The aim of the Official Languages Act is to promote the use of Irish in public affairs and to ensure the use of Irish by public bodies when communicating with the public and/or providing services to the public. Public bodies communicate with the public in many ways including letters, emails, mail shots, information leaflets, reports, announcements, advertising, social media and websites. In the case of each of these, public bodies have specific duties under the Official Languages Act.
Stationery, signage and recorded oral announcements
In accordance with the Regulations under Section 9(1) of the Act, the HSE has a duty to ensure that our:
- stationery (headed notepaper, compliment slips, fax cover sheets, file covers and other folders, labels and envelopes)
- recorded oral announcements
- mailshots to a group of the population
are provided in Irish or bilingually. They must either be provided in Irish only or in Irish and English.
Letters and emails in Irish
When a person writes to the HSE in Irish, by letter or by email, that person is entitled to receive a reply in Irish. On this basis, public bodies have a duty to ensure that they have a system in place to deal with correspondence in Irish. The service in Irish should not be of a lower standard than the service in English.
Under the Official Languages (Amendment) Act 2021, 20% of all advertising from the HSE, CHOs and Hospital Groups in a given year should be in the Irish language. This includes recruitment advertising. At least 5% of our annual paid advertising budget should be spent on advertising in the Irish language on Irish language media.
This rule does not apply to general content on HSE websites, or internal staff communications, like emails, letters and circulars. It does not apply to content on a HSE website about a job, like the specification or application forms.
1 in every 5 posts Irish on official HSE social media accounts should be in Irish. This applies to posts from the HSE’s social media accounts, and those of the CHOs and Hospital Groups. Individual staff members’ accounts are not included in this rule.
If you need advice on how to meet these duties, please contact your local communications team.
You can read more about the Official Languages Act on the website of An Coimisineir Teanga.