Garda spent €3 million on interpreters last year
The Garda Siochána spent almost €3 million on interpreters last year, as the number of immigrants requiring translators continued to grow. The Garda deals with over 200 languages and dialects on a regular basis. Between 30 and 40 companies provided interpretation services to the Garda last year, a spokesman said.
The Garda recently issued a tender for the contract, which is the biggest public sector interpreting contract in the state. ‘‘We are in the process of awarding tenders at the moment, which are at the valuation stage, and these contracts are expected to be awarded by the end of the year,” said a spokesman.
However, the Irish Translators and Interpreters Association (ITIA) said it was hugely concerned at the quality of the service being provided to major state bodies.
Mary Phelan, secretary of the ITIA, claimed that the quality of interpretation work being carried out for major public sector bodies was often inadequate.
A number of agencies rejected charges regarding the quality of interpreting services provided to the state. They claimed they provided extensive and ongoing training, and regularly monitored satisfaction levels.
‘‘There are no controls in place to ensure a quality service is being delivered. There is an assumption that anyone who is bilingual can interpret. That is not the case, and specialised vocabulary is often needed, particularly in a courtroom setting,” said Phelan.
The contracts to translate for the Health Service Executive (HSE), the Courts Service and the Garda are the biggest public sector translation contracts in the country.
Together, the three bodies had an annual bill of about €5.75 million in 2007.
The HSE spent €750,000 on interpreting in 2007. It has a list of preferred providers that it issues to hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
The Courts Service has a contract with Lionbridge, a multinational company with an office in Dublin. The Courts Service spent more than €2 million on interpreting last year, and expects to spend €2.5 million this year.
Phelan said many translators, some of whom have degrees in translation, were not prepared to work for the low rates in Ireland.
The sector is awaiting the results of a €100,000 study on interpreters for the public service, carried out by consultants Farrell Grant Sparks.