A pensioner from the Connemara Gaeltacht has welcomed a decision from the Equality Authority supporting his complaint that directions on prescription medicine were not printed in the Irish language.
Problems in reading English language directions resulted in 67 year old Brian Nolan being admitted to Galway University Hospital last year.
Relatives of the man encouraged him to take the case after he spent several days on life support when an accidental overdose resulted in ‘penuriosus os’, a rare disorder.
Irish language activists, encouraged by recent legislation from Gaeltacht minister Eamon Ó Cuiv, said the decision will help increase the profile of the language, one of the oldest in Europe.
‘Living languages need the support of the State to survive,’ said Sean Ó Magadh of Cleas na Gael. ‘This decision is a real breakthrough.’
‘For 100 years now, the language revival movement has struggled against official apathy. Mr Nolan is a fluent Irish speaker, and the lack of clear instructions in his native language almost killed him.’
Other groups however have protested that the decision will result in massive costs to the pharmaceutical industry, which is worth almost €5 billion per annum to the Celtic Tiger.
‘Over ten thousand prescription medicines are given out every year,’ industry spokesman Dermot Trellis said last night. ‘This decision imposes an unnecessary cost burden on a critical sector of the Irish economy.’
Lawyers for the industry were studying the decision and considering an appeal, he added.