The thrust of all language legislation in the Republic of Ireland is to formally and legally reinstate Irish as the national language in areas where it had been supplanted over the course of three centuries. Accordingly, the Official Languages Act served to refine the language provisions contained within the 1948 Constitution. On June 12, 2001, the Irish government endorsed the text of a bill on the equality of official languages (English and Irish), known as the Bille Comhionannais um Theangacha Oifigiúla (Official Languages Equality Act). The Act was passed into law in April 2002 as the Official Languages Equality Act. This legislation was intended to establish the legal basis of Irish and English as the two official languages. The Official Languages Act, which came into force on July 4, 2004, was deemed necessary because all measures deployed previously had failed; those implemented in the 1990s had had little success. The government came to the conclusion that a legal basis for the delivery of Irish-language services was needed to produce satisfactory results.
Note that the legislation was adopted in English and Irish.
The Act affirms that the State bears primary responsibility for protecting the Irish language. For the implementation of language policy to be successful, the new language legislation had to satisfy three main needs:
- ensuring that government information pamphlets and forms are published in Irish or in both languages;
- making the services of language specialists available to the Irish-speaking community;
- providing services adapted to specific needs, such as structures and institutions in areas like education, media and language planning.
The primary aim is to take concrete steps, not simply symbolic measures, to support the development of the Irish language. Section 11 requires the government to promote the use of Irish for official purposes in the State. Irish is one of the official languages of Parliament (s. 6), justice (s. 8), and public administration (s. 10-14). The position of official languages commissioner is also created (s. 20) to handle complaints form the public regarding Irish-language services. The commissioner's role is monitor the provision of Irish-language services and to gauge the effectiveness of language legislation.
However, the legislation does not force anyone to speak Irish; the measures are purely promotional in nature.
Complete Text of the Official Languages Act
Official Languages Act
An act to promote the use of the Irish language for official purposes in the state; to provide for the use of both official languages of the state in parliamentary proceedings, in acts of the oireachtas, in the administration of justice, in communicating with or providing services to the public and in carrying out the work of public bodies; to set out the duties of such bodies with respect to the official languages of the state; and for those purposes, to provide for the establishment of oifig choimisine´ir na dteangacha oifigiúla and to define its functions; to provide for the publication by the commissioner of certain information relevant to the purposes of this act; and to provide for related matters. [14th July, 2003]
BE IT ENACTED BY THE OIREACHTAS AS FOLLOWS:
|Short title and commencement.||1. —(1) This Act may be cited as the Official Languages Act 2003. (2) This Act shall come into operation on such day or days not later than 3 years after the passing of this Act as, by order or orders made by the Minister under this section, may be fixed therefor either generally or with reference to any particular purpose or provision, and different days may be so fixed for different purposes and different provisions.|
|Interpretation.||2. —(1) In this Act, save where the context otherwise requires—
"Commissioner" means, as the context may require, Oifig Choimisinéir na dTeangacha Oifigiúla established by section 20 or the holder, for the time being, of that office;
"court" includes a tribunal established under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Acts 1921 to 2002;
"draft scheme" means a draft scheme to be prepared by a public body under this Act;
"enactment" means a statute or an instrument made under a power conferred by a statute;
"functions" includes powers and duties and references to the performance of functions include, with respect to powers and duties, references to the exercise of the powers and the carrying out of the duties;
"Gaeltacht area" means an area for the time being determined to be a Gaeltacht area by order made under section 2 of the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 1956;
"head" means the head of a public body;
"head of a public body" means—
(a) in relation to a Department of State, the Minister of the Government having charge of it,
(b) in relation to the Office of the Attorney General, the Attorney General,
(c) in relation to the Office of the Civil Service Commissioners, the Civil Service Commissioners,
(d) in relation to the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Comptroller and Auditor General,
(e) in relation to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Director of Public Prosecutions,
(f) in relation to the Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas, the Chairman of Dáil Éireann,
(g) in relation to the Office of the Information Commissioner, the Information Commissioner,
(h) in relation to the Office of the Local Appointments Commissioners, the Local Appointments Commissioners,
(i) in relation to the Office of the Ombudsman, the Ombudsman,
(j) in relation to any other public body, the person who holds, or performs the functions of, the office of chief executive officer (by whatever name called) of the body;
"local authority" has the meaning assigned to it by subsection (1) of section 2 of the Local Government Act 2001;
"the Minister" means the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs;
"the official languages" means the Irish language (being the national language and the first official language) and the English language (being a second official language) as specified in Article 8 of the Constitution;
"prescribed" means prescribed by the Minister by regulations under section 4 ;
"proceedings" means civil or criminal proceedings before any court;
"public body" shall be construed in accordance with the First Schedule;
"record" includes any memorandum, book, plan, map, drawing, diagram, pictorial or graphic work or other document, any photograph, film or recording (whether of sound or images or both), any form in which data (within the meaning of the Data Protection Act 1988) are held, any other form (including machine-readable form) or thing in which information is held or stored manually, mechanically or electronically and anything that is a part or a copy, in any form, of any of the foregoing or is a combination of two or more of the foregoing;
"a scheme" means a scheme confirmed by the Minister under section 14 ;
"service" means a service offered or provided (whether directly or indirectly) to the general public or a class of the general public by a public body.
