Only 551 Government staff have competence in Irish, report finds

Only 551 of the more than 21,000 staff employed in Government departments have competence in the Irish language.

The first monitoring report of the office of An Coimisinéir Teanga delivered a withering assessment of the Irish language competency across the public service.

In total, only 551 staff out of the 21,060 (2.62%) employed by government departments were identified as staff having competence in the Irish language.

Only two government departments – the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Department of Education and Skills – have more than 5% of employees with competence in Irish.

The study found that only 84 positions of the 20,000 employed by government departments are recognised as positions with an Irish language requirement. A total of 67 of those positions are in the Department of Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht.

Seven government departments had not identified any positions as ones with an Irish language requirement. Other than the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht with 10%, the number of positions identified as ones with an Irish language requirement was below 1%.

The study found that just two of the 10 local authorities examined were complying for the most part with the statutory language commitments relating to their websites.

Almost 60% of signs examined at heritage sites under the auspices of the Office of Public Works were in compliance with the regulations.

An Coimisinéir Teanga Rónán Ó Domhnaill said the results of the study were a further indication of the lack of capacity of the State to deliver an acceptable level of service in the Irish language.

These results do not engender any confidence that government departments are displaying the necessary leadership in ensuring that sufficient numbers of staff with Irish are employed by them.

The low level of employees with Irish means that there cannot be an expectation of a comprehensive range of services of equal standard being provided in both official languages. This must be addressed by amending the Act and the recruitment policies of the State," he said.

Conradh na Gaeilge described the findings as "shocking" and called on the Taoiseach and the Government to act immediately and publish the promised Irish Language Bill.

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