President signs Irish language rights legislation into law

Conradh na Gaeilge warmly welcomes the Official Languages Act 2021 (Amendment) as enacted with the signature of the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins

The Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2019 was enacted on 22 December 2021. A copy of the new Act is available by clicking here.

The provisions in the new legislation include:

  • An objective that by 2030 20% of new recruits to the public sector and the Civil Service be proficient in Irish.
  • Confirmation that a deadline will be set whereby all State services in Gaeltacht regions will be available through Irish.
  • A provision to end the language scheme system and replace it with a system of language standards.
  • A provision to ensure that communications with a public body on social media are answered in the same language.
  • A provision requiring public bodies to ensure that marketing material distributed to a class of the public be in Irish.
  • A provision requiring public bodies to ensure that at least 20% of their annual advertising is in Irish.
  • A provision to ensure application forms are available in Irish.
  • A provision to ensure that the logos of public bodies are in Irish or in Irish and English.

The new provisions will be implemented over a period of time.

This marks the end of 10 years of community campaigning with politicians and a significant achievement, in particular the provision proposed by the Conradh that by 2030 20% of those recruited to the public sector will be proficient in the Irish language.

Below is a helpful breakdown of the timeline in achieving this great recognition of the Irish language:


What happened


The Minister of State for the Gaeltacht announced the commencement of a review of the Official Languages Act 2003


The Government announced its intention to close the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga as an independent statutory office, and to bring all its functions under the Office of the Ombudsman as part of its public sector reform plan


Conradh na Gaeilge and Guth na Gaeltachta began campaigning to save the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga and to ensure that the review resulted in a satisfactory Language Act. A target was set to elicit a 1,000 surveys and 100 submissions from the public for the review


Local meetings organised in the community and a major meeting in Galway were organised by the Conradh & Guth na Gaeltachta with Irish language, Gaeltacht and other organisations to agree a plan


Protest organised outside the Dáil regarding the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga and language rights


Seminar organised between Trinity College and the Conradh on strengthening the legislation


The review received 1,466 survey responses plus 262 submissions from the public, including hundreds of suggestions for improvement


Major Public Meeting - Rights & Equality for the Irish Language - organised by the Conradh in Liberty Hall, Dublin, following An Coimisinéir Teanga's announcement that he was to resign


Meetings were organised throughout the country to prepare for An Lá Mór and to discuss Irish language and Gaeltacht rights


10,000+ people from all over the country marched on the streets of Dublin during AN LÁ MÓR to promote the Commissioner's case and to look for Irish language and Gaeltacht rights


An Coimisinéir Teanga resigned, due to the Government in the south of Ireland not listening to what he had to say


The Government finally publishes the results of the review which began on 03/11/11. Of the 60 suggestions, although they received hundreds of suggestions from the public, only 2-4 were of any merit


Heads of the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill, 2014 were published. They were very weak and there was a danger of a weaker Act if they were passed


Ongoing lobbying of various politicians and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment, Culture & the Gaeltacht who supported our position against the regressive proposals in the Heads of Bill and were in favour of the Conradh's proposed amendments to the Bill


Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the general scheme of the official languages (amendment) bill 2014 published


In the 2016 General Election we called for a Standing Joint Oireachtas Committee for Irish Language and Gaeltacht matters, such as the rights of the Irish language and the Gaeltacht community. The Joint Oireachtas Committee was set up after the general election and this Joint Oireachtas Committee has had a major influence on the subsequent Official Languages Bill process


Draft Conradh na Gaeilge Bill agreed with the opposition, including provisions such as 20% public sector recruitment, advertising in Irish, services in the Gaeltacht, etc..


Government decided not to go ahead with the Heads of the Bill of the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill, 2014 and they adopted new Heads of Bill as a result of the pressure put on them


Following the rejection of the 2014 Heads of Bill and the adoption of new Heads of Bill, which included the 20% recruitment target for proficiency in Irish, it was decided to work with the Government, the Department of the Gaeltacht and the opposition to promote the provisions in the draft Conradh Bill and other provisions in this new process


Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands on the general scheme of the Official Languages Bill 2017 was published. Support for the recommendations of the Conradh as well as further recommendations were included


The Official Languages Bill 2019 was published and the community lobbied to strengthen the Bill


The 2020 General Election was used to ensure political party support for the strengthening of the Official Languages Bill 2019, in particular to add a target year of 2030 to the provision that 20% of candidates recruited to the civil service be proficient in Irish. This was agreed to by Fianna Fáil, the Green Party, Sinn Féin and People Before Profit


Lobbying and public pressure on politicians to strengthen the Bill as the Bill progressed through the various stages in the Houses of the Oireachtas at SEAS, individual meetings with politicians, seminars, meetings with the Department and Ministers, meetings with the Language Commissioner, presentations to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Irish Speaking Community, and many many other methods


Official Languages Act 2019 (Amendment) signed by the President of Ireland



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