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RTE to beef up Irish language programmes from 123 to 533 hours
Pic: RollingNews.ie

26 May 2020 / Ireland Print

RTE's Irish language shows to quadruple to 533 hours

An Coimisinéir Teanga Rónán Ó Domhnaill has said that Kerry County Council breached planning laws by failing to implement a language condition attached to a planning permission in the West Kerry Gaeltacht of Corca Dhuibhne in 2004.

An Coimisinéir Teanga, or the Office of the Language Commissioner, probed the planning permission under the Planning and Development Act 2000 , according to its 2019 annual report.

This was the first time such an infringement was investigated.

“Physical planning is a very central aspect of language planning and that demographic movements such as new people settling in the Gaeltacht can influence the use of languages due to the consequent change to the language balance within the community,” the report says.


The office believed there had been a breach in relation to the status or use of an official language.

In 2005, An Bord Pleanála decided that three-quarters of the 16 houses in the development should be allocated to fluent Irish speakers.

Kerry County Council received a complaint in 2017, that the language condition was not implemented.

The ensuing probe found that a “fundamental fault resulting in no legal or practical arrangements being in place to ensure that the County Council was informed when ownership was being transferred and whereby language competence would be assessed at this stage”.

Future of language

“This is a very important investigation due to the link between the future of the Irish language as a community language in the Gaeltacht and the impact that an increase of non-­Irish speakers could have on the protection of the language,” the report states.

“The investigation demonstrated that Kerry County Council did not implement the relevant language provision − a language provision confirmed by law to protect the use of Irish in the Gaeltacht. This was obviously a very serious breach.”

Between 2006 and 2008, Kerry County Council wrote to the developer’s solicitor on two occasions requesting the details of the estate agent, and three times requesting details of the purchasers of the houses.

The report says the solicitor "never furnished this information even though the County Council threatened legal action. The County Council abandoned these efforts in 2008". 

An Coimisinéir Teanga has ordered Kerry County Council to establish procedures that robustly implement language requirements in the Gaeltacht. It also criticised the council for delays in providing documentation for its probe.

The report says "no accurate insight was available" into the attitude of the County Council to the implementation of the language condition, between 2005 and 2008, or into the steps that were planned to implement it.

The report concludes that that the development commenced before an agreement was made with the developer under section 47. 2 of the Act.

It also says that actions taken to implement the agreement demonstrated a "lack of clarity, procrastination and a lack of commitment and they were ineffective". 

No long-term occupier was ever interviewed to determine their ability in Irish, the report says.

It also wants to be kept informed in future about any planning permission granted in the Kerry Gaeltacht in respect of three dwellings or more.

The 2019 report shows that the commission gave advice to state bodies on 122 occasions.

It also says that Meath County Council breached statutory language guildelines in relation to traffic signs. Seven complaints concerned signs in English only and one bilingual sign had a grammatical error.

The County Council apologised for the"inordinate delay in resolving these complaints," the report says,

The report shows that RTÉ intends to substantially increase its Irish language programmes from 123 hours in 2017 to 533 hours, at a minimum, in 2020.

Under the Broadcasting Act 2009, RTÉ is required to provide a comprehensive range of programmes in both languages and in particular to provide news and current affairs programmes in both official languages.

A probe by the commission found that RTÉ was not fulfilling this obligation and the broadcaster was asked for an implementation plan setting out how the relevant language requirements would be complied with.

The implementation plan indicates that RTÉ will significant increase its Irish language broadcasting hours, primarily in the area of news programmes and children’s programmes for 2020.

In total, the station plans to broadcast four times as many television programmes in Irish in 2020 as it did in 2017, the baseline year referenced during the investigation.

It is also planned to broadcast more of TG4’s programmes on RTÉ along with the Irish Language Programmes Section returning to a full­time schedule.


The office dealt with 704 complaints, an 11% increase on the previous year. One third of the complaints came from Dublin, which it says highlights the continued difficulties citizens experience in accessing public services through Irish.

“This often occurs as a result of an insufficient number of personnel in the public service with competence in the Irish language, and due to legislation that isn’t comprehensive enough or, indeed, due to a complete lack of legislation,” the report says.

The body is continuing its monitoring of language competence in public bodies.

“I support the recommendation that a national statutory plan for the provision of public services through Irish be prepared and I agree that new recruitment policies and practices should be an integral part of this plan,’ says Commissioner Rónán Ó Domhnaill in the report.


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