A Chinese couple who applied for Irish citizenship last year had the paperwork returned by the Department of Justice because they had submitted the application in Irish.
Fangzhe Qiu and Lijing Peng applied for naturalisation in September 2020 but last month their application was returned and they were told to reapply through English.
Mr Qiu is a lecturer and assistant professor at UCD’s School of Irish Celtic Studies and Folklore, has lived in Ireland since 2011 and speaks Irish. Ms Peng is a linguistic anthropologist and assistant lecturer at Trinity College Dublin’s centre for literary translation. She has lived in Ireland since 2008.
Three years ago, Ms Peng secured her new work permit after her husband wrote to the Department of Employment in Irish to complain about delays in the process. “My permit was approved within a week and since then we naturally thought using Irish would be a way to dodge the slow application process.”
The couple also have a “special affection for and attachment to the Irish language”, said Ms Peng. “Fangzhe is a committed scholar of old Irish and our son has been in a Gaelscoil for six years and will hopefully grow up to become one in a new generation of native Irish speakers.”
“It’s not just about the delay, it’s the attitude towards the Irish language,” added Mr Qiu, who has conducted all correspondence with Government officials on this topic through Irish. “People are being discriminated against without these developments.”
In December, three months after applying, the couple’s passports were sent back. On March 1st 2021, they learned their submission had been declined because the Irish form was not up-to-date and told they needed to re-apply using the latest English language documents.
“Our entire application had been returned to us including all application materials and the application fee,” said Ms Peng. “It’s obvious that they didn’t even look at our form in five months, including the time when they returned our passports in mid-December.”
The couple contacted the Department of Justice, local TDs and the Irish language commissioner and on March 9th, they received an email in Irish from a justice official apologising for the mistake and clarifying that the couple could apply through Irish.
The official said the couple’s original submission date would be taken into consideration but did not offer details on how to re-apply. Following another email from Mr Qiu, the couple learned a new Irish language form was being drawn up but, on April 1st, they were told this new form would not be available until the end of April.
“I’m so angry,” Mr Qiu told the Irish Times. “They’ve requested another four weeks to sort out a tiny formatting issue.”
Irish language commissioner Rónán Ó Domhnaill said it was important that public services in Irish are made available at the same standard as those in English and that Irish be treated as the first national language.
While Mr Ó Domhnaill would not comment directly on the family’s case, he underlined the department of justice’s obligation, under the Official Languages Act, to provide application forms bilingually.
Sinn Féin’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh, who was contacted by the couple, described their treatment as “nothing short of a disgrace” and said it “speaks to the contempt some in Government and the civil service have towards the Irish language”.
“Instead of rewarding and celebrating someone who comes to our country and makes the effort to learn and immerse himself in our national language, we actively obstruct them,” said Mr Ó Snodaigh. “An Ghaeilge should be a celebrated part of Irish citizenship, not an obstacle to it.”
Responding to a parliamentary question from Mr Ó Snodaigh on this issue, the minister for justice acknowledged last month that her department had mistakenly returned the couple’s application unprocessed but stated the situation had been resolved.
“The fact remains that Fangzhe and Lijing have been discriminated against at every turn and had their application to become citizens delayed significantly for using Irish,” said Mr Ó Snodaigh.
A justice spokesman said the most up to date Irish language version of the citizenship application form was “undergoing final formatting before being made available on our website shortly”. Application forms for citizenship are regularly updated to take account of legislative and policy changes and the revision of the Irish language version is “an essential process”, he said.
An application will “never be refused” where the Irish version of the application form is used and when applicants use an out of date form, he said. However, applicants must apply using the most up-to-date version of the form, he added.
Census 2022 – what difference does it make?
Next Sunday, April 3rd, is Census night. Millions of people in homes countrywide will fill in page after page of questions, some of which are deeply personal and many of which might be unfamiliar.
But what it is it all about?
At a basic level, Census 2022 will be used to inform planning of public policy and services in the years ahead, according to the Central Statistics Office.
The questions will cover a range of environmental, employment and lifestyle issues, including the use of renewable energy sources in homes.
The questions will help inform policy development in the areas of energy and climate action, and the prevalence of internet access, to understand the availability of and need for internet connections and range of devices used to access the internet.
Questions also focus on changes in work patterns and will include the trend of working from home and childcare issues, while questions are also asked about the times individuals usually leave work, education or childcare, to help identify and plan for transport pattern needs locally and nationally.
Other topics covered include volunteering and the type of organisations volunteers choose to support, tobacco usage and the prevalence of smoke alarms in the home.
And of course there is a time capsule – the chance to write something which will be sealed for the next 100 years.
