Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge: Statements

We now move onto statements on the 2020 Strategy for the Irish language. I call on the Minister of State, Deputy McHugh, to make his statement under Standing Order 43.

Tá brón orm go bhfuil mé déanach agus rud beag tuirseach. Mar Aire Stáit na Gaeltachta, fáiltím roimh an deis seo labhairt sa Dáil inniu. Tá sé tráthúil go bhfuil an deis seo agam agus Seachtain na Gaeilge faoi lánseol.

Is ócáid seanbhunaithe í Seachtain na Gaeilge atá fíorthábhachtach ó thaobh na teanga de. Téann sé siar chomh fada le 1902 nuair a bhunaigh Conradh na Gaeilge an fhéile don chéad uair chun an teanga agus an cultúr Gaelach a chur chun cinn ar fud na tíre agus thar lear. Sa lá atá inniu ann, tá Seachtain na Gaeilge fíorthábhachtach i bhféilire bhliantúil phobal labhartha na Gaeilge. Feictear dom go bhfuil an fhéile ag dul ó neart go neart achan bhliain.

Tá gach eolas faoi imeachtaí fhéile na bliana seo sa chlár oifigiúil Sult 2014 atá á eisiúint leis an nuachtán Irish Daily Star i mí an Mhárta. Tá ailt, agallaimh, míreanna spóirt, ceoil agus teicneolaíochta san iris dátheangach seo atá iontach d’fhoghlaimeoirí agus do dhuine ar bith a bhfuil suim acu i bhforbairtí úr maidir leis an Ghaeilge.

Cuireann sé áthas orm go bhfuil an Ghaeilge á cur chun cinn ar fud na tíre ar bhealaí éagsúla úr-aimseartha. Níl bealach níos fearr ná úsáid na teicneolaíochta faisnéise agus cumarsáide chun daoine a choinneáil ar an eolas faoi chéard atá ag tarlú sa phobal. Ar ndóigh, tá Seachtain na Gaeilge chun cinn sa réimse seo agus aip úr ar fáil anois ar iTunes agus ar Google Spraoi chun daoine a choinneáil ar an eolas faoi imeachtaí na seachtaine. Ní raibh sé riamh chomh éasca imeachtaí agus ócáidí a aimsiú.

Nach iomaí casadh atá tagtha ar an saol ó bunaíodh Conradh na Gaeilge os cionn 120 bliain ó shin. Ní raibh an réamhfheiceáil ag ár sinsir ar na hathruithe móra a bhí le teacht ar an saol ó thaobh na teicneolaíochta faisnéise de agus an éascaíocht a chuirfeadh sé lenár saol. Cá bhfios cén dóigh ina mbeidh daoine ag maireachtáil 120 bliain chun cinn sa todhchaí ach tá súil agam gur ag cumarsáid trí Ghaeilge a bheidh siad. Má choinníonn muid ar fad ag labhairt trí Ghaeilge, ní fheictear dom cén fáth nach mbeidh sé sin amhlaidh.

Ó ceapadh mar Aire Stáit mé, tá mé ag spreagadh daoine agus ag uchtú daoine chun teacht liom ar m’aistear leis an Ghaeilge a fhoghlaim arís. Luann muid go minic an grá atá againn don teanga. Má tá spéis ag daoine í a fhoghlaim, nó í a athfhoghlaim, tá an cuireadh tugtha do dhaoine chun tosú anois le linn Sheachtain na Gaeilge. I ndiaidh tréimhse a chaitheamh i rith an tsamhraidh i nGleann Cholm Cille, i dTír Chonaill, chuir mé roinnt pointí agus noda úsáideacha le chéile chun cabhrú le daoine, agus tá siad le fáil ar shuíomh Idirlín na Roinne faoi mo bhlag. Is é atá ar intinn agam ná gur féidir le duine ar bith a bhfuil suim acu inár dteanga náisiúnta nádúrtha tabhairt faoin turas foghlama seo in éineacht liom. Tá súil agam go mbeidh daoine spreagtha dá bharr chun dul i ngleic leis an teanga.

Seo leanas roinnt pointí a d'fhoghlaim mé ó thosaigh mé ar an turas foghlama seo. Tá an Ghaeilge thart orainn in achan áit, mar shampla ar chomharthaí bóthair agus ar na meáin chumarsáide. Is é an rud is tábhachtaí domsa ná a bheith ag smaoineamh as Gaeilge. Bíonn eagla orainn uilig botúin a dhéanamh. Is cinnte go ndearna mé cúpla botún achan lá ach níor lig mé eagla roimh bhotún a dhéanamh mé a choinneáil siar.

Tá fíorshuim ag daoine ar fud na tíre san aistear seo, go háirithe daoine atá ag foghlaim na teanga iad féin. Tá a fhios agam fosta go bhfuil ciorcail chomhrá ar siúl i mbailte agus ag pobail éagsúla ar fud na tíre agus ba mhaith liom na grúpaí seo a mholadh go mór don chur chuige oscailte agus cairdiúil atá acu i leith daoine a spreagadh agus a uchtadh chun an Ghaeilge a labhairt. Cuidíonn siad go mór leo siúd nach bhfuil mórán muiníne acu chun dul chun cainte i nGaeilge le daoine eile. Is iad na daoine seo agus na grúpaí seo a bhí ar intinn agam nuair a thug mé faoin bhlag a scríobh agus tá súil agam go mbeidh sé ina chuidiú dóibh.

Agus an óráid seo á thabhairt agam inniu mar chuid de Sheachtain na Gaeilge, ní miste dom a rá gur dóigh liom go bhfuil an Ghaeilge ar cheann de na hachmhainní is nádúrtha agus is luachmhaire atá againn.

Creideann an Rialtas go bhfuil tábhacht ag baint le pobal láidir labhartha Gaeilge agus Gaeltachta a chothú chun saibhreas oidhreachta na teanga a choinneáil beo agus a thabhairt shlán don chéad ghlúin eile. Tá an Taoiseach, gan trácht ar cheannairí na bpáirtithe polaitiúla eile, ag tabhairt dea-shampla dúinn uile ó thaobh úsáid na Gaeilge sna Tithe seo. Is cinnte gur féidir linn uile féachaint ar an dóigh gur féidir linn féin níos mó úsáide a bhaint as ár gcuid Gaeilge le linn ár gcuid oibre laethúil sa Dáil agus sa Seanad.

Cé go bhfuil an Rialtas tiomanta gach a dhéanamh laistigh dá chumhacht chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn, tá todhchaí na teanga ag brath go príomha ar an phobal. Tá a fhios againn go bhfuil dearcadh dearfach ag tromlach an phobail i leith na teanga. Tá orainn timpeallacht a chothú ina mbraitheann daoine muiníneach a gcuid Gaeilge a úsáid, cuma cén leibhéal cumais atá acu inti. Tá sé riachtanach go leanfar ag baint leas as an teanga mar theanga phobail agus teaghlaigh sa Ghaeltacht agus go gcuirfear an teanga chun cinn ar bhonn níos forleithne taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht.

Ar ndóigh, bíonn an-áthas orm bualadh le cainteoirí Gaeilge agus mé ag taisteal ar fud na tíre, sa Ghaeltacht agus lasmuigh di. Bíonn áthas orm fosta nuair a chloisim daoine ag déanamh a ndíchill úsáid a bhaint as an méid Gaeilge atá acu, mo dhála féin. Tugaim faoi deara na hiarrachtaí atá á ndéanamh ag daoine chun an teanga a chur chun cinn. Aithníonn na daoine seo an tábhacht a bhaineann lenár dteanga. Is siombail an-tábhachtach dár bhféiniúlacht í an Ghaeilge. Ós rud é go bhfuil sí ar cheann de na hacmhainní is luachmhaire atá againn, creideann daoine go bhfuil géarghá leis an teanga a chaomhnú agus a fhorbairt. Is eol domsa go maith mar Aire Stáit gur teanga bheo phobail agus theaghlaigh í an Ghaeilge sa Ghaeltacht agus go bhfuil an Ghaeilge á cur chun cinn i gceantair éagsúla taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht fosta.

Ní miste a nótáil gur díol suntais é go bhfuil tacaíocht tugtha ag gach Rialtas don Ghaeilge ó bunaíodh an Stát os cionn 90 bliain ó shin agus ní haon áibhéil a rá nach mbeadh sí chomh láidir agus atá sí inniu in éagmais na tacaíochta sin. Ní miste a mheabhrú dúinn féin go bhfuil go leor dul chun cinn déanta le roinnt blianta anuas ó thaobh na teanga de, lena n-áirítear bunú RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta agus TG4; achtú Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla agus Acht na Gaeltachta; bunú Oifig an Choimisinéara Teanga, Fhoras na Gaeilge agus Údarás na Gaeltachta; an t-aitheantas don Ghaeilge faoi Chomhaontú Aoine an Chéasta i dTuaisceart Éireann agus an t-aitheantas don Ghaeilge mar theanga oifigiúil agus mar theanga oibre san Aontas Eorpach.

Ó ceapadh mar Aire Stáit mé, is í an Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge an chloch is mó ar mo phaidrín. Ós rud é gur foilsíodh an straitéis i mí na Nollag 2010, beidh an straitéis cúig bliana ar an fhód ag deireadh na bliana seo. I bhfianaise a thábhachtaí is atá an straitéis mar chloch choirnéil don Ghaeilge, leanfaidh mé orm ag plé le mo chomhghleacaithe aireachta le cinntiú go dtugtar tosaíocht don straitéis sna Ranna ábhartha. Ina theannta sin, leanfaidh mo Roinn uirthi ag obair i gcomhpháirtíocht leis na Ranna sin chun na bearta éagsúla a bhaint amach thar shaolré na straitéise.

Mar is eol don Teach, is ar mo Roinn atá an fhreagracht uileghabhálach an straitéis a chomhordú agus a chur i bhfeidhm i gcomhar le réimse mór páirtithe leasmhara éagsúla. Aithnítear sa straitéis féin go bhfuil gá le cur chuige céimneach chun bearta éagsúla na straitéise a chur i gcrích. Is léir domsa go bhfuil cur chuige soiléir ann maidir le cur i bhfeidhm na straitéise agus go bhfuil dul chun cinn á dhéanamh go staidéarach agus go stuama laistigh de na hacmhainní atá ar fáil. Ar ndóigh, tá dúshlán anseo dúinn uile agus ní mór dúinn na céimeanna cuí a thógáil de réir a chéile. Mar a deir an seanfhocal, an té nach gcuirfidh san earrach, ní bhainfidh sé san fhómhar.

Léiríonn na tuarascálacha atá foilsithe ag na Ranna ábhartha, 12 acu san iomlán, go bhfuil cur chuige soiléir ann maidir le feidhmiú na straitéise a mbeidh tionchar dearfach aige ar an teanga san fhadtréimhse. Is údar sásaimh ar leith dom é go n-aithníonn na Ranna go bhfuil sé tábhachtach go mbeadh líon áirithe foirne atá in ann seirbhísí a chur ar fáil i nGaeilge i ngach Roinn agus go bhfuil gealltanas tugtha acu go n-aithneofar ina gcuid scéimeanna teanga amach anseo faoi Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla na poist nó na réimsí oibre lena mbaineann riachtanas inniúlachta sa Ghaeilge.

Ní miste dom a dheimhniú don Teach gur scríobh mé i mí na Samhna 2014 chuig na hAirí uile ag lorg cruinnithe déthaobhacha leo le plé a dhéanamh ar chur i bhfeidhm na straitéise agus Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla. Tá ag éirí go maith leis na cruinnithe déthaobhacha atá eagraithe go dtí seo. Is léir go bhfuil toil i measc na nAirí dul chun cinn a dhéanamh ar chur i bhfeidhm na straitéise. Cé go dtuigim go maith go bhfuil comhoibriú leanúnach ar siúl idir na Ranna i gcomhthéacs chur i bhfeidhm na straitéise, tá mé ag machnamh go gníomhach, ó ceapadh mar Aire Stáit mé i mí Iúil seo cáite, ar conas a d’fhéadfaimis feabhas breise a chur ar an obair thábhachtach seo. Is sa chomhthéacs seo atá na cruinnithe déthaobhacha á reáchtáil agam.

Cuireann Acht na Gaeltachta an chreatlach reachtúil ar fáil chun tabhairt faoin phróiseas pleanála teanga ar bhonn comhordaithe. Faoin Acht, beidh an pobal, an earnáil dheonach, an earnáil phoiblí agus an earnáil phríobháideach ag obair as lámha a chéile chun tacú leis an Ghaeilge sna ceantair éagsúla atá agus a mbeidh aitheanta faoin Acht. Is trí phleananna teanga a ullmhú agus a fheidhmiú ag leibhéal an phobail a thabharfar tacaíocht don Ghaeilge mar theanga phobail agus teaghlaigh i gceantair Ghaeltachta agus i gceantair eile taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht.

Tá áthas orm a rá go bhfuil dul chun cinn á dhéanamh faoin bpleanáil teanga faoi Acht na Gaeltachta. Tá tús curtha go hoifigiúil leis an bpróiseas pleanála teanga i 13 limistéir phleanála teanga Ghaeltachta. Tar éis don Roinn próiseas comhairliúcháin a reáchtáil, d’fhoilsigh mé, i mí na Nollag 2014, liosta de na bailte is fóirsteanaí a d’fhéadfadh a bheith aitheanta mar bhailte seirbhíse Gaeltachta. Tá iarrtha agam ar Fhoras na Gaeilge agus ar Údarás na Gaeltachta tús áite a thabhairt do chathair na Gaillimhe, Leitir Ceanainn agus Daingean Uí Chúis. Tá Foras na Gaeilge ag lorg léirithe spéise faoi láthair ó eagraíochtaí i gceantair a d’fhéadfadh a bheith aitheanta mar líonraí Gaeilge amach anseo.

Mar is eol don Teach, rinne mo Roinn athbhreithniú ar an Acht Teanga a foilsíodh i mí Aibreáin 2014 in éineacht le ceannteidil an Bhille teanga. Is é príomhaidhm an Bhille ná an tAcht teanga a leasú chun a chinntiú go leanfaidh sé de bheith ina thacaíocht do gach duine ar mian leis nó léi seirbhísí d’ardchaighdeán i nGaeilge a fháil ón Stát. Cuireadh na ceannteidil faoi bhráid an Chomhchoiste um Chomhshaol, Chultúr agus an Ghaeltacht iad, i gcomhréir le polasaí an Rialtais. Tá tuarascáil faoin mBille foilsithe anois ag an gcomhchoiste agus tá moltaí na tuarascála á mbreithniú agam faoi láthair. Tá an próiseas dréachtaithe don Bhille ag leanúint ar aghaidh fosta agus an Bille ar liosta A de chlár reachtaíochta an Rialtais. Rinneadh roinnt moltaí fiúntacha le linn an phróisis chomhairliúcháin phoiblí maidir le tionscnaimh pholasaí a meastar a chuirfeadh le stádas agus le húsáid na Gaeilge. Tá sé aontaithe ag an Rialtas go bhféachfaí leis na tionscnaimh pholasaí seo a thabhairt chun cinn chun tacú le cur i bhfeidhm an Acht teanga. Tá plé ar siúl ag mo Roinn faoi láthair leis na páirtithe leasmhara maidir leis na tionscnaimh sin a fhorbairt ar an mbealach is éifeachtaí.

