I welcome the report recently launched by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Irish language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands in relation to the challenges associated with running Irish medium childcare centres in the Gaeltacht.
A number of officials from my Department attended this launch on 25th June 2019, along with officials from Tusla and from the Department of Educations Early Years Education Policy Unit, who are co-located within my Department.
The Secretary General of my Department, along with a number officials, also appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Irish language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands on 20th November 2018. The Secretary General had an opportunity to inform the Committee of the work being undertaken within my Department in relation to supporting and facilitating Irish-medium early learning and care services to operate through Irish.
In particular, my Department has committed to a range of actions under the Action Plan for the Irish Language 2018-2020 which are designed to affirm the importance of the role that early learning and care settings can play in fostering Irish language proficiency. The aim of these actions is to build on existing measures, supports and partnerships in the area of Irish-medium early years education and further improve supports and services.
The report launched by the Committee, and the various recommendations contained within, is currently being examined by my Department in the context of the commitments we have already made under the five year Irish language action plan.
In relation to the specific recommendation referred to by the Deputy that the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Department of Education and Skills agree a policy on Irish medium and Gaeltacht early years education, officials from my Department liaise closely with officials from the Department of Education and Skills on many issues, including in relation to the five year Irish language action plan and the implementation of the Policy on Gaeltacht Education 2017-2022.