Irish spoken at EU — but no one around to translate

MINISTERS have spoken in Irish 22 times at EU meetings since the language became an official one last January, while MEPs have used it about twice as often.

The European Commission Irish language website is up and running, however efforts to recruit at least 30 Irish language translators and interpreters at an annual cost of about €3.5 million have proven difficult.

There have been teething problems introducing the language to the European Union institutions over the last 10 months, Multi-lingualism Commissioner Leonard Orban is expected to tell representatives from a number of language organisations when they meet in Brussels today.

The meeting aims to assess how the integration of Irish as a working language is progressing within the different EU institutions and has been organised by MEP Sean O Neachtain, who is a native Irish speaker.

He said they would focus in particular on how recruitment of Irish interpreters, translators and jurist-linguists is proceeding.

There have been delays recruiting staff as few, if any, had the necessary qualifications to become a recognised EU translator of texts or interpreter of the spoken word.

This has been followed by a slow take-up of posts as some offered jobs did not want to move to Brussels while others just came for a short time on secondment.

There are also problems filling the posts of legal experts fluent in Irish who are required to translate complex text into Irish.

As a result, only those which are seen as essential texts are being translated.

A number of MEPs use Irish regularly including Jim Higgins, Proinsias De Rossa, Marian Harkin and Liam Aylward and Bairbre de Brun, a Sinn Féin MEP for Northern Ireland.

The Commission’s Irish language site is available at: http://europa.eu/index_ga.htm

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