Is aidhm lárnach pholasaí de chuid an Rialtais é úsáid na Gaeilge a threisiú agus tá sé ina ghné thábhachtach den pholasaí sin go mbeidh baill fhoirne atá inniúil sa Ghaeilge ar fáil sa Státchóras. Ar ndóigh, tá an cheist maidir le cumas comhlachtaí poiblí seirbhísí a sholáthar trí Ghaeilge agus ceist na hearcaíochta don Státchóras fite fuaite lena chéile. Mar thoradh ar chinneadh a thóg an Rialtas i mí Dheireadh Fómhair 2013 chun cumas na Gaeilge sa Státseirbhís a threisiú, tá an Roinn Caiteachais Phoiblí agus Athchóirithe ag iarraidh ar Ranna agus ar oifigí Rialtais sainaithint a dhéanamh ar phoist agus ar réimsí oibre ina dteastaíonn oifigigh le Gaeilge mar chuid den phróiseas pleanála don fhórsa oibre. Táthar ag iarraidh ar Ranna aird ar leith a thabhairt ar phoist atá lonnaithe i gceantair Ghaeltachta nó a dhéanann freastal ar cheantair Ghaeltachta. Beidh an próiseas seo lárnach chun a chinntiú de go ndéanfar foráil dhóthanach i gcomórtais earcaíochta amach anseo do cheapacháin i bpoist ina dteastaíonn oifigigh le Gaeilge. Ina theannta sin, sonrófar na poist sin ina dteastaíonn oifigigh le Gaeilge i scéimeanna teanga faoi Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 amach anseo. Anuas air sin, tá socruithe nua á gcur i bhfeidhm ag an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí do chomórtais earcaíochta don Státseirbhís.

Bhain an Ghaeilge aitheantas amach mar theanga oifigiúil agus oibre de chuid an Aontais Eorpaigh ar an 1 Eanáir 2007. Tiocfaidh deireadh leis an maolú atá i bhfeidhm don Ghaeilge ag deireadh 2016. Is maolú é seo d'institiúidí an Aontais Eorpaigh ón dualgas atá ann gach téacs dlíthiúil a aistriú go Gaeilge.

Beidh cinneadh le tógáil faoi dheireadh na bliana 2015 faoi thodhchaí an mhaolaithe atá i bhfeidhm faoi láthair maidir le húsáid na Gaeilge in institiúidí an Aontais Eorpaigh.

Mar fhocal scoir, mar tá brú ama orm, ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a chur in iúl arís as an deis a fháil léargas a thabhairt don Dáil ar an méid atá ar siúl faoi láthair chun aidhmeanna na Straitéise 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge a bhaint amach. Is gnéithe fíorthábhachtacha dár n-oidhreacht chultúrtha iad an Ghaeilge agus an Ghaeltacht. Is onóir agus pribhléid domsa an deis a fháil mo chion féin a dhéanamh mar Aire Stáit sa Rialtas chun tacú le caomhnú, cosaint agus forbairt na hoidhreachta sin. Aithním agus tuigim go maith gur ag obair i gcomhar lena chéile is fearr a bhainfidh muid torthaí fónta amach chun an oidhreacht bheo seo a thabhairt ar aghaidh don chéad ghlúin eile. Tugann Seachtain na Gaeilge deis iontach dúinn obair le chéile chun ár n-oidhreacht a chur chun cinn trí Ghaeilge a labhairt.

Sula labhraíonn an Teachta Kitt, an bhfuil aon seans go bhfaighimid cóip den óráid atá tugtha ag an Aire Stáit, mar is iondúil nuair a léitear amach óráid?

I understand that the Deputy is sharing time with Deputy Kitt.

When a Minister or Minister of State reads from a script, it is customary for Members of the Opposition to be provided with copies. I sought a copy of the script and was informed that there is none. Perhaps we should suspend proceedings until copies are provided.

If the Deputy can wait a moment, I will obtain some advice on the matter.

Ar mhiste leis an Teachta úsáid a bhaint as an script seo?

Bheinn ábalta, ach níl sin oiriúnach do dhaoine eile.

Tabharfaidh mé an script seo do mo chomhghleacaí.

Fanfaidh mé go dtiocfaidh na cóipeanna eile chugainn. Tá mise ceart go leor.

An bhfuil sin ceart go leor?

Cén fáth nár cuireadh na scripteanna ar fáil anseo?

To be fair, everybody should get a copy of the script.

Níl ceann ag teastáil uaim. Bhí mé anseo ag éisteacht.

It is not a question of being here. Is gnáth nós é script a chur ar fáil agus is dóigh liom gur cheart cloí leis an ngnáth nós sin.

Would it satisfy the Deputy to use the Minister of State's copy of the script until additional copies can be obtained for the other Deputies?

The issue here is why, when it comes to the Irish language, we are always treated as second-class citizens and why normal service is not available to us.

We can inquire as to why that is the case.

That always happens too late. It is always the case that inquiries will be made but on the next occasion when this problem arises, an answer is not forthcoming.

The Departments are responsible for supplying scripts.

I am wondering what is wrong with the Minister of State's Department, in view of the fact that we cannot be supplied with copies of the script. Has the Department ceased to be able to function through the Irish language that it cannot supply copies?

In order that we might proceed with the debate, can we provide the Deputy with the Minister of State's copy of the script and then obtain copies for the other Deputies present?

Under protest, yes, but that does not satisfy the basic point I was making.

The script should have been provided. It always seems that in the context of matters relating to the Irish language, the Government cannot get it right.

As the Deputy is aware, Departments are responsible for supplying scripts. I call Deputy Kitt.

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh an deis an díospóireacht seo a bheith againn. B'fhéidir nach dtarlódh sé ach go bhfuil Seachtain na Gaeilge ag tarlú freisin.

Tá an ceart ag an Aire Stáit nuair a deireann sé go bhfuil muid go léir ag iarraidh na Gaeilge a chur chun cinn. Sin aidhm Pháirtí Fhianna Fáil le blianta. Chomh maith le Gaeilge a labhairt, tá sé an-tábhachtach go mbeidh muid in ann an Ghaeilge a thabhairt do na glúine atá le teacht, agus sin an fáth go bhfuil an Straitéis 20 Bliain againn. Tá an straitéis seo mar bhuncloch do pholasaí Fhianna Fáil agus don Rialtas freisin. Mar sin, táimid ag iarraidh go mbeidh Aire sinsearach don Ghaeilge sa Rialtas. Caithfidh go mbeidh duine ann le freagracht a ghlacadh don Ghaeilge agus don Ghaeltacht. Ní ceart an straitéis a chur i bhfeidhm gan airgead a chur ar fáil chomh maith. Níl mórán airgid i gceist. Tá an straitéis againn ón am a bhí an Teachta Ó Cuív mar Aire agus chuala mé sin uaidh cúpla uair.

Caithfimid deireadh a chur leis an maolú ar an nGaeilge san Aontas Eorpach chomh maith. Bhí daoine ag cur brú le blianta ar an Aontas Eorpach go mbeadh an Ghaeilge mar theanga oibre ann. Tá súil agam go mbeidh an tAire Stáit in ann tacaíocht a thabhairt maidir le sin freisin.

Bhí scéimeanna éagsúla Gaeltachta againn, ach tá cuid mhaith acu curtha ar ceal. Labhair mé ar maidin faoi na seirbhísí go dtí na hoileáin, seirbhísí aeir agus seirbhísí farantóireachta. Tá díomá ar dhaoine nach bhfuil scéimeanna fadtéarmacha ar bun do na seirbhísí sin ach go dtéann siad ó bhliain go bliain.

Níor luaigh an tAire Stáit Údarás na Gaeltachta. Bhí díospóireacht againn ar maidin faoin ábhar seo. Ba chóir go mbeadh na baill don údarás tofa ag an bpobal agus ba chóir tacaíocht a thabhairt don údarás níos mó post a fháil le gur féidir cúrsaí eacnamaíochta a neartú. Chuir mé ceist ar an Aire Stáit ar maidin maidir le méadú 8% ar an airgead don IDA, ach airgead don údarás a bheith ag ísliú. Tá an IDA ag déanamh go maith as, ach níl an t-údarás. Tá súil agam go mbeidh muid in ann Foras na Gaeilge a neartú freisin agus go mbeidh muid in ann tacaíocht a thabhairt do na heagraíochtaí Gaeilge. Chuir mé ceist freisin mar gheall ar airgead don fhoilsiúchán, An tUltach, ach ní dóigh liom gur thug an tAire Stáit freagra ar sin. Labhair sé faoin Idirlíon agus cuirim fáilte roimh aon tacaíocht d'fhoilsiúcháin ar an Idirlíon, ach ní freagra ar gach ceist é an tIdirlíon. Baineann a lán daoine taitneamh as An tUltach a léamh.

Is cóir smaoineamh a dhéanamh freisin ar an mhéid a dúirt an t-iar-choimisinéir teanga, Seán Ó Cuirreáin, nuair a d'éirigh sé as oifig. Dúirt sé nach raibh reachtaíocht ann chun seirbhís a chur ar fáil don phobal le gnó a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge. Tá seo an-tábhachtach. Nuair a tháinig Seán Ó Cuirreáin go dtí an comhchoiste sa Teach seo, labhair sé faoin straitéis agus faoin gcaoi nach raibh daoine in ann gnó a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge. Nuair a bhíomar ag caint faoin straitéis agus faoi iarracht níos mó daoine a spreagadh chun Gaeilge a labhairt dúirt sé: "It would be difficult to meet anybody who thinks the target is realisable." Bhí rudaí eile le rá aige mar gheall ar na scéimeanna teanga. An rud deireanach a dúirt sé, mar gheall ar na daoine sa Ghaeltacht ná: "Speak Irish among yourselves, but don't speak it to us." Sin rud a chur isteach air.

Mar fhocal scoir, ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh Sheachtain na Gaeilge agus an leabhrán seo a fuair gach duine sa Teach ag cur síos ar na deiseanna nua agus na hócáidí nua atá ann chun an Ghaeilge a labhairt. Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil freisin leis na scoláirí a tháinig anseo ó scoileanna éagsúla. Tagann grúpaí scoláirí go dtí comhchoiste anseo gach bliain le ceisteanna a phlé trí Ghaeilge le Seanadóirí agus Teachtaí Dála. Is maith an rud go bhfuil Seachtain na Gaeilge ar siúl mar b'fhéidir nach mbeadh seans againn díospóireacht as Gaeilge a bheith againn ach amháin sin.

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh an Aire Stáit go dtí an Teach. Fáiltím roimh na hiarrachtaí pearsanta atá á ndéanamh aige an Ghaeilge a labhairt. Ní aontaím fós leis an gcinneadh a rinneadh duine a thoghadh in aon phost go bhfuil Gaeilge riachtanach gan an cumas sa teanga a bheith acu roimh ré, ach molaim iarrachtaí pearsanta an Aire Stáit.

Caithfidh mé a rá go raibh sé mar bhunchloch sa Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge go mbeadh Aire sinsearach freagrach as an nGaeilge agus as an nGaeltacht. Rinne an Taoiseach an cinneadh sin a chealú. Cé go bhfuil Gaeilge ag an Taoiseach, ní dóigh liom go bhfuil an oiread sin tuisceana ná an oiread sin measa aige ar an teanga. Bhí ceapachán an Aire sinsearach sa Roinn seo mar cheann de na bunchinntí a rinne sé an chéad lá. Ní hamháin go ndearna sé uair amháin é - rinne sé faoi dhó é. Má théann Fianna Fáil ar ais i Rialtas, cuirtear é sin ina cheart agus déantar cinnte de go mbeidh Aire sinsearach freagrach ó thaobh cúrsaí Gaeilge ó lá go lá. Déarfaidh an tAire Stáit liom nach bhfuil aon neart aige sa chomhthéacs seo, agus go bhfuil sé chomh maith Aire Stáit agus Aire a bheith sa phost seo. Mar is eol don Aire Stáit, tá an tAire sinsearach ag bord an Rialtais nuair atá an chreach dá roinnt agus na buiséid á socrú. Tá a fhios aige nach bhfuil aon airgead curtha ar fáil ó cuireadh an Rialtas seo ar bun, in ainneoin an méid atá sa Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge.

Tá cleasaíocht ar bun, go deimhin, ó thaobh cúrsaí airgid. Deirtear liom go raibh an oiread seo airgid a bhí curtha ar fáil do phleanáil teanga bainte as ceannteidil eile Gaeilge de chuid na Roinne. Mar sin, is féidir a rá go bhfuil iarraithe ar na pobail an straitéis a chur i bhfeidhm go háitiúil trí phleananna teanga a réiteach, ach gan aon airgead ceart a bheith ar fáil acu siúd agus an t-airgead atá ann goidte ó imeachtaí eile Gaeltachta. Níl an straitéis á cur i bhfeidhm ag an Rialtas. Tá sé sin dubh agus bán d'éinne a léann an straitéis. Níl aon mhaith bheith ag iarraidh an dubh a chur ar an mbán. Is eol dúinne a bhfuil a fhios againn céard atá sa straitéis nach bhfuil aon chuid dó á cur i bhfeidhm. Tá toil ag teastáil le haghaidh cuid den straitéis agus tá airgead ag teastáil le haghaidh an chuid eile de. Níl ceachtar acu ar fáil. An dtógfadh sé mórán airgid? Dá mbeadh poll i ndíon na hiarsmalainne, agus dá mbeadh scrios á dhéanamh ar na séadchomharthaí is luachmhaire a bhfuil againn, an mbeadh €3 mhilliún nó €10 milliún ar fáil le cuí a chur air? Bheadh sé ar fáil, agus is ceart go mbeadh.

Caithfimid a thuiscint muna dhéanaimid beart láithreach, beidh Gaeilge ann go deimhin ach ní bheidh cainteoirí dúchasacha Gaeilge ón gcliabhán ar fáil i bpobail labhartha Gaeilge, ní éireoidh linn an deis atá againn pobal cearta Gaeilge a bhunú taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht a thapú ach ní bheimid in ann gréasán labhartha Gaeilge a bhunú sna cathracha agus sna bailte móra. Go deimhin féin, tá soláthar in Acht na Gaeltachta 2012, a thug an Rialtas seo isteach, a bhaineann leis na gréasáin seo. Rinne an tAire Stáit fógairt orthu. Mar is eol d'éinne a bhreathnaíonn ar an straitéis, bhí plean comhtháite le bheith ann - bhí an Stát chun airgead a chur ar fáil le haghaidh, mar shampla, naíolanna, naíonraí agus na rudaí seo ar fad. Ní féidir leis na pobail é a dhéanamh. Cén fáth go mbeadh orthu é seo ar fad a dhéanamh? Tá na hionaid phobail tábhachtach ionas go mairfidh pobal labhartha Gaeilge istigh sa chathair.

