LOCAL AUTHORITIES have spent almost €300,000 translating their current county development plans into Irish even though there is virtually no demand for them.
A Sunday Tribune survey of all 29 county councils found that most have not received any requests for copies of the Irish language version of their development plans.
Of the 11 county councils that responded to the survey asking how many hard copies of the Irish language version of their local authority's current county development plan have been requested by members of the public, only one local authority confirmed that they had any such requests.
Waterford County Council said that "approximately nine hard copies of the Irish version were made available to members of the public". It pointed out the Irish version is also available on the council's website and that between January and mid-August there were 11 online searches for the Irish version. However, only six were actually downloaded. Waterford is one of the few counties with a designated Gaeltacht.
Under the Official Languages Act 2003, it is compulsory that certain government documents must be published in both Irish and English. County development plans fall into this category. It has been reported that it costs local authorities more than €10,000 to translate the development plans.
While many local authorities did not respond to the survey, a number of county councils such as Carlow, Cavan, Laois, Westmeath and Wicklow confirmed that no one requested the Irish language version of their plans.
A spokesman for Limerick County Council said: "Our existing development plan was published before the requirement to have it translated was introduced. We have currently a new draft county development plan on display and no copies of the Irish language version have been requested."
These plans are the blueprint for the planning and development of local authority areas. Each plan sets out the overall planning policies of the council for a six-year period. It consists of a lengthy written statement and a series of maps.