Official Languages Act 2003

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Number 32 of 2003


OFFICIAL LANGUAGES ACT 2003


ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

PART 1

Preliminary and General

Section

1.

Short title and commencement.

2.

Interpretation.

3.

Expenses.

4.

Regulations.

PART 2

Organs of State

5.

Annual report to Houses of Oireachtas.

6.

Use of official languages in Houses of Oireachtas.

7.

Acts of the Oireachtas.

8.

Administration of justice.

PART 3

Public Bodies

9.

Duty of public bodies to use official languages on official stationery, etc.

10.

Duty of public bodies to publish certain documents in both official languages simultaneously.

11.

Use of official languages by public bodies.

12.

Publication of guidelines by Minister.

13.

Preparation of draft scheme by public body.

14.

Confirmation by Minister of draft schemes.

15.

Periodic review of schemes.

16.

Amendment of schemes.

17.

Failure to prepare a draft scheme.

18.

Duty to carry out schemes.

19.

Prohibition on imposition of charges by public bodies.

PART 4

An Coimisinéir Teanga

20.

Establishment of Oifig Choimisinéir na dTeangacha Oifigiúla.

21.

Functions of Commissioner.

22.

Powers of Commissioner.

23.

Conduct of investigations.

24.

Exclusions.

25.

Disclosure of information.

26.

Report of findings.

27.

Schemes of compensation.

28.

Appeals to the High Court.

29.

Publication of commentaries by Commissioner on practical application, etc. of Act.

30.

Reports of Commissioner.

PART 5

Placenames

31.

Definitions.

32.

Placenames orders.

33.

Construction of words in legal documents.

34.

Amendment of Ordance Survey Ireland Act 2001.

35.

Repeal.

PART 6

Miscellaneous

36.

Role of Ombudsman.

FIRST SCHEDULE

Public Bodies

SECOND SCHEDULE

An Coimisinéir Teanga


Acts Referred to

British-Irish Agreement Act 1999

1999, No. 1

Civil Service Commissioners Act 1956

1956, No. 45

Civil Service Regulation Act 1956

1956, No. 46

Civil Service Regulation Acts 1956 to 1996

Data Protection Act 1988

1988, No. 25

European Assembly Elections Act 1977

1977, No. 30

European Parliament Elections Act 1993

1993, No. 30

Harbours Act 1946

1946, No. 9

Harbours Act 1996

1996, No. 11

Local Government Act 2001

2001, No. 37

Marriages (Ireland) Act 1844

6 & 7 Vict., c. 81

Ministers and Secretaries Act 1924

1924, No. 16

Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 1956

1956, No. 21

Ombudsman Act 1980

1980, No. 26

Ordnance Survey Ireland Act 2001

2001, No. 43

Place-Names (Irish Forms) Act 1973

1973, No. 24

Public Service Management Act 1997

1997, No. 27

Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Acts 1921 to 2002

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Number 32 of 2003


OFFICIAL LANGUAGES ACT 2003


AN ACT TO PROMOTE THE USE OF THE IRISH LANGUAGE FOR OFFICIAL PURPOSES IN THE STATE; TO PROVIDE FOR THE USE OF BOTH OFFICIAL LANGUAGES OF THE STATE IN PARLIAMENTARY PROCEEDINGS, IN ACTS OF THE OIREACHTAS, IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE, IN COMMUNICATING WITH OR PROVIDING SERVICES TO THE PUBLIC AND IN CARRYING OUT THE WORK OF PUBLIC BODIES; TO SET OUT THE DUTIES OF SUCH BODIES WITH RESPECT TO THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGES OF THE STATE; AND FOR THOSE PURPOSES, TO PROVIDE FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF OIFIG CHOIMISINÉIR NA dTEANGACHA OIFIGIÚLA AND TO DEFINE ITS FUNCTIONS; TO PROVIDE FOR THE PUBLICATION BY THE COMMISSIONER OF CERTAIN INFORMATION RELEVANT TO THE PURPOSES OF THIS ACT; AND TO PROVIDE FOR RELATED MATTERS. [14th July, 2003]

BE IT ENACTED BY THE OIREACHTAS AS FOLLOWS:

PART 1

Preliminary and General

Short title and commencement.

1.—(1) This Act may be cited as the Official Languages Act 2003.

(2) This Act shall come into operation on such day or days not later than 3 years after the passing of this Act as, by order or orders made by the Minister under this section, may be fixed therefor either generally or with reference to any particular purpose or provision, and different days may be so fixed for different purposes and different provisions.

Interpretation.

2.—(1) In this Act, save where the context otherwise requires—

“Commissioner” means, as the context may require, Oifig Choimisinéir na dTeangacha Oifigiúla established by section 20 or the holder, for the time being, of that office;

“court” includes a tribunal established under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Acts 1921 to 2002;

“draft scheme” means a draft scheme to be prepared by a public body under this Act;

“enactment” means a statute or an instrument made under a power conferred by a statute;

“functions” includes powers and duties and references to the performance of functions include, with respect to powers and duties, references to the exercise of the powers and the carrying out of the duties;

“Gaeltacht area” means an area for the time being determined to be a Gaeltacht area by order made under section 2 of the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 1956 ;

“head” means the head of a public body;

“head of a public body” means—

(a) in relation to a Department of State, the Minister of the Government having charge of it,

(b) in relation to the Office of the Attorney General, the Attorney General,

(c) in relation to the Office of the Civil Service Commissioners, the Civil Service Commissioners,

(d) in relation to the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Comptroller and Auditor General,

(e) in relation to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Director of Public Prosecutions,

(f) in relation to the Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas, the Chairman of Dáil Éireann,

(g) in relation to the Office of the Information Commissioner, the Information Commissioner,

(h) in relation to the Office of the Local Appointments Commissioners, the Local Appointments Commissioners,

(i) in relation to the Office of the Ombudsman, the Ombudsman,

(j) in relation to any other public body, the person who holds, or performs the functions of, the office of chief executive officer (by whatever name called) of the body;

“local authority” has the meaning assigned to it by subsection (1) of section 2 of the Local Government Act 2001 ;

“the Minister” means the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs;

“the official languages” means the Irish language (being the national language and the first official language) and the English language (being a second official language) as specified in Article 8 of the Constitution;

“prescribed” means prescribed by the Minister by regulations under section 4 ;

“proceedings” means civil or criminal proceedings before any court;

“public body” shall be construed in accordance with the First Schedule;

“record” includes any memorandum, book, plan, map, drawing, diagram, pictorial or graphic work or other document, any photograph, film or recording (whether of sound or images or both), any form in which data (within the meaning of the Data Protection Act 1988 ) are held, any other form (including machine-readable form) or thing in which information is held or stored manually, mechanically or electronically and anything that is a part or a copy, in any form, of any of the foregoing or is a combination of two or more of the foregoing;

“a scheme” means a scheme confirmed by the Minister under section 14 ;

“service” means a service offered or provided (whether directly or indirectly) to the general public or a class of the general public by a public body.

(2) (a)  In this Act a reference to a section or schedule is a reference to a section of or Schedule to this Act unless it is indicated that reference to some other enactment is intended.

(b)  In this Act a reference to a subsection or paragraph or subparagraph is a reference to the subsection or paragraph or subparagraph of the provision in which the reference occurs unless it is indicated that reference to some other provision is intended.

Expenses.

3.—The expenses incurred by the Minister and any other Minister of the Government in the administration of this Act shall, to such extent as may be sanctioned by the Minister for Finance, be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas.

Regulations.

4.—(1) The Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance—

(a) by regulations provide, subject to the provisions of this Act, for any matter referred to in this Act as prescribed or to be prescribed,

(b) in addition to any other power conferred on him or her to make regulations, make regulations generally for the purposes of, and for the purpose of giving full effect to, this Act,

(c) if, during the first 3 years of application of this Act to a public body specified in subparagraph (3), (4) or (5) of paragraph 1 of the First Schedule, any difficulty arises in bringing this Act into operation in so far as it applies to that body, by regulations do anything which appears to be necessary or expedient for bringing this Act into operation in so far as it applies to that body and regulations under this paragraph may, in so far only as may appear necessary for carrying the regulations into effect, modify a provision of this Act if the modification is in conformity with the purposes, principles and spirit of this Act, and

(d) if in any other respect any difficulty arises during the period of 3 years from the commencement of this Act in bringing this Act into operation, by regulations do anything which appears to be necessary or expedient for bringing this Act into operation and regulations under this paragraph may, in so far only as may appear necessary for carrying the regulations into effect, modify a provision of this Act if the modification is in conformity with the purposes, principles and spirit of this Act.

(2) Regulations under this Act may contain such incidental, supplementary and consequential provisions as appear to the Minister to be necessary or expedient for the purposes of the regulations.

(3) Where the Minister proposes to make regulations under paragraph (c) or (d) of subsection (1) or for the purposes of paragraph 1 (5), or under paragraph 3, of the First Schedule, he or she shall cause a draft of the regulations to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas and the regulations shall not be made until a resolution approving of the draft has been passed by each such House.

(4) Where the Minister proposes to make regulations under subsection (1)(c), he or she shall, before doing so, consult with such other (if any) Minister of the Government as the Minister considers appropriate having regard to the functions of that other Minister of the Government in relation to the proposed regulations.

(5) Regulations prescribing a body, organisation or group (“the body”) for the purposes of paragraph 1(5) of the First Schedule may provide that this Act shall apply to the body only as respects specified functions of the body, and this Act shall apply and have effect in accordance with any such provision.

(6) Every regulation under this Act (other than a regulation referred to in subsection (3)) shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the regulation is passed by either such House within the next 21 days on which that House has sat after the regulation is laid before it, the regulation shall be annulled accordingly but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.

PART 2

Organs of State

Annual report to Houses of Oireachtas.

5.—In each year, beginning with the year following the year in which this Act is commenced, the Minister shall make a report to each House of the Oireachtas on the operation in the preceding year of this Act.

Use of official languages in Houses of Oireachtas.

6.—(1) A member of either House of the Oireachtas has the right to use either of the official languages in any debates or other proceedings in that House or of a committee of either House, a joint committee of both Houses or sub-committee of such a committee or joint committee.

(2) A person appearing before either House of the Oireachtas or before such a committee, joint committee or sub-committee as aforesaid has the right to use either of the official languages.

(3) Every official report of the debates and other proceedings of the Houses of the Oireachtas shall be published in each of the official languages, except that contributions (whether oral or in writing) in either of the official languages by persons may be published therein solely in that language.

Acts of the Oireachtas.

7.—As soon as may be after the enactment of any Act of the Oireachtas, the text thereof shall be printed and published in each of the official languages simultaneously.

Administration of justice.

8.—(1) A person may use either of the official languages in, or in any pleading in or document issuing from, any court.

(2) Every court has, in any proceedings before it, the duty to ensure that any person appearing in or giving evidence before it may be heard in the official language of his or her choice, and that in being so heard the person will not be placed at a disadvantage by not being heard in the other official language.

(3) For the purposes of ensuring that no person is placed at a disadvantage as aforesaid, the court may cause such facilities to be made available, as it considers appropriate, for the simultaneous or consecutive interpretation of proceedings from one official language into the other.

(4) Where the State or a public body is a party to civil proceedings before a court—

(a) the State or the public body shall use in the proceedings, the official language chosen by the other party, and

(b) if two or more persons (other than the State or a public body) are party to the proceedings and they fail to choose or agree on the official language to be used in the proceedings, the State or, as appropriate, the public body shall use in the proceedings such official language as appears to it to be reasonable, having regard to the circumstances.

(5) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, a person shall not be compelled to give evidence in a particular official language in any proceedings.

(6) In choosing to use a particular official language in any proceedings before a court, a person shall not be put by the court or a public body to any inconvenience or expense over and above that which would have been incurred had he or she chosen to use the other official language.

PART 3

Public Bodies

Duty of public bodies to use official languages on official stationery, etc.

9.—(1) The Minister may by regulations provide that oral announcements (whether live or recorded) made by a public body, the headings of stationery used by a public body and the contents and the lay-out of any signage or advertisements placed by it shall, to such extent as may be specified, be in the Irish language or in the English and Irish languages and different provisions may be made in relation to different classes of body, oral announcements, stationery, signage or advertisements.

(2) Where a person communicates in writing or by electronic mail in an official language with a public body, the public body shall reply in the same language.

(3) Where a public body communicates in writing or by electronic mail with the general public or a class of the general public for the purpose of furnishing information to the public or the class, the body shall ensure that the communication is in the Irish language or in the English and Irish languages.

Duty of public bodies to publish certain documents in both official languages simultaneously.

10.—Notwithstanding any other enactment, the following documents made by or under the authority of a public body (other than a body, organisation or group standing prescribed pursuant to regulations for the purposes of clause (b) of paragraph 1(5) of the First Schedule) shall be published by that body in each of the official languages simultaneously:

(a) any document setting out public policy proposals;

(b) any annual report;

(c) any audited account or financial statement;

(d) any statement of strategy required to be prepared under section 5 of the Public Service Management Act 1997 ; and

(e) any document of a description or class standing prescribed for the time being, with the consent of the Minister for Finance and such other (if any) Minister of the Government as the Minister considers appropriate having regard to the functions of that other Minister of the Government, and being a document of a description or class that is, in the opinion of the Minister, of major public importance.

Use of official languages by public bodies.

11.—(1) For the purpose of promoting the use of the Irish language for official purposes in the State, the Minister may, by notice in writing to the head of a public body, require the public body to prepare and present to him or her for confirmation within such time (not being more than 6 months from the date of issue of the notice) as is specified in the notice a draft scheme specifying—

(a) the services which the public body proposes to provide—

(i) exclusively through the medium of the Irish language,

(ii) exclusively through the medium of the English language, and

(iii) through the medium of both the Irish and English languages,

and

(b) the measures the body proposes to adopt to ensure that any services that are not provided by the body through the medium of the Irish language will be so provided.

(2) (a) A draft scheme referred to in subsection (1) shall specify the means of communication that are to be provided exclusively in the Irish language, exclusively in the English language and in both the Irish and English languages.

(b) In this section “means of communication” means the means of communication between the body concerned and the public generally or groups or individual members of the public in relation to the services concerned, the provision of the services and information relating to the services or such provision.

(3) The Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, in relation to those of its services delivered exclusively through the medium of the English language, direct a public body to draw up a plan for the delivery of those services in addition through the medium of the Irish language together with an estimate of the period of time required to implement the plan.

(4) A notice under subsection (1) shall be accompanied by a copy of the current guidelines issued by the Minister under section 12 .

(5) Different notices may be given to a head of a public body under this section in respect of different services.

Publication of guidelines by Minister.

12.—(1) The Minister shall issue to public bodies guidelines in relation to the preparation by public bodies of draft schemes.

(2) As soon as practicable after the commencement of this section the Minister shall prepare a draft of any guidelines that he or she proposes to issue under subsection (1) and shall send copies of the draft to—

(a) every other Minister of the Government, and

(b) such other persons (including any other head) as he or she considers appropriate.

(3) The Minister shall, after considering any representations made to him or her about the draft guidelines, confirm the draft guidelines either without amendment or with such amendments as he or she considers appropriate.

(4) The Minister shall, as soon as practicable, lay before each House of the Oireachtas a copy of any guidelines issued under subsection (1).

(5) The Minister shall, at such intervals as he or she considers appropriate, revise any guidelines issued under subsection (1) and the provisions of this section shall apply to the issuing of such revised guidelines as they apply to the guidelines first issued.

Preparation of draft scheme by public body.

13.—(1) On receipt of a notice under section 11 , a public body shall—

(a) publish notice of its intention to prepare a draft scheme and invite representations from any interested parties, and

(b) within the time specified in the notice, prepare and present for confirmation to the Minister a draft scheme.

(2) In preparing a draft scheme the public body shall—

(a) have regard to any guidelines issued under section 12 and in force,

(b) have regard to any representations made by any interested party under subsection (1),

(c) ensure that an adequate number of its staff are competent in the Irish language so as to be able to provide its service through Irish as well as English,

(d) ensure that the particular Irish language requirements associated with the provision of services in Gaeltacht areas are met,

(e) ensure that the Irish language becomes the working language in its offices in the Gaeltacht not later than such date as may be determined by it with the consent of the Minister.

(3) A draft scheme shall contain only such matters as are required to be specified under subsections (1) and (2) of section 11 .

Confirmation by Minister of draft schemes.

14.—(1) Upon presentation of a draft scheme to the Minister by a public body, the Minister may, after consultation with such other persons including such other (if any) Minister of the Government as the Minister considers ought to be consulted, and with the consent of the head of the public body concerned, confirm the draft scheme either without amendment or with such amendments as he or she considers appropriate.