Bhí an cheart ag an Aire Stáit nuair a dúirt sé gur féidir le daoine in áit ar bith ar domhan an nuatheicneolaíocht agus na hathruithe móra atá tagtha ar an saol mar atá sé i láthair na huaire a úsáid leis an nGaeilge a labhairt. Buíochas le Dia, is féidir le daoine atá imithe ar imirce bheith i dteagmháil leis an mbaile, rud nach bhféadfaidís a dhéanamh 50 bliain ó shin. Is cinnte nach mbeidís in ann a leithéid a dhéanamh, seachas le litir, 100 bliain ó shin. Is maith an rud é gur mar sin atá anois. Caithfidh mé a rá go bhfuil áthas orm go bhfuil cúpla ag mo mhac agus an bhean atá aige san Astráil. Is í an Ghaeilge atáthar ag labhairt leo sa bhaile. Nach breá an scéal é sin? Is féidir iarracht an-mhór - iarracht dochreidte pearsanta - a dhéanamh. An gcaithfimid i gcónaí a bheith ag brath ar íobairtí daoine? An bhfuilimid sásta na moltaí a bhí sa straitéis a chur i bhfeidhm?

Nuair a chuireadh an Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge le chéile, sheachnaíomar rudaí nach bhféadfaí a dhéanamh. Chaitheamar bliain ag dul anonn is anall idir na Rannaí Stáit éagsúla. Nuair a cheadaíodh an straitéis ag deireadh na bliana 2010, i lár na géarchéime eacnamaíochta, shíl an Rialtas ag an am go raibh sé sách práinneach mar rud go gcuirfí i bhfeidhm é go hiomlán agus go gcuirfí na hacmhainní chuige sin ar fáil. Bhíomar den tuairim go raibh na páirtithe eile san Oireachtas ag an am taobhach leis an méid a bhí idir lámha againn i dtaobh na straitéise. Dúirt siad go raibh.

Ní raibh de thaithí ag an Aire Stáit go fóill ach a bheith sa Roinn Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta. Tá caiteachas an-bheag - €300 milliún nó rud éigin - ag an Roinn sin. Bheadh €4 mhilliún nó €5 mhilliún ag teastáil leis an straitéis a chur i bhfeidhm. Ní chosnódh sé aon airgead na hathruithe cuí eile a chur i bhfeidhm. Caithfear é sin a chur i gcomhthéacs. Caitheann an Stát breis is €50 billiún sa bhliain - sé sin, €1 bhilliún in aghaidh na seachtaine. Is mór an méid é €5 mhilliún don Aire Stáit. Mar a fuair mé amach, ní bheadh sé le háireamh suas ná síos sa Roinn Coimirce Sóisialaí, mar shampla. Níl aon mhaith a bheith ag rá linn an t-am ar fad, mar atá an Rialtas seo ag rá linn le ceithre bliana, go gcaithfimid fanacht go mbeidh borradh ar an eacnamaíocht. Má fhanann muid rófhada, beidh dochar nach féidir a leigheas déanta. Dá bhrí sin, ba cheart tosaíocht a thabhairt don straitéis.

Má chailltear an Ghaeilge mar theanga pobail - má chailltear an Ghaeilge dhúchasach - beidh ceann de na seoda is luachmhaire atá againn go stairiúil caillte againn. Fiú má bhreathnaímid air ó thaobh cúrsaí airgid de, is mó agus is mó spéise atá ag eachtrannaigh agus daoine a thagann anseo le haghaidh turasóireachta i gcultúr agus in oidhreacht na tíre seo. Bítear ag caint ar infheistíocht a dhéanamh i ngalf, i siúlóidí agus mar sin de, agus is maith ann iad. Rinne mé go leor den obair sin. Nuair a chuirtear ceist ar thurasóirí cén fáth go dtagann siad go hÉirinn, deir siad go dtagann siad anseo le haghaidh an chultúir agus le haghaidh na hoidhreachta. Sílim gur cheart don Rialtas cinneadh a dhéanamh, ina bhliain dheiridh agus muid ag druidim i dtreo Lá Fhéile Pádraig na bliana 2015, go gcuirfear an straitéis i bhfeidhm go hiomlán. Nuair a shocraíomar ar an straitéis, ní biachlár a bhí i gceist ach rud gur cheart a chur i bhfeidhm go hiomlán. Dá ndéanfadh an Rialtas a leithéid, bheidís ag taispeáint an omóis is fearr a d'fhéadfaidís do laochra 1916.

Iarraim chuile bhliain go ndéanfaimid iarracht gnó an Oireachtais ina iomláine a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge lá ar leith.

Níor éirigh liom go fóill agus tá mé anseo ó 2002. Tá beagáinín den obair déanta againn. Le cúpla bliain anuas, tá ceisteanna na gcinnirí den chuid is mó as Gaeilge in ainneoin nach mbíonn Gaeilge ag gach duine sa Teach. Uaireanta casann siad ar an Bhéarla agus is trua í sin. Nílimid ach ag lorg lá amháin den bhliain a mbeadh Gaeilge amháin á húsáid. Ní thuigim conas nach féidir linn gnó na dTithe seo a eagrú chun go mbeadh an méid Gaeilge atá ag gach uile Teachta sa Teach á úsáid. Ní chóir dó bheith chomh deacair sin. Muna bhfuil Gaeilge líofa acu nó muna bhfuil ach fíor-bheagán nó fiú cúpla focal acu, tá an córas ateangaireachta an-mhaith sa Teach agus tá sé ar fáil do chuile dhuine ar mian leo é a úsáid. Níl an córas ateangaireachta dírithe ar cad tá á rá agamsa as Gaeilge a aistriú go Béarla amháin. Tá an bealach eile ar fáil chomh maith. Tá sé de cheart agamsa cad tá á rá i mBéarla a chloisteáil i nGaeilge. B'fhéidir nach bhfuil ansin ach brionglóid agus go ndúiseoidh mé.

