Comhdháil Idirnáisiúnta ar Chearta Teanga
International Conference on Language Rights
BAILE ÁTHA CLIATH, AN 24 BEALTAINE 2013
DUBLIN, 24 MAY 2013
SEÁN Ó CUIRREÁIN,
AN COIMISINÉIR TEANGA
Cúlra…...Background
 Teanga stairiúil na tíre
seo…á húsáid anseo le 2,000
bliain
 Historic language of
Ireland…in use here for
2,000 years
 An teanga scríofa is sine i
 Oldest written language in
 D'ainneoin na staire agus an
 Despite its history and
dTuaisceart na hEorpa a
mhaireann fós mar theanga
bheo phobail
stádais, teanga í atá faoi
bhagairt
Northern Europe which
remains a living,
community language
status, it remains a
threatened language
Staitisticí ….Statistics
Daonáireamh 2011
Census 2011
 Daonra iomlán = 4.5m.
 Total population =
duine
 Gaeilge ag 1.77m nó
41%...méadú 7% ó 2006
 Cainteoirí laethúla
(lasmuigh den
oideachas)… 77,000
méadú 7%, 23,000 acu
sin sa Ghaeltacht
4.5m. people
 Those with Irish, 1.77m
or 41%, increase of 7%
since 2006
 Daily speakers (outside
education)… 77,000,
up 7%, 23,000 of those
in Gaeltacht areas.
Stádas….Status
Go hoifigiúil…
 Mar theanga náisiúnta,
aitheanta sa bhunreacht mar
phríomhtheanga oifigiúil.
 Teanga oifigiúil san Aontas
Eorpach (AE) í ón mbliain
2007
 Polasaí oifigiúil ó bhunú an
Stáit maidir le tacaíocht/cur
chun cinn na teanga
 Léiríonn taighde go bhfuil
93% de phobal na tíre báúil
dá cosaint nó dá cur chun
cinn.
Officially…
 As national language
recognised in constitution as
first official language
 Official language of
European Union (EU) since
2007
 Official policy of
supporting/promoting
language since foundation of
State
 Research shows that 93% of
the population are
supportive of the
preservation or promotion of
Irish.
Tacaíocht…Support
Raon leathan de
thacaíochtaí oifigiúla…
Ábhar éigeantach scoile go dtí an
Ardteist (aois c.18 bliana), cead
úsáide sna cúirteanna agus Tithe
an Oireachtais, Aire agus Roinn
Rialtais, stáisiúin raidió agus
teilifíse, foilseacháin éagsúla,
oideachas trí Ghaeilge ó naíonraí
go 3ú leibhéal, seirbhísí trí
Ghaeilge ó ranna agus
eagraíochtaí stáit, Acht Teanga
agus Oifig Coimisinéara Teanga,
forais, cumainn agus eagraíochtaí
teanga de gach cineál, straitéis 20
bliain, pleanáil teanga sa
Ghaeltacht…
Wide range of official
support mechanisms…
Compulsory school subject to
Leaving Cert (c.18 years of age),
right to use in all courts and
houses of parliament,
Government Minister and
Department, Radio and TV
stations, publications,
education through Irish from
pre-school to 3rd level, services
through Irish from state
departments and agencies,
Language Act and Language
Commissioner’s Office, all sorts
of language organisations,
associations and bodies , 20year strategy, Gaeltacht
language planning initiative …
Gaeltacht
Staid reatha…
 Maireann an teanga mar theanga
phobail i limistéir i 7 gcontae, ar an
gcósta thiar den chuid is mó (agus
mar rogha theanga ar fud na tíre…)
 Daonra na Gaeltachta c.97,000 agus
66,000 díobh ina gcainteoirí Gaeilge;
23,000 acu ina gcainteoirí laethúla
Gaeilge lasmuigh den oideachas.
 Mairfidh an teanga sna Gaeltachtaí
