Page last updated at 07:02 GMT, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Irish translation cost questioned

Eamon O Cuiv
The Irish minister Eamon O Cuiv defended the state's translation policy

An Irish opposition politician has questioned the need for translating official government documents into the Irish language which "no-one" is using.

Michael Ring from Fine Gael said 1.8m euros was spent last year translating English documents into Ireland's first official language.

A government minister defended the cost, and argued that the state was fulfilling constitutional obligations.

But Mr Ring said the state could no longer afford the service.

The Republic of Ireland's economy is in the grip of a deep recession and ahead of a crucial budget, the government has said that 4bn euros in savings must be found.

Lost in translation

The Official Languages Act, which provides a "statutory framework for the delivery of services through the Irish language" was signed into Irish law in 2003.

In the six years since it was introduced, Mr Ring said the state and local authorities had spent 6m euros producing translated documents.

He added that no one was buying or using them and asked if it was time for the act to be reviewed.

Speaking in the Irish parliament, the Minister for Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs, Eamon O Cuiv, stressed that he advocates that such documents be made available on CD or on the internet rather than hard copy.

In response to criticism over low sales of Irish documents, he argued that few people bought government literature printed in either English or Irish where they could be downloaded from the internet instead.

One of the stated "core tasks" of Mr O Cuiv's department is to promote the use of the Irish language throughout the island of Ireland, both north and south.

Campaigners in Northern Ireland have lobbied their politicians to introduce an Irish Language Act north of the border, but have faced opposition from unionists.

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