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Taxi signs may breach language law

Taxi signs may breach language law

New information signs provided to taxi drivers to display in their vehicles could be in breach of the Official Languages Act, Foras na Gaeilge has said.


The signs, posted to drivers this month by the National Transport Authority, are in English only and are replacing bilingual signs already on display in taxis.

Some 53,000 A4 signs were provided to drivers at a cost of more than €45,000, with two signs per vehicle.

Designed to be handled and read by passengers, they include information on fares, lost property and how to recognise a licensed driver.

The signs, produced by 3M, illustrate the information using graphics and text in English on both sides.

The cards they replace had dense text in English on one side and in Irish on the reverse.

The Official Languages Act 2003 requires that public bodies produce signs and stationery in Irish as well as English. A breach of the Act can be investigated by An Coimisinéir Teanga (Language Commissioner).

Brendan MacCraith, spokesman for Foras na Gaeilge, the body responsible for the promotion of the Irish language, said the authority could be in breach of the Official Languages Act by failing to provide the information in both languages.

“If the signs were previously bilingual and are now in English only, that is a retrograde step,” he said.

The point of the legislation was that people who wanted to use Irish would not have to request something special.

“The whole idea is to make the service more freely available and not an extra,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the authority said the new signs were in fact “information cards”.

The authority used the Irish language on its stationery and signs, in accordance with legislation, but the “information cards” were “neither stationery nor signs”.

She said they were “cards that drivers make available to their customers by putting them in the seat pockets in the back of the vehicle or anywhere else within easy reach of the customer”.

“They were not therefore produced in Irish,” she said.

The spokeswoman said an Irish-language version was available for download by any taxi user who would like to use it.

Foilsithe ar Gaelport.com - 30 Eanáir 2012



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