Legislation, Looking Forward, and the Language Commissioner’s Office

Written by Foireann Ghaelchultúir March, 2023

We recently had the pleasure of welcoming Páidí Ó Lionáird, Communications Manager at the Language Commissioner's Office, to our college. Leading a dynamic, in-depth discussion about the Official Languages (Amendment) Act 2021, Ó Lionáird shared the visions of the Commissioner and the state for the future of the language within the public sector and institutions of the European Union.

Legislation, Looking Forward, and the Language Commissioner’s Office

The position of Language Commissioner is appointed by the President of Ireland and the chosen individual is tasked with monitoring state organisations to ensure that they are meeting their obligations under the Act. The Office of the Commissioner is also responsible for carrying out investigations in to any state organisation where it is believed that it is failing to fulfil its duties under the Official Languages Act.

The Official Languages Act was amended in December 2021, resulting in Irish-language speakers having more rights than ever before. The main goal of the revised Act is to develop and improve the services that the public sector provides to the public through the medium of Irish and to promote the language in all business aspects of the sector. Under the amended Act, for example, it is necessary that the Irish language appear extensively in all advertisements, logos and correspondence of state organisations going forward.

These reforms are great news for Irish speakers looking to correspond with public bodies through Irish – but that is not the end of the good news for Gaeilgeoirí! The legislation also sets out that 20% of new recruits in the public service should be competent in Irish by 2030, which means that more employment opportunities will be created for those with advanced language skills.

Since 2011, Gaelchultúr has been chosen by the state body Foras na Gaeilge to develop and provide Irish-language training courses for the public sector. The college is committed to expanding, strengthening, and improving Irish-language services available to the public through developing and delivering cutting-edge training courses for state employees. The college’s staff go to great lengths to examine and understand the language requirements of the civil service and the public alike. It is our goal to stay ahead of these needs and trends so that we can continue to effectively advance the quality and accessibility of Irish-language services.

‘Meeting with Páidí Ó Lionáird gave our team a great opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the language’s place in the public sector and will act as a guide as we continue to create relevant training opportunities for civil servants,’ explained Darren Ó Rodaigh, the college’s Executive Chairperson.

Gaelchultúr has already developed a wide range of specialised courses aimed at giving public sector employees the opportunity to enhance their language skills so that they will be able to fulfil their organisation's obligations under the Official Languages (Amendment) Act 2021.

Among these courses is the Certificate in Professional Irish. The Certificate in Professional Irish (TGG) is a part-time program aimed at public sector employees who deal with the public on a regular basis and who are required to provide a service through Irish from time to time. This comprehensive certificate is very popular and over 2,000 civil servants have completed it to date.

Other valuable courses for public sector employees, or those who would like to apply for a job in a state organisation in the future, are listed below:

1. Phone Skills and Customer Service

2. Giving Speeches in Irish

3. Intensive Course in Written Irish

The aim of these courses is to give participants the confidence and language skills required to enable them to provide services to the public through the medium of Irish. If you would like to learn more about these popular courses or discuss the language needs of your own organisation, please contact us at fios@gaelchultur.com.

With input from the Office of the Language Commissioner, Gaelchultúr has renewed excitement and enthusiasm as we anticipate this new era for the Irish language and work towards making the Commissioner's vision a reality.

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