Thursday, 12 December 2019

Questions (43)

Thomas Byrne


43. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to make the Irish language more viable in County Meath. [51894/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

The 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 represents the foundation stone of the Government's policy on the Irish language. The Strategy outlines an integrated approach to the Irish language, in which 9 areas of action are specified, namely Education; The Gaeltacht; Family Transmission of the Language - Early Intervention; Administration, Services and Community; Media and Technology; Dictionaries; Legislation and Status; Economic Life; and Cross-cutting Initiatives.

Last year, my Department published an action plan for the period 2018-2022 which contains specified strategic priorities for the next five years along with a timeline for their implementation. The focus of the Plan is on the measures to be implemented in the period to 2022 to further support the Irish language and the Gaeltacht in the overall context of the nine areas for action as set out in the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish language.

The Plan outlines over 180 specific measures that will be implemented in conjunction with approximately 60 stakeholders on a cross-Departmental basis in support of the Irish language and the Gaeltacht from now until 2022.

Regarding County Meath, Foras na Gaeilge, an agency of the North South Language Body, is the agency charged with promotion of the Irish language on an all-island basis. In carrying out its legislative mandate, Foras na Gaeilge provides support, advice and financial assistance to many groups who promote the language in County Meath, including provision of courses and activities to help people improve or learn the language.

As I indicated in my reply to PQ No. 592 of 12 November 2019, the Gaeltacht Act 2012 gives statutory effect to the language planning process under which language plans may be prepared at community level in areas to be recognised under the Act as Gaeltacht Language Planning Areas, Gaeltacht Service Towns or Irish Language Networks.

In that regard, the language plan in respect of Ráth Chairn and Baile Ghib was submitted to my Department in July 2018 and approved in October 2018. In line with the support arrangements in place under the overall stewardship of my Department, a Language Planning Officer has since been appointed to implement this plan at community level. Annual funding of up to €100,000 is being made available in support of this.

To further underpin the Language Planning Process in the Gaeltacht a number of further actions in support of early years, the family, the traditional arts and youth were initiated in 2018. Three-year funding programmes were agreed with the organisations, Tuismitheoirí na Gaeltachta and Comhar Naíonraí na Gaeltachta in support of early years and the family respectively. In further support of the traditional arts in Gaeltacht areas, a three year programme was recently agreed with the organisation Ealaín na Gaeltachta. These supports will be available to all Gaeltacht areas, including Ráth Chairn and Baile Ghib.

Finally, I should remind the Deputy that I recently launched the Meath Gaeltacht Enterprise Forum Report at an event in Ráth Chairn and the key outcomes from the report include the need to further capitalise on the wealth of Irish language, culture and heritage of this Gaeltacht community, to promote this Gaeltacht area to potential entrepreneurs and support their development and growth through the provision of modern workspaces and facilities.

In order to meet the needs of the Meath Gaeltacht, the report makes a series of recommendations such as the development of a gteic innovation and digital hub as part of Údarás na Gaeltachta’s Gréasán Digiteach na Gaeltachta to accommodate entrepreneurs, innovators, concept developers, start-ups and especially remote workers in the Meath Gaeltacht. It is also recommended to develop, support and promote bespoke cultural and linguistic tourism in conjunction with local providers, Meath County Council, Fáilte Éireann and other agencies.