Public Affairs

Agallamh · Interview:
Vivian Uíbh Eachach

Labhraíonn Vivian Uíbh Eachach, An Príomh-Aistritheoir i Rannóg an Aistriúcháin i dTithe an Oireachtais le Odrán de Bhaldraithe faoin nGaeilge, faoin gCaighdeán Oifigiúil agus faoi thodhchaí na Rannóige.

Vivian Uíbh Eachach, Chief Translator in the Oireachtas’s Rannóg an Aistriúcháin, speaks with Odrán Waldron about the Irish language, An Chaighdeán Oifigiúil and the future of the Rannóg.

“Téann stair na seirbhíse aistriúcháin i nDáil Éireann siar go dtí bunú an Stáit agus, go deimhin, níos faide siar fós go dtí an Chéad Dáil,” deireann Uíbh Eachach. “Is é an príomhchuspóir atá ag Rannóg an Aistriúcháin seirbhísí aistriúcháin a chur ar fáil do Thithe an Oireachtais. Toisc gur stát dátheangach í Éire, de réir Bhunreacht na hÉireann, agus gur parlaimint dhátheangach é an tOireachtas, deineadh gach iarracht ó thús an chórais chun a chinntiú go mbeadh na tacaí ar fáil chun go bhféadfadh Tithe an Oireachtais feidhmiú go dátheangach.”

“The history of translation goes back to the founding of the State and the Oireachtas and further back than that, going back to the First Dáil,” Uíbh Eachach says. “The main objective of Rannóg an Aistriúcháin is to provide those translation services to the Oireachtas. Ireland is constitutionally a bilingual state and the Oireachtas is a bilingual parliament, so every effort was made from the start to provide the supports in order to make the Houses functionally bilingual.”

Go bunúsach, sin an cuspóir atá ag an Rannóg agus ceann do na príomhdhualgas atá acu ná Riar na hOibre, páipéar ghnó na dTithe a chur ar fáil gach lá. Is documéid dátheangach é Riar na hOibre agus an cuspóir aige ná go mbeidh daoine in ann gnó na dTithe a dhéanamh trí mheáin an dá theanga oifigiúla.

This is the primary objective of the Rannóg and one of its main responsibilities is the daily translation of Dáil Standing Orders into Riar na hOibre. The Standing Orders are a bilingual document provided with the aim of allowing representatives to carry out the business of the Houses of the Oireachtas in both of the official languages.

“Is é an reachtaíocht a phlé agus a rith an phríomhfheidhm atá ag an Oireachtas agus ag teach reachtach ar bith agus dírítear cuid mhór d’acmhainní na Rannóige ar thiontuithe oifigiúla ar an reachtaíocht sin a chur ar fáil,” a deir Uíbh Eachach. “Ó thús an Stáit, mar sin, bhí acmhainní na Rannóige á ndíriú ar an dá ról sin – seirbhís a thabhairt do na Tithe agus aistriúcháin ar an reachtaíocht a chur ar fáil.”

“The main function of the Oireachtas and any legislative body is legislation and a lot of our resources are focussed on translations of that legislation,” Uíbh Eachach says. “From the beginning of the State, Rannóg resources were spent on those two roles, servicing the Houses and translating legislation.”

Chun an tseirbhís sin a chur ar fáil, bhí ar an Rannóg teacht suas le leagan oifigiúil don Ghaeilge, rud nach raibh ann cheana leis an meascán do chanúintí timpeall na tíre agus an teanga faoi chos go hoifigiúil ag Rialtas na Breataine sular bunaíodh Saor Stáit na hÉireann. Deireann Uíbh Eachach: “Bhí ar an Rannóg leagan oifigiúil den Ghaeilge a fhorbairt agus bhí an leagan sin den teanga bunaithe ar na canúintí éagsúla. D’éirigh chomh maith sin leis an Rannóg sa chúram sin gur beartaíodh an leagan oifigiúil sin den Ghaeilge a úsáid sa chóras oideachais agus i ngnóthaí oifigiúla an Stáit agus is mar sin a tháinig ‘An Caighdeán Oifigiúil’ ar an saol.

