Row over interpreter for deaf people in Dáil

The Irish Examiner


A row has broken out between a Fianna Fáil senator and the Ceann Comhairle over the supply of an interpreter to a group of deaf people, due to travel to the Oireachtas for a debate on cuts to services.

The request for an interpreter on the floor of the house was made by Fianna Fáil Senator, Mark Daly. But the Ceann Comhairle’s office said it would not be physically possible and that the interpreter should sign from the public gallery.

Senator Daly said this refusal was akin to “closing off the Dáil to people in wheelchairs”. An interpreter will be available for representatives of the Irish Deaf Society at the Seanad.

“This means that members of the deaf community will not be in a position to fully observe what is going on in the Dáil and more importantly what TDs will be saying about the plight of the IDS. These people deserve to be treated with greater respect,” he said.

Senator Daly said that when the IDS were informed by Pobal of the funding cuts, the official asked them “to contact Pobal by telephone” if they had any further queries.

This Thursday, the house’s order of business will cover the plans by outgoing Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan to scrap €75,000 in funding for the advocacy service. The IDS supports 5,000 deaf men, women and children in this country so their lack of hearing doesn’t impinge on their rights to an education, healthcare and to employment.

A spokesman for the Houses of the Oireachtas said the IDS hadn’t made any contact with them but that Senator Daly had made a request for an interpreter last week. He was told to make an application through the Dáil Committee on Procedure and Privileges.

“If a sign language interpreter was to stand in the Dáil, the viewers would not be able to see him from the public gallery because of the angle. That is why we suggested that he stand in the public gallery instead, ” the spokesman said.


Claire O’Sullivan


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