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Irish Language.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 27 January 2009

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Questions (794, 795, 796, 797, 798, 799, 800, 801)

Michael Ring

Question:

886 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made regarding the programme for Government proposal to develop a 20-year strategic plan for the growth in the use of Irish and in bilingualism by 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47872/08]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs)

My Department's recent progress report in relation to the Programme for Government can be accessed on the Department of the Taoiseach's website at:

http://193.178.1.117/attachedfiles/Pdf%20files/CommunityEnglish.pdf

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government's Statement on the Irish Language includes a commitment to develop a 20-year Strategy for the Irish language, which is intended to be the foundation for practical action for supporting and promoting the language, based on a modern, integrated approach.

During the last year my Department, in conjunction with Fiontar DCU, the independent consultants that are assisting in the formulation of the Strategy, have undertaken a wide-scale public consultation process, which involved a series of public meetings and an on-line survey in relation to the various elements that will be in the Strategy. Based on the views and recommendations expressed by the public during this process, a discussion document was published that drew together the various strands and outlined the key elements to be addressed in the Strategy. A further series of public meetings was then undertaken that gave people the opportunity express their views as to this document.

In addition to the public consultation, Fiontar DCU consulted with key stakeholders in both the public and voluntary sectors as to their recommendations for inclusion in the Strategy. Fiontar were also assisted by a number of international experts in language policy issues. A draft Strategy has now been submitted for my consideration. I anticipate that my proposals in relation to the 20-year Strategy will be submitted to Government in the near future.

Michael Ring

Question:

887 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made on the programme for Government proposal to provide funding to the Higher Education Authority to ensure that the training necessary in Irish language translation is provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47874/08]

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Michael Ring

Question:

888 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made on the programme for Government proposal to increase support for the public service to develop the capacity to provide comprehensive services through the medium of the Irish language; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47875/08]

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Michael Ring

Question:

889 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made on the programme for Government proposal to work to extend the number of professionals who are available to serve the Irish language speaking and Gaeltacht communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47876/08]

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I propose to take Questions Nos. 887 to 889, inclusive, together.

My Department's recent progress report in relation to the Programme for Government can be accessed on the Department of the Taoiseach's website at:

http://193.178.1.117/attachedfiles/Pdf%20files/CommunityEnglish.pdf

My Department continues to provide significant support in the three interlinked areas referred to by the Deputy, both directly through Ciste na Gaeilge and by way of legislative provisions, and indirectly through Foras na Gaeilge. Funding of some €1m per annum has been provided by my Department via the Higher Education Authority for high-level skills initiatives to meet the requirements arising from the official and working language status of Irish in the EU and the implementation of the Official Languages Act. These requirements particularly relate to translation services, but also to increasing the supply of other professionals needed to serve the Irish language community.

In addition, 86 language schemes have been agreed to date under the Official Languages Act with public bodies to improve their provision of public services through Irish.

My Department is continuing to work with Foras na Gaeilge and other interested parties in relation to putting in place key resources to enhance the capacity of the public service to provide services through Irish. With regard to the development of a Quality Assurance System for Translators, Foras na Gaeilge has, at my request, developed an accreditation system for Irish language translators. 125 translators have now achieved the required standard. The system is a significant resource for public bodies in their implementation of the Official Languages Act. The accreditation system will be a continuous process and will involve examination of translators at regular intervals on an ongoing basis. In that regard, I understand that it is intended to hold a further examination before May 2009. Full details of the panel of accredited translators is available on the website of Foras na Gaeilge, www.gaeilge.ie.

In addition, I understand from Foras na Gaeilge that they will continue to provide training/upskilling opportunities for translators, including an online course for translators, accredited by NUI Maynooth, and a series of intensive workshops, which will be held in venues throughout the island between March and November 2009.

With regard to the development of an Accreditation System for Editors, Foras na Gaeilge will introduce such a system before end-2009. In order to ensure the highest standards, Foras will instigate a series of training opportunities during 2009 for accredited translators who wish to achieve accreditation as editors/revisers. A new course for editors, funded by Foras na Gaeilge, has been written and will be published as a textbook for the translation sector in August 2009.

Michael Ring

Question:

890 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made regarding the programme for Government proposal to establish a senior officials’ group between the Departments of Education and Science and Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs to enhance the action of both Departments and their agencies in addressing challenges in supporting the Irish language, including strengthening the teaching of Irish throughout the education system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47877/08]

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As I have previously informed the House — most recently in response to Question No 387 of 18 Samhain 2008 — a high-level group has been established at Secretary General level between my Department and the Department of Education and Science, which meets periodically to consider matters of common interest in the context of the Irish language and the Gaeltacht. Joint actions arising from the work of the group are advanced through regular engagement at Assistant Secretary level between the two Departments, as well as interaction with relevant agencies, including Foras na Gaeilge, Údarás na Gaeltachta and An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta. Recent work has focused on issues considered in meetings with the CEOs of those agencies and on matters arising in the context of the Report on the Linguistic Study on the Use of Irish in the Gaeltacht.

Michael Ring

Question:

891 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made on the programme for Government proposal to develop a comprehensive plan based on the linguistic study of the Gaeltacht with clear and effective measures for the continued preservation and development of the language in the Gaeltacht; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47880/08]

View answer

My Department's recent progress report in relation to the Programme for Government can be accessed on the Department of the Taoiseach's website at:

http://193.178.1.117/attachedfiles/Pdf%20files/CommunityEnglish.pdf

The Report of the Linguistic Study on the Use of Irish in the Gaeltacht was presented to the Government in late 2007 and was subsequently published. The Government, having noted the Report, established a Cabinet Committee to consider matters arising in the context of the analysis and recommendations of the Report, and to agree an integrated action plan to secure the future of Irish as the community language in the Gaeltacht. Work is continuing in this regard, in tandem with the ongoing development of a 20-year Strategy for the Irish Language.

Michael Ring

Question:

892 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made regarding the programme for Government proposal to provide for an extension to the Irish language network of crèches in the Gaeltacht and to ensure that support is given to crèches which want to set up facilities through Irish nationwide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47881/08]

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My Department's recent progress report in relation to the Programme for Government can be accessed on the Department of the Taoiseach's website at

http://193.178.1.117/attachedfiles/Pdf%20files/CommunityEnglish.pdf

As set out in that report, the general position is that the primary responsibility for assisting crèches in the Gaeltacht and throughout the State rests with the Office of the Minister for Youth and Children. However, Údarás na Gaeltachta and my Department have also provided assistance for child care facilities in the Gaeltacht in the form of capital funding and provision of suitable sites.

In addition, an tÚdarás may provide feasibility study grants to help community groups in Gaeltacht areas with design and other related preliminary costs associated with the building of such facilities. Discussions are ongoing with the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in relation to the provision of Irish language crèche services in the Gaeltacht.

Michael Ring

Question:

893 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made on the programme for Government proposal to provide extra funding to market language tourism to the Gaeltacht for foreign visitors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47882/08]

View answer

My Department's recent progress report in relation to the Programme for Government can be accessed on the Department of the Taoiseach's website at

http://193.178.1.117/attachedfiles/Pdf%20files/CommunityEnglish.pdf

As set out in that report, the position is that Údarás na Gaeltachta work in close cooperation with Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland, which are responsible for actively marketing and promoting Ireland to overseas visitors. In 2007 and 2008, marketing initiatives were put in place with a focus on marketing the Gaeltacht as a place in which to learn Irish and hear the language spoken and as a tourism destination of outstanding merit. These initiatives have been rolled out over the past year with an emphasis on e-marketing as well as traditional multi-media publicity campaigns.

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