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Mobile phone company O2 must respect the Irish Language – Ó Donnghaile

27 May, 2009

Sinn Féin’s East Belfast representative Niall Ó Donnghaile has called on the mobile phone company O2 to explain why consumers have not been able to register with the company using the Gaelic versions of their names and addresses.

Speaking this afternoon Mr Ó Donnghaile said,

“I have been contacted by a resident in the Short Strand who tells me he received a text message from O2 asking if he wanted 4 free SIM cards; all he had to do was text them back with his name and address. The man did this using his name, which is in Irish and his postal address which is also in Irish, he was then contacted by O2 to say this would not be accepted.

The reality is that under equality legislation, the Good Friday Agreement as well as the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages, citizens have the right to use the correct Gaelic version of their names and addresses. In the Short Strand alone, almost 90% of the street names are officially bi-lingual. Much like myself, the Royal Mail has no problem delivering post to this man’s home when he uses the correct version of his name and address, it is therefore difficult to understand why there is a problem with O2.

Other mobile phone companies in Ireland are actively working with the Gaelic speaking community and in some instances they can avail of predictive texting in Irish, amongst other initiatives.

I know the man in question has been in contact with the O2 complaints department and I would call on them to urgently clarify if they are discriminating against Irish speaking citizens or if this is a simple oversight.

I, like man concerned look forward to hearing the explanation from O2 and hope to see this issue rectified as soon as possible.” CRÍOCH

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