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Written Answers. - Official Language Equality.

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 4

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 445. Mr. O'Shea Information on Brian O'Shea Zoom on Brian O'Shea  asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs Information on Mary Coughlan Zoom on Mary Coughlan  the additional costs which have arisen from the obligations on her 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 she will make a statement on the matter. [24605/02]

Minister for Social and Family Affairs (Mary Coughlan): Information on Mary Coughlan Zoom on Mary Coughlan My Department acknowledges the rights of our customers to service through Irish and efforts are being made to provide such a service and to make our customers aware that they are available to them. Our policy in relation to the use of Irish is informed by the Principles of Quality Customer Service which were adopted by the Government in 2000, the impending Official Languages (Equality) Bill due to be enacted in 2003 and the Department's Customer Action Plan 2001-04.

Providing quality customer service in Irish includes various elements such as the translation of forms and leaflets, facilitating the training of staff in spoken and written Irish and providing bilingual signs in public areas. While expenditure in relation to these various aspects has occurred, it is not possible in all cases to separate the costs from other costs, for example, expenditure on design, printing, and advertising.

The main areas where it is possible to identify costs in relation to Irish are in translation and training. Costs for translation of forms and leaflets have amounted to €12,150 since July 2002. Irish language training has cost €7,268 since July 2002.

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