Jack Quann
Jack Quann

16.55 2 Jun 2020


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The general-secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge says a 'mistake' meant the Government's official information leaflet on COVID-19 was not printed in both Irish and English.

Questions have been raised over why separate coronavirus information booklets were sent out to every household.

Generally, official Government booklets - such as those for referendums - are printed with English on one side and Irish on the other.

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However this was not the case with the Government's recent COVID-19 information pamphlet, which saw households get two versions of the same information.

The cost of the booklets has not yet been released.

Julian de Spáinn, general-secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge, told The Hard Shoulder a mistake was made.

"It's a waste because a mistake was made.

"The law of the land... is that that should have been sent out bilingually.

"It wasn't, a mistake was made and to rectify it they had to send it out in English.

"It's not the language's fault, it's not Irish speakers fault that the law was broken.

"It was somebody made a mistake and that had to be rectified".

"Something of this nature that's been sent to all households has to be bilingual, and that's coming from the Official Languages Act."

But Irish Independent journalist Ian O'Doherty said we have to use money more carefully.

"This isn't the biggest issue in the world - but I know a bunch of other people who got those leaflets and they all went straight into the bin".

"You get something like this and you go 'this is such a waste of money'... it's just really irritating.

"It's basically a way of wasting taxpayer's money to basically keep a few of the Gaeilgeoir grenadiers just happy that they feel that they're getting still parity of esteem.

"And the one question I'd genuinely ask is: how many Irish speakers can honestly admit that they wouldn't understand the English version of that pamphlet?

"The costings for this have yet to be released."

He suggested: "Why don't they just release the leaflets in English and put the Irish version up on the HSE's website, so people can download.

"So I went into the HSE's website today: there's 25 languages on the HSE website that haven't been printed on a hard copy on a leaflet.

"Why can't we just put Irish on to one of those, so if people want to read it in Irish, they can either download it or they can print it out.

"It doesn't cost the taxpayer any extra money, nobody feels excluded and I just don't understand why they can't do something like that".

"We're looking at a €30bn deficit this year, we're looking at the national income being down by at least 10 to 12%, we're looking at at least 250,000 jobs being lost - so we need what I would call financial triage: we need to be a bit more sensible with the very little amounts of money that we have left".

"If I was to wear my mischievous cap I would say this is a classic example where people insist on things being over-printed.

"I would nearly go so far as to say that obviously Irish speakers don't particularly care about the environment, because all of those leaflets just went straight into the bin - let's hope it's the recycle bin, but we don't know".

Mr de Spáinn said: "We've done statistics on this, we've had Kantar do surveys on this.

"And we find that the vast majority of the country are behind, especially in Gaeltacht areas, that the Government would provide services to them through the Irish language, across the board that is.

"The people who are against that are usually around about 10% of the population".

"But to be honest, this was a mistake made by somebody who should have produced it bilingually - and all of a sudden, for whatever reason, the Irish speakers are getting the flack for it when it wasn't our fault".

'Mistake' saw official COVID-19 leaflet not printed bilingually

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

Main image: The Irish language version of the Government's COVID-19 information booklet. Picture by: Jack Quann

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COVID-19 Information Pamphlet Conradh Na Gaeilge English Ian O'Doherty Information Leaflet On COVID-19 Irish Julian De Spáinn The Hard Shoulder

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