Category Archives: Irish Sign Language

The Irish Sign Language Act 2018 was signed into law on Christmas Eve 2018 by President Michael D. Higgins. Senator Daly first introduced this Bill to the House of the Oireachtas in 2013.

The Recognition of Irish Sign Language for the Deaf enshrines the right to access state services in Irish Sign Language the primary Language of the Deaf community in Ireland.

Members of the Irish Deaf Community have been suffering extreme marginalization by the State for some time now. This new law means that Irish deaf citizens will now be able to access State services in their own language.In addition, it puts an onus onto State agencies such as hospitals, schools and the Courts to make services available for the Irish deaf community.

This Bill had been hard fought and the rights that it will give members of the Irish deaf community have been hard won but ultimately, this Act means so much to many nationwide and is good for society and good for Ireland’s deaf citizens.

Govt must implement all sections of the Irish Sign Language Bill – Daly

recog of isl bill seanad debate

– Senator issues warning as part of Irish Sign Language Awareness Week –

Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly has called on the government to ensure that it is fully prepared to enact all elements of the Irish Sign Language Bill 2016.

The Bill, gives legal recognition to Irish Sign Language and places a requirement on State agencies to devise and implement an action plan to promote the use of sign language within the organisation.  It also requires TV broadcasters to provide a subtitling service, and interpreting services for students must also be provided by the State.

Senator Daly said, “It is appropriate that as part of Irish Sign Language Awareness Week, the government and all Departments ensure that they fully understand and commit to the provisions within the Bill.

“This legislation was deaf led and was passed thanks to the hard work, dedication and determination of members of the Deaf community and the Irish Deaf Society.  We cannot allow this to become a merely symbolic Bill; the provisions contained in it give members of the Deaf community a real opportunity to play a full part in Irish Society through their first language”.

The Irish Sign Language Bill was passed in December 2017 and signed into Law by President Higgins on Christmas Eve.

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Irish Sign language set to be officially recognised as native and independent language

Legislation that will give official recognition to sign language for the first time will move closer to becoming law when it is debated in the Dáil.

The bill, which was initiated by Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly in the Seanad last year, is set to pass all stages in the Dáil tonight.

It is expected to be signed into law within days by President Michael D Higgins.

Sign language is used by 50,000 members of the deaf community and thousands of others to communicate with them.

The passing of the Irish Sign Language for the Deaf Community Bill would mean that deaf people would be able to access State services in their own language.

Every public body would have to devise and implement an action plan to promote the use of sign language within the organisation.

The bill advocates better access to education through sign language and the provision of classes for the parents of deaf children.

It would also permit the use of sign language within the courts.

Statutory targets regarding the accessibility of TV programming would be introduced.

The bill, which the deaf community has spent decades campaigning for, advocates the establishment of an Irish Sign Language Council.

The new body would regulate sign language interpreters, teachers and deaf interpreters.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Senator Daly said the Bill will have a major impact and will end the extreme marginalisation of the deaf community.

Mr Daly said he expects there will be a transition period of a number of years as there are not enough sign language interpreters available in Ireland.

“What we are doing is making sure there is a register of interpreters available,” he added.

He said situations of having “not up-to-scratch interpreters” has happened in Ireland in the past and this Bill will make sure there is a list of interpreters who are up to standard.

He said until now many people in the deaf community have been left isolated as they have had no right of access to Government services.

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Irish Times – “‘I let confidence around my weight and deafness stop me. But not anymore’”

The first Mary of Dongloe contestant to use Irish Sign Language as her first language looks forward to a more accessible event.
By John Craddon, Irish Times:

Donegal competition that gives the Rose of Tralee a run for its money is marking its 50th anniversary this year, but the 2017 Mary From Dungloe International Festival looks more likely to be remembered as the one when its first-ever deaf contestant made a huge impression on a number of levels – whether she wins or not.


Members of the Irish deaf community will be travelling from all over the country this weekend to the pretty Gaeltacht town in north Donegal to cheer on Caroline McGrotty, a 28-year-old Dungloe native who moved to Dublin as a teenager and is representing the capital at the festival this year.

Besides her family’s connections to the town that stretch back more than 100 years (her father still lives there), her pitch for the crown is built on a strong track record of volunteering, community work and advocacy for the deaf and wider disability communities. She always enjoyed the festival as a youngster, particularly as an accordion player for many years with St Crona’s Dungloe Junior Band, which always led the carnival parade on the final Sunday of the event.

But it’s the fact that Irish Sign Language (ISL) is her first language that is making the biggest impression.

Following her selection as the Dublin Mary, she approached a number of deaf organisations in a bid to raise funds to hire ISL interpreters – not just to ensure that she would be able to follow everything, but to ensure the festival would be accessible for members and supporters from the Irish deaf community.

“At the official opening, I had lot of questions asked of me about ISL and I’ve been explaining to people that ISL is a totally different language to English, and which has its own syntax and grammar and how it’s an incredibly tough language to learn,” she says, adding that she’ll be performing a song in ISL as her party piece.

“My interpreter has been recognised in the street by the local community and tourists who saw her on the main stage, and it’s all been really positive. People are commenting how fantastic it is that the festival is accessible to the deaf community, who are often excluded from these type of events.”