(2) (a) In this Act a reference to a section or schedule is a reference to a section of or Schedule to this Act unless it is indicated that reference to some other enactment is intended.
(b) In this Act a reference to a subsection or paragraph or subparagraph is a reference to the subsection or paragraph or subparagraph of the provision in which the reference occurs unless it is indicated that reference to some other provision is intended.
|Expenses.||3. —The expenses incurred by the Minister and any other Minister of the Government in the administration of this Act shall, to such extent as may be sanctioned by the Minister for Finance, be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas.|
|Regulations.||4. —(1) The Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance—
(a) by regulations provide, subject to the provisions of this Act, for any matter referred to in this Act as prescribed or to be prescribed,
(b) in addition to any other power conferred on him or her to make regulations, make regulations generally for the purposes of, and for the purpose of giving full effect to, this Act,
(c) if, during the first 3 years of application of this Act to a public body specified in subparagraph (3), (4) or (5) of paragraph 1 of the First Schedule, any difficulty arises in bringing this Act into operation in so far as it applies to that body, by regulations do anything which appears to be necessary or expedient for bringing this Act into operation in so far as it applies to that body and regulations under this paragraph may, in so far only as may appear necessary for carrying the regulations into effect, modify a provision of this Act if the modification is in conformity with the purposes, principles and spirit of this Act, and
(d) if in any other respect any difficulty arises during the period of 3 years from the commencement of this Act in bringing this Act into operation, by regulations do anything which appears to be necessary or expedient for bringing this Act into operation and regulations under this paragraph may, in so far only as may appear necessary for carrying the regulations into effect, modify a provision of this Act if the modification is in conformity with the purposes, principles and spirit of this Act.
(2) Regulations under this Act may contain such incidental, supplementary and consequential provisions as appear to the Minister to be necessary or expedient for the purposes of the regulations.
(3) Where the Minister proposes to make regulations under paragraph (c) or (d) of subsection (1) or for the purposes of paragraph 1 (5), or under paragraph 3, of the First Schedule, he or she shall cause a draft of the regulations to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas and the regulations shall not be made until a resolution approving of the draft has been passed by each such House.
(4) Where the Minister proposes to make regulations under subsection (1)(c), he or she shall, before doing so, consult with such other (if any) Minister of the Government as the Minister considers appropriate having regard to the functions of that other Minister of the Government in relation to the proposed regulations.
(5) Regulations prescribing a body, organisation or group ("the body") for the purposes of paragraph 1(5) of the First Schedule may provide that this Act shall apply to the body only as respects specified functions of the body, and this Act shall apply and have effect in accordance with any such provision.
(6) Every regulation under this Act (other than a regulation referred to in subsection (3)) shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the regulation is passed by either such House within the next 21 days on which that House has sat after the regulation is laid before it, the regulation shall be annulled accordingly but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.
|Annual report to Houses of Oireachtas.||5. —In each year, beginning with the year following the year in which this Act is commenced, the Minister shall make a report to each House of the Oireachtas on the operation in the preceding year of this Act.|
|Use of official languages in Houses of Oireachtas.||6. —(1) A member of either House of the Oireachtas has the right to use either of the official languages in any debates or other proceedings in that House or of a committee of either House, a joint committee of both Houses or sub-committee of such a committee or joint committee.
(2) A person appearing before either House of the Oireachtas or before such a committee, joint committee or sub-committee as aforesaid has the right to use either of the official languages.
