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Only €1k spent on sign language services since 2016 – Department

That is according to figures provided to this newspaper following a series of questions to the Department regarding sign language services.

The Department said it does not have full-time sign language interpreters.

When asked how and by whom it is decided whether sign language services are needed at events addressed by the Minister of Health, or by Ministers of State, the Department spokesperson said this was decided on a “case-by-case basis”.

“Departmental units who are organising events decide on a case-by-case basis whether it’s a service they need to provide,” said the spokesperson.

“We’ve spent €1,089 on sign language interpreters since 2016.”

The Department did not provide a breakdown on the events in which sign language interpreters were employed to attend and provide their service.

Separately, the President, Michael D Higgins signed the Irish Sign Language (ISL) Bill into law at the end of last year.

In January the Irish Deaf Society (IDS) welcomed the move.

“IDS have campaigned for more than 30 years for legislation to recognise our language, a language used by 5,000 deaf people across the country,” the Society said in a statement. 

“Irish Sign Language (ISL) has been used for centuries, as shown by documentary evidence, making it high time to recognise its usage and existence in Irish life. Despite the presence of the language around us, it rarely enters into Irish public awareness and indeed it has had an unhappy experience of being repressed, misrepresented and ignored.”

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