“An effort to deceive the public” is how Director of Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, Kevin De Barra, has described the statement by Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Dinny McGinley T.D., which outlines reform actions being progressed for An Coimisinéir Teanga.
In a statement issued by the Department of Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht late this afternoon (31 Oct 2012), Minister of State McGinley declared:
“As a result of the Government decision today, a statutorily appointed Coimisinéir Teanga will continue to be based in the Gaeltacht and will continue to independently exercise existing powers under the Official Languages Act 2003”.
In November 2011, the Government agreed a Public Service Reform Plan, presented by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin T.D. Since then, Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge has expressed its concern in the strongest possible manner to Minister Howlin, to Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan T.D., to the Minister of State Dinny McGinley T.D., and to a Joint Oireachtas Committee.
According to today’s statement from the Department of Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht, following a period of assessment, consultation and review, the Government considered the progress made to date and agreed the following range of reform actions to be undertaken in relation to the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga:
The Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga is to merge with the Office of the Ombudsman.
The statutory powers and functions of An Coimisinéir Teanga under the Official Languages Act 2003 will transfer to the Ombudsman and will be delegated to An Coimisinéir Teanga under the amending legislation.
An Coimisinéir Teanga will continue to be statutorily appointed and exercise independent powers under the Official Languages Act 2003 and will also continue to be based in the Gaeltacht.
Speaking on the reform actions outlined above, Director of Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge has expressed disappointment that appropriate recognition of the importance of the independence of the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga in undertaking its functions under Part 4, Section 20-30, of The Official Languages Act 2003.
Kevin De Barra said: “The exact details are not clear yet as to how the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga and the Office of the Ombudsman are to merge, or how this would be managed from a resources point of view. It is difficult to understand why the statutory powers and functions of one office would be transferred to another office only to be delegated back to the original office”.
“The Bord Snip Nua Report declared that there would be no cost savings from merging the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga with any other state agency. If the Government are claiming that this new move will somehow save money, then I am afraid they are attempting to deceive the public”, said De Barra.
© A Pressrelease by Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge