According to the Irish Language Commissioner in the Irish Republic, Sean O Cuirreain, some 71 languages were used in Irish courts last year but Irish did not even make the top 10!
The official figures provided by the Courts Service showed that the total bill for translation in more than 70 languages was in the region of 2 million euro but the cost of interpreting in Irish was less than 2,000 euro in 2006 and fell again in 2007 to 1,012 euro.
'These figures speak for themselves,' said Mr O Cuirreain. 'In some cases interpretation is not required where the judge and other participants are fluent in Irish but the percentage of such cases in negligible on an annual basis and in a national context.'
Altogether more than 10,000 requests were made to the Courts Service for interpreters for the 71 different languages but only a handful of these were for Irish. Polish topped the list, while interpreters for Romanian, Lithuanian, Russian, Mandarin Chinese, Latvian, Portuguese, French, Czech and Arabic were also requested.
The Irish Language Commissioner is to start a campaign to advise Irish speakers of their statutory rights and to counteract any perception of 'compulsory English' in legal affairs. It will be interesting to see what difference this makes to the figures for the use of Irish in the courts in the Republic.
[Irish Times 28 October 2009]