February 2, 2021
Cearta teanga atá uainn – Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Aengus O SnodaighD’fhógair urlabhraí Gaeilge, Gaeltachta, Ealaíon agus Cultúir Shinn Féin Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD go mbeadh cearta bunúsacha teanga ag croílár a chuid leasuithe ar Bhille na dTeangacha Oifigiúla (Leasú) 2021 a pléifear inniu ag Roghchoiste Dála na Gaeilge, na Gaeltachta agus Phobail Labhartha na Gaeilge.

Bhí argóint ag an gcruinniú deireanach den Roghchoiste toisc gur chinn an Leas-Chathaoirleach, Dara Calleary, gan plé a cheadú ar Chairt Gaeilge a bhí molta ag an Teachta Ó Snodaigh toisc go mbeadh costas i gceist, dar leis.

Shonródh Cairt na Gaeilge liosta cuimsitheach cearta teanga agus dualgais ar chomhlachtaí poiblí i leith seirbhísí a sholáthar as Gaeilge sa Ghaeltacht.

Sa cruinniú inniu, déanfar plé ar roinnt den 200 leasuithe eile curtha ag urlabhraí Shinn Féin chun cearta teanga a chinntiú, ag tosú leo siúd a bhaineann le cearta teanga i dTithe an Oireachtais agus sna cúirteanna.

Dúirt an Teachta Ó Snodaigh, atá ina Chathaoirleach freisin ar Roghchoiste na Gaeilge, go bhfuil an Bunreacht á sárú againn go dtí go bhfuil dátheangachas i bhfeidhm san Oireachtas féin agus i riaradh an cheartais.

Mhínigh an Teachta ar son Bhaile Átha Cliath Lár-Theas:

“Is ar son mo chearta féin atáim ag troid anseo, chomh maith le muintir na Gaeltachta agus Gaeilgeoirí ar fud na tíre. Fad is a bhfuil troid láidir ar siúl ar son Acht Gaeilge agus cearta teanga sna Sé Chontae, ní aithnítear go forleathan nach bhfuil na cearta atá á lorg ansin ar fáil sa Stát seo go fóill, in ainneoin gurb í ‘príomhtheanga’ agus ‘teanga náisiúnta’ an Ghaeilge de réir Bhunreacht 1937.

“Nílim féin mar Theachta Dála in ann mo ghnó féin a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge sa Dáil mar shampla. Is cuma más ag iarraidh labhairt as Gaeilge ag coiste, nó ag triáil leasú nó bille a chur chun cinn trí Ghaeilge nó go dátheangach, bíonn srian ann i gcónaí, agus go minic ní bhíonn cead agam ar chor ar bith.

“Níl na seirbhísí tacaíochta in ann cúnamh a thabhairt trí Ghaeilge, agus ní thuigeann siad rudaí nach bhfuil ar fáil ach trí Ghaeilge, rud atá tubaisteach nuair atá an leagan Gaeilge den Bhunreacht féin níos údarásaí ná an Béarla.

“Sa Bhreatain Bheag agus i gCeanada ritear billí go dátheangach i gcónaí, rud a bhí geallta anseo na blianta fada ó shin, agus táim ag triáil na cearta céanna teanga atá sna tíortha sin a chur i bhfeidhm don phríomhtheanga anseo.

“Faoi láthair, fiú nuair a achtaítear Bille anseo, ní thagann aistriúchán ariamh go minic – tá dualgas é a dhéanamh ‘a luaithe is féidir’ san Acht faoi láthair, ach níl ansin ach maisiú – agus tá tionchar aige seo ar chásanna cúirte, áit a bhfuil ceart agat dlíthe a úsáidtear ar do shon nó i do choinne a fháil i do rogha teanga oifigiúil.

“Gan athrú san Oireachtas, d’fhéadfadh dúnmharfóir a bheith scaoilte saor toisc nach raibh fáil ar an reachtaíocht cuí chun iad a chúisiú trí Ghaeilge.

“Táim ag cur leasuithe chun an fhadhb seo a réiteach, agus chun cearta eile a chosaint sna cúirteanna, sé sin go mbeadh ar dhlíodóirí, abhcóidí, agus breithimh suas chomh fada leis an Chúirt Uachtarach in ann Gaeilge a labhairt, an dlí a thuiscint, agus cothrom na Féinne a léiriú do Ghaeilgeoirí, mar a léirítear do phobail labhartha teangacha mhionlaigh ar fud na hEorpa.”

All we want is our Rights as Irish speakers – Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Gaeilge, Gaeltacht, Arts and Culture Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD set out that fundamental language rights would be at the heart of the amendments he submitted on the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2021 set to be debated today at the Dáil Select Committee on Irish, the Gaeltacht, and the Irish-speaking community.

An argument took place at the last Select Committee meeting when the Leas-Cathaoirleach Dara Calleary decided to disallow debate on the Irish Language Charter (Cairt na Gaeilge) proposed by Teachta Ó Snodaigh because he believed it would have involved a cost on the exchequer. 

The Charter would have outlined a comprehensive list of language rights and responsibilities on public bodies to provide services through Irish in the Gaeltacht.

At today’s committee meeting, more of the 200 remaining amendments submitted by the Sinn Féin spokesperson to guarantee language rights will be discussed, starting with those relating to language rights in the Houses of the Oireachtas and in the courts.

Teachta Ó Snodaigh, who chairs the Select Committee, said that we will continue to be in violation of the Constitution until bilingualism is practiced in the Oireachtas itself and in the administration of justice.

The Dublin South-Central TD explained:

“I am fighting here for my own rights, as well as for Gaeltacht communities and Irish speakers across the country. At the same time as we are fighting strongly for an Irish language Act and language rights in the six counties, it is not widely understood that the very rights we demand there have yet to be attained in this State, despite Irish being the ‘first official’ and ‘national language’ according to Bunreacht na hÉireann.

“I, as a TD, am unable to conduct my own business through Irish in the Dáil for example. It doesn’t matter whether I’m trying to speak Irish at a committee, or trying to propose amendments or bills through Irish or bilingually, there are always constraints, and often it is simply not allowed.

“The support services also cannot provide assistance through Irish, and do not have an understanding of things that are uniquely accessible through Irish, something particularly serious when the Irish version of the Constitution itself is more authoritative under law than the English.

“In Wales and in Canada, bills are always bilingual, something that was promised here many years ago, and I am trying to enshrine the same language rights in place in those countries in law for our first language here.

“At present, even when a Bill is enacted, no translation is made available – the current Act says this must be done “as soon as is practicable”, but this is a smokescreen – and this is having an impact on court cases, where you have a legal right to access the law which is being used in your favour or against you in your chosen language.

“Unless the Oireachtas makes this change, a murder could be let free because the legislation needed to convict them could not be found in Irish.

“I am proposing amendments to solve this problem, and to protect other rights before the courts, including that solicitors, barristers, and judges up to and including the Supreme Court should be able to speak Irish, understand the law, and show equal treatment to Irish speakers, as is shown to minority language communities across Europe.”

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