Dáil Éireann - Volume 569 - 25 June, 2003

Written Answers. - Irish Language.

  296. Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the funding provided to organisations in regard to the development of the Irish language by same either directly or indirectly by [969] her Department; the policy, in bilingual format, of the organisations for which the funding was provided; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18009/03]

  Minister for Social and Family Affairs (Mary Coughlan): My Department recognises the right of customers to be dealt with in Irish if they so wish and makes every effort to ensure that a service through Irish is available and of a high standard. Each year budgets are allocated towards aspects of customer service in my Department which include the provision of services through Irish. Those include the training of frontline staff, the translation and printing of forms and leaflets, and the provision of signage in public areas of the Department's offices.

  To date, no specific budgets for the development of the Irish language have been allocated to the statutory agencies under the aegis of my Department, the Combat Poverty Agency, Comhairle, the Pensions Board and the Family Support Agency. However, budgets allocated to those organisations may be, and in some instances have been, allocated to the development of Irish, mainly through the production of Irish information leaflets. The principles of quality customer service, introduced interdepartmentally and adopted by my Department in 2000, have been extended to those agencies and include a commitment to provide quality services through Irish and/or bilingually and inform customers of their right to choose to be dealt with through one or other of the official languages.

  The enactment of the Official Languages (Equality) Bill 2000 will further strengthen the remit of public bodies, including those under the aegis of my Department, to provide quality customer service through Irish.