I have a simple rule of thumb when dealing with the State and Semi-State bodies. I claim my constitutional right to correspond and interact with them in the National Language. I have done this since the 1960s when I reached my majority.
latest saga as a diary here (Irish).
Six weeks hassle!
|The "Irish" page on RSA|
I wrote to the Coimisinéir Teanga, who advised that his office had no jurisdiction over the RSA as it had been set up after the bill setting his office up was enacted (one of many weaknesses in the 2003 Act). Since the website had no address that I could find I then wrote to the Department of Transport. After a few days they wrote back saying that they would contact the RSA and I could expect a response from then within 10 days.
This had the desired effect and I was contacted by them. They advised that somebody would contact me and I gave my telephone number.
The Irish client!
I was contacted by telephone then by somebody with an English accent who only spoke English asking if I was the person requiring to renew my licence in Irish. (Remember I have successfully renewed my licence for the last forty years in Irish with no difficulty!). I was flabbergasted and wrote back to the RSA saying it was a perfect example of the marginalisation of Irish by the state talked about by many people from the President down. As a person who has lived in the Irish Speaking area for the last twelve years I fully understand the statement of the last Coimisinéir Teanga '..the State sector is effectively saying to Gaeltacht communities: “Speak Irish among yourselves, but don’t speak it to us!”*. I then received a telephone call from the person who wrote me earlier who apologised for this and said it shouldn't happen again.
I was then contacted by somebody else and we set up a meeting to do the necessary for renewal. He asked for my mobile number which I gave. And that was that. Hopefully there will be no problems when I get to the registration office.
(In the meantime I received notification from the Dept of Transport, Tourism & Sport advising that my driving licence was due to expire. This was a bilingual communication (in accordance with correct procedure). It advised that I had to make an appointment and that the only way to make an appointment was on-line at www.ndls.ie. However as outlined above this service is only available monolingually!)
But there's more!
I received a text on my phone - from a British phone number and here it is:
Maybe the Government should hold a referendum to remove Article 8 of the constitution. Somebody has already put the choices before us succintly: "We have two simple choices – to look back at Irish as our lost language or to move forward with it as a core part of our heritage and sovereignty."* What do you choose?
But in English!
Had I decided to waive my constitutional rights this operation would have taken a few minutes plus the time travelling to the registration office.
*Address to Oireachtas Committee 23 January 2014