ach an mairfidh sí mar theanga bheo
an phobail? Faoi bhrú ollmhór faoi
láthair…Géarchéim teanga i ngach
limistéir Gaeltacht gan dabht ar bith.
 Dlúthcheangal idir todhchaí na
Gaeltachta agus an teanga go
náisiúnta.
Current state…
 Irish survives as a community
language in areas in 7 counties,
predominantly on western
seaboard (also as a language of
choice throughout the country…)
 Gaeltacht population is c.97,000
with 66,000 being Irish speakers;
23,000 of those speak Irish daily
outside education system.
 Language will survive in Gaeltacht
but will it remain a living,
community language? Under
enormous pressure at present:
major crisis in every Gaeltacht.
 Inherent connection between
future of Gaeltacht and the
language nationally.
Deacrachtaí …Difficulties
Gan cheist…
 Easpa ceangail idir sealbhú
na teanga (san oideachas
nó ó dhúchas sa
Ghaeltacht) agus úsáid na
teanga…bearna ollmhór
fágtha
 Gan dóthain aird ar
sholáthar seirbhísí stáit trí
Ghaeilge …go háirithe sa
Ghaeltacht.
 Teachtaireacht
mheasctha… “Labhraígí
Gaeilge le chéile ach ná
labhraígí linne í!”
Without question…
 Lack of correlation between
language acquisition
(through education or as
native speakers in
Gaeltacht) and subsequent
usage… a huge ‘disconnect’.
 Inadequate provision of
state services through
Irish..particularly in
Gaeltacht.
 Mixed message ..“Speak
Irish amongst yourselves,
but don’t speak it to us!”
Reachtaíocht…Legislation
Aidhm…
 Forálacha teanga i go
leor den reachtaíocht
 2003 – Acht na
dTeangacha Oifigiúla
 Aidhm: líon agus
caighdeán na seirbhísí
stáit trí Ghaeilge a
mhéadú ar bhealach
eagraithe thar tréimhse
ama..áit agus spás a
chruthú don teanga i saol
poiblí na tíre.
Objective…
 Language provisions in
many pieces of
legislation
 2003 – Official
Languages Act
 Objective: increase the
quantity an quality of
state services through
Irish in an organised
manner over
time…create a place and
space for the language in
public affairs
Forálacha…Provisions
San Acht…
 Trí mheascán d'fhorálacha
díreacha, rialacháin agus
scéimeanna teanga, dírítear
ar úsáid na Gaeilge sna
cúirteanna, i dTithe an
Oireachtais, i gcroífhoilseacháin na n-eagras
stáit, sa chumarsáid idir an
Stát agus an pobal, i
gcomharthaíocht,
stáiseanóireacht, fógairtí
taifeadta béil,
logainmneacha, etc.
Bainteach leis an tseirbhís
phoiblí amháin.
In the Act…
 Using a mix of direct
provisions, regulations
and language schemes, it
focuses on use of Irish in
the courts, houses of
parliament, in core
publications by state
bodies, in the
communication between
State and public, in
signage, stationery,
recorded announcements,
placenames, etc. Deals
only with public sector.
Coimisinéir …Commissioner
Oifig bheag…
Small office…
 Bunaithe in 2004
 Seirbhís ombudsman
 Gníomhaireacht
ghéilliúlachta
 Soláthar comhairle ar
chearta agus ar dhualgais
 Foireann de 5-7
státseirbhíseach
 Buiséad bliantúil
c.€600,000
 Established in 2004
Ombudsman service
 Compliance Agency
 Provision of advice
on rights and
obligations
 Staff of 5-7 civil servants
 Annual budget
c.€600,000