(2) The Minister shall, after confirmation of any draft scheme under this section, forward a copy of the scheme to the Commissioner.

(3) A scheme shall remain in force for a period of 3 years from the date on which it is confirmed by the Minister or until a new scheme has been confirmed by the Minister pursuant to section 15 , whichever is the later.

Periodic review of schemes.

15.—(1) The Minister may, at any time, and shall, no later than 6 months before the expiration of the scheme, by notice in writing to the head of a public body require that body to review, within such period as may be specified in the notice, any scheme in force in relation to it.

(2) Upon receipt of a notice under subsection (1), a public body shall conduct a review of the said scheme and shall, within the time specified in the notice, prepare and present, for confirmation by the Minister, a new draft scheme.

(3) Sections 11, 13 and 14 shall, with any necessary modifications, apply where a notice is given under subsection (1) as they apply where a notice is given under section 11 .

Amendment of schemes.

16.—(1) Where the Minister is satisfied that, owing to any change—

(a) in the functions of a public body, or

(b) in the circumstance in which such functions are performed,

it may be appropriate to amend any scheme in force in relation to it, he or she may, on his or her own initiative or on request by the public body concerned, by notice in writing to the public body propose amendments to the scheme.

(2) The Minister may, after consultation with such other persons, including such other (if any) Minister of the Government as the Minister considers ought to be consulted, and with the consent of the head of the public body concerned, amend a scheme in the manner proposed in any notice under subsection (1) or in such other manner as he or she considers appropriate in the circumstances, and the scheme shall have effect thereafter subject to any such amendments.

(3) The Minister shall forward to the Commissioner a copy of any scheme amended under this section.

Failure to prepare a draft scheme.

17.—Where—

(a) a public body fails or refuses to prepare a draft scheme in accordance with a notice issued under section 11 or 15,

(b) after presentation by a public body of a draft scheme to the Minister for confirmation, the public body and the Minister are unable to agree the terms of the scheme, or

(c) after receipt by a public body of a notice of proposed amendments to a scheme, the public body and the Minister are unable to agree on any amendments,

the Minister shall report this failure, refusal or inability to each House of the Oireachtas.

Duty to carry out schemes.

18.—(1) Where the Minister confirms a scheme under this Act, the public body shall proceed to carry out the scheme.

(2) Nothing in a scheme shall be construed as prohibiting a public body from implementing further measures to promote the status of an official language within its organisation.

Prohibition on imposition of charges by public bodies.

19.—A public body shall not impose any charge on any person by virtue of any requirement imposed on that body by this Act.

PART 4

An Coimisinéir Teanga

Establishment of Oifig Choimisinéir na dTeangacha Oifigiúla.

20.—(1) There is established an office to be known as Oifig Choimisinéir na dTeangacha Oifigiúla and the holder of the office shall be known as An Coimisinéir Teanga and is referred to in this Act as the Commissioner.

(2) The Commissioner shall be independent in the performance of his or her functions.

(3) The appointment of a person to be the Commissioner shall be made by the President on the advice of the Government following a resolution passed by Dáil Éireann and by Seanad Éireann recommending the appointment of the person.

(4) The provisions of the Second Schedule shall have effect in relation to the Commissioner.

Functions of Commissioner.

21.—The functions of the Commissioner shall be, in addition to any functions conferred on him or her by any other provision of this Act—

(a) to monitor compliance by public bodies with the provisions of this Act,

(b) to take all necessary measures within his or her authority to ensure compliance by public bodies with the provisions of this Act,

(c) to carry out investigations, whether on his or her own initiative, on request by the Minister or pursuant to a complaint made to him or her by any person, into any failure by a public body to comply with the provisions of this Act that he or she or, as appropriate, the Minister, considers may have occurred,

(d) to provide, as he or she considers appropriate, advice or other assistance to the public regarding their rights under this Act,

(e) to provide, as he or she considers appropriate, advice or other assistance to public bodies regarding their obligations under this Act, and

(f) to carry out an investigation, whether on his or her own initiative, on request by the Minister or pursuant to a complaint made to him or her by any person, to ascertain whether any provision of any other enactment relating to the status or use of an official language was not or is not being complied with.

Powers of Commissioner.

22.—(1)  (a) For the purpose of his or her functions under this Act the Commissioner may require any person who, in the opinion of the Commissioner, is in possession of information, or has a record or thing in his or her power or control, that is relevant to the purposes aforesaid to furnish to the Commissioner any such information, record or thing and, where appropriate, may require the person to attend before him or her for that purpose, and the person shall comply with the requirement.

(b) Paragraph (a) of this subsection does not apply to information or so much of a record as relates to decisions and proceedings of the Government or of any committee of the Government and for the purposes of this paragraph, a certificate given by the Secretary-General to the Government and certifying that any information or record or part of a record so relates shall be conclusive.

(2) Subject to subsection (3), no enactment or rule of law prohibiting or restricting the disclosure or communication of information shall preclude a person from furnishing to the Commissioner any such information or record, as aforesaid.

(3) Subject to the provisions of this Act, a person to whom a requirement is addressed under this section shall be entitled to the same immunities and privileges as if he or she were a witness before the High Court.

(4) A person who fails or refuses to comply with a requirement under this section or who hinders or obstructs the Commissioner in the performance of his or her functions under this section shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €2,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both.

(5) Where an offence under subsection (4) has been committed by a body corporate and is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to have been facilitated by any neglect on the part of any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of such body or of any person who was purporting to act in any such capacity, that officer or person, as well as such body, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished as if he or she were guilty of the first-mentioned offence.

