Northern Ireland news

Long wait for fadas on medical cards as computer system doesn't include accents

Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey. Picture by Hugh Russell
Mairead Holland

A BELFAST man who wants his son's medical card changed to include the Irish spelling of his name will have to wait until 2022 for the amendment.

The man had written to the Business Services Organisation (BSO) asking them to update the document to include the fada.

However, a letter from the organisation's chief executive Liam McIvor explained that medical cards in Northern Ireland are processed using the National Health Application and Infrastructure Services (NHAIS) system.

"This programme does not accommodate the inclusion of any accented characters," the letter read.

"Unfortunately at this time there is therefore no capacity to alter the medical card to include a fada, as NHAIS does not support this function."

Read More: Web addresses allowed to add fadas for first time

It added that a new patient management system is in development and should be operational by 2022.

Sinn Féin's Paul Maskey, who had lobbied BSO on the constituent's behalf, said it is not acceptable that Irish language names are not fully accommodated on medical cards in the north.

The West Belfast MP said: “The fada is an integral part of the Irish language and it is unacceptable that it is not accommodated.

“Denying someone the correct form of their name is a clear denial of rights.

“This is yet another indication of the disrespect and lack of regard shown to the Irish language from official bodies and is precisely why we need an Irish language act."


He added: “Sinn Féin will continue to work to ensure the Irish language and Irish language community get the respect and protection they deserve.”

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