To provide this service, the Rannóg was forced to come up with an official version of the Irish language, something that had not been done before with the mixture of dialects around the country and the language under official repression by the British Government before the founding of the Irish Free State. Uíbh Eachach says: “We had to develop an official Irish and we did that based on a mixture of the dialects. When that was done, the official version was placed within the education system and official business; it is from there that An Chaighdeán Oifigiúil was born.

“Sa phróiseas a cuireadh ar bun chun An Caighdeán Oifigiúil a sholáthar, díríodh ar an gcóras litrithe a shimpliú. Mar shampla, giorraíodh an foirceann -iughadh mar -iú. Glacadh go forleathan leis na hathruithe sin. Réimse mór eile ar díríodh air is ea an córas gramadaí agus socraíodh ar leagan aontaithe de rialacha gramadaí na Gaeilge a cheapadh agus, arís, cuid de na rialacha a bhí ann a shimpliú. Foilsíodh an Caighdeán Oifigiúil sa bhliain 1958 agus tá sé i bhfeidhm ó shin. Sa bhliain 2013, tugadh stádas reachtúil don Chaighdeán Oifigiúil san Acht um Choimisiún Thithe an Oireachtais (Leasú), 2013. Mínítear san Acht sin cad é an Caighdeán Oifigiúil agus cad chuige é. Ina theannta sin, foráiltear san Acht sin gur cóir athbhreithnithe rialta a dhéanamh ar an gCaighdeán Oifigiúil. Deineadh an chéad athbhreithniú reachtúil ó shin agus bunaíodh Coiste Comhairleach, faoi stiúir Éamonn Ó hÓgáin, chun cuidiú leis an Rannóg sa phróiseas sin. Foilsíodh an chéad leagan athbhreithnithe sa bhliain 2016.”

“A big focus for An Chaighdeán Oifigiúil was the simplification of spelling. For example, names could often finish with -iughadh and that was simplified to -iú and that development had a wide influence. Another big thing was to put together an official grammatical system that was based on a mixture of the dialects again. In 1958, these rules were officially named An Chaighdeán Oifigiúil and An Chaighdeán has been in place since then. In 2013, we laid out what An Chaighdeán Oifgiúil is and the point of it, when to use it and when to renew it. It is now settled that we should review it every 10 years. We did the first of those reviews and founded a Consultative Committee under the direction of Éamonn Ó hÓgáin to help the Rannóg in that process. We published the first updated version 2016.

Le linn an ré leictreonach, tá ról na Rannóige aistrithe freisin, bhunaíodar www.acmhainn.ie chun ábhar na Rannóige a chur ar fáil go héasca agus shocraíodar go mbeadh dlíthe le fáil as Gaeilge ar shuíomh an Oireachtais é féin.

In the electronic era, Rannóg’s role has also changed with the founding of www.acmhainn.ie to provide the Rannóg’s materials easily and it was also settled that the translated laws would be made available on the Oireachtas’s website.

“Tharla forbairt thábhachtach sa bhliain 2003 nuair a ritheadh Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla. Foráladh san Acht sin go bhfoilseofaí an leagan achtaithe d’Acht agus an tiontú oifigiúil ar an Acht go comhuaineach. Cor tábhachtach eile ab ea bunú Choimisiún Thithe an Oireachtais an bhliain dár gcionn, gníomh lenar athraíodh an creat rialaithe agus buiséadaithe le haghaidh Thithe an Oireachtais,” a deir Uíbh Eachach. “Bhí an timpeallacht ina rabhamar ag feidhmiú ag athrú agus bhí dúshláin nua ag baint leis na hathruithe sin ó thaobh modhanna oibre na Rannóige de, go háirithe.

