Liquidation for Irish language policy research centre

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Fri Jan 2 14:20:58 UTC 2004

Eurolang, the European news agency for minority languages


Liquidation for Irish language policy research centre, Institiid
Teangeolaochta ireann (IT)
Bal Feirste / Belfast  19/12/03, by Eoghan  Nill

Staff at the centre for research on state language policy in Ireland,
Institiid Teangeolaochta ireann (IT), will find out three days before
Christmas whether they are to face the dole or to be redeployed to another
job in the educational or public service sector.

The news that IT is to go into liquidation from 9 January has shocked many
language organisations and activists and indeed many foreign language
specialists. They say that such a move at a time when language issues are
going up the agenda of European governments is inexplicable.

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week officials from the Department of
Education met with the 26 employees of the IT to ascertain their skills
and abilities and to assess whether they can be redeployed in the public
sector. There is no certainty however that all the staff will be
redeployed nor is it clear what will happen to the invaluable collection
of information on all aspects of Irish language research which IT has
compiled over the last 30 years.

IT is a company in it's own right but it receives most of it's work from
the Department of Education and alarm bells started to ring when the
Department made only a nominal grant provision for IT in the Budget

The specific reason for the closure of IT is not clear, even though it has
been clear for a number of years that there have been problems at the

Over the last two years the company has paid 92,000 euros for legal fees
arising out of two court cases involving employees. Some senior posts were
left unfilled and there has been tension in regard to the access which the
staff representative has had to meetings of the company committee.

Two reports were commissioned on IT in recent years. Both praised the work
being undertaken by IT but recommended restructuring of one form or
another. And while most staff would be happy to see restructuring they
feel that closing IT is not justified.

If this was the body responsible for government research in the field of
agriculture, economic policy, social issues or anything else there is no
way the government would allow it to close an employee of IT told the
newspaper L.

The reality is that there is no other body in the country which can
adequately perform these functions of research and planning in the Irish
language field and this will be a disaster for the Irish language.

The Department of Education says that the decision to liquidate the
company was taken by the Executive Committee of IT itself in July 2003, -
before the Department had decided to designate only a nominal amount for
IT in the budget.

And the Minister for Education, Noel Dempsey T.D., told Dil ireann,My
Department has given a commitment to provide every assistance to the
company in giving effect to its future intentions, in partnership with the
staff of the Institute. This will include arrangements for ensuring the
continuation of the research functions previously carried out by the
Institute and, in the interests of assisting with an orderly wind-up,
facilitating appropriate re-deployment or other appropriate arrangements
for permanent staff.

Meantime academics from at home and abroad are among those who have
written to newspapers and voiced concern that the vacuum which the closure
of IT would leave would be disastrous for the Irish language - especially
at a time when the Acht Teanga is about to be implemented.

One Catalan academic, Miquel Strubell of Universitat Oberta de Catalunya,
writing to the Irish Times said that: We believe Institiid Teangeolaochta
ireann is an irreplaceable social, educational, and linguistic resource
and its value in terms of its contribution nationally and internationally
greatly exceeds the modest funding it has received. It would be an
extraordinary waste of resources and talent to abandon its prestigious
programme of research and to disperse its academic staff. (Eurolang)

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