The Irish language can be heard daily in the Dáil and Seanad Chambers and around the Houses by Members, staff and visitors.
- Bills & Acts
Acts of the Oireachtas may be published online in either English or Irish, but the printed versions are published in both Irish and English simultaneously.
Members of either House of the Oireachtas may speak in Irish or English during proceedings in the Dáil, Seanad and committees. The Dáil and Seanad Order Papers are bilingual documents, including both Irish and English.
When TDs and Senators speak in Irish in the Houses, their contributions are simultaneously translated for the benefit of Members who do not speak Irish. Members of the public or officials who appear before Oireachtas committees also have the right to use either Irish or English.
The Official Report of the proceedings of the Dáil, Seanad and committees is published in the language the speaker chose to use.
- Communicating with the public
When people contact the Houses of the Oireachtas, they may do so in Irish or English. We reply to written correspondence in the same language in which it was written.
Our public signage and information booklets are produced in Irish and English. Static pages of the Houses of the Oireachtas website are available in Irish and English and readers can switch easily between the two languages.
- An Caighdeán Oifigiúil - the official standard of the Irish language
The Houses of the Oireachtas Translation Section, Rannóg an Aistriúcháin, produces the official standard for writing in the Irish language, called An Caighdeán Oifigiúil.
The Houses of the Oireachtas Translation Section was officially recognised as the authority on grammatical and orthographical matters in 1957, when the Taoiseach asked the chief translator to prepare a manual for publication “as a standard for all official purposes and as a guideline for teachers and for the general public”. That project led to the publication of the Official Standard, (An Caighdeán Oifigiúil - Gramadach na Gaeilge agus Litriú na Gaeilge) in 1958, a Standard which is still in use today.
An Caighdeán Oifigiúil was given statutory status in section 2 of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (Amendment) Act 2013 and it was decided that the first statutory review should be carried out without delay. In September 2014, members of the public and other interested parties were asked to make submissions regarding An Caighdeán Oifigiúil. An advisory committee was also established, which worked tirelessly for a year and a half to identify issues and to make recommendations. The result of this work is the revised edition of An Caighdeán Oifigiúil, published by the Houses of the Oireachtas Service in 2017.
- Committee on the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands
The Committee on the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands was established in 2016 to promote the use of Irish in the community, the arts, education, sport, business, the media and politics. It is working towards providing a meaningful and visible reality to the Irish language’s status as Ireland’s first official language. The committee conducts all its business through Irish.
As a designated body under the Official Languages Act 2003, the Houses of the Oireachtas Service has a language scheme which details the services to be provided through the Irish language, through English and bilingually. A new scheme is being drafted and will be published shortly.
To mark Bliain na Gaeilge we have developed a strategy to help TDs, Senators and staff engage with the Irish language in a positive and rewarding manner. This strategy runs in parallel with the Houses of the Oireachtas Service Language Scheme.
An Caighdeán Oifigiúil is the official standard for writing in the Irish language. It is prepared by the Houses of the Oireachtas Translation Section, Rannóg an Aistriúcháin. You can read the latest edition here.
Statutory position of the Irish language
- Constitution of Ireland
The status of the Irish language is set out in Article 8 of the Constitution of Ireland as follows:
1. The Irish language as the national language is the first official language.
2. The English language is recognised as a second official language.
3. Provision may, however, be made by law for the exclusive use of either of the said languages for any one or more official purposes, either throughout the State or in any part thereof.
- The Official Languages Act 2003
The Official Languages Act 2003 placed the provision of services in general through Irish by the State on a statutory footing. The aim of the Act is to increase and improve the quantity and quality of services provided for the public through Irish by public bodies. The legislation creates a space for the language in public affairs in Ireland.
Section 6 of the Act deals with the use of official languages in the Houses of the Oireachtas, as follows:
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.
Section 7 of the Act refers to 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.
- An Coimisinéir Teanga
The Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga was established under the Official Languages Act 2003 as an independent statutory office operating as an ombudsman’s service and as a compliance agency. An Coimisinéir Teanga monitors compliance by public bodies with the provisions of the Official Languages Act 2003.
- The European Union
Irish is one of the official languages of the European Union and is a working language of the European Parliament. EU citizens can contact the EU institutions, and receive a reply, in Irish.
Irish became an official working language of the EU in 2007 under Council Regulation (EC) No 920/2005. This means legislation approved by both the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers is translated into Irish, and interpretation from Irish is available at European Parliament plenary sessions and some European Council meetings. A derogation to the regulation provided that not all documents have to be translated into Irish.
In 2015, Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2015/2264 set a definitive schedule for the gradual reduction of the derogation of the Irish language. This reduction is to take place over five years starting from 2016 and ending by January 2022.
Seachtain na Gaeilge
On 6 March 2018, the Houses of the Oireachtas marked Seachtain na Gaeilge with a special lecture by Máire Geoghegan-Quinn. The former Minister and European Commissioner spoke about the importance of our national language to her and in her work and about her life and career in Irish and European politics.
Contact the Translation Section
Rannóg an Aistriúcháin
(01) 618 3922