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Irish Language In The Post Office

Volume 91: debated on Monday 25 March 1901

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I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he can say for what languages interpreters are employed in the General Post Office, London; and whether, seeing that until recently efforts were made to deliver letters addressed in Irish, he can state who is responsible for a circular issued to post office officials directing them to regard all letters addressed in Irish as undeliverable or insufficiently addressed, and therefore to make no effort to deliver them.

The ordinary staff in the General Post Office, London, is able to deal with correspondence addressed in most languages, but no regular interpreters are employed. The Postmaster General doubts whether there are many persons, if, indeed, there are any, who can write letters in Irish and cannot write in English, and he does not consider it generally practicable to make special arrangements for the translation of addresses in Irish into English, especially in the case of letters posted in England. Nevertheless, he has given instructions that in the event of a letter in Irish passing through an office where it can be deciphered, the address shall be translated into English and the letter sent on to its destination.

May I ask if the hon. Gentleman is aware that a number of Irishmen prefer to write their letters and address them in the Irish language?

That does not arise out of the question on the Paper. The Postmaster General has nothing to do with the language in which letters are written. If letters are written in Irish it will be for the convenience of the parties themselves.

Will similar instructions be given with regard to letters addressed in Gaelic?

[No answer was returned.]

Is it not a fact that a number of people Hying in Ireland can only write in the Irish language?