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Appendix L

Credit for proficiency in the Irish Language

This document sets out the various issues surrounding Language Proficiency marks awarded at interviews for positions in the Civil Service.

Department of Finance Circular 43/75, 17/81 and 30/90 set out general arrangements in relation to credit for proficiency in both Irish and English and are available to be viewed or downloaded from the following Departmental website:

Establishing proficiency

There are currently three ways for a candidate to establish bilingual proficiency:

1. By passing the Optional Language Test run by the Public Appointments Service

2. By passing Gaeleagras Triail Inniúlachta (for existing Civil Servants only)

3. By attending a Gaeleagras course leading to a certificate of competence (for existing Civil Servants only)

Having established their proficiency, candidates then qualify for language proficiency marks at Interview.

The actual amount of the proficiency marks awarded depends, initially, on whether the competition in question is for entry into the Civil Service (Recruitment) or is a competition for Promotion (Promotion).


Candidates for posts in the Civil Service can choose to sit an Optional Language Test. This test is run by the Public Appointments Service, usually on the same day as the main interview, and consists of a 15 minute oral examination about general matters. Knowledge of technical terminology is not expected and the test is pitched at Honours Leaving Cert level.

Candidates who satisfy the examiners regarding their proficiency are entitled to an extra 6% of the total marks available. So, where a total of 600 marks are available at interview, a candidate who has passed the Optional Language Test will receive 36 marks extra on top of the marks awarded at the main interview.


An existing Civil Servant who enters competition for promotion can benefit from language proficiency marks in the following manner:

1. If proficiency was established within a period of 5 years prior to the closing date of the competition, the candidate can claim 6% of the total marks available at the interview

2. If proficiency was established more than 5 years but less than 10 years prior to the closing date of the competition, the candidate can claim 3% of the total marks available at the interview

Please note: In all cases proficiency marks are awarded only after the candidate is deemed to have passed the interview.

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