.

I congratulate the work of the Government Chief Whip, which is not something I tend to do often, in putting together the programme of Irish classes for Members. I believe that 81 Members have participated in the system of classes available in recent weeks. The standards of those participating range from Members who have no Irish, to those who need to refresh their Irish, to those who want to bring their Irish, which is a fairly good standard, up to the highest standard. This is the type of support Members need to make sure that this House actively reflects what is a constitutional responsibility for us, as it should be for the members of the Civil Service whom I mentioned, in reflecting the constitutional status of Gaelige. Any role my party can play in that regard is one we would be happy to play.

Tá áthas orm go bhfuil deis agam labhairt ar an mBille seo. Tógadh mise i mBaile Átha Cliath agus chuaigh mé ar scoil i gColáiste Mhuire, i gceartlár na cathrach. Tá brú ag teacht ar an gcoláiste seo anois agus é scaipthe. Tá an meánscoil lonnaithe i gCearnóg Parnell agus an bunscoil ar Bhóthar na hUaimhe. Níl sé sin go maith mar caithfear leanúnachas a bheith ann idir bhunscoil agus meánscoil. Níl an fhadhbh seo faoi chúram an Aire ach tá súil agam go ndabharfaidh an t-Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíochta deis don scoil seo teacht le chéile arís ar champas amháin.

Sin an áit a fuair mé mo chuid Gaeilge cé go bhfuil sí beagáinín gioblach anois. Éistim le Raidió na Gaeltachta agus breathnaím ar TG4 agus tá siadsan ag cur snas arís ar mo chuid Gaeilge. Tá an-jab á dhéanamh ag an dá chomhlucht sin chun an Ghaeilge a cothú ins an tír. Tá cláracha den scoth á gcur amach ag TG4, rud nach bhfuil le fáil ar RTE. Tá mé ag smaoineamh ar Hector Ó hEoghagáin agus é ag dul timpeall an domhain agus ar an súil ghéar a chuireann sé ar thíortha eile. Fuair mé a lán pléisiúir as na cláracha sin.

Bhí an Teachta Gay Mitchell ag caint mar gheall ar an easpa meánscoileanna sa chathair seo. Tá an chuid is mó de dhaonra na tíre lonnaithe ar chósta oirthear na hÉireann. Tá naíonraí agus bunscoileanna Gaeilge le fáil ach is beag meánscoil atá sa chathair. Nuair a théitear go dtí an tríú leibhéal ní múintear aon chúrsa trí Ghaeilge taobh amuigh de chúrsaí Gaeilge féin, ach amháin gur féidir eacnamaíocht a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge i DCU. Má tá oideachas tríú leibhéil trí Ghaeilge ag teastáil ó mac léinn caithfidh sé dul siar go Gaillimh. Níl mé ag caitheamh anuas ar Ghaillimh. Is cathair ársa álainn í. Ach níl oideachas dara leibhéil nó tríú leibhéil trí Ghaeilge le fáil go héasca in oirthear na tíre.

Molaim an Bille agus aontaím leis. Tá súil agam go rachaidh sé tríd an Dáil go tapaidh.

Tá áthas orm cupla focal a rá mar gheall ar an mBille seo. Níl a fhios agam an é an Bille is tábhachtaí a cuireadh os comhar an Tí ariamh é, mar a dúirt an t-Aire. Fanaimís go bhfeifimid.

Nuair a bhíos óg bhí mé in ann Gaeilge a labhairt go fliúirseach ach d'imigh sí de réir ama. Dá bhrí sin, caithfidh mé leanúint ar aghaidh i mBéarla.

This Bill presents us with an opportunity to examine the degree to which we can use Irish, the first national language, in the course of our business in the House, which is something we should do. We should examine the progress of the development, retention and evolution of the language in the intervening years since the foundation of the State. We should examine the issues that have improved the prospects of the language and those which have not, a point to which several Members referred.

One of the greatest obstacle to the development of the use of Irish and other languages is a certain amount of exclusivity or a degree of snobbery, to the effect, that if one was not in a position to be as flúirseach as was deemed to be necessary, one was considered to be an inferior human being and not a sufficiently good enough Irish person. I reject that. That attitude has been totally counterproductive. It has set a ringfence that is unnecessary, debilitating and is not in the interests of the pursuit of the generation of the language in the future.

The question as to whether one is was forced or encouraged to do something is a critical issue in this context. It is preferable if we are encouraged, at our own discretion as opposed to feeling we are being coerced, to use the language in the course of going into a shop or in conducting business in this House. We should learn from our past masters the cognisance that has been gained in this area, if we want to learn from that. Members should learn from the attitude to the use of language from their visits to other countries, whether on holiday or for other purposes, to establish whether we find it preferable to be encouraged to converse in the language of the country concerned or to use our own language. Some countries give a distinct impression that one is welcome to converse in either language, but some give a distinct impression that one is not welcome to converse in any language other than the language of the country concerned. It is as simple as that in terms of how we should promote the use of our first language in this country.

I would like to congratulate a number of people on the work they have done. TnaG has done a tremendous amount of work in promoting the language, removing that exclusivity and introducing a series of programmes, which the viewer can watch from a totally different interest point of view and at the same time achieve an improvement in his or her knowledge of and ability to use the Irish language. People such as Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh have done great work in this regard over the years and they have used bilingualism in their work to very good effect.

