Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The Lexicon of Ludd

The Belfast News Letter reports that the Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn has criticised Education Minister Caitríona Ruane for spending £47,062 on translations to Irish last year. Speaking to the paper, Mr. Lunn stated: "I am in favour of the promotion of the Irish language but I am also in favour of value for money."

If Mr. Lunn’s commitment to cost efficiency is as real as he claims, one wonders why he could not have opted for a less cumbersome method of arriving at the total, perhaps by writing a letter to the Minister or by simply adding together the costs of two entry-level NICS Staff Officers. It was, after all, well known that they had been appointed. Interestingly, Mr. Lunn and the other 107 MLAs each receive roughly the wages of two such translators as their basic salary, despite the fact that their job is considerably less skilled.

Tabling an Assembly Question initiates a process that costs hundreds of pounds regardless of the subject matter, and even in his own terms Mr. Lunn is obviously mistaken: it clearly costs much less per word to source translations in house and thus achieves much better value for money for everyone.

If a future language Act succeeds in depoliticising language issues, perhaps taxpayers can look forward to a dividend in the form of a corresponding decrease in the expense associated with frivolous Assembly Questions on the subject.

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