Oscars 2022: Will Smith makes Oscar history after slapping Chris Rock over joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith | Culture
Will Smith took the Oscar for Best Actor at last night’s 94th Academy Awards, but he also became the protagonist of the ceremony for other reasons. The night was following the script, until Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage after the latter made a joke about the shaved head of the former’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock had quipped that he was “looking forward to GI Jane 2,” in reference to her look. Pinkett Smith has revealed publicly that she has alopecia. It looked as if the moment had been planned, until Smith went back to his seat and shouted: “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”
The moment, which immediately became Oscar history but for all the wrong reasons, left the attendees with frozen smiles, and asking themselves whether it was possible that a veteran such as Smith could have lost his cool in front of tens of millions of people. After taking the prize for Best Actor, the superstar actor made a tearful apology, saying that he hoped the Academy “will invite me back.” Later on, actor Anthony Hopkins called for “peace and love,” but it was already too late. The incident overshadowed the success of CODA, which took the Oscar for Best Picture. Just like the time when Warren Beatty mistakenly named La La Land as the big winner of the night, no one will speak about anything else from last night’s awards.
At first sight, Smith’s actions looked as if they were scripted. When he first heard Rock’s joke, he laughed. But his wife was seen on camera rolling her eyes, and it was then that the actor got up onto the stage and hit Rock. When he returned to his seat he raised his voice twice to shout “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” sending a wave of unease and shock through the attending audience. The fact that he used the f-word, which is prohibited on US television, set alarm bells ringing that this was real and not a planned moment. In fact, the curse word was censored by the broadcaster, ABC, in the United States.
During a break, Smith’s PR manager approached him to speak. In the press room, which the actor skipped after collecting his prize, instructions were given to the journalists not to ask questions about the incident, Luis Pablo Beauregard reports. The next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, tried to calm the situation. “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this – but right now we’re moving on with love,” the rapper said.
When Smith took to the stage to collect his Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams – the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena – in King Richard, he referred to the character as “a fierce defender of his family.” He continued: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse, and have people talk crazy about you and have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend it’s OK.”
He explained that fellow actor Denzel Washington, who also spoke to Smith during a break, had told him: “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”
“I want to be a vessel for love,” Smith continued. “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy and all my fellow nominees. […] I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things,” he said. He then joked about his mother, who had not wanted to come to the ceremony because she had a date with her crochet group.
During the commercial break, Will Smith is pulled aside and comforted by Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry, who motion for him to brush it off. Will appears to wipe tears from his eyes as he sits back down with Jada, with Denzel comforting Jada and Will’s rep by his side. pic.twitter.com/uDGVnWrSS2
— Scott Feinberg (@ScottFeinberg) March 28, 2022
The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement last night saying that Chris Rock would not be filing any charges for assault against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the statement read. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”
On December 28, Pinkett Smith spoke on social media about her problems with alopecia. She stated that she would be keeping her head shaved and would be dealing with the condition with humor. “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… Period!” she wrote on Instagram.
House-price inflation set to stay double digit for much of 2022
House-price inflation is expected to remain at double-digit levels for much of 2022 as the mismatch between what is for sale and what buyers want continues.
Two new reports on the housing market paint a picture of a sector under strain due to a lack of supply and increased demand driven by Covid-related factors such as remote working.
The two quarterly reports, one each from rival property websites myhome.ie and daft.ie, suggest asking prices accelerated again in the first quarter of 2022 as the stock of homes available for sale slumped to a new record low.
Myhome, which is owned by The Irish Times, said annual asking-price inflation was now running at 12.3 per cent.
This put the median or typical asking price for a home nationally at €295,000, and at €385,000 in Dublin.
MyHome said the number of available properties for sale on its website fell to a record low of 11,200 in March, down from a pre-pandemic level of 19,000. The squeeze on supply, it said, was most acute outside Dublin, with the number of properties listed for sale down almost 50 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.
It said impaired supply and robust demand meant double-digit inflation is likely until at least mid-2022.
“Housing market conditions have continued to tighten,” said author of the myhome report, Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille.
“The broad picture of the market in early 2022 remains similar to last year: impaired supply coupled with robust demand due to Ireland’s strong labour market,” he said.
“One chink of light is that new instructions to sell of 7,500 in the first 11 weeks of 2022 are well up from 4,800 in 2021, albeit still below the 9,250 in 2019. The flow of new properties therefore remains impaired,” said Mr Mac Coille.
“Whatever new supply is emerging is being met by more than ample demand. Hence, transaction volumes in January and February were up 13 per cent on the year but pushed the market into ever tighter territory,” he said.
He said Davy was now predicting property-price inflation to average 7 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 4.5 per cent, buoyed strong employment growth.
Daft, meanwhile, said house asking prices indicated the average listed price nationwide in the first quarter of 2022 was €299,093, up 8.4 per cent on the same period in 2021 and and just 19 per cent below the Celtic Tiger peak, while noting increases remain smaller in urban areas, compared to rural.
Just 10,000 homes were listed for sale on its website as of March 1st, an all-time low. In Dublin, Cork and Galway cities, prices in the first quarter of 2022 were roughly 4 per cent higher on average than a year previously, while in Limerick and Waterford cities the increases were 7.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.
The report’s author, Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons, said: “Inflation in housing prices remains stubbornly high – with Covid-19 disturbing an equilibrium of sorts that had emerged, with prices largely stable in 2019 but increasing since.
“As has been the case consistently over the last decade, increasing prices – initially in Dublin and then elsewhere – reflect a combination of strong demand and very weak supply.”
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