(3) Every official report of the debates and other proceedings of the Houses of the Oireachtas shall be published in each of the official languages, except that contributions (whether oral or in writing) in either of the official languages by persons may be published therein solely in that language.
|Acts of the Oireachtas.||7. —As soon as may be after the enactment of any Act of the Oireachtas, the text thereof shall be printed and published in each of the official languages simultaneously.|
|Administration of justice.||8. —(1) A person may use either of the official languages in, or in any pleading in or document issuing from, any court.
(2) Every court has, in any proceedings before it, the duty to ensure that any person appearing in or giving evidence before it may be heard in the official language of his or her choice, and that in being so heard the person will not be placed at a disadvantage by not being heard in the other official language.
(3) For the purposes of ensuring that no person is placed at a disadvantage as aforesaid, the court may cause such facilities to be made available, as it considers appropriate, for the simultaneous or consecutive interpretation of proceedings from one official language into the other.
(4) Where the State or a public body is a party to civil proceedings before a court—
(a) the State or the public body shall use in the proceedings, the official language chosen by the other party, and
(b) if two or more persons (other than the State or a public body) are party to the proceedings and they fail to choose or agree on the official language to be used in the proceedings, the State or, as appropriate, the public body shall use in the proceedings such official language as appears to it to be reasonable, having regard to the circumstances.
(5) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, a person shall not be compelled to give evidence in a particular official language in any proceedings.
(6) In choosing to use a particular official language in any proceedings before a court, a person shall not be put by the court or a public body to any inconvenience or expense over and above that which would have been incurred had he or she chosen to use the other official language.
|Duty of public bodies to use official languages on official stationery, etc.||9. —(1) The Minister may by regulations provide that oral announcements (whether live or recorded) made by a public body, the headings of stationery used by a public body and the contents and the lay-out of any signage or advertisements placed by it shall, to such extent as may be specified, be in the Irish language or in the English and Irish languages and different provisions may be made in relation to different classes of body, oral announcements, stationery, signage or advertisements.
(2) Where a person communicates in writing or by electronic mail in an official language with a public body, the public body shall reply in the same language.
(3) Where a public body communicates in writing or by electronic mail with the general public or a class of the general public for the purpose of furnishing information to the public or the class, the body shall ensure that the communication is in the Irish language or in the English and Irish languages.
|Duty of public bodies to publish certain documents in both official languages simultaneously.||10. —Notwithstanding any other enactment, the following documents made by or under the authority of a public body (other than a body, organisation or group standing prescribed pursuant to regulations for the purposes of clause (b) of paragraph 1(5) of the First Schedule) shall be published by that body in each of the official languages simultaneously:
(a) any document setting out public policy proposals;
(b) any annual report;
(c) any audited account or financial statement;
(d) any statement of strategy required to be prepared under section 5 of the Public Service Management Act 1997; and
(e) any document of a description or class standing prescribed for the time being, with the consent of the Minister for Finance and such other (if any) Minister of the Government as the Minister considers appropriate having regard to the functions of that other Minister of the Government, and being a document of a description or class that is, in the opinion of the Minister, of major public importance.
|Use of official languages by public bodies.||11. —(1) For the purpose of promoting the use of the Irish language for official purposes in the State, the Minister may, by notice in writing to the head of a public body, require the public body to prepare and present to him or her for confirmation within such time (not being more than 6 months from the date of issue of the notice) as is specified in the notice a draft scheme specifying—
(a) the services which the public body proposes to provide—
(i) exclusively through the medium of the Irish language,
(ii) exclusively through the medium of the English language, and
(iii) through the medium of both the Irish and English languages,
(b) the measures the body proposes to adopt to ensure that any services that are not provided by the body through the medium of the Irish language will be so provided.
(2) (a) A draft scheme referred to in subsection (1) shall specify the means of communication that are to be provided exclusively in the Irish language, exclusively in the English language and in both the Irish and English languages.
(b) In this section "means of communication" means the means of communication between the body concerned and the public generally or groups or individual members of the public in relation to the services concerned, the provision of the services and information relating to the services or such provision.
(3) The Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, in relation to those of its services delivered exclusively through the medium of the English language, direct a public body to draw up a plan for the delivery of those services in addition through the medium of the Irish language together with an estimate of the period of time required to implement the plan.
(4) A notice under subsection (1) shall be accompanied by a copy of the current guidelines issued by the Minister under section 12 .