“Things developed in 2003 when Acht na dTeangach Ofigiúila was published. In that Act, it was decreed that the official translation of an Act should be provided at the same time as its publication. Another important step was the founding of the Oireachtas Commission the next year, which changed the shape of the Oireachtas and budgets for the Houses,” Uíbh Eachach says. “The environment in which we were working was changing, and we had a lot of challenges to the way that we did our work.

“Nuair a tháinig an meathlú geilleagair, go tobann bhíomar go léir ag feidhmiú i gcomhthéacs a bhí athraithe go hiomlán ón gcomhthéacs a bhí ann roimhe sin. Bhí airgead agus acmhainní gann, agus bhí todhchaí roinnt de na comhlachtaí Stáit i mbaol, fiú amháin. Tréimhse an-dúshlánach ar fad a bhí ann do na comhlachtaí Stáit agus b’éigean don Rannóg, mar shampla, pleananna a chur le chéile chun go mbeadh bunleibhéal íosta seirbhíse ar fáil. Buíochas le Dia, tá deireadh leis an tréimhse éigeandála sin anois agus tá acmhainní ar fáil athuair.”

“When the recession came, we were quickly learning in a completely different context. Money and resources were scarce, and the future of many State bodies was under threat. Those State companies went into a very challenging period and Rannóg had to put together development plans to secure a base level of services we could provide. Thankfully, we have a bit more control over the economy now and resources are available again.”

“Bhí ar an Rannóg leagan oifigiúil den Ghaeilge a fhorbairt agus bhí an leagan sin den teanga bunaithe ar na canúintí éagsúla. D’éirigh chomh maith sin leis an Rannóg sa chúram sin gur beartaíodh an leagan oifigiúil sin den Ghaeilge a úsáid sa chóras oideachais agus i ngnóthaí oifigiúla an Stáit agus is mar sin a tháinig ‘An Caighdeán Oifigiúil’ ar an saol.”

I 2018, rinne an comhlacht PwC tuarascáil don Rannóg faoi na seribhísí a bhí á gcur ar fáil acu. Bhí athrú tagtha ar líon na seirbhísí agus fiú amháin ar an gcineál seirbhíse a bhí á gcur ar fáil ag an am. Leis an tuarascáil sin, bhíodar in ann learscáil do na seribhísí a leagaint amach agus a fheiscint. Deir Uíbh Eachach gur tháining dhá rud chun cinn as sin: an chéad cheann ná go raibh riaráiste tar éis fáis maidir le tionscadal oifigiúila a chur ar fáil de dheasca easpa acmhainne. Bhí timpeall 500 dlíth le haistriú ag an Rannóg, agus is as seo a tháinig Rannóg 2024, an stráitéis chun todhchaí na Rannóige a shocrú a d’fhoilsidh an Rannóg i 2019.

In 2018, PwC performed a report into the services being provided by the Rannóg. There had been a change in both the number of services and the services themselves. With the report, the Rannóg was able to map out the services it was then providing. Uíbh Eachach says that the biggest takeaway from the two main findings of the report was that a massive backlog of official projects had been allowed to grow. There were around 500 laws that required translation into Irish and it was from this backlog that Rannóg 2024, a five-year strategy, was published in 2019.

“An príomhchuspóir atá le Rannóg 2024 ná deireadh a chur leis an riaráiste agus leis na cúiseanna a bhí leis an riaráiste,” a deir Uíbh Eachach. “I rith na gcúig bliana atá i gceist sa straitéis sin, táimid ag iarraidh a chinntiú go gcuirfear deireadh leis an riaráiste agus go mbeimid ag soláthar tiontuithe oifigiúla ar na hAchtanna ar bhonn tráthúil. Ar an tslí sin, ní bheidh aon riaráiste nua ag fás agus ag cur leis an riaráiste a bhí ann. Agus an plean á réiteach, d’fhéachamar go géar ar na hacmhainní a bheadh ag teastáil chun na cuspóirí sin a bhaint amach – idir acmhainní inmheánacha agus tacaí seachtracha.”