Osradharc…Overview
Go dtí deireadh 2012,
dhéileáil an Oifig le:
5,425 gearán (28% ón
nGaeltacht)
82 imscrúdú foirmiúil
198 iniúchadh
1,736 iarratas ar chomhairle ó
eagrais stáit
9 dtuarascáil bhliantúla +
3 thuarascáil speisialta agus
tuairisc ar mholtaí maidir le
leasuithe ar an Acht.
Treoirleabhar, suíomh gréasáin agus
foilseacháin éagsúla, chomh maith
le pacáiste tacaíochta foghlama
ilmhéan ar chearta teanga do dhaltaí
scoile na tíre, etc .
By the end of 2012, the Office
had dealt with:
5,425 complaints (28% from
the Gaeltacht)
82 formal investigations
198 audits
1,736 requests for advice
from state bodies
9 annual reports + 3 special
reports, as well as
recommendations for
amendments to the Act.
Guidebook, a website and
various publications including
a multi-media educational
resource on language right for
schoolchildren.
Athbhreithniú ...Review
An tAcht faoi athbhreithniú
faoi láthair…
Act currently under
review…
 Cuid de chlár oibre an Rialtais reatha
 Próiseas comhairliúcháin phoiblí

críochnaithe ó Eanáir 2011 ach níl na
torthaí foilsithe fós.
 Ráite go mbeidh an bille nua leis an
Acht a leasú foilsithe roimh
dheireadh na bliana seo.
 Cónascadh Oifig an Choimisinéara le
hOifig an Ombudsman le déanamh
sa phróiseas céanna ach ráite go
leanfaidh coimisinéir neamhspleách
a bheidh á cheapadh go reachtúil ag
feidhmiú na gcumhachtaí reatha
agus lonnaithe sa Ghaeltacht. Cineál
éigin córais le cumhachtaí tarmligthe
luaite.
Part of the current programme for
Government
 Public consultation exercise ended in
January 2011 but no results published
to date
 Bill to amend Act said to be published
before end of this year.
 Amalgamation of Commissioner's
Office with Ombudsman's Office as part
of the same process but said that an
independent commissioner will
continue to be appointed in a statutory
manner, with the statutory functions of
the current commissioner and based in
the Gaeltacht. Some system of
delegated powers proposed.
Ceachtanna ...Lessons
Prionsabail…
 Reachtaíocht shoiléir, láidir




riachtanach le cearta teanga a
chosaint..seachas a theorannú.
Is cearta iad cearta teanga agus
ní gar iad a cheadaítear in aimsir
na flúirse… buanchearta iad
seachas pribhléidí nó fabhair.
Riachtanas é go mbeadh
monatóireacht neamhspleách i
gceist: “What gets measured, gets
done!”
Tábhacht mhór le córas réitithe
do ghearáin.
Sciath chosanta seachas claíomh.
Principles…
 Clear, strong legislation




required to protect…rather
than restrict language rights
Language rights are not
favours granted in times of
affluence…permanent rights,
not privileges or favours
Independent monitoring is
essential – “What gets
measured, gets done!”
Complaints resolution
mechanism is very important.
A shield not a sword.
Ach…
But…
Géarchéim…
Crisis…
 Croí-ghné den Acht Teanga –
 Core element of Language Act
córas na scéimeanna teanga –
fágtha i gcruachás cheal feidhmiú
cuí… scéimeanna in éag gan
athnuachan…easpa muiníne dá
bharr.
 Dul chun cinn rótheoranta,
rómhall, gan straitéis
chomhcheangailte.
 Easpa tacaíochta d’fheidhmiú
na reachtaíochta ag leibhéal
sinsearach sa chóras
poiblí….baol ann gur mar rud
roghnach breise a fheictear an
teanga...rómhinic feictear an
Béarla mar theanga nádúrtha
na hoibre.
– the language schemes system
– in crisis because of
inadequate approach…schemes
expired without
renewal..consequent lack of
confidence.
 Progress is often too little, too
late, no joined-up strategy .
 Lack of champions to promote
the legislation at senior level in
public sector …unfortunately
language is seen as an optional
extra..too often English is seen
as the ‘default’ setting
Dul chun cinn... Progress…
Méadú ar:
Increase in:
 Seirbhísí áirithe stáit trí
 Certain state services





Ghaeilge
Feasacht teanga
Tuiscint ar chearta agus
ar dhualgais teanga
Feiceálacht na teanga
Cumarsáid an Stáit leis
an bpobal i nGaeilge
An creatlach reachtach
atá mar thaca don teanga





through Irish
Language awareness
Understating of language
rights and obligations
Language visibility
State communication
trough Irish with public
Legal framework to
support language
Taithí …Experience
Bainfidh an pobal
úsáid…





…as seirbhísí trí Ghaeilge má chuirtear iad ar
fáil ar an gcaighdeán céanna le seirbhísí trí
Bhéarla..ach taithí an Bhéarla daingnithe.
Fágfaidh cuid mhór daoine a gcearta agus a
mianta teanga ar leataobh mura gcuirtear
seirbhísí ar fáil go follasach, toilteanach,
fáilteach, oscailte .
Tá sé míréasúnta a bheith ag cur dualgas ar
dhaoine an teanga a shealbhú agus ansin
diúltú dóibh í a úsáid le déileáil le heagrais
stáit.
Ní féidir seirbhísí stáit a chur ar fáil mar is
ceart trí Ghaeilge gan foireann le Gaeilge a
bheith fostaithe: ag an chéim earcaíochta is
gá sin a áireamh.
Ní leor reachtaíocht teanga a achtú mura
gcuirtear na córais agus na hacmhainní
cearta ar fáil lena feidhmiú
People will use…