(5) Different notices may be given to a head of a public body under this section in respect of different services.
|Publication of guidelines by Minister.||12. —(1) The Minister shall issue to public bodies guidelines in relation to the preparation by public bodies of draft schemes.
(2) As soon as practicable after the commencement of this section the Minister shall prepare a draft of any guidelines that he or she proposes to issue under subsection (1) and shall send copies of the draft to—
(a) every other Minister of the Government, and
(b) such other persons (including any other head) as he or she considers appropriate.
(3) The Minister shall, after considering any representations made to him or her about the draft guidelines, confirm the draft guidelines either without amendment or with such amendments as he or she considers appropriate.
(4) The Minister shall, as soon as practicable, lay before each House of the Oireachtas a copy of any guidelines issued under subsection (1).
(5) The Minister shall, at such intervals as he or she considers appropriate, revise any guidelines issued under subsection (1) and the provisions of this section shall apply to the issuing of such revised guidelines as they apply to the guidelines first issued.
|Preparation of draft scheme by public body.||13. —(1) On receipt of a notice under section 11 , a public body shall—
(a) publish notice of its intention to prepare a draft scheme and invite representations from any interested parties, and
(b) within the time specified in the notice, prepare and present for confirmation to the Minister a draft scheme.
(2) In preparing a draft scheme the public body shall—
(a) have regard to any guidelines issued under section 12 and in force,
(b) have regard to any representations made by any interested party under subsection (1),
(c) ensure that an adequate number of its staff are competent in the Irish language so as to be able to provide its service through Irish as well as English,
(d) ensure that the particular Irish language requirements associated with the provision of services in Gaeltacht areas are met,
(e) ensure that the Irish language becomes the working language in its offices in the Gaeltacht not later than such date as may be determined by it with the consent of the Minister.
(3) A draft scheme shall contain only such matters as are required to be specified under subsections (1) and (2) of section 11 .
|Confirmation by Minister of draft schemes.||14. —(1) Upon presentation of a draft scheme to the Minister by a public body, the Minister may, after consultation with such other persons including such other (if any) Minister of the Government as the Minister considers ought to be consulted, and with the consent of the head of the public body concerned, confirm the draft scheme either without amendment or with such amendments as he or she considers appropriate.
(2) The Minister shall, after confirmation of any draft scheme under this section, forward a copy of the scheme to the Commissioner.
(3) A scheme shall remain in force for a period of 3 years from the date on which it is confirmed by the Minister or until a new scheme has been confirmed by the Minister pursuant to section 15 , whichever is the later.
|Periodic review of schemes.||15. —(1) The Minister may, at any time, and shall, no later than 6 months before the expiration of the scheme, by notice in writing to the head of a public body require that body to review, within such period as may be specified in the notice, any scheme in force in relation to it.
(2) Upon receipt of a notice under subsection (1), a public body shall conduct a review of the said scheme and shall, within the time specified in the notice, prepare and present, for confirmation by the Minister, a new draft scheme.
(3) Sections 11, 13 and 14 shall, with any necessary modifications, apply where a notice is given under subsection (1) as they apply where a notice is given under section 11 .
|Amendment of schemes.||16. —(1) Where the Minister is satisfied that, owing to any change—
(a) in the functions of a public body, or
(b) in the circumstance in which such functions are performed,
it may be appropriate to amend any scheme in force in relation to it, he or she may, on his or her own initiative or on request by the public body concerned, by notice in writing to the public body propose amendments to the scheme.
(2) The Minister may, after consultation with such other persons, including such other (if any) Minister of the Government as the Minister considers ought to be consulted, and with the consent of the head of the public body concerned, amend a scheme in the manner proposed in any notice under subsection (1) or in such other manner as he or she considers appropriate in the circumstances, and the scheme shall have effect thereafter subject to any such amendments.
(3) The Minister shall forward to the Commissioner a copy of any scheme amended under this section.
|Failure to prepare a draft scheme.||17. —Where—
(a) a public body fails or refuses to prepare a draft scheme in accordance with a notice issued under section 11 or 15,
(b) after presentation by a public body of a draft scheme to the Minister for confirmation, the public body and the Minister are unable to agree the terms of the scheme, or
(c) after receipt by a public body of a notice of proposed amendments to a scheme, the public body and the Minister are unable to agree on any amendments,
the Minister shall report this failure, refusal or inability to each House of the Oireachtas.
|Duty to carry out schemes.||18. —(1) Where the Minister confirms a scheme under this Act, the public body shall proceed to carry out the scheme.