(6) Proceedings for an offence under this section may be brought and prosecuted by the Commissioner.

(7) The Commissioner may, if he or she thinks fit, pay to any person who, for the purposes aforesaid, attends before the Commissioner or furnishes information or a record or other thing to him or her—

(a) sums in respect of travelling and subsistence expenses properly incurred by the person, and

(b) allowances by way of compensation for loss of his or her time,

of such amount as may be determined by the Minister.

(8) A statement or admission made by a person for the purposes aforesaid shall not be admissible as evidence against that person in any criminal proceedings.

(9) Nothing in this section shall confer any right to production of, or access to, any record or thing subject to legal privilege.

Conduct of investigations.

23.—(1) An investigation by the Commissioner under this Act shall be conducted otherwise than in public.

(2) Where the Commissioner proposes to carry out an investigation under this Act he or she shall—

(a) notify—

(i) the public body concerned,

(ii) in a case where a complaint has been made to the Commissioner, the person who made the complaint, and

(iii) the Minister,

in writing of that fact, and

(b) afford—

(i) the public body concerned, and

(ii) any other person who appears or, in a case where a complaint has been made to the Commissioner, is alleged to have been responsible for the matter complained of,

an opportunity to comment on the matter and, if a complaint in relation to the matter has been made to the Commissioner, on any allegations contained in the complaint.

(3) The Commissioner may—

(a) refuse to investigate a complaint under this Act, or

(b) discontinue an investigation under this Act into such a complaint,

if he or she becomes of opinion that—

(i) the complaint is trivial or vexatious,

(ii) the person making the complaint has not taken reasonable steps to seek redress in respect of the subject matter of the complaint or, if he or she has, has not been refused redress,

(iii) the complaint relates solely to a matter within the power of the Ombudsman to investigate pursuant to section 4 (2)(a) of the Ombudsman Act 1980 , or

(iv) the matter complained of does not involve any contravention of the provisions of this Act or of any other enactment relating to the status or use of an official language.

(4) Subject to the provisions of this Act, the procedure for conducting an investigation shall be such as the Commissioner considers appropriate in all the circumstances of the case.

(5) The Commissioner may determine whether any person may be represented, by counsel, solicitor or otherwise, in an investigation by him or her under this Act.

Exclusions.

24.—The Commissioner shall not investigate any complaint made by or on behalf of a person if the complaint is one in relation to which the person affected by the matter complained of has initiated, in any court, civil legal proceedings and the proceedings have not been dismissed for failure to disclose a cause of action or a complaint justiciable by that court, whether the proceedings have been otherwise concluded or have not been concluded:

Provided that the Commissioner may investigate the matter notwithstanding that it is one to which this section relates if it appears to the Commissioner that special circumstances make it proper to do so.

Disclosure of information.

25.—Information or a record or thing obtained by the Commissioner or his or her officers in the course of the exercise by him or her of his or her functions under this Act shall not be disclosed except for the purposes of such exercise and of any statement, report or notification to be made under this Act and the Commissioner or his or her officers shall not be called upon to give evidence in any proceedings of matters coming to his or her or their knowledge in the course of such exercise.

Report of findings.

26.—(1) In any case where a complaint is made to the Commissioner and the Commissioner decides not to carry out an investigation under this Act or decides to discontinue such an investigation, he or she shall send to the person who made the complaint and to the public body concerned a statement in writing of his or her reasons for the decision and shall send to such other person as he or she considers appropriate such statement in writing in relation to the matter as he or she considers appropriate.

(2) In any case where the Commissioner conducts an investigation under this Act, he or she shall prepare and submit to—

(a) the public body concerned,

(b) the Minister, and

(c) in a case where a complaint is made to the Commissioner, the complainant,

a report in writing of the findings of the investigation and may include in the report any recommendations he or she considers appropriate having regard to the investigation.

(3) Without prejudice to subsection (2), the Commissioner may issue an interim report if he or she considers it appropriate so to do.

(4) The Commissioner may request a public body to submit to him or her within a specified time any comments it may have regarding any findings or recommendations contained in a report under this section.

(5) If, within a reasonable time after a report containing recommendations is submitted to a public body under subsection (2), any recommendations contained in the report have not, in the opinion of the Commissioner, been implemented by that body, the Commissioner may, after considering any responses made to him or her by the public body in respect of those recommendations, make a report thereon to each House of the Oireachtas.

(6) The Commissioner shall attach to every report under subsection (5) a copy of every response (if any) made by or on behalf of a public body to the said recommendations.

Schemes of compensation.

27.—(1) The Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, make a scheme of compensation providing for the payment by a public body to such persons of such sums as may be specified in the scheme, in respect of any failure, specified in a report by the Commissioner under section 26 , by the body (other than a public body, standing prescribed for the purposes of paragraph 1(5) of the First Schedule) to comply with the provisions of this Act.

(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (f) of section 21 , a scheme under subsection (1) may not provide for the payment out of moneys in respect of any failure by a public body to comply with any other enactment relating to the status or use of an official language.

(3) A scheme under subsection (1) may be revoked or varied by a subsequent scheme made thereunder.

Appeals to the High Court.

28.—(1) A party to an investigation under this Act or any other person affected by the findings and recommendations of the Commissioner following such an investigation may appeal to the High Court on a point of law from the decision.

(2) An appeal under subsection (1) shall be initiated not later than 4 weeks after notice of the relevant findings and recommendations was given to the person bringing the appeal.

(3) (a) Where an appeal under this section by a person, other than a head, is dismissed by the High Court, that Court may, if it considers that the point of law concerned was of exceptional public importance, order that some or all of the costs of the person in relation to the appeal be paid by the public body concerned.

