At the International Association of
Language Commissioners (IALC) annual conference in Kosovo this week, the Welsh
Language Commissioner, Meri Huws, will hand over the chairmanship of the association
to Ireland after a period of two years in the post. The Welsh Language
Commissioner has been responsible for IALC’s secretariat since 2014; and this
responsibility will also transfer to Ireland.
IALC was established by Meri Huws and
others in Dublin in 2013. Over the past five years IALC has benefited from
hearing the experiences of language Commissioners from all corners; from
Kosovo, Ireland, Catalonia, the Basque Country, Flanders, Sri Lanka, South
Africa and Canada.
The Welsh Language Commissioner, Meri
"This is our fifth annual conference;
and it was a huge privilege for me to welcome the conference to Wales last year
where we celebrated half a century of Welsh language legislation.
"Although we only actually come
together once a year, we bridge the geographical distances between us on a
regular basis through discussion and joint action. IALC is not only a network,
but also a practical society that acts together. An example of this
practicality is the fact that we have established groups to share research and
ideas about marketing, engagement and communication.
"In our day-to-day work, it is
inevitable that we look at things in the context of our own countries’ politics
and society. Having access to ideas from different perspectives has proved
"I have had the opportunity to
contribute to discussions about language legislation in the North and the
Republic of Ireland, talk to Government Ministers from Kosovo about
multilingualism and discuss the proactive language offer in the health sector
with leaders in Canada.”
Some months ago, language commissioners
from other countries contributed to the discussion in Wales about the future of
Welsh language legislation and emphasized the importance of having an
independent Commissioner to protect the rights of Welsh speakers.
"I will pass the chairmanship to
Rónán Ó Domhnaill, An Coimisinéir Teanga, Irish Language Commissioner. It is
the end of an era, but I'm sure the society will continue to develop as
practical and influential society under his leadership. "