I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that when the Gaeltacht allowance was introduced in 1934, it was decided that it would only be paid in areas where Irish was the general medium of speech and where all the members of the force were proficient in Irish and were required to perform their duties in Irish. The areas where the allowance was to be paid were determined on the basis of Districts. These are Garda administrative areas, each comprising a number of Garda Stations, under the supervision of a Superintendent. It was not regarded as practicable to arrange for members of the force in any particular Station to conduct all their duties in Irish if Irish was not also in use at the District Headquarters.
Garda Districts in the Division of Galway West were approved by the Government for payment of the Gaeltacht allowance in 1934, followed by Garda Districts in the Divisions of Donegal and Kerry in 1935. No other Districts have been approved for payment of the allowance since that date.
The arrangements for the payment of Gaeltacht allowances are among the issues being examined at present by an Interdepartmental Group on the use and promotion of the Irish language in An Garda Síochána, particularly taking into account the needs of Gaeltacht areas and the requirements of the Official Languages Act 2003. This Group consists of senior representatives of An Garda Síochána, my Department and the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. I expect to receive the report of the Interdepartmental Group shortly, and I will carefully examine whatever recommendations are made.