(b) The High Court may order that some or all of the costs of a person, other than a head, in relation to a reference under this section be paid by the public body concerned.

(4) A decision of the High Court following an appeal under subsection (1), shall, where appropriate, specify the period within which effect shall be given to the decision.

Publication of commentaries by Commissioner on practical application, etc. of Act.

29.—The Commissioner may prepare and publish commentaries on the practical application and operation of the provisions, or any particular provisions, of this Act, including commentaries based on the experience of holders of the office of Commissioner in relation to investigations and findings following investigations, of such holders under this Act.

Reports of Commissioner.

30.—(1) The Commissioner shall, not later than 6 months after the end of each year, prepare and furnish to the Minister a report, in each of the official languages, on his or her activities in that year.

(2) The Minister shall, not later than 2 months after the receipt of the report, cause a copy thereof to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.

(3) The Commissioner may, if he or she considers it appropriate to do so in the public interest or in the interests of any person, prepare and publish a report in each of the official languages in relation to any investigation carried out or other function performed by him or her under this Act or any matter relating to or arising in the course of such an investigation or performance.

(4) In this section “report” does not include a report under section 26 .

PART 5

Placenames

Definitions.

31.—In this Part, save where the context otherwise requires—

“the Commission” means the body known as An Coimisiún Logainmneacha and established by warrant of the Minister for Finance dated the 24th day of October 1946;

“placename” includes the name of any province, county, city, town, village, barony, parish or townland, or of any territorial feature (whether natural or artificial), district, region or place, as shown in the maps of Ordnance Survey Ireland;

“placenames order” has the meaning assigned to it by section 32 .

Placenames orders.

32.—(1) Subject to subsection (2), the Minister, having received and considered advice from the Commission, may by order (in this Part referred to as a “placenames order”)—

(a) declare the Irish language version of a placename specified in the order to be such word or words as he or she specifies in the order,

(b) amend or revoke a placenames order.

(2) The Minister shall not make a declaration under subsection (1) in relation to a place in a Gaeltacht area in respect of which a declaration under Part 18 of the Local Government Act 2001 is in force.

(3) Every placenames order shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the order is passed by either such House within the next subsequent 21 days on which that House has sat after the order is laid before it, the order shall be annulled accordingly but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.

Construction of words in legal documents.

33.—(1) A word or words, declared by the Minister in a placenames order to be the Irish language version of a placename specified in the order, shall be construed in a legal document as referring to the same place and as having the same force and effect as the English language version of the placename so specified unless the contrary intention appears.

(2) Where the Minister makes a declaration under section 32 in respect of a placename in a Gaeltacht area, the English language version of the placename shall no longer have any force and effect as on and from the operative date but without prejudice to anything done before or after that date including the use of that version other than its use—

(a) in any Act of the Oireachtas passed after the operative date or any statutory instrument made after that date under any Act,

(b) in such maps prepared and published by or with the permission of Ordnance Survey Ireland as may be prescribed, or

(c) on a road or street sign erected by or on behalf of a local authority.

(3) In this section—

“legal document” means—

(a) any Act of the Oireachtas passed after the operative date, any statutory instrument made after that date under any Act or the official translation of any Act or instrument;

(b) any instrument having or intended to have legal effect or consequences and executed on or after the operative date;

(c) any document used in or for the purposes of legal proceedings, and made, issued or served on or after the operative date,

“the operative date” means the date on which the relevant place-names order comes into operation.

Amendment of Ordnance Survey Ireland Act 2001.

34.—The Ordnance Survey Ireland Act 2001 is amended by the substitution of the following for paragraph (h) of section 4(2):

“(h) to depict placenames and ancient features in the national mapping and related records and databases in the Irish language or in the English and Irish languages.”.

Repeal.

35.—The Place-Names (Irish Forms) Act 1973 is repealed.

PART 6

Miscellaneous

Role of Ombudsman.

36.—Nothing in this Act shall prohibit the investigation by the Ombudsman, pursuant to subsection (2) of section 4 of the Ombudsman Act 1980 , of any action taken by or on behalf of a Department of State or other person specified in Part 1 of the First Schedule to that Act.

FIRST SCHEDULE

Public Bodies

Section 2 .

1. Each of the following shall be a public body for the purposes of this Act:

(1) Department of Agriculture and Food

Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism

Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources

Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

Department of Defence

Department of Education and Science

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Department of Finance

Department of Foreign Affairs

Department of Health and Children

Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform

Department of Public Enterprise

Department of Social and Family Affairs

Department of the Environment and Local Government

Department of the Taoiseach

Department of Transport

Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs

Central Statistics Office

Chief State Solicitor's Office

Office of the Civil Service and Local Appointments Commissioners

Office of the Attorney General

Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General

Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions

Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas

Office of the President

Office of the Revenue Commissioners

(2) Agencies, Boards, State Companies (commercial and non-commercial)

a regional assembly

the Eastern Regional Health Authority and an area health board

a regional authority

a university or other third level institution

a vocational education committee

Advisory Committee on Cultural Relations

Aer Lingus Group plc

Aer Rianta cpt

An Bord Altranais

An Bord Bia

An Bord Glas

An Bord Pleanála

An Bord Uchtála

An Chomhairle Leabharlanna

An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta

An Coimisiún Logainmneacha

An Foras ?iseanna Saothair (F?S)

An Implementation Body established under the British-Irish

Agreement Act 1999

An Post

An tÚdarás um Ard-Oideachas

APSO (Agency for Personal Service Overseas)

