Dáil Éireann - Volume 500 - 10 February, 1999

Written Answers. - Irish Language Promotion.

166. Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the amount of money his Department has directly or indirectly spent on the use and promotion of the Irish lang[498] uage in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3858/99]

Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): My Department recognises the rights of customers to have services provided through Irish and will ensure that the services given will be of high quality.

It is not possible to quantify the amount of money spent in any given year specifically on the use and promotion of the Irish language. Expenditure on such items as, for example, design, printing and advertising, does not show amounts incurred specifically in relation to Irish. In addition, a significant amount of translation work is carried out by staff of the Department, fluent in the language, as part of their normal work and separate figures in relation to this are not readily available.

My Department is committed to providing services to those who wish to do business through Irish and the Department's Customer Action Plan 1998-1999 outlines the policy in this regard. It is the Department's policy to respond using the Irish language to any correspondence received in Irish. Forms are available in Irish, on request, and the headed paper used to correspond with customers is bilingual. It is also the policy to have bilingual office signage.

My Department has staff who are proficient in the Irish language and who provide a service on a regular basis, through Irish, to customers. Irish language training is provided on an on-going basis for staff throughout the Department and some staff members have undergone Irish language media skills training to prepare them for radio etc. appearances.

My Department is at present examining how we can further improve and extend the service through Irish and, in particular, how we can ensure that staff receive the necessary training and supports.