Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin T.D., and the Government Chief Whip and Minister of State for the Gaeltacht and Sport, Jack Chambers T.D., today announced the establishment of the Irish Language Services Advisory Committee with effect from 20 June.
This is an important day, with another step forward being taken in the implementation of the Official Languages (Amendment) Act 2021, which was signed into law in December 2021. It was specified under the relevant provisions of that Act that an Advisory Committee was to be established no later than 6 months after the enactment of the Act, and this has now been achieved.
The specific functions of the Advisory Committee are laid out in the Act, including the publication of a National Plan with the aim of increasing the amount of public services provided through Irish. The preparation of the National Plan is in line with achieving the overall objective of the Act that, by the 31st December 2030, 20% of the new recruits to the public service will be Irish speakers.
As specified in the Act, the membership of the committee now consists of:
- representatives from the three bodies mentioned specifically in the Act, namely the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Public Appointments Service;
- representatives from 6 other public bodies deemed by the two Ministers to be central to the process; and
- two members appointed following a recruitment process held by the Public Appointments Service - one representing Irish speaking communities in the Gaeltacht and the other representing Irish speaking communities outside the Gaeltacht. The recruitment process was designed to ensure that the two members who were appointed were proficient in spoken Irish and that they have sectoral experience in the area of language planning, strategic planning and research, as well as excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
To this end, the membership of the committee is as follows:
- *Dr. Aodhán Mac Cormaic: Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media
- John Howlin: Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
- John Keegan: Public Appointments Service
- Eithne Fox: Health Service Executive
- Superintendent Sean Glynn: An Garda Síochána
- Eoin Ó Seaghdha: Department of Social Protection
- Ciara Molloy: Department of Education
- Breandán Mac Craith: Foras na Gaeilge
- John Breen: Local Government Management Agency
- John Prendergast: Language Communities in the Gaeltacht
- Máiréad Ní Ghabháin: Language Communities outside of the Gaeltacht
The two Ministers have chosen Dr. Aodhán Mac Cormaic, Director of Irish at their Department, to act as interim Chairperson of the committee pending the commencement of an additional Principal Officer in the Department during August to drive the implementation of the Act across the public service.
Speaking on today's appointments, Minister Martin said:
“I am delighted with the establishment of the Irish Language Services Advisory Committee today. I believe that a wide range of stakeholders have been represented through the organisations and members chosen to be on the committee and, as a result, we will have extensive input on various issues, in line with achieving the overall objectives of the Act. I want to congratulate John Prendergast and Máiréad Ní Ghabháin in particular on their appointment to the committee as representatives of the Irish language community, both within and outside the Gaeltacht. This committee will have a central role in identifying ways in which service provision through the Irish language will be increased. I am grateful to all the members of the committee for giving their time to participate in this committee.”
Minister of State Chambers said:
“With the establishment of this committee, I am thrilled that we have taken another step towards implementing the Official Languages (Amendment) Act 2021. We can now look towards the relevant research that is needed in order to ensure the publication of the National Plan on increasing the provision of public services through Irish, as specified in the Act, within two years of the establishment of the committee. As part of the National Plan, a deadline will be set out by which time all public services in the Gaeltacht and for the Gaeltacht will be made available through Irish - a measure which the Gaeltacht community has been seeking for many years.
“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the new members of the Irish Language Services Advisory Committee, to wish them every success in their work and to thank them for their commitment to the Irish language. I am certain that they will undertake this work with diligence and determination and that their efforts will make a mark which will be evident on the progress made in relation to the Irish language in the public service for many years to come.”