Labour MEP for Munster Phil Prendergast has criticised the exorbitant cost of sending SMS texts using the síneadh fada.
Mobile operators are currently charging customers the equivalent of three text messages for the use of a single síneadh fada, thus making the cost of texting in Irish much higher than in English.
Ms. Prendergast sent a parliamentary question to the European Commission, enquiring as to whether this pricing practice is in compliance with EU norms on telecommunications standards.
Ms. Prendergast said: “We need to know whether mobile operators are hiding behind technical expedients to rip off consumers for the use of a simple Irish language symbol, whether this is legitimate, and how we can stop it.
“Moreover, many people who come over from abroad to work or to visit use the same mark as the fada and other similar ones in the languages they text in.
“We can understand that these symbols represent additional data that has to be transmitted by the operators. However, to claim that one tiny accent mark over a letter entitles operators to charge us the equivalent of three full texts with 160 characters is quite extraordinary, from a layperson’s viewpoint.
“Frankly, I think they are taking us for fócal idiots.
“What use is it for the State to spend human and financial resources to protect our language if we allow the private telecommunications sector to impose such costs on everyday use of Irish?”