There are occasions where the use of the first official language has been more appropriate in certain circumstances in attempting to describe a particular situation. For instance, one could describe the Government's efforts to date in terms of the economy but I will not go into that now. I can think of one or two expressions as Gaeilge that would adequately encompass their present lack of progress in that area but I will be a very good boy and I will not use them.

It is no harm to listen to what the younger generation has to say about the Irish language. I belong to a somewhat older generation. My most interesting introduction to the Irish language as part of a culture as opposed to something that was forced upon me was Ó Pheann an Phiarsaigh agus Paraic Máire Bán. Bhí sé sin na blianta ó shin. At that stage in my life I was beginning to develop an interest in the folklore and the story that was behind the language. Previous to that, I was merely learning the language as a means of ensuring for many reasons that I was able to manifest some degree of proficiency.

I wish to mention the role of broadcasters. It may be unfair to mention specific people but Micheál and Donncha Ó Dulaing have used the language very effectively. Other people are encouraged by such broadcasters to revert to bilingualism when they wish. When I was a child the most intimidating aspect of the language was to be near somebody like an t-Ollamh Micheál Mac Schnuslechaun when one immediately recognised that one was in the presence of a greater person than oneself. This is not intended to be a reflection on anybody's name but the very name suggested to me as a youngster that I was in the presence of a great one and that any contribution made by me will be a very minor one. It is important to consider how to encourage the new generation to use the language to their benefit and to the benefit of the language and the culture of the country. We should recognise that we have a duty to deliver to the next generation the language, traditions and culture as best we can and intact if possible. We have a duty to learn from the mistakes of the past and to leave behind the type of exclusivity and snobbery that I experienced as being associated with the language. We must recognise the efforts of those who wish to use the language and assure them that they are as good as everyone else.

In the past, there was a custom among certain Ministers of answering questions in the House in a language other than the language in which the question was asked. I am glad that has changed because in my view that was the ultimate attempt at snobbery. It is good manners to answer a question in the language in which it is asked, and bilingualism after that is fine. It could be regarded as an attempt to pull a stroke or two – I know that the Minister opposite would never think of doing anything like that.

I am concerned about some aspects of the Bill, as I would of any Bill. There are financial implications to this Bill. I am afraid that at present, there would be serious implications for any Bill and its effectiveness or otherwise. I worry about the financial implications in the present climate. The Minister is shaking his head but I am not so sure.

The Bill proposes the setting up of a separate unit within the Department. I think that is a good idea but I hope it will not be a replication of some of the things that have been done in the health and education services whereby an expert unit of bureaucrats is established in a cocoon within the system so that they can advise. The Minister is indicating that will not be the case and I hope that is so.

The office of the official languages commissioner will be the specialist office, but there is a commissioner for everything nowadays, apart from EU Commissioners. Recently I heard a debate between a commissioner and the head of a semi-State body in which the commissioner and the body in question did not agree on a solution to the problem. I hope that type of conflict will not develop as a result of the appointment of the commissioner. The ultimate responsibility in any situation such as this is with the Minister and must always rest with the Minister. I hope it does not mean in the future that replies to questions from Members of this House will be referred to the official languages commissioner. I hope that the Minister and his successors – I am sure Deputy O'Dowd will be in a position to carry out that role in the future—

Next week.

—will carry on in that same vein. I am tired of repeating in this House that there should be no attempt by Ministers from any side of the political divide to avoid the opportunity of answering a question no matter how difficult it is. That lesson should have been learned in this House over the past ten or 12 years in particular. It is an opportunity for the Minister to protect both his or her staff and office when asked a question on a particular issue which is pertinent to or within the aegis of the Minister's Department.

There is a growing tendency in this House to push all difficult questions to one side, to avoid answering them at all if possible and to give responsibility for the answer to somebody who is not accountable to the House. We then wonder why things go wrong and why there is a need for tribunals of inquiry. We are moving away from parliamentary accountability towards delegation to authorities that are not accountable to this House and to the people.

I know that the Minister sitting opposite agrees with me. I encourage Ministers and Ministers in waiting on this side of the House to think very carefully about their responsibilities. I recall sitting on the opposite side of the House when an awkward question was put and the civil servant dealing with it identified it as a time bomb or a hand grenade with the pin pulled. There was panic but I felt there should be no such panic and that we should answer the question as it was, with no backing away from it. I just answered the question. If it is difficult to answer, so be it, but let us answer the question and deal with it. If we start back-pedalling away from such situations it will become a culture here and in all State institutions. They will all take that route. That is the worst possible thing that can happen to a democracy, as slowly but surely one becomes defensive and nobody becomes responsible. Those who are not elected can always say something is not their responsibility even though they have been given that responsibility. The Minister agrees with my views and he should spread that culture to other Departments if he can. I assure him a great need for such a culture has existed for a long time. I will deal with this issue in greater detail at a future stage.

Deputy Boyle referred to the cailíní ag damhsa ag an gcros-bhóthar agus na buachaillí ag imirt, and that is the grand old folklore of the Irish language – the Minister's ancestor would not mind my paraphrase. That was glorious in the past but we are in a different era now with different requirements. There are different, competing demands now and that is why the voices of newer Members should be taken into account.