(2) Nothing in a scheme shall be construed as prohibiting a public body from implementing further measures to promote the status of an official language within its organisation.
|Prohibition on imposition of charges by public bodies.||19. —A public body shall not impose any charge on any person by virtue of any requirement imposed on that body by this Act.|
|Prohibition on imposition of charges by public bodies.||
|Establishment of Oifig Choimisinéir na dTeangacha Oifigiúla.||20. —(1) There is established an office to be known as Oifig Choimisinéir na dTeangacha Oifigiúla and the holder of the office shall be known as An Coimisinéir Teanga and is referred to in this Act as the Commissioner.
(2) The Commissioner shall be independent in the performance of his or her functions.
(3) The appointment of a person to be the Commissioner shall be made by the President on the advice of the Government following a resolution passed by Dáil Éireann and by Seanad Éireann recommending the appointment of the person.
(4) The provisions of the Second Schedule shall have effect in relation to the Commissioner.
|Functions of Commissioner.||21. —The functions of the Commissioner shall be, in addition to any functions conferred on him or her by any other provision of this Act—
(a) to monitor compliance by public bodies with the provisions of this Act,
(b) to take all necessary measures within his or her authority to ensure compliance by public bodies with the provisions of this Act,
(c) to carry out investigations, whether on his or her own initiative, on request by the Minister or pursuant to a complaint made to him or her by any person, into any failure by a public body to comply with the provisions of this Act that he or she or, as appropriate, the Minister, considers may have occurred,
(d) to provide, as he or she considers appropriate, advice or other assistance to the public regarding their rights under this Act,
(e) to provide, as he or she considers appropriate, advice or other assistance to public bodies regarding their obligations under this Act, and
(f) to carry out an investigation, whether on his or her own initiative, on request by the Minister or pursuant to a complaint made to him or her by any person, to ascertain whether any provision of any other enactment relating to the status or use of an official language was not or is not being complied with.
|Powers of Commissioner.||22. —(1) (a) For the purpose of his or her functions under this Act the Commissioner may require any person who, in the opinion of the Commissioner, is in possession of information, or has a record or thing in his or her power or control, that is relevant to the purposes aforesaid to furnish to the Commissioner any such information, record or thing and, where appropriate, may require the person to attend before him or her for that purpose, and the person shall comply with the requirement.
(b) Paragraph (a) of this subsection does not apply to information or so much of a record as relates to decisions and proceedings of the Government or of any committee of the Government and for the purposes of this paragraph, a certificate given by the Secretary-General to the Government and certifying that any information or record or part of a record so relates shall be conclusive.
(2) Subject to subsection (3), no enactment or rule of law prohibiting or restricting the disclosure or communication of information shall preclude a person from furnishing to the Commissioner any such information or record, as aforesaid.
(3) Subject to the provisions of this Act, a person to whom a requirement is addressed under this section shall be entitled to the same immunities and privileges as if he or she were a witness before the High Court.
(4) A person who fails or refuses to comply with a requirement under this section or who hinders or obstructs the Commissioner in the performance of his or her functions under this section shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €2,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both.
(5) Where an offence under subsection (4) has been committed by a body corporate and is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to have been facilitated by any neglect on the part of any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of such body or of any person who was purporting to act in any such capacity, that officer or person, as well as such body, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished as if he or she were guilty of the first-mentioned offence.
(6) Proceedings for an offence under this section may be brought and prosecuted by the Commissioner.
(7) The Commissioner may, if he or she thinks fit, pay to any person who, for the purposes aforesaid, attends before the Commissioner or furnishes information or a record or other thing to him or her—
(a) sums in respect of travelling and subsistence expenses properly incurred by the person, and
(b) allowances by way of compensation for loss of his or her time,
of such amount as may be determined by the Minister.
(8) A statement or admission made by a person for the purposes aforesaid shall not be admissible as evidence against that person in any criminal proceedings.
(9) Nothing in this section shall confer any right to production of, or access to, any record or thing subject to legal privilege.
|Conduct of investigations.||23. —(1) An investigation by the Commissioner under this Act shall be conducted otherwise than in public.
