Can we run our apartment management company using the Irish language?

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Can we run our apartment management company using the Irish language?

I am the owner of an apartment in a small development (14 apartments) in the suburbs of Galway. It turns out that several owners, including myself, are either native Irish speakers or have an interest in the language. As part of a recent chat in the context of Seachtain na Gaeilge (March 1st-17th) we were wondering if there is any reason why an owners’ management company (OMC) couldn’t use Irish to undertake its business?

Finbar McDonnell replies: The 2016 census indicated that there were 1.76 million people in the State with an ability to speak Irish, of whom 185,000 people spoke Irish at least once a week outside of the educational system. As such, there is a good number of people with a facility in Irish and it is national policy to support greater use of the language.

As regards formal OMC business, the following are some areas where you could potentially use more Irish.

Firstly, the name of your owners’ management company can be in Irish. If it is not already in Irish, the company can change its name by going through a process with the Companies Registration Office. Just to note, this does not change the name of the residential development itself as the OMC does not have to have the same name as the development.

If you wish to explore changing the name of the development, this will involve going through a process with your local authority. In general, local authorities are supportive of Irish language names for residential developments.

Secondly, companies have multiple official interactions with arms of the State, eg returns to the CRO, the Revenue Commissioners, etc and your OMC will have the right to undertake these in Irish. This could be done by one of the owners or, if you use a managing agent to make the returns, you could find an agent with the relevant language skills.

Thirdly, there are accountants and auditors who would be able to prepare your OMC annual accounts in Irish. If some property owners do not have Irish, you could have them prepared on a bilingual basis – if that is agreed from the outset, there should be minimal extra cost.

The organisation of the agm would be a matter for the board of the OMC to discuss. There is no reason in principle why an agm cannot be organised and held through Irish but it would be important that all owners are comfortable with this given that the agm takes important decisions, eg agreeing the OMC budget for the following year. But using an element of Irish as part of the annual meeting would certainly be an option.

Outside of the company’s formal business, any residential development would also have other options to make Irish more visible. For example, signage at entrance gateways or doorways could be in Irish or bilingual, as could notices, house rules, newsletters, etc and social events for residents could be organised on a Gaeilge-friendly basis.

The above are just some suggestions and you and your fellow owners may wish to draw up a plan that need not cost much but could introduce Irish in a meaningful way to your OMC. A number of organisations may be able to assist, including Foras na Gaeilge or Gael Linn. As you are based in Galway, Gaillimh le Gaeilge assists businesses in working through Irish. There is an equivalent organisation for Dublin, Baile Átha Cliath le Gaeilge. In some cases, for example with bilingual signage, grant aid may be available.

Go n-éirí libh leis an obair seo!

Finbar McDonnell is a chartered property manager and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland,

This content was originally published here.