Many Irish Court Interpreters Lack Qualifications

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Many Irish Court Interpreters Lack Qualifications

In spite of mounting worries over weak standards and the potential for miscarriages of justice, hundreds of interpreters working in Ireland for the courts and the national police service (An Garda Síochána) lack formal interpreting qualifications. Individuals who claim to be either experienced or qualified interpreters are not routinely subjected to competency tests in Ireland, while new research based on hundreds of District Court-level cases indicates major shortcomings in interpreting standards. Ireland has no written interpreting regulations or governance statutes regarding interpreting. The Irish Translators' and Interpreters' Association says it has consistently highlighted poor standards of interpreting in both the Garda and the Court Services over the past 10 years. "We find it hard to understand how the state can spend millions of euro per year on interpreting without any auditing of contracts or quality control," says the association's Mary Phelan. "Members of our association, for example, tell us that they have come across court interpreters who do not know the meaning of basic words." Kate Waterhouse, a PhD candidate at Trinity College Dublin, spent eight months in the district courts of Dublin examining limited English-speakers’ access to legal services. Her research found that interpreting services varied greatly and, in the majority of cases, were deficient in some way. She says, “I was shocked at the way interpreting was taking place in many cases. It was clear in some cases that nothing was being interpreted.” The Courts Service claims that no interpreting problems have come up in most cases. It has spent less than 10 million euro over the past three years on interpreting services. "Where an issue of a lack of clarity or understanding arises, the dynamic of the court setting makes this apparent," says a representative. "On these rare occasions the interpreter is replaced."

From "Hundreds of Court, Garda Interpreters Have No Qualification"
Irish Times (Ireland) (06/07/10) O'Brien, Carl


Source: ATA Newsbriefs - June 2010


 

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