Thursday, 5 December 1974
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. R. Ryan: Faoin gcóras nua beidh marcanna breise le fáil ag iarrthóirí ar phoist sa Státseirbhís le Gaeilge agus le Béarla. Tá súil agam go mbeidh cumas sa Ghaeilge ag formhór na ndaoine a cheapfar amach anseo. Cabhróidh Gaeleagras na Státseirbhíse le hoifigigh chun feabhas a chur ar a gcuid Gaeilge. Cuirfear eolas ar an nGaeilge san áireamh, freisin, le haghaidh ardú céime. Ní bheidh aon easba Gaeilge, mar sin, sa Státseirbhís agus beidh fonn níos láidre chun feidhm a bhaint aisti toisc deireadh an éigeantais.
Fuair mé a lán gearán nach mbíodh sé éasca gnó a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge le Ranna Rialtas faoin sean-chóras. Iarradh, mar sin, ar gach Aire féachaint chuige ina Roinn féin nach mbeadh an chuis ghearáin seo ann feasta. Tá mé cinnte go mbeidh feabhas mór ar an scéal de bharr a bhfuil déanta ag an Rialtas.
Mr. Colley: Arising out of the Minister's reply, may I ask him to reply to the question put to him? What proposals has he to ensure—not to be hopeful about or anything else but to ensure—that people who wish to do their business in Irish with any Government Department will be able to do so, having regard to the fact that the regulations he has announced will certainly produce a situation in which Government Departments may be staffed entirely by people unable to do business through Irish?
Mr. R. Ryan: The principal complaint I received from a multitude of individuals and organisations was that the old system, which we abolished,  had failed to produce a situation in which Irish speakers could do their business in Irish with people in the Public Service. I had quite a long session with representatives of different organisations who vehemently condemned the Public Service for their failure under the old system to carry on business with them in Irish. We are now satisfied that by replacing the compulsion which did so much damage to the Irish language over the past half century with enthusiasm for the language, we will have people more readily disposed to use Irish. It is of interest that in this House itself more Irish has been used since March, 1973, than was used in the previous decade.
Mr. R. Ryan: I accept that every citizen who wants to conduct his business with a public Department in either of the official languages has that right and I will see to it that that right is respected. It will certainly be better respected in the future than it was in the past under a policy which failed totally to please anybody.
Mr. Colley: May I suggest that, since the Minister does accept that right, it follows that he has an obligation to ensure that that right can  be exercised. The point of the question which the Minister has purported to answer but has not yet answered is this. How does the Minister propose to ensure that all our citizens can exercise the right which he acknowledges they have if he does not ensure that there are available in every Government Department officials who can do business in Irish? How can he ensure that, if he enforces the regulations he has announced?
Mr. R. Ryan: Deputy Colley said earlier that you could not have a civil servant in the Department of Finance who knew no English, that he would not be able to discuss his work. I do not accept that that is so. If it is so, more shame on you for maintaining a policy which brought about that situation.
Mr. Colley: Is the Minister seriously suggesting to this House and to the country that you could staff the Department of Finance with people who did not know English and that they could effectively carry out their work in the circumstances obtaining in this country? Is that what the Minister is suggesting?
Mr. R. Ryan: The question Deputy Colley put to me was, would it be possible for a person without English to work in the Department of Finance and I said: “Yes, it would”, and that he could go on to the highest position. If the Deputy contradicts that——
Mr. Colley: May I submit that the Minister is showing his contempt and that of his colleagues for the intelligence of the people, and a total lack of regard for reality? The reality of the situation is that the vast majority of our people speak English. Quite a number of people use Irish in their own homes. The Minister has admitted the right of citizens to carry out their business in Irish. I have asked him to tell us how he proposes to ensure that that right can be exercised. The Minister has now demonstrated clearly that he does not propose to ensure it.
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