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Written Answers. - Official Language Equality.

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 4

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 180. Mr. O'Shea Information on Brian O'Shea Zoom on Brian O'Shea  asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food Information on Joe Walsh Zoom on Joe Walsh  the additional costs which have arisen from the obligations on his Department in relation to the adoption by the Government in July 2002 of official language equality as one of the three new principles for quality customer services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24595/02]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): Information on Joe Walsh Zoom on Joe Walsh The new principle of official languages equality adopted by Government in July 2000 was incorporated in my Department's Customer Service Action Plan 2001-2004 which was published in December 2001. In the plan the Department undertakes to provide services through Irish on request from our customers and will seek to ensure that any such customer is not disadvantaged because of their choice. This is only one of 12 principles and 85 actions to which the Depart[1037] ment is committed over the period of the plan up to 2004.

The Department is in the process of gathering data on the availability of its documents and services through both of the official languages and the level of competency in Irish amongst its staff members in order to develop a strategy on how best its commitments in this area can be fulfilled. The only direct costs recorded to date are those relating to training in the Irish language which amounted to €1,890 in this year and €482 in respect of translation services on the introduction to the Department's annual report for 2001. While at this stage of the process it is not possible to put an estimate on the final costs involved it is expected that expenditure on this will rise substantially over the next two years.

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