Repeal the Official Languages Act 2003!
22 December, 2009
Every time I receive a gas bill or an electricity bill I get a bulky brochure. The brochure mainly contains stuff that I have absolutely no interest in reading and, to add insult to injury, it is 100% larger than it needs to be because it’s printed in both English and Irish.
What a disgraceful waste of paper, ink, fuel etc etc. I am not given the option of receiving no brochure at all (a link to an online version would do nicely), nor am I given the right to opt out of the dual language version and get a slimline, monolingual version instead. The price of submitting to the vanity of the extreme wing of the Irish language lobby is high, both socially and ecologically.
This nonsense seems to stem from the Official Languages Act 2003, which dates from a time when we obviously had more money than common sense. Among the very many silly provisions of the Act is Section 9(3) which says that “The public has the right to expect that public bodies will send information (for example mail shots) by post or email to the public in general or to a class of the public in general in Irish or bilingually”
Just another manifestation of our national tendency to prefer appearance over substance, regardless of cost. And just don’t get me started on the money wasted (yes, wasted) by Fianna Fáil’s success (sic) in getting Irish recognised as a working language in the European Union. The cost of paying a small army of translators to be available just in case an MEP wants to use a cúpla focal is scandalous.
Using Irish in Brussels or Strasbourg amounts to pompous posturing for purely domestic consumption, when all our MEPs are fluent in the very language that is the most effective for getting our message across in any multinational forum, English. Even back in Dublin, fewer than 1% of Dáil and Senate debates are conducted in Irish, so we surely have a cheek asking for our EU cousins to contribute to an unnecessary layer of translation facilities in Europe.
Thanks to the Official Languages Act, we now have our very own Irish Language Ombudsman, sorry I mean An Coimisinéir Teanga, a shiny new quango, presumably well endowed with expensive offices and staff. “An Coimisinéir Teanga is appointed by the President of Ireland on the advice of the government following a resolution passed by the Houses of the Oireachtas recommending the appointment. Seán Ó Cuirreáin was formally appointed as the first Coimisinéir Teanga on 23 February 2004 under the Official Languages Act……The functions and powers of An Coimisinéir Teanga are specified in the Act and he is completely independent in his role as An Coimisinéir Teanga.”
I don’t know if An Bord Snip Nua got around to looking at this particular quango, but if it didn’t it should have. The Official Languages Act shows Ireland at its worst: posturing, hypocritical, sentimental and extravagant. Yes, the Irish language needs saving, but first it needs saving from this burdensome and wasteful mess.