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Councils count cost of Irish translations nobody reads

By Caroline O’Doherty (Examiner 5th.Nov.2007)
COUNTY councils are spending tens of thousands of euro on Irish translations of documents nobody reads. 

Cork County Council revealed it had spent almost €90,000 having local development plans translated at a rate of €127 per 1,000 words but had not received a single request for a copy in Irish.

In Waterford, an Irish version of the county development plan cost €26,000 and so far there had been no demand to see it.

Costs are set to rise substantially in the next few years as most county development and local area plans come up for renewal, bringing them for the first time under the remit of the Official Languages Act, which requires an Irish translation.

Limerick County Council spent €14,600 translating the first three of its 20 local area plans. At an average cost of almost €4,900 each, a total bill of €100,000 is likely, plus the cost of the county development plan.

Kilkenny County Council translated two local area plans costing €7,707 and a spokeswoman said she was not aware of any request to see or acquire an Irish copy.

Not all local authorities are experiencing such apathy though. Galway County Council, which covers two Gaeltacht areas, reported a high level of interest.

"Just recently we changed our county development plan and there was a huge demand for it in Irish," said the council’s Irish officer, Páid Ó Neachtain.

"There is a huge cost to preparing the plans anyway and the translation costs are just one small part of that. It works both ways — we do the area plans for the Gaeltacht areas in Irish as standard but to be fair to everyone, we produce a version in English too."

A Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht affairs spokeswoman said: "The act was brought in to give effect to the constitutional right of citizens to deal with public bodies through Irish. It’s a matter of public service."