(2) Where the Commissioner proposes to carry out an investigation under this Act he or she shall—
(i) the public body concerned,
(ii) in a case where a complaint has been made to the Commissioner, the person who made the complaint, and
(iii) the Minister,
in writing of that fact, and
(i) the public body concerned, and
(ii) any other person who appears or, in a case where a complaint has been made to the Commissioner, is alleged to have been responsible for the matter complained of,
an opportunity to comment on the matter and, if a complaint in relation to the matter has been made to the Commissioner, on any allegations contained in the complaint.
(3) The Commissioner may—
(a) refuse to investigate a complaint under this Act, or
(b) discontinue an investigation under this Act into such a complaint,
if he or she becomes of opinion that—
(i) the complaint is trivial or vexatious,
(ii) the person making the complaint has not taken reasonable steps to seek redress in respect of the subject matter of the complaint or, if he or she has, has not been refused redress,
(iii) the complaint relates solely to a matter within the power of the Ombudsman to investigate pursuant to section 4(2)(a) of the Ombudsman Act 1980, or
(iv) the matter complained of does not involve any contravention of the provisions of this Act or of any other enactment relating to the status or use of an official language.
(4) Subject to the provisions of this Act, the procedure for conducting an investigation shall be such as the Commissioner considers appropriate in all the circumstances of the case.
(5) The Commissioner may determine whether any person may be represented, by counsel, solicitor or otherwise, in an investigation by him or her under this Act.
|Exclusions.||24. —The Commissioner shall not investigate any complaint made by or on behalf of a person if the complaint is one in relation to which the person affected by the matter complained of has initiated, in any court, civil legal proceedings and the proceedings have not been dismissed for failure to disclose a cause of action or a complaint justiciable by that court, whether the proceedings have been otherwise concluded or have not been concluded:
Provided that the Commissioner may investigate the matter notwithstanding that it is one to which this section relates if it appears to the Commissioner that special circumstances make it proper to do so.
|Disclosure of information.||25. —Information or a record or thing obtained by the Commissioner or his or her officers in the course of the exercise by him or her of his or her functions under this Act shall not be disclosed except for the purposes of such exercise and of any statement, report or notification to be made under this Act and the Commissioner or his or her officers shall not be called upon to give evidence in any proceedings of matters coming to his or her or their knowledge in the course of such exercise.|
|Report of findings.||26. —(1) In any case where a complaint is made to the Commissioner and the Commissioner decides not to carry out an investigation under this Act or decides to discontinue such an investigation, he or she shall send to the person who made the complaint and to the public body concerned a statement in writing of his or her reasons for the decision and shall send to such other person as he or she considers appropriate such statement in writing in relation to the matter as he or she considers appropriate.
(2) In any case where the Commissioner conducts an investigation under this Act, he or she shall prepare and submit to—
(a) the public body concerned,
(b) the Minister, and
(c) in a case where a complaint is made to the Commissioner, the complainant,
a report in writing of the findings of the investigation and may include in the report any recommendations he or she considers appropriate having regard to the investigation.
(3) Without prejudice to subsection (2), the Commissioner may issue an interim report if he or she considers it appropriate so to do.
(4) The Commissioner may request a public body to submit to him or her within a specified time any comments it may have regarding any findings or recommendations contained in a report under this section.
(5) If, within a reasonable time after a report containing recommendations is submitted to a public body under subsection (2), any recommendations contained in the report have not, in the opinion of the Commissioner, been implemented by that body, the Commissioner may, after considering any responses made to him or her by the public body in respect of those recommendations, make a report thereon to each House of the Oireachtas.
(6) The Commissioner shall attach to every report under subsection (5) a copy of every response (if any) made by or on behalf of a public body to the said recommendations.
|Schemes of compensation.||27. —(1) The Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, make a scheme of compensation providing for the payment by a public body to such persons of such sums as may be specified in the scheme, in respect of any failure, specified in a report by the Commissioner under section 26 , by the body (other than a public body, standing prescribed for the purposes of paragraph 1(5) of the First Schedule) to comply with the provisions of this Act.
(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (f) of section 21, a scheme under subsection (1) may not provide for the payment out of moneys in respect of any failure by a public body to comply with any other enactment relating to the status or use of an official language.
(3) A scheme under subsection (1) may be revoked or varied by a subsequent scheme made thereunder.
|Appeals to the High Court.||28. —(1) A party to an investigation under this Act or any other person affected by the findings and recommendations of the Commissioner following such an investigation may appeal to the High Court on a point of law from the decision.
(2) An appeal under subsection (1) shall be initiated not later than 4 weeks after notice of the relevant findings and recommendations was given to the person bringing the appeal.