There are many gaelscoileanna throughout the country and they are doing a tremendous job. They are encouraging the growth of the language and safeguarding it in many communities, urban and rural. However, every gaelscoil in my constituency is in temporary accommodation and the other schools are the same – almost every one of them has a string of prefabs alongside them. It is very difficult to tell the younger generation that while we feel one thing about what should be done, this is what we are actually doing. That is not the Minister's responsibility but if we are to instil the importance of our language, culture and heritage as well as education itself in the younger generation, we should think seriously about how we spend our money on the facilities that will help those areas to flourish. If we do not do so, that generation is likely to be critical of us and ask what we mean. In those circumstances they would be right to be critical. It is fine to build national stadia and buy Government jets with gold taps. It is great to see and we will be able to wow sheikhs at oil meetings. Is it better to have a bigger jet with bigger tyres, plusher seats, a hotter jacuzzi and a hot tub if possible? That will impress other Prime Ministers.

The Deputy is straying from the substance of the Bill.

Should I turn off the water in the hot tub?

Those are all very impressive but people are asking about our priorities regarding the language, health, education and law and order. We have to get our priorities right. It would not be a bad idea to suggest that gaelscoileanna and other schools would be in a reasonable condition in the not too distant future. It is not fair to have children learning in temporary school accommodation for their entire school lives, going through primary and secondary level in the same way. That is neither necessary nor desirable.

This is not the Minister's problem but the end of the general election seemed to coincide with a downturn in the economy we had not heard about before the election. Whether we like it, the country enjoyed an economic climate for the previous five years which other countries envied. Either we were deluding ourselves in that period or it actually happened – there is no use in blaming 11 September for what happened after the general election, as 11 September did not cause that election.

Acting Chairman

The Deputy is certainly straying now.

One must use examples to illustrate adequately the likely impact of a Bill and that is what I am doing. I may be straying on to sensitive ground but I am not doing so deliberately. Going back to what I said earlier, the public likes to see us leading and giving graphic illustration of examples when we do. They expect us to give an example and to go with that example. They tend to become cynical when we appear less than serious in our intent. Mar fhocal scor, tá an-áthas orm a bheith in ann cúpla focal a rá ar an mBille. Fanaimís go bhfeicfimid an é seo an Bille is tábhachtaí a tháinig os comhar an Tí ariamh.

Tá áthas orm seans a bheith agam cupla focal a rá ar an mBille tábhachtach seo. Chuaigh mise ar scoil i gColáiste Mhuire, ina rinneamar gach ábhar as Gaeilge, agus Laidin ina measc. Dá mbeadh timpeallacht ann a bhí níos tacúla don nGaeilge agus a mheall daoine chun an Ghaeilge a húsáid bheadh Gaeilge níos liofa agamsa agus ag mórán daoine eile.

I appreciate the opportunity to speak as I was one of the people who had the good fortune to attend a school where we studied all our subjects through Irish. That included Latin, history, geography, mathematics and everything else. Unfortunately the environment of the time was not one which encouraged students to promote the language or to be enthusiastic or involved in it. It was seen as something of a burden.

At third level, in University College Galway, I studied science, including physics and chemistry, through Irish. In that sense I am like the Minister, who also studied through Irish.

All my education was through English.

I must visit the Gaeltacht area the Minister represents and brush up on my Irish, given how líofa he is. The environment of the time was one which discouraged Irish and we saw it as something of a penalty and difficulty. If one was not particularly fluent it was more difficult to comprehend one's subject through Irish, which turned people off to a certain extent. However, that environment has changed and it is important to continue to promote that change of environment and to encourage the use of Irish. Gaelscoileanna are cropping up with great frequency, in particular in Dublin – there are two in my constituency – and parents are very anxious for their children to study all their subjects through Irish. The level of encouragement and the commitment is quite different. Irish is now seen very definitely as part of our culture about which we are positive and encouraging rather than making it difficult and awkward for people.

I welcome the broad thrust of the Bill. Promotion of the Irish language for official purposes is clearly important, for instance in court proceedings. A number of cases occurred where the accused or the defendant was only able to speak through Irish and that generated a number of difficulties. I support the general thrust of the Bill. I would like to see Irish promoted to a greater extent by Members of the Oireachtas and I welcome the opportunities provided recently to enable us to brush up on our Irish.

Gabhaim buíochas leis na Teachtaí ar fad a labhair ar an mBille seo. Bhí díospóireacht úsáideach agus dearfach againn. Ba mhaith liom go bhfeicfí an Bille mar pháirt de phróiseas níos mó de chéimeanna atá glactha leis an Ghaeilge a choinneáil i lár shaol na hÉireann.

Aontaím go mór leis an moladh a tugadh anseo do na meáin cumarsáide Gaeilge. Ta TG4, gan bheith i bhfad ar an saol, ag tabhairt na Gaeilge isteach i ngach uile theach in Éirinn. Tá sé tar éis bheith glic agus seiftiúil. An rud ba ghlice a rinne sé ná "All Ireland Gold" a thaispeáint mar duine ar bith nach raibh aeróg acu an t-am sin, chaill sé mórán atá anois le feiceáil arís. Molaim Raidió na Gaeltachta. Tá sé se ag trealamh ar feadh na blianta agus ní thuigtear an méid daoine taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht nach bhfuil Gaeilge an-líofa acu, daoine ar nós an Teachta Gay Mitchell, a éisteann leis an stáisiún sin. Molaim Foinse agus Lá, an páiste is óige acu sa méid gur nuachtán laethiúil cúig lá den tseachtain anois é.

