The Sorry State of Legal Interpretation in Ireland

Several people, around the world, contacted me and pointed out the recent articles in the Irish Times concerning the sorry state of legal interpretation in Ireland. Kudos must go to the folks in the Irish Translators and Interpreters Association (Cumann Aistritheoirí agus Teangairí na hÉireann) for helping raise public concern about this disgrace.

This state of affairs is unacceptable. You can read all the miserable details here (No quality controls laid down for courts and Garda translators), and here (Hundreds of court, Garda interpreters have no qualification), and here (Lost in translation).

Let’s be frank here – we’re not talking about a shoddy translation of some manual for an external disk drive. We’re talking about people’s rights not being properly represented within the legal system, and handsome monies being paid out of the public purse for the privilege, apparently to some people who are not capable of doing the job in the first place.

I, for one, will be submitting a Freedom of Information request to the Irish Department of Justice and Law Reform for more details on the extent of this nonsense and who is being paid for what, how much, and according to what criteria. Given some of my tax Euros are being spent here, I want to know exactly what’s going on. Considering the amount of time the industry spends talking about quality and metrics, I think everyone should reflect on these stories.

How shameful.


Ultan Ó Broin
Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally. Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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