I move amendment No. 1:
In page 24, between lines 27 and 28, to insert the following:
"Amendment of section 33 of Act of 2005
30. Section 33 of the Act of 2005 is amended, in subsection (2), by the deletion of ", to the extent practicable,".".
Is leasú díreach simplí é seo. Tá mé féin agus an Teachta Pringle ag iarraidh fáil réidh leis na focail atá ann a ligeann don Gharda Síochána éalú as an dualgas atá air gardaí a chur ar fáil i gceantair Ghaeltachta le líofacht sa Ghaeilge. Bainfidh mé úsáid as an dá theanga, Gaeilge agus Béarla, má oireann sin don Aire. Tá mé ag iarraidh fáil réidh leis an bhfrása "a mhéid is indéánta" ó alt 33(2) den Acht an Gharda Síochána, 2005. San alt sin maítear:
Cinnteoidh Coimisinéir an Gharda, a mhéid is indéanta, go mbeidh comhaltaí den Gharda Síochána a bheidh ar stáisiún i ndúiche ina bhfuil limistéar Gaeltachta inniúil go leor sa Ghaeilge chun a chumasú dóibh í a úsáid go saoráideach le linn dóibh an dualgais a chomhall.
I am seeking to amend section 33 of the 2005 Act by deleting "to the extent practicable" so that there is an obligation on Garda management to ensure gardaí stationed in Gaeltacht areas have a standard of Irish that allows them to communicate with the public, receive complaints and deal with the public in a manner understandable in the Irish language.
To give background, I will take my first opportunity to mention the report An Coimisinéir Teanga laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas earlier this year. Dúirt sé gurbh údar díomá dó go raibh air an chéim seo a thógáil. Go sonrach, dúirt an Coimisinéir Teanga gur "údar díomá" é go bhfuil sárú an Gharda Síochána ar an dlí teanga ina ábhar tuarascála chuig Tithe an Oireachtais in 2021 agus dúirt sé go bhfuil "bonn faoi chóras riaracháin an Stáit le beagnach céad bliain".
The Coimisinéir Teanga took the only step that remained to him and placed the report before the Houses of the Oireachtas. Unfortunately, it has never been discussed here and I hope we get a chance to discuss it. When he took that last step, I will not say it was in frustration because I will not attribute feelings to him, but he set out clearly that, over a ten-year period from 2011 to 2021, he and his predecessor tried every possible way to engage with senior management on a report done in 2011 in Donegal. Deputy Pringle, who signed the amendment, is a Teachta Dála in that county. A report was carried out then on foot of a complaint from a member of the public that the Garda was not in a position to offer a service in Irish. A report was drawn up with a number of recommendations. Four were particularly notable, of which three were specific to Donegal and one had national implications. Dochreidte mar atá, incredible as it seems, the process that continued for those ten years was not positive and he had no choice in the end but to lay that report before the Houses of the Oireachtas. Two coimisinéirí teanga engaged, one who left the post because he felt there was cur i gcéill i gceist or pretence on the part of the State organs with regard to the Irish language. He was replaced by the current commissioner and that is where we are.
I doubt the Minister will accept the amendment because the words "to the extent practicable" provide a great escape route for every organisation. They tell us it is not practical. Earlier today, I was on the Irish committee and we had the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive before us and the exact same things were said. There is easpa tuisceana anseo go bhfuil dualgas dlíthiúil ar an Gharda an t-alt sin a chomhlíonadh. It has a legal responsibility to comply with the law and is not doing so. I have no choice but to ask for that escape route to be taken out to bring home to the Garda the importance of complying with the law.
When the Commissioner was before us on the committee, I said that all of us at some stage break the law and appeal to gardaí to give us a chance and we will change. If we are lucky, we get that chance and we change. The Garda has had more than ten years since the first report was produced in 2011 and there has been no change. That is the context to this simple amendment.