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32 2003

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES ACT 2003

PART 1

Preliminary and General

Short title and commencement.

1. —(1) This Act may be cited as the Official Languages Act 2003 .

(2) This Act shall come into operation on such day or days not later than 3 years after the passing of this Act as, by order or orders made by the Minister under this section, may be fixed therefor either generally or with reference to any particular purpose or provision, and different days may be so fixed for different purposes and different provisions.

Interpretation.

2. —(1) In this Act, save where the context otherwise requires—

“Commissioner” means, as the context may require, Oifig Choimisinéir na dTeangacha Oifigiúla established by section 20 or the holder, for the time being, of that office;

“court” includes a tribunal established under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Acts 1921 to 2002;

“draft scheme” means a draft scheme to be prepared by a public body under this Act;

“enactment” means a statute or an instrument made under a power conferred by a statute;

“functions” includes powers and duties and references to the performance of functions include, with respect to powers and duties, references to the exercise of the powers and the carrying out of the duties;

“Gaeltacht area” means an area for the time being determined to be a Gaeltacht area by order made under section 2 of the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 1956 ;

“head” means the head of a public body;

“head of a public body” means—

(a) in relation to a Department of State, the Minister of the Government having charge of it,

(b) in relation to the Office of the Attorney General, the Attorney General,

(c) in relation to the Office of the Civil Service Commissioners, the Civil Service Commissioners,

(d) in relation to the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Comptroller and Auditor General,

(e) in relation to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Director of Public Prosecutions,

(f) in relation to the Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas, the Chairman of Dáil Éireann,

(g) in relation to the Office of the Information Commissioner, the Information Commissioner,

(h) in relation to the Office of the Local Appointments Commissioners, the Local Appointments Commissioners,

(i) in relation to the Office of the Ombudsman, the Ombudsman,

(j) in relation to any other public body, the person who holds, or performs the functions of, the office of chief executive officer (by whatever name called) of the body;

“local authority” has the meaning assigned to it by subsection (1) of section 2 of the Local Government Act 2001 ;

“the Minister” means the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs;

“the official languages” means the Irish language (being the national language and the first official language) and the English language (being a second official language) as specified in Article 8 of the Constitution;

“prescribed” means prescribed by the Minister by regulations under section 4 ;

“proceedings” means civil or criminal proceedings before any court;

“public body” shall be construed in accordance with the First Schedule;

“record” includes any memorandum, book, plan, map, drawing, diagram, pictorial or graphic work or other document, any photograph, film or recording (whether of sound or images or both), any form in which data (within the meaning of the Data Protection Act 1988 ) are held, any other form (including machine-readable form) or thing in which information is held or stored manually, mechanically or electronically and anything that is a part or a copy, in any form, of any of the foregoing or is a combination of two or more of the foregoing;

“a scheme” means a scheme confirmed by the Minister under section 14 ;

“service” means a service offered or provided (whether directly or indirectly) to the general public or a class of the general public by a public body.

(2) (a)  In this Act a reference to a section or schedule is a reference to a section of or Schedule to this Act unless it is indicated that reference to some other enactment is intended.

(b)  In this Act a reference to a subsection or paragraph or subparagraph is a reference to the subsection or paragraph or subparagraph of the provision in which the reference occurs unless it is indicated that reference to some other provision is intended.

Expenses.

3. —The expenses incurred by the Minister and any other Minister of the Government in the administration of this Act shall, to such extent as may be sanctioned by the Minister for Finance, be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas.

Regulations.

4. —(1) The Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance—

(a) by regulations provide, subject to the provisions of this Act, for any matter referred to in this Act as prescribed or to be prescribed,

(b) in addition to any other power conferred on him or her to make regulations, make regulations generally for the purposes of, and for the purpose of giving full effect to, this Act,

(c) if, during the first 3 years of application of this Act to a public body specified in subparagraph (3), (4) or (5) of paragraph 1 of the First Schedule, any difficulty arises in bringing this Act into operation in so far as it applies to that body, by regulations do anything which appears to be necessary or expedient for bringing this Act into operation in so far as it applies to that body and regulations under this paragraph may, in so far only as may appear necessary for carrying the regulations into effect, modify a provision of this Act if the modification is in conformity with the purposes, principles and spirit of this Act, and

(d) if in any other respect any difficulty arises during the period of 3 years from the commencement of this Act in bringing this Act into operation, by regulations do anything which appears to be necessary or expedient for bringing this Act into operation and regulations under this paragraph may, in so far only as may appear necessary for carrying the regulations into effect, modify a provision of this Act if the modification is in conformity with the purposes, principles and spirit of this Act.

(2) Regulations under this Act may contain such incidental, supplementary and consequential provisions as appear to the Minister to be necessary or expedient for the purposes of the regulations.

(3) Where the Minister proposes to make regulations under paragraph (c) or (d) of subsection (1) or for the purposes of paragraph 1 (5), or under paragraph 3, of the First Schedule, he or she shall cause a draft of the regulations to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas and the regulations shall not be made until a resolution approving of the draft has been passed by each such House.

(4) Where the Minister proposes to make regulations under subsection (1)(c), he or she shall, before doing so, consult with such other (if any) Minister of the Government as the Minister considers appropriate having regard to the functions of that other Minister of the Government in relation to the proposed regulations.

(5) Regulations prescribing a body, organisation or group (“the body”) for the purposes of paragraph 1(5) of the First Schedule may provide that this Act shall apply to the body only as respects specified functions of the body, and this Act shall apply and have effect in accordance with any such provision.

(6) Every regulation under this Act (other than a regulation referred to in subsection (3)) shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the regulation is passed by either such House within the next 21 days on which that House has sat after the regulation is laid before it, the regulation shall be annulled accordingly but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.