Government 'wastes' €1m on translations into Irish

Sunday, December 27, 2009

By DANIEL McCONNELL Chief Reporter
Sunday December 27 2009
Cabinet ministers are "wasting" hundreds of thousands of euro a year on expensive, unnecessary translations of official documents into Irish, new figures reveal.
Despite having in-house translation services within government departments, figures given to the Sunday Independent show that most have been reliant on highly expensive external translators to provide copies of documents in Irish.
In total, almost €1m of taxpayers' money has gone on producing copies of documents in Irish.

Defending the spending, the lack of language and administrative capacity was blamed this weekend for the outsourcing of so much work by the various departments.
It has emerged that the departments charged with the promotion of the Irish language are among two of the three biggest spenders on expensive outside translators.
Top of the list is Batt O'Keeffe's Department of Education and Science which has spent more than €426,000 since the start of the 30th Dail in 2007 on translation services. School inspectors are expected to have a competent level of fluency but administrative staff in the department are not obliged to have Irish. It was disclosed that:
  • In 2007, the department made 101 payments totalling €124,723 between June 14 and the end of December.
  • In 2008, 139 payments were made at a combined cost of €156,060.
  • In 2009 so far, 84 payments have been made at a combined cost of €146,138.
Mr O'Keeffe said that four of these payments were for more than €10,000 each, 11 were for €5,000-€10,000 each, a total of 77 were for €1,000-€5,000 each and the remainder were for amounts of less than €1,000.
Ironically, the Minister for Gaeltacht and Rural Affairs Eamon O Cuiv and his department have spent a total of €123,000 on external consultants to translate documents into the native tongue.
Another big spender was Mary Hanafin's Department of Social and Family Affairs, which has spent €217,000 on a staggering 754 documents since taking office in 2007.
Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith has spent a whopping €66,000 on the translating of documents into Irish, with huge spends on annual reports and related documents.
Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has spent €55,906 on producing Irish copies of documents, which included a spend of €40,329 on documents relating to the banking scandal in 2008.
One of the most prolific translators has been Minister Martin Cullen in the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism, which has translated over 306 documents at a cost of €45,366. Just behind him is the Minister for the Environment John Gormley, who has had over 150 document translated into Irish since taking office, costing over €42,091, and Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin who spent €41,000. See also here

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