“The main objective of Rannóg 2024 is to end the backlog and the reasons for the backlog,” Uíbh Eachach says. “In those five years, we will try to ensure that we are supplying resources to the official projects in a timely manner, that an Act will be translated and available quickly after it is written. That way, there won’t be a new backlog growing. We looked at the resources needed for this and many will be needed, from internal resources to external supports.”

Ceann do na dúshláin ba mhó atá os comhair na Rannóige ná cúrsaí earcaíochta: “Bíonn sé deacair go leor teacht ar dhaoine ar an leibhéal atá uainn. Is dúshlán leanúnach é sin. Bímid ag lorg daoine a bhfuil Gaeilge an-mhaith agus Béarla an-mhaith acu agus tuiscint mhaith acu ar chúrsaí gramadaí. Ní bhíonn sé éasca teacht ar dhaoine a bhfuil na scileanna sin acu, faraor. Bíonn comórtais earcaíochta ar siúl againn go rialta ach is dúshlán é teacht ar an líon daoine atá uainn. Feachtas earcaíochta eile atá ar siúl ag an Rannóg is ea ateangairí a cheapadh le haghaidh na seirbhíse ateangaireachta a chuireann an Rannóg ar fáil do na Tithe. Faoi láthair, déanann na haistritheoirí an dá chúram – an t-aistriúchán agus an ateangaireacht – ach tá sé i gceist na cúraimí sin a dheighilt óna chéile agus meitheal ateangairí a earcú le haghaidh na hateangaireachta.”

One of the biggest challenges facing the Rannóg is recruitment: “It is hard to get staff on the level required. It is a continuous challenge, obviously we are looking for people with both Irish and English of a high spoken level, but also of a high grammatical level. Unfortunately, it is not very easy to come upon these people at the minute. We have constant recruitment drives and will have more, but it is a challenge to find these people. Another recruitment campaign we have is for the interpretation service Rannóg provides. At the minute, the translators do both translating and interpreting and it is our plan to separate those two responsibilities and to put together a working group of interpreters.”

Ceann de na réimsí nua freagrachta atá ar an Rannóg is ea bainistiú a dhéanamh ar Straitéis na Gaeilge san Oireachtas – straitéis chun cur leis an dátheangachas san eagraíocht – agus ar an Scéim Teanga, a bhfuil dualgas reachtúil ar an Oireachtas ina leith.

New responsibilities have been bestowed upon the Rannóg at the same time, with it now being tasked with the management of a bilingual strategy. Under the Coimisinéir Teanga, public bodies are now required to have their own bilingual strategies in place. The Rannóg is responsible for the management and development of the Oireachtas’s scheme.

“Tá ar gach comhlacht Stáit atá ina chomhlacht ainmnithe de réir Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla scéim teanga a bheith acu agus is comhlacht ainmnithe de réir an Achta Seirbhís Thithe an Oireachtais,” a deireann Uíbh Eachach. “Baineann oibleagáid reachtúil leis na gealltanais sa Scéim Teanga ach dírítear leis an Straitéis ar chuspóirí breise a bhaint amach. Is é an mórchuspóir atá leis an Straitéis ná an dátheangachas a chur chun cinn sa tSeirbhís d’fhonn í a fhorbairt ina heagraíocht a fheidhmíonn go dátheangach. Is próiseas é sin a thógfaidh tamall ach tá tús maith déanta againn.”

“Every State body that is named in Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla has to have a language scheme,” Uíbh Eachach says. “The commitments in the Language Scheme have a statutory obligation but the Strategy aims to achieve additional objectives. The aim we have laid out in our strategy is that we will be working towards becoming a functional bilingual organisation, that is an organisation that is able to operate in either language in all the services we provide. That is a process that will take time, but the organisation has been done and we have made a good start.”

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