Ní fhéadfainn seasamh anseo inniu, áfach, gan a rá go bhfuil díoma an tsaoil orm go bhfuil an dream is mó a fhaigheann airgead an phobail as craoladh poiblí a dhéanamh ar son mhuintir na hÉireann faillíoch agus neamhairdeach nuair a thagann sé chun ceist na Gaeilge. Chuir sé uafás agus alltacht orm aréir ag breathnú ar "Oireachtas Report" nuair nach raibh tagairt ar bith do rud ar bith a dúradh sa Teach seo ar Bhille a bhí tábhachtach. Pléadh coistí agus bhí Riar na hOibre sa dá Theach ann ach shílfeadh duine nach raibh an Bille seo a phlé sa Dáil, Bille atá lárnach do shaol chuile duine sa tír. Feictear domsa gur faillí sa ghnó phoiblí agus an dualgas poiblí atá ar RTE nár craoladh aon chuid den díospóireacht bríomhar seo.

Ní chuimhin liom, ó tháinig mé isteach sa Teach, go raibh díospóireacht ar bith faoin nGaeilge gur labhair an oiread sin Teachtaí ann i nGaeilge agus i mBéarla agus gur taispeánadh an oiread sin speise ann. Tá go leor leor pointí an-mhaith déanta. Ba bhreá liom go mbeadh i bhfad níos mó ná ceithre uair a chloig ann chun iad a fhreagairt. Bhí éagsúlacht tuairimí sa Dáil agus is rud iontach sláintiúil sin mar dá mbeimís ar aon tuairim amháin, bheadh sin míshláinitiúil. Chuir mé in aghaidh ariamh an tuairim go gcaithfeadh chuile duine bheith ar aon tuairim faoin nGaeilge, nach bhféadamís díospóireacht iomlán, nadúrtha a bheith againn fúithi mar a bheadh faoi rud ar bith eile.

One of the things I tried to do when we talked about the Bill initially was to make it an official languages Bill. I wanted to send a clear message that it was not a question of displacing English, which I do not think needs any great protection either in this country or worldwide, but of encouraging the use of Irish as a general medium and of giving it much greater official prominence in public life. That is why it is a Bille na dTeangacha Oifigiúla seachas a Bille na Gaeilge. I was very interested in what was said about non-nationals who have come to live here.

Féadfaidís leis an neart atá acu sa dátheangachas ceachtanna a mhúineadh chugainn. I bhformhór tíortha an domhain, sé an gnáthrud ná dátheangachas ar a laghad. Bhí mé ar chuairt san Aifric Theasc le gairid, agus i measc na daoine dubha, ní amháin go raibh dhá nó trí nó ceithre theanga acu, cuid acu bhí sé agus seacht gcinn de theangacha acu. Taispeánann sin bua theangaidh go mba bhreá liomsa, le daoine sa Teach seo agus le go leor daoine san Eorap a bheith acu. Is maith an scéal é go bhfuil siad sa tír agus go dtaispeánann siad do dhaoine nach gcaithfear teanga amháin a chailliúnt le teanga eile a bheith le duine.

Thug mise tacaíocht agus ómós don dream ó Thuaidh nuair a bhí siad ag iarraidh an aisíneacht Ulster Scots a bhunadh mar chuid den Fhoras Teanga.

Tá go leor cainte déanta le dhá lá anuas ar ghaelscoileanna. Taispeánann an t-éileamh atá ar na gaelscoileanna an speis atá ag go leor de phobal na hÉireann, iad siúd agus Gaeilge acu agus iad siúd nach bhfuil sí acu, sa nGaeilge agus an fonn atá orthu go mbeidh Gaeilge ag a gcuid páistí. Ardaíonn sin ceist eile – mar duine a chuaigh ar scoil ina raibh an teagasc ar fad trí Bhéarla, agus rinne mé mo chuid ollscolaíochta trí Bhéarla freisin, ach ar éirigh liom Gaeilge mhaith a thabhairt liom – faoi mhúineadh na Gaeilge sna scoileanna nach gaelscoileanna iad. Creidim go bhfuil caighdeán múineadh na Gaeilge sna bunscoileanna i gcoitinne lagaithe go mór le 30 bliain anuas agus caithfimid breathnú as an nua ar cén bealach a mhúinimid an Ghaeilge sna gnáthscoileanna. Ní rud maith a bheadh ann, fiú dá mbeadh 10% den phobal ag dul i ngaelscoileanna, go ngéillfidh an Ghaeilge i 90% eile mar nach bhfuil an Ghaeilge do mhúineadh i gceart sna scoileanna sin. Cuireann seo iontas orm leis na deiseanna nua, físeáin agus leabhráin agus na rudaí nua ar fad gur amhlaidh a bheadh an scéal.

