As a result of the Covid-19, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl has asked committees not to hold meetings in Oireachtas committee rooms this month.
The Irish Language Committee of the Oireachtas is seeking permission to hold a meeting in the Dáil itself next week to discuss the Language Bill.
The Chairman of the Committee, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, has sent a letter to the Ceann Comhairle seeking permission to hold the meeting in the Dáil chamber next Wednesday.
As a result of the Covid-19, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl has asked committees not to hold meetings in Oireachtas committee rooms this month unless absolutely necessary.
With the Dáil being convened in the Convention Center in Dublin these days, the Dáil chamber in the Houses of the Oireachtas would be empty next week.
Ó Snodaigh says that the first meeting on the bill at the Select Committee on the Irish Language in Dáil Éireann itself would have “symbolic” power in terms of the “status of the Bill and the Irish language”.
In his letter to the Ceann Comhairle, Ó Snodaigh states that the Dáil chamber would comply with a number of other requirements in terms of space and translation and recording systems.
The Select Committee on the Language Bill will be undertaken by the Select Committee on the Irish Language. Only TDs will be present at the Select Committee meeting, but TDs and Senators attend meetings of the Joint Committee on the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Irish Speaking Community.
The Joint Committee took the decision yesterday to adjourn all its planned meetings this month until the Covid-19 situation improves.
Aengus Ó Snodaigh states in his letter that it was decided to seek permission to hold Select Committee meetings due to the delay in the Language Bill to date.
He hopes that the Select Committee will be allowed to meet next Wednesday and Thursday next week to begin the Committee Stage of the Language Bill.
Ó Snodaigh stated in the letter that the members of the Select Committee would be happy to hold virtual meetings to complete the work.
All members would be required to be present in the Houses of the Oireachtas themselves to carry out the work but only the chairperson and clerk would be allowed in the Committee room.
The Select Committee has over 300 amendments to the Language Bill for discussion.
Ó Snodaigh has previously stated that it would take a month’s work to complete it, subject to the restrictions in place regarding the length of meetings in Oireachtas committee rooms. However, if the work is done virtually, it could be done faster.