http://ansionnachfionn.com/2011/11/17/second-class-citizens-with-second-class-rights/ and Irish Rights Are Civil Rights! from the blog of Séamus Ó Sionnach.
"It should be made clear that since the appointment and reappointment lately of Seán Ó Cuirreáin as Coimisinéir Teanga, his office has made huge strides in monitoring compliance by public bodies with the provisions of the Official Languages Act, they have investigated breeches of the Act reported to them by the public, and they have provided extremely good advice to the public regarding their language rights under the Official Languages Act. The Irish language community believes and trusts in the independence of the Office, and this is now to be put in jeopardy by the Government."
Éamonn Mac Niallais, Spokesperson for Guth na Gaeltachta, says: "It is amazing that such a decision has been taken at the very beginning of the implementation of the Government's 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010 - 2030. This decision makes absolutely no sense at all, and the Irish language community will now be very sceptical that this Government in any way serious about strategically planning for the Irish language community. What message does this give the Civil Service, a service Irish speakers have been trying to access their rights from for years now? What this is saying to them is that this independent office is not important and as such, that it is not important to implement the Languages Act.
"There are no savings to be made. No-one will lose their jobs. If anything, there will be greater expense to the exchequer if they attempt to move the current staff to the Ombudsman's Office in Dublin. When An Bord Snip looked at this issue, even they recommended to leave the Office as it is. Therefore there are some questions to be asked. Who made this recommendation? What defence was made of the Language Commissioner's Office within the Department itself, considering there is no logic to the decision on the grounds of financial savings? How does the Government and the Civil Service view the rights of Irish speakers in Ireland?"
Conradh na Gaeilge and Guth na Gaeltachta are calling on the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste, who both have a huge interest in the Irish language and community themselves, to reverse this decision and to support the good and effective independent work of the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga.
The following statement issued from Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, the central steering council for the Irish language community.
Functions of the Language Commissioner to be merged with the Office of the Ombudsman
– Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge expresses its disappointment
Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge today expressed its disappointment with the Government’s decision to merge the functions of the Language Commissioner with the Office of the Ombudsman.
The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform announced today that the functions of the Language Commissioner are to be merged with the Office of the Ombudsman under a public sector reform programme as part of the measures to streamline the operation of independent State bodies or ‘quangoes’.
Seán Ó Cuirreáin was officially appointed Language Commissioner on the 23 Feabhra 2004 according to the provisions of the Official Languages Act 2003.
While carrying out the functions of that office since then he has always displayed a wise, practical, measured and sensible attitude and approach. The direct result of this can be clearly seen in the improvement in the level and standard of services through Irish provided to the public by the Public Bodies under the Act.
During his keynote address at Tóstal na Gaeilge 2004, which he delivered shortly after his appointment, Mr. Ó Cuirreáin emphasised in particular the importance of the independence of the office of the Language Commissioner.
He indicated that it was his aim that the office of the Language Commissioner be a resource for the Irish language and Gaeltacht communities in relation to realizing their language rights under the Official Languages Act 2003. This aim has been achieved and is being achieved on a daily basis in the fulfilment of his duties as Language Commissioner.
Mr. Ó Cuirreáin was reappointed for a further period of 6 years on the 23 February 2010.
Speaking about the Government’s decision announced today, the Director of Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, Pádraig Mac Criostail said that “a review of the Official languages Act 2003 was announced very recently by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. It makes little sense while that review process is ongoing to announce this decision in relation to the Office of the Language Commissioner which will greatly impair the independent operation of that office, not to mention the negative effect this decision may have on the overall implementation of the Official Languages Act 2003. While the motivation behind this decision is undoubtedly the reduction in State costs, it is unclear what direct savings will be achieved as a result.”
Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge is seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to discuss the implications of this decision as well as other decisions that will impact the promotion of the Irish language.
Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge is the central steering council for the Irish language community. Its role is to act as a coordinating body for voluntary Irish language organisations.