Ba bhreá liom, agus bheadh sé sláintiúil, go mbeadh díospóireacht lá éigin sa Teach ar an Ghaeilge agus ar pholasaí Ghaeilge na tíre. Cuirfidh mé an cheist sin leis an bPríomh Aoire. Ba mhaith an rud go socrófaimís amach cén áit is ceart don Ghaeilge a bheith i saol na hÉireann. D'fhogair mé agus mé ag caint ag comóradh 50 bliain de Ghael Linn le déanaí, go bhfuil sé i gceist agam nuair a bheidh an Bille seo foilsithe, leabhrán a fhoilsiú a chuirfidh síos ar stair na Gaeilge, cé as a dtáinig sí, mar tá sin tábhbachtach ó tharla gur againne atá an teanga scríofa is sine san Eorap. Cuirfidh sé síos ar an stádas bunreachtúil atá ag an nGaeilge, an stádas atá aici ó Thuaidh ach go mór mór ag cur síos ar pholasaí an Rialtais i leith na Gaeilge. Bheadh ráiteas simplí, 20 nó 30 leathananch i nGaeilge agus i mBéarla, a dhéanfadh cur síos a bheadh soiléir don saol céard é polasaí an Stáit agus an Rialtais i leith na Gaeilge. Is cuid dínn an Ghaeilge.

Deputy Gay Mitchell mentioned the curse of the two forms of the Irish language on name plates on the same street – total carelessness where one sees a síne fada on a consonant and a séimhiú on a vowel and other gobbledegook. This morning I announced the formation of a new coimisiún logainmneacha, which will take office at the beginning of June, and I nominated the members to that new coimisiún. The place names branch of the Department has the official responsibility under law to advise the Minister on official place names and the Minister, myself in this case, effects those by ministerial order.

It is absolutely disgraceful that local authorities do no consult the commission on the correct forms of names, as they are obliged to do, and that they print the wrong forms on signs. When driving into Galway recently, I was appalled by a brand new sign for a national primary or secondary route. The legend on it reads "An Gaillimh". If one were using "An", the sign would read, "An Ghaillimh", but the name of the place is "Gaillimh". One would say "muintir na Gaillimhe" ceart go leor. I then drove on to a roundabout where I saw a sign which read, "An Sligeach". Those signs should be taken down forthwith and disposed of. Tá ceann eile i gContae Mhuigheo agus Inis Mhic an Thír ar thaobh amháin den chomhartha agus Inis Mhic an Trír ar an dtaobh eile den chomhartha céanna. Is é an dara ceann atá ceart. Tá Glan Coiribe curtha ar chomhartha eile cé nach bhfuil a leithéid d'áit ann. Is mór an náire an rud atá ar bun, ach tiocfaidh mé chuige sin ar ball.

Nuair a thosaigh mé ag obair ar an mBille seo bhí cur chuige simplí ann. Bhí orm glacadh leis gurb í an Ghaeilge an chéad teanga oifigiúil. Bhí orm glacadh leis go raibh, go bhfuil, agus go mbeidh, go ceann scatha ar a laghad, srianta leis an méid is féidir a dhéanamh de bharr go bhfuil líon na gcainteoirí líofa Gaeilge a bheadh in ann seirbhís éifeachtach trí mheán na Gaeilge a chur ar fáil teoranta. Bhí orm a shocrú go mbeadh rud ar bith ar chuirfí san mBille seo indéanta go praiticiúil agus go dáiríre.

Bhí an Bille seo ag imeacht, ar leibhéal amháin, ón sean choincheap go gcaithfidh an Stát a bheith ann mar áisíneacht cur chun cinn na Gaeilge. Tá an Bille ag díriú go mór ar sheirbhís de árd chaighdeán a chur ar fáil don chustaiméir. Tá taithí agam ar an gceist seo. Ba mé an chéad Teachta Dála ariamh i nGaillimh a shocraigh go mbeadh gach uile dhuine san oifig dháilcheantar inniúil ar Ghaeilge a labhairt agus go mbeadh an Ghaeilge mar ghnáth theanga na hoifige. Rud spéisiúil a tharla, ná gur tharraing sé sin na Gaeilgeoirí isteach le gnoithe a dhéanamh liom. Thaispeáin sé sin domsa dá mbeadh an tseirbhís ar ard-chaighdeán, gan dua agus nádúrtha nach gcuirfeadh sé na Béarlóirí ón doras ach go dtarraingeodh sé na Gaeilgeoirí isteach leis an tseirbhís a úsáid agus le Gaeilge a úsáid leis. Sin atá i gceist go mór ó thaobh na Gaeltachta de leis an mBille seo.

Cuireadh ceist cé mhéad a chosnóidh sé? Cosnóidh sé roinnt airgid le hoifig an choimisinéara a chur ar bun ach ní airgead an-mhór é. Beidh rannóg i mo Roinn ag teastáil leis na pleananna a réiteach. Taobh amuigh de sin ní cheart go mbeadh mórán costais ag baint le feidhmiú an Bhille seo do na Rannaí eile. Má táthar ag iarraidh seo a theisteáil níl le déanamh ach breathnú ar cheist amháin. Cén uair a thug aon Aire Airgeadais airgead breise don Roinn Ealaín Oidhreachta Gaeltachta agus Oileán nó don Roinn Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta nó aon Roinn eile ar nós é atá ag feidhmiú go dhátheangach agus atá ag comhlíonadh go leor de na forálach san mBille seo? Fós, bhíodar in ann bunáite an ruda atá i gceist san mBille seo a dhéanamh.

