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Tipperary County Council passes a motion on ISL recognition

Tipperary County Council passed a motion tabled by Councillor Andy Moloney calling on the government to recognise Irish Sign Language (ISL). ISL is the primary or most preferred language of the Deaf community in Ireland and, to date, there is no meaningful legal status bestowed on ISL.

The Irish Sign Language Recognition Campaign Group under the Irish Deaf Society welcomes Tipperary County Council's passing the motion and it believes that the endorsement from Tipperary County Council is a small but significant step towards achieving recognition for Irish Sign Language. The Group co-chair, Dr. John Bosco Conama recognises the importance of having local authorities on their side in this campaign because given the size of the Deaf community, it is essential for local council representatives to realise the significance of this campaign. While Moloney states that approximately 5,000 Deaf people use ISL on a daily basis and roughly 20,000 hearing people use it on a frequent basis, be they family members, friends, neighbours, or work colleagues of Deaf people. However, for Deaf ISL users, access to public or vital services is often severely compromised, intentionally or not. For instance, a Deaf patient received information concerning her cancer diagnosis through a family member who does not sign fluently, instead of receiving it directly from the medical professional, because the HSE won't fund a qualified interpreter. Another example: training courses may not have sufficient resources to cover the cost of ISL interpretation therefore Deaf trainees can be forced to drop out because they cannot follow the instructions. The only advocacy service provided through ISL in the country was temporarily closed last summer due to government cutbacks. There are plenty of similar examples happening all over the country therefore there is a great need for ISL to have a meaningful legal status to address these shortcomings.

Councillor Moloney also points out that the Government rejected the proposed Irish Sign Language Bill last January by citing the scarcity of resources and such services should be in place before legislation could be reconsidered. He has worked with Linda Rankin, a local constituent,who rejects this excuse by pointing out that resources are already in use but they are not properly coordinated and often not used to the maximum benefit. Tipperary County Council becomes the 44th local authority in the country for having passed this motion. Monaghan County Council started the process in 2012 and the aim is to have all local authorities approve the motion. The process should be completed by this year.

More information can be obtained from ISL Recognition Campaign Group:


Facebook page : Irish Sign Language Recognition Campaign IDS

Twitter: @ ISL Recognition