By way of supporting the maintenance and development of the Irish language as a community and household language in the Gaeltacht, the implementation of the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 is recognised as a key priority in the Programme for a Partnership Government. Other measures outlined in the Programme include:
- A focus on job creation in the Gaeltacht, through Údarás na Gaeltachta;
- Encouraging the attendance by children in Irish-medium pre-schools or naíonraí in Gaeltacht areas;
- Recognising the importance of the status of Irish as a full working language of the EU institutions and working towards ending the derogation, as circumstances allow; and
- Increasing the investment in the Irish language.
The Deputy will be aware that my Department, together with Údarás na Gaeltachta, administers a wide range of schemes, programmes and initiatives targeting language and economic development in Gaeltacht areas. Further details are available on the Department’s website at www.ahg.gov.ie and on the Údarás na Gaeltachta website at www.udaras.ie.
The Deputy may also be aware that in order to further underpin the implementation of the Strategy and the language planning process, as set out in Acht na Gaeltachta 2012, a specific allocation of €1m has also been provided in the current year. This allocation will further enable my Department, acting in concert with Údarás na Gaeltachta and relevant stakeholders at community level, to implement a range of specific and practical measures aimed at both supporting the implementation of the Strategy, as well as the language planning process in Gaeltacht areas.
In relation to the economic development of the Gaeltacht, as Minister of State with responsibility for the Gaeltacht, I very much appreciate the importance of job creation in helping to retain sustainable communities in Gaeltacht areas. In that context, I wish to acknowledge the very important enterprise and employment function of Údarás na Gaeltachta as the regional economic agency for the Gaeltacht. In its regional enterprise role in the Gaeltacht, Údarás na Gaeltachta, in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland and the IDA, will continue to work towards attracting investment to the Gaeltacht, in addition to supporting micro-enterprises and developing the skills base in the Gaeltacht. In order to enable Údarás na Gaeltachta to fulfil its job creation and job retention role in the Gaeltacht, capital funding of €6.687m has been provided by the Exchequer to Údarás in 2016, in addition to its own resources from the sale of assets and investments.
The issue of funding in respect of 2017 will be addressed in due course in the context of the estimates and budgetary processes.