(3) (a) Where an appeal under this section by a person, other than a head, is dismissed by the High Court, that Court may, if it considers that the point of law concerned was of exceptional public importance, order that some or all of the costs of the person in relation to the appeal be paid by the public body concerned.
(b) The High Court may order that some or all of the costs of a person, other than a head, in relation to a reference under this section be paid by the public body concerned.
(4) A decision of the High Court following an appeal under subsection (1), shall, where appropriate, specify the period within which effect shall be given to the decision.
|Publication of commentaries by Commissioner on practical application, etc. of Act.||29. —The Commissioner may prepare and publish commentaries on the practical application and operation of the provisions, or any particular provisions, of this Act, including commentaries based on the experience of holders of the office of Commissioner in relation to investigations and findings following investigations, of such holders under this Act.|
|Reports of Commissioner.||30. —(1) The Commissioner shall, not later than 6 months after the end of each year, prepare and furnish to the Minister a report, in each of the official languages, on his or her activities in that year.
(2) The Minister shall, not later than 2 months after the receipt of the report, cause a copy thereof to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.
(3) The Commissioner may, if he or she considers it appropriate to do so in the public interest or in the interests of any person, prepare and publish a report in each of the official languages in relation to any investigation carried out or other function performed by him or her under this Act or any matter relating to or arising in the course of such an investigation or performance.
(4) In this section "report" does not include a report under section 26 .
|Definitions.||31. —In this Part, save where the context otherwise requires—
"the Commission" means the body known as An Coimisiún Logainmneacha and established by warrant of the Minister for Finance dated the 24th day of October 1946;
"placename" includes the name of any province, county, city, town, village, barony, parish or townland, or of any territorial feature (whether natural or artificial), district, region or place, as shown in the maps of Ordnance Survey Ireland;
"placenames order" has the meaning assigned to it by section 32 .
|Placenames orders.||32. —(1) Subject to subsection (2), the Minister, having received and considered advice from the Commission, may by order (in this Part referred to as a "placenames order")—
(a) declare the Irish language version of a placename specified in the order to be such word or words as he or she specifies in the order,
(b) amend or revoke a placenames order.
(2) The Minister shall not make a declaration under subsection (1) in relation to a place in a Gaeltacht area in respect of which a declaration under Part 18 of the Local Government Act 2001 is in force.
(3) Every placenames order shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the order is passed by either such House within the next subsequent 21 days on which that House has sat after the order is laid before it, the order shall be annulled accordingly but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.
|Construction of words in legal documents.||33. —(1) A word or words, declared by the Minister in a placenames order to be the Irish language version of a placename specified in the order, shall be construed in a legal document as referring to the same place and as having the same force and effect as the English language version of the placename so specified unless the contrary intention appears.
(2) Where the Minister makes a declaration under section 32 in respect of a placename in a Gaeltacht area, the English language version of the placename shall no longer have any force and effect as on and from the operative date but without prejudice to anything done before or after that date including the use of that version other than its use—
(a) in any Act of the Oireachtas passed after the operative date or any statutory instrument made after that date under any Act,
(b) in such maps prepared and published by or with the permission of Ordnance Survey Ireland as may be prescribed, or
(c) on a road or street sign erected by or on behalf of a local authority.
(3) In this section—
"legal document" means—
(a) any Act of the Oireachtas passed after the operative date, any statutory instrument made after that date under any Act or the official translation of any Act or instrument;
(b) any instrument having or intended to have legal effect or consequences and executed on or after the operative date;
(c) any document used in or for the purposes of legal proceedings, and made, issued or served on or after the operative date,
"the operative date" means the date on which the relevant place-names order comes into operation.
|Amendment of Ordnance Survey Ireland Act 2001.||34. —The Ordnance Survey Ireland Act 2001 is amended by the substitution of the following for paragraph (h) of section 4(2):
"(h) to depict placenames and ancient features in the national mapping and related records and databases in the Irish language or in the English and Irish languages.".
|Repeal.||35. —The Place-Names (Irish Forms) Act 1973 is repealed.
|Role of Ombudsman.||36. —Nothing in this Act shall prohibit the investigation by the Ombudsman, pursuant to subsection (2) of section 4 of the Ombudsman Act 1980, of any action taken by or on behalf of a Department of State or other person specified in Part 1 of the First Schedule to that Act.|