On World Book Day Labour calls for single State agency to tackle illiteracy

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
05 March 2020

Speaking on World Book Day, Labour education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin today called for the establishment of a single State agency to tackle Ireland’s literacy problem. The Dublin Bay North TD said almost 18% of Irish adults were ‘functionally illiterate,’ which means they can’t read simple application forms or medicine bottles, while a third of children from schools in disadvantaged areas lack basic reading skills

“I love World Book Day and its focus on the joys of reading. But it underlines the fact that one in six people in Ireland struggle to read basic information, may never experience the fulfilment of reading a great novel like my favourite Strumpet City.

“Labour would tackle this through a single agency, called Literacy Ireland, to spearhead the fight against illiteracy. Right now, nine government agencies deal with the issue, which means there’s no focus on this national scandal.”

The establishment of Literacy Ireland is supported by the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA).

Ó Ríordáin said Ireland’s high rate of illiteracy blighted the lives of people across the generations including those who currently suffer deprivation and educational disadvantage, older early school leavers, and some who simply didn’t keep up their reading skills after leaving school.

As a senator, Ó Ríordáin sponsored the Plain Language Bill, which aimed to simplify the language used in official documents. As Dublin’s Deputy Lord Mayor, he founded the Right to Read Campaign in 2006. This led to a €1 million investment to support weekend opening in the capital’s libraries, as well as the establishment of Learning Zones throughout the Dublin City library service.

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