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Ireland needs to sharpen its act in relation to the EU.
Irish has been an official EU language since 2007. Because of fears that not enough qualified Irish translators and lawyer-linguists were available, Irish was given a derogation whereby only a portion of material available in other languages is translated into Irish.
In the meantime, sterling work has been done to train the relevant language experts and capacity is no longer an issue.
EPSO, the central recruitment agency for EU bodies, fills permanent posts. EPSO exams can be quite tricky and a thorough knowledge of a third language is necessary.
The Maltese overcame their derogation within 3 years by means of temporary contracts. Such contract competitions are not as exacting as EPSO permanent post competitions and half the Maltese EU language experts are on temporary contracts to this day. Most of the Croat language experts are also on temporary contracts.
Our derogation is due to lapse at the end of 2016 if not renewed. Over 180 well-paid jobs will be created at no expense to the Irish taxpayer if the derogation lapses. These positions would be filled in the first instance by the various Irish units running temporary contract competitions.
Once in situ these Irish citizens will be in a position to move on to policy area positions, which will greatly benefit Ireland in the medium to long term.
There is no other way to dramatically increase the number or Irish people working with the EU. The Government needs to signal its intention not to seek a renewal of the derogation early in the new year in order to allow for the necessary competition and recruitment process throughout 2014-2016.
Not for the first time the Irish language is our bridge to Europe.
Julian de Spáinn
Chonradh na Gaeilge
Baile Átha Cliath 2
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