An dtugtar airgead breise riaracháin do Údarás na Gaeltachta mar go gcaithfidh sé feidhmiú go dhátheangach gach uile lá? Ní tugtar, mar nuair a fostaíodh na daoine ann deineadh cinnte go rabhdar dátheangach. An gcosnaíonn sé aon airgead breise duine dhátheangach a chur i bpost nó duine aonteangach a chur i bpost? Nach polasaí earcaíochta atá i gceist ansin? Mar sin, má oibrítear é seo go stuama ní cheart go mbeadh mórán costas breise ann. Cén chostas breise, agus dílárnú ar bun ag Comhairle Chontae na Gaillimhe, a bheadh ar deichniúr a fhostú agus iad a chur siar go dtí an Cheathrú Rua le seirbhís a thabhairt do mhuintir Chonamara trí mheán na Gaeilge seachas an deichniúr céanna a bheith fostaithe i gcathair na Gaillimhe agus gan ach Béarla acu agus ag tabhairt an tseirbhís céanna trí Bhéarla? Mar sin, ní ceist costais ach ceist pleanáil, earcaíochta, cur chuige agus tola í. Aisteach go leor, ní chosnóidh sé seo mórán.

Tá an cheart ag an Teachta Durkan agus aontaím go mór leis. Ní cheart do Airí a bheith de shíor ag tabhairt cumhachtaí uathu. Ní shin atá i gceist leis an mBille seo. Má tá casaoid amháin ag cuid des na heagraíochtaí Gaeilge is é go bhfuil an iomaraca cumhachta coinnithe ag an Aire. B'fhearr leo go mbeadh sé curtha sa bhun dlí, áit a mbeadh fadhb le cuid des na moltaí, nó go mbeadh sé tugtha don choimisinéir. Bheadh fadhb leis sin chomh maith. Caithfidh an bun smacht ó thaobh leagan amach na bpleananna de agus céard a bhéas iontu fanacht sa réimse pholaitiúil. Leis an bá atá sa Teach seo inniu agus inné don mBille seo, ní dóigh liom gur contúirt é sin a fhágáil i lámha na bpolaiteoirí.

Céard é ról an choimisinéara? Nuair atá na pleananna déanta agus gach rud faoi réir, is é a ról déanamh cinnte go ndéanfar de réir toil an Oireachtais. Tá sé mar a bheadh an garda i gcúrsaí dlí. Ní bheadh sé ceart go mbeadh an t-Aire i mbun monaiteoireachta nó mar phóilín ag an mBille seo. Ba cheart go ndéanfar sin go neamhspleách. Is é ról an choimisinéara cearta an chustaiméara agus an tsaoránaigh a chosaint. Le cúnamh Dé anois, nuair a cuirfear na comharthaí seafóideacha seo suas ní bheidh le déanamh ach scríobh ag an gcoimisinéir agus a rá, "A choimisinéir a chara, an bhfaca tú an rud atá déanta? Ní thagann sé leis na rialacháin go bhfuil sé seo curtha suas i nGaeilge nach dtagann leis an leagan oifigiúil. An bhféadfá rud éigin a dhéanamh faoi?". Ní bheidh le déanamh aige siúd ach, le cumhacht an choimisinéara, scríobh ag an údarás agus a rá go gcaithfear an rud a chur ina cheart. Nuair a bheidh sé sin déanta cupla uair aige nó aice ní bheidh air nó uirthi é a dhéanamh an dara uair. Má deirtear i bplean go mbeidh seirbhís trí Ghaeilge ar fáil nó má gheallann mór-eagraíocht Stáit nó Roinn Stáit go mbeidh líne eolais ar fáil agus duine le Gaeilge ar fáil ar an líne sin agus muna bhfuil sé ar fáil, is ag an gcoimisinéir a thiocfaidh duine le go ndéanfaidh seisean nó sise cinnte go mbeidh an tseirbhís ar fáil agus go gcuirfear an rud ina cheart.

Tá ceisteanna árdaithe ag Conradh na Gaeilge agus glacaim leis, nuair a hardaíodh cuid de na ceisteanna seo nach raibh Céim na Tuarascála glactha sa tSeanad. Bhí se i gceist ariamh go mbeadh comhfhreagras i nGaeilge freagraithe i nGaeilge. Bhí ceist ann, ar cheist theiciniúil í, go rabhmar ag scrúdú arb fhearr é sin a dhéanamh sna rialacháin nó sa dlí. Tá sé curtha sa dlí anois agus tá an cheist sin, an fhad is a mbaineann sé liomsa, socraithe anois.

Maidir le comhsheasamh a bheith ag an nGaeilge ar fhógraí, ar fhoirmeacha agus mar sin de, níl sé sásúil mar choincheap mar ní tír dhátheangach sa gciall atá i gceist i gCeanada atá anseo. Tá seo fíor ar dhá chúis. Tá i bhfad níos mó Frainciseoirí acu siúd mar chéatadán don phobal nár mar atá Gaeilgeoirí in Éirinn. Ach, aisteach go leor ní shin í an fíor-chúis. Is í an Ghaeilge chéad teanga oifigiúil sa tír seo agus i ngnoithe áirid ní bheidh aon Bhéarla ar chor ar bith ceadaithe. Tá soláthar san mBille so go gcaithfidh gach comhartha, fógrán agus mar sin de a bheith i nGaeilge amháin nó i nGaeilge agus i mBéarla.

