Recognition of Irish Sign Language for the Deaf Community Bill 2016: Second Stage

20 October 2016

Senator Ivana Bacik: I will be brief because I know a number of other Senators wish to speak in the short time available. I welcome the Minister of State and, in particular, the members of the deaf community and their supporters in the Visitors Gallery. It is great to see so many of them in the Chamber. I commend Senator Mark Daly for his tenacity and persistence in pursuing this issue and promoting the Bill which all Senators are happy to support.

My colleague, Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, spoke for the Labour Party in expressing our support for the Bill and the principles enunciated within it. Like others, I commend members, former and current students of the centre for deaf studies in Trinity College Dublin for all their work in lobbying on this legislation and the work of many other individuals and students, in particular, the students from Bishopstown community school in Cork who took the time to write to Senators to express their support for the Bill. Senators do not often receive handwritten letters, as we did from the school's pupils.

We are all in agreement on the issues addressed in the Bill. There is an issue around interpretation for Irish Sign Language in the courts system. I pay tribute to Professor Lorraine Leeson from the centre for deaf studies in Trinity College Dublin, with whom I have worked on the issue of interpretation rights for members of the deaf community who come before the courts.

All of us will echo the words of the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality which, in its recent report on the recognition of Irish Sign Language, called for prioritisation of this Bill and its enactment as soon as possible. The report stated the position of the deaf community in Ireland could only be adequately addressed through legislative action and that in the absence of legislation and enforceable legal rights, efforts to address the issue would be piecemeal and inadequate. I conclude with those words, express again my support for the Bill, thank the interpreters present and apologise to them for speaking so fast.