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MHC lawyers warn on language obligations
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06 Oct 2023 / business Print

MHC lawyers warn on Irish-language obligations

Lawyers at Mason Hayes & Curran (MHC) have highlighted a new requirement for public bodies, under legislation aimed at promoting the use of the Irish language.

In a note on the firm’s website, the lawyers point out that the Official Languages (Amendment) Act 2021 has been on the statute book since December 2021.

They add, however, that section 4B, which is designed to ensure transparency and accountability on compliance with these legal obligations, was brought into effect only in May by statutory instrument.

Mandatory appointment

Under this mechanism, public bodies must appoint a senior management member to report on the body’s obligations under the language legislation.

MHC points out that this is a mandatory appointment, and the role cannot be left vacant.

Its lawyers say that the term ‘senior management’ is not defined under the acts and, “rather unhelpfully”, no qualifications, competencies or other requirements for the role are set out.

“For example, it is not required that the senior manager have any particular proficiency in the Irish language,” the MHC lawyers state, adding that the head of each public body has a reasonable level of discretion on the appointment.

“What is clear, however, is that the relevant person must be another member of staff; it cannot be the head themselves who fulfils the role,” they say.


The appointed manager has three mandatory duties:

  • Oversee the performance of the statutory obligations of the public body under the acts,
  • Report to the head of the public body on those obligations, and
  • Ensure that a summary of any matters reported to the head of the public body are included in the public body’s annual report.

The MHC note adds that the manner or frequency of reporting is not specified in the acts.

The lawyers conclude by highlighting that public bodies can expect “significant developments” on Irish-language obligations in the coming months, as the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media has committed to all the provisions of the act being in force by the end of 2023.

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