Area Development Management Limited

Area Partnership Boards

Arramara Teoranta

Bioresearch Ireland

Bord Fáilte Éireann

Bord Gáis Éireann

Bord Iascaigh Mhara

Bord na gCon

Bord na Leabhar Gaeilge

Bord na Móna

Bord na Radharcmhastóirí

Bord Scannán na hÉireann

Broadcasting Commission of Ireland

Broadcasting Complaints Commission

Bus ?tha Cliath

Bus Éireann

C.E.R.T. Limited

Central and Regional Fisheries Boards

Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland

Chester Beatty Library

Coillte Teoranta

Coiste an Asgard

Comhairle

Comhairle na Nimheanna

Comhairle na nOspidéal

Comhar — The National Sustainable Development

Partnership

Commission for Aviation Regulation

Commission for Communications Regulation

Commission for Energy Regulation

Córas Iompair Éireann

County Enterprise Boards

Crafts Council of Ireland

Crisis Pregnancy Agency

Data Protection Commissioner

Defence Forces Canteen Board

Dental Council

District Registrars of Marriages appointed under the terms of section 57 of the Marriages (Ireland) Act 1844

Drug Treatment Centre Board

Dublin Dental Hospital Board

Dublin Docklands Development Authority

Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies

Dublin Transportation Office

Economic and Social Research Institute

Electricity Supply Board

Energy Advisory Board

Enterprise Ireland

Fire Services Council

Food Safety Authority of Ireland

Forfás

Further Education and Training Awards Council

General Medical Services Payment Board

General Register Office

Government Information Services

Harbour Authorities within the meaning of the Harbours Act 1946

Harbour Companies referred to in section 7 of the Harbours Act 1996

Health and Safety Authority

Health Research Board

Health Service Employers Agency

Higher Education and Training Awards Council

Horse Racing Ireland

Hospital Bodies Administrative Bureau

Hospitals Trust Board

Housing Finance Agency plc

I.D.A. Ireland

Iarnród Éireann

Institiúid Teangeolaíochta Éireann

Institute of Public Administration

International Development Ireland Limited

Irish Aid Advisory Committee

Irish Aviation Authority

Irish Blood Transfusion Service

Irish Council for Science, Technology and Innovation

Irish Fertiliser Industries Limited

Irish Financial Services Appeals Tribunal

Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority

Irish Museum of Modern Art

Irish National Petroleum Corporation Limited

Irish National Stud Company Limited

Irish Productivity Centre

Irish Red Cross Society

Irish Telecommunications Investments plc

LEADER Groups

Leopardstown Park Hospital Board

Levy Appeals Tribunal

Local Employment Service Boards

Local Government Computer Services Board

Local Government Management Services Board

Marine Institute

Medical Bureau of Road Safety

Mental Health Commission

National Authority for Occupational Safety and Health

National Building Agency Limited

National Cancer Registry Board

National Centre for Partnership and Performance

National Committee for Development Education

National Concert Hall

National Council on Ageing and Older People

National Council for Professional Development of Nursing and Midwifery

National Council for Special Education

National Disability Authority

National Economic and Social Council

National Economic and Social Forum

National Gallery of Ireland

National Library of Ireland

National Microelectronics Applications Centre Ltd.

National Milk Agency

National Museum of Ireland

National Qualifications Authority of Ireland

National Rehabilitation Board

National Roads Authority

National Safety Council

National Social Work Qualification Board

National Standards Authority of Ireland

National Statistics Board

National Technology Park Plassey Ltd.

National Theatre Society Limited (Abbey Theatre)

National Treasury Management Agency

Nítrigin Éireann Teoranta

Office for Health Management

Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement

Office of the Director of Equality Investigations

Office of the Paymaster General

Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner

Office of Tobacco Control

Ordnance Survey Ireland

Patents Office

Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland

Postgraduate Medical and Dental Board

Public Voluntary Hospitals

Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland

Radio Telefís Éireann

Raidió na Gaeltachta

Refugee Agency

Refugee Appeals Tribunal

Registrars of Births, Deaths and Roman Catholic Marriages

Registration Council for Secondary Teachers

Registry of Deeds

Rights Commissioners

Shannon Free Airport Development Company Limited (SFADCo)

Standards in Public Office Commission

State Laboratory

Sustainable Energy Ireland

Teagasc

TEASTAS

Teilifís na Gaeilge

Temple Bar Properties Limited

Temple Bar Renewal Limited

the Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board

the Army Pensions Board

the Arts Council (An Chomhairle Ealaíon)

the Censorship of Films Appeals Board

the Censorship of Publications Appeals Board

the Censorship of Publications Board

the Combat Poverty Agency

the Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Bequests for Ireland

the Commissioners of Public Works

the Companies Registration Office

the Competition Authority

the Courts Service

the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal

the Defence Forces

the Employment Appeals Tribunal

the Environmental Protection Agency

the Equality Authority

the Garda Síochána

the Garda Síochána Complaints Appeals Board

the Garda Síochána Complaints Board

the Health Insurance Authority

the Heritage Council

the Human Rights Commission

the Information Society Commission

the Ireland-United States Commission for Educational Exchange

the Irish Manuscripts Commission

the Irish Medicines Board

the Irish Prison Service

the Irish Sports Council

the Irish Water Safety Association

the Labour Court

the Labour Relations Commission

the Land Registry

the Law Reform Commission

the Legal Aid Board

the Medical Council

the Mining Board

the National Archives

the National Archives Advisory Council

the National Centre for Guidance in Education

the National Competitiveness Council

the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment

the National Council for Forest Research and Development (COFORD)

the National Council for Vocational Awards

the National Lottery

the Office of the Appeal Commissioners for the purposes of the Tax Acts

the Office of the Chief Medical Officer for the Civil Service

the Office of the Information Commissioner

the Office of the Official Censor of Films

the Office of the Ombudsman

the Office of the Registrar of Friendly Societies

the Pensions Board

the Probation and Welfare Service

the Referendum Commission

the Rent Tribunal

the Social Welfare Tribunal

the State Examinations Commission

the Valuation Office

the Valuation Tribunal

Údarás na Gaeltachta

Veterinary Council

Voluntary Health Insurance Board

Western Development Commission

Women's Health Council

(3) a local authority,

(4) a health board,

(5) any body, organisation or group standing prescribed for the time being, with the consent of such other (if any) Minister of the Government as the Minister considers appropriate having regard to the functions of that other Minister of the Government, and being—

