RTÉ is not fulfilling a statutory requirement outlined in the Broadcasting Act 2009.
An investigation by the State’s Official Languages Commissioner has found the amount of programming broadcast in Irish by RTÉ to be seriously deficient, at odds with the will of the Oireachtas and in breach of the language provisions of the Broadcasting Act 2009. The investigation found that less than 1% of programmes broadcast on RTÉ television are classified as Irish language programmes, despite a statutory obligation to broadcast a comprehensive range of programmes in the language.
An Coimisinéir Teanga Rónán Ó Domhnaill said…
- “This is one of the most significant investigations conducted by my Office since its foundation. This is the first time compliance with the Broadcasting Act, insofar as it relates to Irish language broadcasting, has been formally investigated. The results of the investigation reveal that only 0.7% of programmes broadcast on RTÉ television are classified as Irish language programmes. Or, in other words, approximately 99% of programmes are in English only.”
An Coimisinéir Teanga has recommended that RTÉ provides his Office with an implementation plan setting out the measures to be taken by the national broadcaster to ensure it meets its statutory language obligations.
- “It is clear that the amount of Irish-language programming needs to be increased in a systematic and comprehensive manner, in many programme areas, to meet the obligations of the Broadcasting Act.”
The details of this investigation, as well as the other seven investigations carried out by An Coimisinéir Teanga, are outlined in the Annual Report of the Language Commissioner for 2018.
These include investigations into:
- Galway County Council regarding the issuing of tweets relating to the Gaeltacht which were issued in English only. This was in breach of its own statutory language scheme. It is also the first time a formal investigation by this Office dealt with the use of Twitter.
- The Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government that breached language legislation by not publishing part of the Project Ireland 2040 plan in Irish when it was launched
- Iarnród Éireann over its inability to use the síneadh fada on its on-board reservations system, as well as breaches of legislation in relation to signage
- Cork County Council over its use of Google Translate on its website and
- The Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine for advertising jobs in Gaeltacht areas without any Irish language requirement being attached to those positions
In total the Office received 634 complaints from members of the public last year, a slight decrease (0.63%) from 2017. Most of the complaints related to the lack of Irish on websites, application forms, signage and stationery. The vast majority were resolved through the informal resolution mechanism operated by the Office.
Mr Ó Domhnaill highlighted the fact that almost half the complaints his Office received last year related to areas not covered by the Official Languages Act. He remarked:
- “This shows, once again, the urgent need for the Official Languages Act to be revised to ensure it is fit for purpose and meeting the needs of people who wish to avail of services through Irish from the State. At present there is an obvious disconnect between what people seeking services through Irish want and what they receive. This needs to be addressed through a stronger and more effective Language Act as soon as possible.”
The report also contains details of the activities of the Coimisinéir throughout the year including participating in meetings, seminars and celebrations directly or indirectly connected with language related topics.
The Coimisinéir's status is enhanced by the recognition he and his office receives both at home and abroad. The first Coimisinéir Seán Ó Cuirreáin was instrumental in forming the International Association of Language Commissioners and Rónán Ó Domhnail is currently the Chair of this body with members from different continents.
He is also a member of the Ombudsman Association. This is an association of all the Ombudsman Offices in Ireland and Great Britain.
He was appointed Chairperson of the Irish Ombudsman Forum in 2017. The Ombudsman Forum, comprises seven members and meets once every quarter. The other members of the Forum are the Ombudsman, the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman, the Ombudsman for Children, the Press Ombudsman, the Defence Forces Ombudsman and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.
Fóram na Gaeilge is a forum for leaders of Irish language state organisations to update each other and share feedback on the most important aspects of our organisations' agendas. They are individual organisations acting independently of each other, but having much in common. The other members of the Fóram are Foras na Gaeilge, Údarás na Gaeltachta, An Foras Pátrúnachta and An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta & Gaelscolaíochta.
I am always interested in the cost of state services and in view of the many and varied accounts on the amount of money that is spent on Irish. As has been the case over the years I have been more than impressed at the amount of work accomplished by this office for such a small amount of money. A budget of €753,000 was provided for the Office for 2018 and €746,623 of that money was drawn down.
As the report states: "This year was a productive and important one for the Office. Some very significant investigations relating to difficulties accessing services through Irish, both nationally and in the Gaeltacht, were initiated and concluded."
The bilingual report may be downloaded from the website here.