Written Answers. - County Development Plans.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

165 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the proposal in the draft development plan for County Galway that fluency in the Irish language would be required by anyone seeking planning permission for new housing in parts of the Galway Gaeltacht; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3671/03]

The Deputy will be aware that the Planning and Development Act 2000, requires, inter alia, that all county development plans must contain policy objectives regarding the protection of the linguistic and cultural heritage of the Gaeltacht including the promotion of Irish as the community language, where there is a Gaeltacht in the area of the development plan. While not wishing to comment on specific proposals contained in the draft development plan for County Galway, I would generally support any reasonable and practical measures which seek to protect and foster the language in Gaeltacht areas in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

My Department submitted its views in relation to that part of the County Galway draft plan pertaining to the Gaeltacht by way of a written submission on 5 February last and informed Galway County Council of its willingness to offer whatever appropriate support and advice necessary in assisting the council in its legally binding responsibilities regarding the protection of the linguistic heritage of the Gaeltacht. I am separately mailing a copy of the submission available to the Deputy.

Part 4 of the regulations under the Act, which relates to control of development, obliges planning authorities to notify both myself, as Minister, and Údarás na Gaeltachta where the development would materially affect the linguistic and cultural heritage of the Gaeltacht. I will be reminding the relevant local authorities of all of their obligations in relation to the Gaeltacht under the Act in due course.