Neamhchosúil leis an rud a bheadh agat i gCeanada, níl éinne ag iarraidh go gcuirfimid comhartha suas a deir, An Dáil agus The House of Representatives ar chomh mhéid lena chéile nó An Taoiseach nó Oifig an Taoisigh agus go gcuirfimid Office of the Prime Minister. Tá sé ceart go gcuirfí comharthaí i bhFraincis agus i mBéarla i gCeanada mar tá an seasamh bunreachtúil difriúil ann. Bhí gá go gcuirfimis soláthar sa mBille go mbeadh Gaeilge amháin i gceist i gcásanna áirithe. Maidir le comhmhéid, tá an fhadhb céanna ann má chuirtear seo isteach sa reachtaíocht agus déanfar seo trí rialacháin. Ba mhaith liom go mbeadh an saoirse ann go mbeadh an Ghaeilge go mór chun tosaigh in ainmneacha oifigiúla. Nach mbeadh sé aisteach dá gcaithfeadh Údarás na Gaeltachta a sheoladh a chur i mBéarla nó go gcaithfeadh eagraíochtaí eile cosúil leis? Bhí nós ariamh anseo go raibh an seoladh mór i nGaeilge ar pháipéar na Dála agus beag i lúibíní i mBéarla agus ní drochnós a bhí ann. A mhalairt atá go leor de na comhlachtaí Stáit a dhéanamh ach tá mé a rá rud amháin anseo, agus tá mé cinnte go mbeidh sé déanta sula bhfágfaidh mise oifig le cúnamh Dé. I láthair na huaire le go leor Rannaí agus eagraíochtaí Stáit, chaithfeadh duine miocrascóp a fháil leis an leagan Gaeilge a léamh nó chaithfeadh sé dul a chuartú le féachaint cá bhfuil sé.

Beidh ar a laghad comhmhéid i gceist ach ba mhaith liom go mbeadh an saoirse ann go mbeadh an Ghaeilge níos mó i gcuid mhaith cásanna. Sin an fáth nach bhfuil sin leagtha síos go sonrach istigh sa mBille ach gur féidir leis an Aire rialachán a dhéanamh ach go gcaithfidh sé bheith i nGaeilge agus i mBéarla, níl aon ghlacadh le Béarla amháin.

Maidir le seirbhís sa nGaeltacht, agus aonad riaracháin a riarfaí trí Ghaeilge, aontaím leis an bprionsabal. Sin ceann de phríomhchúspóir an Bhille. An cheist atá ann áfach ná an bhfuil aon bhealach go praicticiúil sin a scríobh i gcúig nó sé líne i reachtaíocht. Is fearr an prionsabal a leagan síos go soiléir sa gcéad dul síos sa reachtaíocht agus tá sé leagtha síos. Ansin, é a thréisiú tuilleadh sna treoirlínte a bheidh réitithe agam a bhainfidh leis na pleananna agus déanamh cinnte go dtabharfaidh na pleananna aird do na treoirlínte a déarfas i nGaeltacht ar nós Conamara go gcaithfear réimse mór seirbhísí a chur ar fáil. Beidh fadhbanna módh ann sa Rinn i bPort Láirge, ní féidir liom bheith ag súil go mbeadh an tseirbhís céanna i gceist sa Rinn mar tá an Ghaeltacht níos lú ansin. Beidh dualgas ar an choimisinéar déanamh cinnte go gcuirfear rud ar bith atá sa bplean i bhfeidhm.

Tá fadhb eile ara gcaithfimid aghaidh a thabhairt. Tá go leor daoine ag freastal ar an nGaeltacht i láthair na huaire agus ag obair sa nGaeltacht ar son an Stáit. Má comháiríonn duine chuile duine atá clúdaithe sa Bhille mar chomhlacht phoiblí, is dócha go bhfuil trían den phobal oibre ag obair san earnáil phoiblí. Tá go leor acu siúd nach bhfuil aon Ghaeilge acu ach ní féidir fáil réidh leo maidin amárach trí reachtaíocht a thabhairt isteach, is próiseas pleanáilte leanúnach atá i gceist agus is chuige sin go bhfuil an cur chuige áirithe i gceist.

D'iarr an Teachta Ó Sé inné faoi Sustaining Progress. Sin ceann den na doiciméid go gcaithfear a chur a amach go dhátheangach. Ar an taobh eile den scéal, ní gá go mbeadh an Ghaeilge mar ábhar luaite ann mar ní faoin nGaeilge atá sé, cúrsaí páirtnéireacht atá i gceist. Tá go leor rudaí eile faoi chúrsaí chultúr nach bhfuil luaite ann. Mar sin, glacaim leis an chéadphointe agus tá súil agam go dtuigeann an Teachta an dara phointe atá mé ag déanamh.

D'ardaigh an Teachta Carey go leor ceisteanna. Tá súil agam go bhfuil mé tar éis cuid acu a fhreagairt. Tá súil agam nach bhfeicfear an coimisinéar mar a d'fheictí fadó an cigire scoil ag feidhmiú ar son Stáit míthrócaireach ach go bhfeicfear é nó í mar chosantóir an phobail. Oibreoidh an choimisinéar ar éileamh an phobail – tiocfaidh an pobal chuige.

Bhí ceist ann cén fáth a raibh soláthar sa mBille nach féidir dhul thar breithiúnas an choimisinéir agus dul chun na cúirteanna fáoi rudaí atá sna pleananna. An smaoineamh a bhí ann ná má bhí coimisinéar ann mar gharda, bhí sé ann le déanamh cinnte go gcuirfear seo i bhfeidhm, agus má tá muinín againn as an gcoimisinéar, ba cheart an gné sin den obair a fhágáil mar sin. Níl aon chosc ar éinne a dhul ag na cúirteanna mar atá an Bille anois faoi aon rud eile. Is féidir le duine dul chun na cúirte am ar bith lena gcearta bunreachtúla maidir leis an nGaeilge a chosaint.

