Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003
The Official Languages Act 2003
The Official Languages Act 2003 was signed into law on the 14 July 2003. The Act is the first piece of legislation to provide a statutory framework for the delivery of public services through the Irish language.
Provisions of the Act
The primary objective of the Official Languages Act 2003 is to ensure better availability and a higher standard of public services through Irish.
This will be principally achieved by placing a statutory obligation on Departments of State and Public Bodies to make specific provision for delivery of such services in a coherent and agreed fashion through a statutory planning framework, known as a "scheme", to be agreed on a three year renewable basis between the head of the body concerned and the Minister. Schemes remain in force for 3 years and thereafter fall to be renewed. The intention is that this renewal process will be used to secure a significant improvement in the level of public services available through Irish over time, as demand requires.
The Act also specifies some basic general provisions of universal applicability or Direct Duties on Departments of State and Public Bodies that relate to, for example, correspondence to be replied to in the language in which it was written, providing information to the public in the Irish language, or in the Irish and English languages, bilingual publications of certain key documents etc.
In accordance with the Regulations of the Official Languaes Act, Public Bodies have a duty to ensure that their stationery, signage and recorded oral announcements are provided in Irish or bilingually by specific dates set out under the Regulations.