(a) a body, organisation or group that receives moneys directly from a Minister of the Government, a Department of State, the Central Fund or a public body specified in subparagraph (2), (3) or (4) of this paragraph in circumstances where the amount or aggregate of the amounts so received constitutes 50 per cent or more of the current expenditure of that body, organisation or group in a financial year,

(b) a body, organisation or group that at the date of the coming into operation of this Schedule is a public body but subsequently comes under private ownership and control,

(c) a body, organisation or group performing functions which previously stood vested in a body, organisation or group under public ownership or control, or

(d) any other body, organisation or group on which functions in relation to the general public or a class of the general public stand conferred or permitted by any enactment or by any licence or authority given under any enactment.

2. A body, organisation or group standing prescribed pursuant to regulations for the purposes of clause (b) of paragraph 1(5) shall be a public body only as respects functions referred to in that clause.

3. The Minister may, with the consent of such other (if any) Minister of the Government as the Minister considers appropriate having regard to the functions of that other Minister of the Government, by regulations amend subparagraph (2) of paragraph 1 by the insertion or deletion of a reference to any public body.

4. A reference in paragraph 1 to any particular Department of State shall be construed as—

(a) including a reference to a body, organisation or group specified in relation to that Department of State in the Schedule to the Ministers and Secretaries Act 1924 (not being another public body specified in that paragraph), and

(b) not including any other body, organisation or group.

SECOND SCHEDULE

An Coimisinéir Teanga

Section 20 .

1. Subject to the provisions of this Schedule, a person appointed to be the Commissioner shall hold the office for a term of 6 years and may be re-appointed to the office for a second or subsequent term.

2. A person appointed to be the Commissioner—

(a) may at his or her request be relieved of office by the President,

(b) may be removed from office by the President but shall not be removed from office except for stated misbehaviour, incapacity or bankruptcy and then only upon resolutions passed by Dáil Éireann and by Seanad Éireann calling for his or her removal, and

(c) shall in any case vacate the office on attaining the age of 67 years.

3. (1) Where a person who holds the office of Commissioner is—

(a) nominated as a member of Seanad Éireann,

(b) elected as a member of either House of the Oireachtas or a local authority or to the European Parliament, or

(c) regarded, pursuant to section 15 (inserted by the European Parliament Elections Act 1993 ) of the European Assembly Elections Act 1977 as having been elected to the European Parliament to fill a vacancy,

he or she shall thereupon cease to be the Commissioner.

(2) A person who is for the time being entitled under the Standing Orders of either House of the Oireachtas to sit therein or who is a member of the European Parliament or a local authority shall, while he or she is so entitled or is such a member, be disqualified for being appointed to be the Commissioner.

4. A person who holds the office of Commissioner shall not hold any other office or employment in respect of which emoluments are payable or be a member of the Reserve Defence Force.

5. The Commissioner shall be paid, out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas, such remuneration and allowances for expenses as the Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, may from time to time determine.

6. (1) The Minister may make and carry out, in accordance with its terms, a scheme or schemes for the granting of pensions, gratuities or allowances on retirement or death to, or in respect of, persons who have held the office of Commissioner.

(2) The Minister may at any time make and carry out, in accordance with its terms, a scheme or schemes amending or revoking a scheme under this paragraph.

(3) A scheme under this paragraph shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the scheme is passed by either such House within the next 21 days on which that House has sat after the scheme is laid before it, the scheme shall be annulled accordingly but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.

7. (1) The Minister may appoint to be members of the staff of the Commissioner such number of persons as the Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, determine from time to time.

(2) Members of the staff of the Commissioner shall be civil servants in the Civil Service of the State (within the meaning of the Civil Service Regulation Act 1956 ).

(3) The Minister may delegate to the Commissioner the powers exercisable by him or her under the Civil Service Commissioners Act 1956 and the Civil Service Regulation Acts 1956 to 1996 as the appropriate authority in relation to members of the staff of the Commissioner and, if the Minister does so, then so long as the delegation remains in force—

(a) those powers shall, in lieu of being exercisable by the Minister, be exercisable by the Commissioner, and

(b) the Commissioner shall, in lieu of the Minister, be for the purposes of this Act the appropriate authority in relation to members of the staff of the Commissioner.

8. (1) The Commissioner shall keep, in such form as may be approved of by the Minister, all proper and usual accounts of all moneys received or expended by him or her and all such special accounts (if any) as the Minister may direct.

(2) Accounts kept in pursuance of this paragraph in respect of each year shall be submitted by the Commissioner in the following year on a date not later than a date specified by the Minister to the Comptroller and Auditor General for audit and, as soon as may be after the audit, a copy of those accounts, or of such extracts from those accounts as the Minister may specify, together with the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on the accounts, shall be presented by the Commissioner to the Minister who shall cause copies of the documents presented to him or her to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.

9. The Commissioner may delegate to a member of the staff of the Commissioner any of the functions of the Commissioner (other than those under this paragraph or section 26 ) and references in this Act to the Commissioner shall be construed, where appropriate having regard to any delegation under this paragraph, as including references to any person to whom functions stand delegated by the delegation.