Glacaim leis an moladh a rinneadh maidir le dianchúrsa Ghaeilge a bheith ar fáil do bhaill den Teach seo a bhéimeodh ar an teanga teicniúil a bhíonn orainn úsáid sa Teach seo. Tá cíall ag baint leis sin agus is féidir linn sin a scrúdú. Níl a fhios agam an féidir liom, mar Aire, mórán a dhéanamh faoi ach cinnte tá mé sásta breathnú ar an gceist.

Luadh anseo ceist leasuithe. Is iad na Teachtaí a chuir síos na leasuithe agus mar sin ní fhéadfainn aon tagairt a dheanamh d'aon leasú mar níl aon leasú thíos i láthair na huaire. Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil leasuithe molta ag cuid de na heagraisí Gaeilge agus is ceist don bhFreasúra agus, go deimhin, don Rialtas breathnú ar na moltaí atá déanta acu agus a rá cé na leasuithe a chuirfimid chun cinn. Cuirfidh mé an-speis sna leasuithe atá curtha ar aghaidh agus is féidir liom dearbhú go mbeidh mé á scrúdú go cruinn.

Beidh mé ag casadh leis na heagraisí Gaeilge Dé Luain seo chugainn agus le muintir na Gaeltachta. Is leo na heagraisí Gaeltachta. Agus mé ag plé leis na dreamanna sin, beidh mé ag tabhairt cluais éisteachta ach go gcaithfidh mé ómós a thabhairt don Teach seo agus a rá nach féidir liom cinneadh críochnúil a dhéanamh ar thada, gurb é an Teach seo a dhéanfaidh na cinnithe agus gur sinne mar Bhaill den Teach a dhéanfaidh na moltaí faoina leasuithe a cheapaimid ar cheart glacadh leo agus sinn ag deireadh an lae a votálann orthu. Éistfidh mé agus ní fhéadfainn cinneadh a dhéanamh ach oiread gan éisteacht le tuairimí Bhaill an Tí seo. Déanfaidh mé sin go fonnmhar. Má tá bealaí ann leis an mBille a fheabhsú, déanfaidh mé é.

Ar an dtaobh eile den scéal, má chreidim gur fearr an leagan amach atá ann i láthair na huaire, ma chreidim gurb shin an rud is fearr a dhéanfaidh cúram sa gcás seo, seasfaidh mé leis an méid atá ann. Ní thabharfaidh mé aon reamhbhreithiúnas air seo, beidh intinn oscailte agam.

I am sure that Opposition Deputies will table very interesting amendments covering many different issues. I hope that, given Members' experience in dealing with legislation in the precedence – chuala mé duine ag cur ceiste maidir leis an Aire Airgeadais – but we all know the consitutional position with regard to spending and the requirement to get finance sanction. However, I assure Deputies that I will listen to and examine carefully any amendments tabled. I am sure Deputies will do likewise in their amendments and that there will be lively interaction in the debate. We must do this in the context of the procedure for adopting legislation in this and the upper House. We must have regard to how it operates and fits together, and to why legislation is enacted in a certain way. Whatever we put into this Bill must be enforceable and doable. There is no point whatsoever in having legislation, no matter how desirable the end result, if its provisions are not achievable. We need to be realistic. I took a great risk in trying to make everything in this Bill achievable and realistic. To go beyond that point would do more damage to the Irish language than good. I thank all the Deputies who took part. I hope that those of them who are not líofa sa Ghaeilge will accept that it was important that I spoke mainly in Irish on this Bill. One of the difficulties – and perhaps we could examine the technology involved – is that the instant translation services are available only to people sitting in the Chamber or the press gallery. They are not available in people's offices, a problem with which we should be able to deal in the modern technological world in which we live. It is a pity, for it is a great inhibition on us all speaking Irish that, if there are ten Irish-speakers and one English-speaker present, we sometimes feel that we are leaving the non-Irish speaker out if he or she cannot understand. In the Chamber there are the earphones, but outside there are not.

I assure all Deputies that I have enjoyed the debate over the last two days, for it showed one interesting fact. The representatives elected by the people broadly welcome this Bill, though there were differences of opinion. I was interested in Deputy English's view. I do not agree with him about two things he said, which I believe are wrong. This country is still one of the richest in the world, and we can afford to look after our culture. It is a great deal richer now than it ever was. It is only when one goes abroad that one realises how rich.

I think he would accept that, if someone proposed to bulldoze Tara, Knowth, Dowth and all of the great wealth of the world-class archaeological sites in Meath, it would be a travesty of justice. Irish is the oldest written language in Europe that is still a current vernacular, a language that is a world treasure which we hold in trust, not only for the Irish people but for the people of the world, that is unique to this island and to us as a people as our native language. If we said that we would not, or could not, afford to take the small steps needed to ensure its survival, not only would we be doing a great disservice to the people of Ireland but we would be robbing the world of a culture and legacy left to us that are of world importance. In other words, another world heritage site, albeit a living, vibrant one, would disappear.

Question put and agreed to.