Symposium on Official Languages Act 2003 in TCD- 21 January 2012

Long Room Hub, Trinity College, Dublin

Long Room Hub, Trinity College, Dublin

The School of Law and the Irish Language Office, Trinity College Dublin, in Association with the Four Courts branch of Conradh na Gaeilge (and with the support of Guth na Gaeltachta) are holding a Public Symposium on the Official Languages Act 2003 in Trinity College on Saturday, 21 January 2012.

“Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiula: Leasú Chun Feabhais”  (the Official Languages Act 2003: Increasing Its Effectiveness) will be the title of this symposium, which is being held in the context of the review recently announced by the Government of the operation of the legislation, and its effectiveness.

This symposium will be comprised of three separate elements:

  1. SESSION 1 (10.00-11:45 AM): a Review of the Implementation of this Legislation since 2003, with speeches from the Official Languages Commissioner, Seán Ó Cuirreáin in relation to the experience of his own office; from a representative of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; and a perspective from an Irish Language Officer in a public body, in relation to how the legislation operates internally in an public body.
  2. SESSION 2 (12.00-1:30 PM): Perspectives on the Effectiveness of the Legislation, with contributions from a legal practitioner (Dáithí MacCárthaigh BL) in relation to how the legislation operates in the legal system; from Julian deSpáinn, General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge, on the views of Irish language organisations on the effectiveness of the legislation and their proposals for its improvement; and from Éamonn MacNiallais from the community campaigning group Guth na Gaeltachta on experience of how of the legislation serves language rights on the ground in the Gaeltachtaí, and the improvements which they feel are necessary.
  3. SESSION 3 (2.00-3:00 PM): Open Discussion Forum- Differing Perspectives on the Legislation in the context of the Review, with Irish language organisations and individuals. Emer Ní Chonaola, (TG4) will chair this discussion forum. Ms Ní Chonaola is the anchor news presenter on TG4. Originally from Spiddal, she is a graduate of the National University of Ireland, Galway.

It is the objective of this symposium to compile a comprehensive Paper, based on the day’s proceedings, on the range of issues which must be taken into consideration in the Governmental Review. This will be achieved through retaining a rapporteur, who will closely follow the proceedings of the day and will prepare the Paper, which will then be submitted to Government for consideration as part of its review process.

This event will be open to students, legal practitioners and the Irish language community, as well as representatives from Irish language organisations and others with an interest in the topic, and all viewpoints will be particularly welcome in the discussion forum.

Refreshments will be available. The day’s proceedings will commence at 10.00am with a welcome from Professor Gerry Whyte of the School of Law, Trinity College, and a few words from Eithne Reid O’Doherty BL, chairperson of the Four Courts branch of Conradh na Gaeilge.


Seán Ó Cuirreáin
Seán Ó Cuirreáin was appointed on 23 February 2004 as the first Official Languages Commissioner, under the Official Languages Act 2003. He was reappointed for a further six year term on 23 February, 2010. The role and powers of the Language Commissioner are set out in the Act, and he enjoys complete independence in his role as Commissioner.

Aonghus Dwane
Aonghus Dwane is Irish language officer in Trinity College, which introduced its Irish Language Scheme in 2010, and is also a solicitor, who worked on the DPP’s Irish Language Scheme during his time in that office.

Dáithí MacCárthaigh BL
Dáithí MacCárthaigh is a barrister. He is also coordinator of the Law and Irish programme at the King’s Inns. He lives in the Rath Cairn Gaeltacht.

Julian de Spáinn
Julian de Spáinn is General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge since 2005, and before that was manager of Seachtain na Gaeilge Teo. He was President of the Union of Students in Ireland in 2000/01.

Éamonn MacNiallais
Éamonn Mac Niallais is the spokesperson for Guth na Gaeltachta (a non-party political campaigning group focussed on the Irish language and the Gaeltachtaí). He is also the Administrator of the Gweedore Centre of  Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge.

Further information is available from the following contact persons:

  • Aonghus Dwane, Irish Language Officer TCD. Tel; +353 (0)1 896 3652, 087 6232841
  • Eithne O’Doherty BL, Four Courts Branch, Conradh na Gaeilge, Tel 086 8 380 380
  • Síne Nic an Ailí, Feidhmeannach Forbartha & Oifige, Conradh na Gaeilge, Teil  +353 (0)1 4757401, 087 6546673

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