New legislation aimed at promoting equality between the Irish and English languages and giving language rights to citizens has been published. The Bill provides for the appointment of an Official Languages Commissioner to enforce the legislation, gives people the right to be heard in either official language in court, and allows them to communicate with and receive services from a public body in either language.

Public bodies will be obliged to ensure that both languages are used on stationary, signs and advertisements. Documents of public interest, such as policy documents and annual reports, will have to be published in each language simultaneously.

Launching the Official Languages Equality Bill, Junior Minister Mary Coughlan said it is one of the most important things for the Irish language in many years.