Belfast Telegraph

Home Opinion Letters

My simple solution to one Irish Act problem

I was listening to the Stephen Nolan show, regarding what exactly Sinn Fein would be wanting in the proposed Irish Language Act.

One of the most contentious areas centred around the entitlement for people to be able to use the Irish language in courts, public bodies and when accessing public services.

Naturally, there are concerns as to what this would cost, particularly where interpreter services are required and the difficulties this would create in terms of equal opportunity for non-Irish speakers. There would also be potential difficulties in a court of law, where an individual would be conversing in a language many people would not be able to speak, with the potential for evidence becoming distorted in translation and the added possibility of a future contest in any appeal.

There is a solution, which I believe addresses all these difficulties and at minimal cost. This would apply to those who are Irish speakers, but are also fluent in English (essentially every Irish speaker).

Here goes: take the scenario of a witness in court, who wishes to have their evidence presented in Irish. The witness would present his evidence in Irish. He would then present his evidence again, but this time in English (essentially doing his own translating).

The same principles would apply for an individual accessing a public body, such as a GP, or a library. That’s it. Dead simple.

In the present climate of austerity and pressure on public finances, this would, I believe, save the considerable cost of supplying translation services, as well as the individual being able to state exactly what he wishes without the risk of ambiguity, or mistranslation.

It is such a simple and accessible solution that it could be implemented virtually immediately by means of departmental directive, instead of a lengthy and contentious change in the law.

Name and address with editor

Belfast Telegraph Digital

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph