LOST FOR WORDS: Why does Ireland not have any quality standards for vital service interpreters?
8 Backers raised €170 of €170

Those who need the services of a language interpreter in Ireland may find their voices unheard, as a number of reports in recent years highlighted the ‘uneven quality’ of this service and lack of training standards.

This investigation was part-funded through crowdfunding (€170 of the proposed €2,630). Following support by Journalismfund Europe’s Local Cross-Border Journalism fund, we were able to conduct a cross-border project. Support from our investigative fund was also required.

Unlike many other countries, there is no accredited training for spoken language interpreters in Ireland and their competence is not tested. That means anyone who can speak English and another language can become an interpreter and potentially work in healthcare, garda stations, the courts, international protection and other services.

Though some recent tenders included requirements for English using levels from the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), there are no national regulations or standards.

In 2015, the Mahon Report on the protection process, which included direct provision and supports for asylum seekers, stated that “the provision of good-quality interpretation is essential to safeguard the interests of protection applicants”.

The report highlighted cases where some interpreters used by the State “don’t have proper language skills” or “would sometimes chastise the person for being LGBT”.

In 2020, a Government advisory group reported that “the uneven quality of interpretation remains a problem”. It found that over one in ten postponements of hearings in the international protection (asylum) process were due to interpreters not being available, having the wrong language or being unable to provide services to the required.

The first article in this series was published in December 2023 with the support of Journalismfund Europe. You can read it here >>


By talking to NGOs and people accessing these supports, we want to investigate the impact that poor quality interpretative services is having on healthcare, legal and other services.

Through freedom of information (FOI) and press requests, we will examine why it is taking so long to establish a system of accreditation for interpreters as well as the other recommendations that Governmental reports made in relation to interpreters.

Finally, an EU Directive states that “member States shall take concrete measures to ensure that the interpretation and translation provided meets the quality required”. We will look at the actions, of lack of, by the Irish Government, in comparison to other EU countries.

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You can contact us at and find out how we work here. Our investigations are sourced from and crowdfunded by the public.

8 Backers raised €170 of €170
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