Garda management failed to comply with the law when eight out of nine Gardaí assigned to serve in Gaoth Dobhair in the heart of the Donegal Gaeltacht could not carry out their duties through Irish, according to an investigation by An Coimisinéir Teanga, Seán Ó Cuirreáin.
A report of an investigation (formal inquiry), published today in An Coimisinéir Teanga’s Annual Report for 2011, found that the Garda Commissioner failed to comply in this instance with a provision of An Garda Síochána Act 2005 which requires that members of the force stationed in the Gaeltacht should be sufficiently competent in Irish to enable them to use it with ease in carrying out their duties.
A further statutory provision of An Garda Síochána’s language scheme under the Official Languages Act was also breached. The investigation arose from a complaint from a native Irish speaker who was unable to conduct his business through Irish with Gardaí in Gaoth Dobhair.
The investigation, which commenced in February 2011, was temporarily set aside when Garda authorities increased to three the number of Irish speakers assigned to the station. However, the investigation was recommenced when no further progress was reported and a formal finding of non-compliance was made by An Coimisinéir Teanga in December 2011.
An Coimisinéir Teanga made a series of recommendations to be implemented by the Garda authorities within a nine-month period to ensure full compliance with the statutory requirements.
Speaking at the launch of his Annual Report for 2011, An Coimisinéir Teanga, Seán Ó Cuirreáin, said that the status of Irish as a community language in the Gaeltacht was more vulnerable now than at any time in the past. The State, he added, can hardly expect the Irish language to survive as a community language in the Gaeltacht if it continues to force people in those areas to carry out their business with the State through English.
Read more in Thursday’s Donegal Democrat.