As the Deputy is aware, Foras na Gaeilge is one of the two agencies comprising An Foras Teanga, the North-South Language Body, the other being the Ulster-Scots Agency. The establishment of An Foras Teanga and other North-South Implementation Bodies represents an historic event in itself, arising from the Good Friday Agreement. Since their inception, both agencies of the language body have placed considerable emphasis on joint work to increase mutual understanding and appreciation of both cultural traditions in Northern Ireland and throughout the island. This area of activity remains a priority.
With regard to the role of Foras na Gaeilge in promoting the Irish language, let me refer to a number of its key achievements in recent years. They include the development of an accreditation system for translators, which ensures a high standard and consistency of translation for both the public and private sectors. There are currently 145 accredited translators and their details are available on the Foras na Gaeilge website, www.gaeilge.ie. Foras na Gaeilge is now rolling out a similar accreditation system for editors, the first examination for which will be held in the autumn.
Further key achievements are the provision of a memory-assisted translation tool, which will enable translations to be completed more cheaply and on a more consistent basis; provision of the terminology database www.focal.ie, which contains more than 290,000 terms that have been approved by Foras na Gaeilge’s terminology committee and is searchable in both English and Irish; and work in the education sector, North and South, including funding the development of an agreed syllabus for Irish at third level. The first-year syllabus is currently in use in third level institutions throughout the island and the second-year syllabus is now in preparation.
Further achievements of Foras na Gaeilge include the organisation of the scheme Gaeilge Labhartha san Earnáil Oideachais, GLEO, which recognises and rewards best practice in the teaching of oral Irish throughout the island; the operation of youth schemes annually to promote the use of Irish outside school, including youth activities and summer camps outside the Gaeltacht, which promote the use of Irish in everyday life; and the publication, through its An Gúm division, of more than 250 resources, including textbooks, electronic materials, dictionaries and reading material for the education sector. An Gúm is working with the Department of Education and Skills to provide Séideán Sí, the first project geared towards native speakers and primary students in Gaelscoileanna. Other key points are the development of the new Irish–English dictionary, scheduled for publication in late 2012 in both electronic and hard copies, and the operation of the successful Irish in the community scheme since 2005. Currently, this scheme employs 17 development officers to promote Irish within their communities throughout the island and to encourage the use of Irish in business and marketing with a view to assisting in the normalisation of Irish in everyday life.
I will be happy to provide additional information on any specific issues that are of interest to the House.