While she clearly loves the town, it was her family and the deaf community that set in motion her move to Dublin to attend St Mary’s School for Deaf Girls in Cabra, a boarding school. She was born hearing to deaf parents, but was herself diagnosed deaf at the age of eight, by which time she was effectively bilingual in both ISL and English.

“Growing up in Dungloe with deaf parents, I was always that little bit different from everyone else. When I was diagnosed as being deaf at the age of eight, I became even more different from the other kids. I never met any other deaf children, even though my parents were actively involved in the deaf community in Donegal – I had only ever met deaf adults. This really is what influenced my decision to leave Donegal after primary and go to the deaf school in Cabra. I wanted to meet other people like me, I didn’t want to feel different.”

“One of the roles of the crowned Mary From Dungloe is to be an ambassador for the town and community and be that positive role model,” said Caroline. “Having a person who is not the ‘average’ and who is that little bit different to be that Mary From Dungloe I hope will inspire children and young adults with disabilities or other difficulties to feel part of the community.”

As well as the deaf community, it looks like her father John will be able to enjoy the festival to the full for the first time this year. “He has lived in the town all of his life and for 50 years, he never had access to what was said on the main stage, at any official events or the crowning.”

In previous years, she says her father would have had to figure out which Mary won by looking at the other Marys on the main stage and seeing which one was not there, as the newly crowned Mary is brought to the stage not wearing the sash of the place she is representing.

However, while Caroline succeeded in the end in getting enough funds to pay for ISL interpreters, thanks mainly to the generosity of a number of organisations working in the deaf community along with Dublin City and Donegal County Councils, she admits it wasn’t easy.

She is effusive with gratitude to all who donated, but Sandra Ivory, manager of the North West offices of Deafhear, who was among the donors, said she was a little disappointed that the organisers of the Dublin Mary selection had made no provision for ISL interpreting for her, particularly given the amount of sponsorship the festival ostensibly generates. “For me, if it was a Polish girl who won the Mary From Dungloe or the Dublin Mary, I would say they would have made sure she had a [Polish] translator.”

However, her participation in the festival comes amid high hopes that a campaign to have ISL officially recognised as a language of the State thanks to the progress of a Private Member’s Bill by Senator Mark Daly of Fianna Fáil. Among other things, the bill seeks to officially recognise ISL as a language of the State and provide a reasonable level of interpreter provision for the roughly 4,000 citizens for whom ISL is their first language.

Susan Foley-Cave of the Bridge Interpreting agency, another of her donors, says she is also a great example of how the younger generation of Irish deaf people are forming identities that embrace both deaf and mainstream communities and who are beginning to overcome barriers to education and employment that would have stopped many not so long ago.

The Dungloe native works full-time for Ahead (Association for Higher Education Access and Disability) but also moonlights as a newsreader on the RTÉ News With Signing. She also put in many years of service as the chair of the Irish Deaf Youth Association. “I think she’s absolutely amazing, not just because of this, but because of all the other work she’s doing . . . and as a role model for Irish deaf youth.”

McGrotty, who is sponsored by the Letterkenny Shopping Centre, had dreamed of being the Dublin Mary for some time, and was encouraged by friends to go for it.

“It’s always been something that I wanted to do, but I had let my confidence around my weight and me being deaf stop me,” she said. “But when I realised that this year was the last year I could enter [there is an age limit], I just had to apply, otherwise I would have regretted it for the rest of my life.”

As she expected, she’s having a ball. “We are being treated like royalty and we are getting to see so many places. One of my highlights was going to the Beach Hotel in Downings where I met the owner Maggie, who shouted “Up the Dubs” at me when she saw my sash. We had great chats and there was lots of singing in the hotel pub by the fire having a drink, where Mickey Joe Harte even made an appearance. It’s just been so surreal.”

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FG fails Irish Deaf Community during Irish Sign Language Recognition Bill Committee Stage – Daly

Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly has said the Government failed to do its job by not putting forward the amendments it claimed were needed to improve the Irish Sign Language Recognition Bill during yesterday’s committee stage debate.
Senator Daly was commenting as his bill was accepted at Committee Stage and will, when enacted, enhance the rights to the deaf community and place obligations on the Government to provide services and education in Irish Sign language

“Fine Gael Senators failed to put in the amendments which they had previously said were needed to improve the legislation. Despite the Government showing us some of the proposed amendments, they failed to propose them.

“After 10 months of negotiations and meetings, the Government has once again let down the Irish Deaf Community. Fianna Fáil had put forward amendments and expected the Government side of the House to follow suit, based on their previous comments at Second Stage.

“It’s clear that we cannot rely on the Government, or indeed Fine Gael, to follow through and deliver for Irish deaf people. Fianna Fáil will ensure that this bill when passed at Report and Final Stage in mid-July is amended in such a way to ensure an improvement in the lives of the dead community.

“I find it concerning that the Government had discussed and circulated amendments to members of the Seanad, yet failed to submit them or press them. To my mind, this is an example of bad faith on the part of Fine Gael.

“Yesterday’s debate was heated and, at times, very argumentative. That’s because it’s an issue that’s really important to the Irish Deaf Community.

“I, along with my Fianna Fáil colleagues, will do our utmost to deliver the best possible bill for Irish deaf people, and ensure that their rights as equal citizens are respected and protected. I just hope Fine Gael ups its game, and does likewise,” concluded Daly.

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The Recognition of Irish Sign Language For The Deaf Community Bill 2016 was passed through Committee Stage

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