Stormont departments have received just 10 requests to have documents translated from English to Ulster Scots in the last three years, and only 61 requests for Irish translations, it can be revealed.
he news comes after plans were approved to set up translation services for Irish and Ulster Scots at Stormont which will cost the taxpayer more than £300,000.
Back in June, MLAs passed a motion in support of plans for simultaneous translation services in Irish and Ulster-Scots in the Assembly chamber by 58 votes to 27. The New Decade, New Approach (NDNA) deal that restored power-sharing last year contained a commitment to set up such services, which would see MLAs given headsets to receive translations of contributions in the chamber.
The move came despite the fact that every MLA at Stormont speaks English in the Assembly. The last person to speak Ulster Scots was the DUP’s Jim Shannon, more than a decade ago.
In April of this year, an Irish and Ulster Scots translation hub for Stormont departments and public bodies was also launched, again a commitment in the NDNA deal.
According to the answers to a series of Assembly questions tabled by TUV leader Jim Allister, in the last three years there has been a total of just 71 translation requests for documents to be supplied in Irish or Ulster Scots submitted to Stormont departments.
Several departments received no such requests over this time, although the Department of Finance received 25 Irish translation requests and four Ulster Scots requests, while the Department for Communities received 21 requests for Irish translations and five for Ulster Scots.
The Executive Office said it had received seven Irish requests and just one Ulster Scots request, while the Department for Infrastructure received eight Irish translation requests.
One department, education, said it does not hold statistics on requests for translations.
Mr Allister branding the situation an “expensive farce”.
“The minuscule demand for these services exposes the nonsense of legislative provision for Irish and Ulster Scots. If people real need public services to be delivered in any language other than English why isn’t the existing translation provision being utilised?” he said.
“There is no conceivable basis on which to warrant further endless squander on Irish or Ulster Scots for the sake of paying the Sinn Fein ransom.
“To my mind these figures underscore the reality that Stormont would be a trilingual farce where every word spoken in English would be printed and translated into Irish and Ulster Scots and vice versa, even though every MLA adequately speaks English. What an expensive farce.
“At any time such massive outlay of public money would be indefensible but it is particularly so when politicians are professing that the health service is their top priority.”
Back in June, the Ulster Unionists tabled an amendment proposing that the translation services be reviewed after six months, which passed by 44 votes to 41.
According to a letter sent to MLAs by Sinn Fein’s Caral Ni Chuilin, chair of the Committee on Procedures, at the time: “The committee was advised by officials of some difficulties that had been experienced a number of years ago in respect of the availability of suitably skilled people to provide interpretation, particularly in respect of Ulster Scots, for which there is no standard language register and for which quality assuring a selection process and interpreting output would be difficult.”