He states eloquently the argument against the translation of documents. You quote him as saying: “Spending this money on translating these plans, that no one reads, makes a mockery of the language. If the (Clare) council is given a choice in the future of spending €10,000 on translating an annual report into Irish or providing €10,000 in grants in improving homes for the elderly or people with disabilities, I know which choice I would make.”
That argument, though sensible, no longer holds water given the extremely generous bonus paid to the HSE chief executive when that service is in a financial crisis or when a generous “retirement” package is paid to the former Ceann Comhairle and still sitting and salaried TD, John O’Donoghue. Given the choice between the payment of such bonuses and golden handshakes and the translation of documents into Irish, I would opt for the latter.
However, I am an Irish speaker and a taxpayer. I want the best for the Irish language and the best value for my contribution to the state coffers. I am also a parent with a son in primary school whose choice of reading material as Gaeilge is limited, to say the least. The reason for this is the lack of resources. While the Official Languages Act provides for the translation of some official documents into Irish, subject to the provisions of schemes agreed by the public body and Department of Rural, Community and Gaeltacht Affairs, it does nothing to make it easier to educate children through the medium of Irish or about An Ghaeilge.
If there is ever to be a demand for Irish language documents such as the Irish version of the Clare County Development Plan 2005, then surely there has to be a concerted effort to ensure that the textbooks in Irish in our schools are at the same standard at least as those in English. When this challenge is put to the Department of Education and Science, it will respond that it is not responsible for this essential element of the education of our children. That echoes the response of Health Minister Mary Harney when questioned about the bonus paid to Prof Drumm. She’s not responsible. It’s a matter between Prof Drumm and the HSE board.
In short we have a Government that is spending our money without counting it and is responsible, it seems, for not one red cent.
Finally, there is one thing I will teach my son: if there is a choice between paying €50-€100 for the hard copy of an Irish version of a county development plan or reading it online for nothing, as the plan for Co Clare is available free online – always choose the latter.
Concubhar O Liatháin