…state services through Irish if they are
provided at a similar standard to services
through English…for too long the default
setting
Many will leave their language rights and
choices aside if services are not offered in
a clear, welcoming, open, willing manner.
It is unreasonable to require people to
acquire Irish and then to reject their
efforts to use it with state organisations.
State services through Irish can not be
provided adequately unless staff with Irish
are employed and this ought be addressed
at the recruitment stage.
Language legislation is insufficient if
systems and resources are not provided
for its implementation.
Dúshlán…Challenge
An reachtaíocht a leasú le
go mbeidh sí…
…oiriúnach dá feidhm le freastal go cuí ar
mhianta phobal na teanga…go gcinnteofar
go gcruthófar áit agus spás don teanga i
saol poiblí na tíre agus go mbogfar í ón
imeall go dtí áit níos lárnaí.
 An bhfuiltear dáiríre faoi seo a
dhéanamh? Beidh leide faoin dáiríreacht
sin le feiceáil le 2 theist an-simplí…mo
shlata tomhais féin:
To amend the legislation
so as to make it…



An gcinnteoidh an reachtaíocht
leasaithe go mbeidh Gaeilge ag
fostaithe an Stáit a bheidh ag
freastal ar phobal na Gaeltachta, gan
cheist, gan choinníoll?
An ndéileálfar sa reachtaíocht le
ceist na teanga in earcaíocht foirne
don chóras poiblí i gcoitinne?

…fit for purpose to adequately serve the
needs of the language community...to
create a place and space for the
language in public affairs and to move
it from the margins to the mainstream.

Will it be taken seriously? A hint at the
seriousness of the effort will come from
2 simple tests…my personal yardsticks:


Will the amended legislation ensure
that state employees serving the
Gaeltacht communities are Irish
speaking without question or
conditions?
Will the new legislation address the
issue of language in recruitment to
the public service in general?
Toradh…Result
Mura féidir…
If not…
 Mura féidir an dá ghné sin
 If those two elements are
a chur san Acht leasaithe,
faraor, beidh an baol ann
gur mugadh magadh,
bríolla brealla nó bréaga
atá i gceist.
 Agus go bhfeicfear go
bhfuil sé fabhtach,
faillíoch agus nach fada go
ligfear i ndearmad é.
not addressed in the
amended legislation, I
fear it may be seen as a
fudge, a farce or a
falsehood.
 And that it will be
perceived as flawed, a
failure and soon forgotten.
Focal scoir...And finally
CEIST?
Ní féidir le haon Rialtas, reachtaíocht,
coimisinéir nó eagraíocht stáit leo féin
teanga atá i mbaol a shábháil. Ach tá ról
acu ar fad le chéile leis na coinníollacha a
chothú le cabhrú leis an bpobal a dteanga
dhúchais a chosaint agus a chur chun
cinn.
 Mhair an Ghaeilge anseo trí ghorta agus
cogaí, trí cheannas eachtrach agus trí
ghéarchéimeanna eacnamaíocha agus
maireann sí fós mar theanga bheo, croíchuid dár gcultúr agus dár bhféiniúlacht
agus cuid d'oidhreacht an domhain mhóir.
An dúshlán atá romhainn ná a chinntiú go
gcothaíonn muid na coinníollacha, an áit
agus an spás don teanga le go mairfidh sí i
gcónaí. An bhfuil an cheannaireacht agus
an cumas ionainn é sin a dhéanamh?

QUESTION?
No Government, legislation,
commissioner or state agency can – of
their own – save a threatened language.
However, all have a role to play together
to create the conditions to facilitate the
public in promoting and protecting their
native language.
 In Ireland, Irish has survived through
famine and wars, foreign occupation and
past economic turmoil and still remains
a living language, a core part of our
culture and identity and part of world
heritage… the challenge is to ensure that
we create the conditions, the place and
the space for its continued existence. Do
we have the leadership and capacity to
address this?

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Language rights…Human rights