Sa deireadh thiar thall, ní fheicim go dtarlóidh sé. Mar an gcéanna, ní fheicim go mbeidh mór-obair déanta maidir le hAcht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla nó tarrtháil na Gaeilge nó na Gaeltachta i mbliain deireanach an Rialtais seo. Is mar an gcéanna a bheadh sé má bhíonn an páirtí a bhí i gceannas roimhe seo i gceannas arís. Bhí an deis ag an Aire Stáit agus ag an Rialtais le ceithre bliana anuas. Bhí a pháirtí mar chuid den Rialtas cheana féin. Bhí an deis ag chuile Rialtas ina raibh Fianna Fáil ó bunaíodh an Stát seo freisin.

Tá an Ghaeilge anois in ísle brí. An aidhm a bhí ann nuair a bunaíodh an Stát, agus b'fhéidir nach raibh sé réalaíoch, ná go mbeadh Gaeilge amháin á húsáid. Ní hé sin an aidhm inniu. Bhí Aire Gaeilge sa chéad Dáil. Ní raibh a leithéid ann ó shin. Dá bhféachfaidís siar, an chéad mhórathrú a tharla ná an t-aitheantas go raibh fadhb ann in 1965. Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil mé ag dul i bhfad siar but tiocfaidh mé ar fáth eile faoi sin. Is fada go bhfaighimid a leithéid seo de chaint in aon pháipéar dá shórt anois. Sin an méid a bhí le rá ag an Ollamh Seán Ó Coileáin agus é ag caint ar Scoil Merriman i mí Eanáir an bhliain seo. Bhí sé ag déanamh tráchta ar phíosa a bhí sa tuarascáil deiridh de Choimisiún um Athbheochan na Gaeilge. Dúradh sa tuarascáil sin:

Ós í an Ghaeilge an teanga náisiúnta dlitear tús áite a thabhairt di, agus déanfar gach dícheall chun a húsáid a leathnú agus a mhéadú. Mar sin féin, go ceann tamaill mhaith fós, is é an Béarla an teanga is mó a bheidh á húsáid taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht i ngnóthaí éagsúla.... Ní bheimis ag tabhairt aghaidh ar an bhfírinne ach oiread mura n-aithneoimis gur gá, mar gheall ar shuíomh na tíre agus ar an gcóiriú atá ar ár gcaidreamh eacnamaíoch agus sóisialach, go mbeadh eolas inniúil ar an mBéarla ag daoine, fiú amháin nuair is í an Ghaeilge is mó a bheidh á labhairt.

Sin a dúradh in 1965. Is fada uainn 1965, but is fada aon trácht eile ar athbheochan na Gaeilge. Táimid anois ag caint faoi tarrtháil na Gaeilge agus na Gaeltachta. In 2007, deineadh tuairisc teangeolaíochta. Luaigh an staidéar sin nach raibh ach 20 bliain fágtha chun an Ghaeilge a tharrtháil sa Ghaeltacht mar theanga labhartha chuile lá. Ní aontaím go huile is go hiomlán nach raibh ach 20 bliain againn. Foilsíodh an tuairisc sin seacht mbliana ó shin. Tháinig an straitéis 20 bliain i bhfeidhm in 2010. Sin cúig bliana ó shin, bhuel, ceithre go leith bliana ó shin. Fós, níl spriocdhátaí ann. Níl acmhainní ann. Níl deifir nó fuadar faoin Státchóras nó faoin Rialtas chun an Ghaeilge agus an Ghaeltacht a tharrtháil. Ní gá ach féachtaint conas mar a chaith siad leis an athbhreithniú ar Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla. Tá obair mhaith déanta ach níl aon deifir faoi. Fógraíodh an t-athbhreithniú sin i mí na Samhna 2011. Anois, i mí an Mhárta 2015, níl fiú bliain fágtha ag an Rialtas agus níl tada déanta de réir sin. Caithfear an t-airgead a chur ar leathtaobh. Caithfidh na maoinithe a bheith tugtha. Caithfidh na hacmhainní a bheith tugtha, mar ní gá i gcónaí airgead a bheith i gceist. Caithfidh meon an Státchórais a athrú mar tá an Ghaeilge agus an Ghaeltacht i mbaol. Ní hé nach bhfuil gníomhairí ann. Ní hé nach bhfuil daoine ann le grá don Ghaeilge agus don Ghaeltacht. Táimid ann, but ní féidir linn é a dhéanamh as ár stuaim fhéin.

Ní féidir linn é a dhéanamh má tá an Státchóras drogallach. Ba léir é sin domsa, thar na blianta, ó thosaigh mé ag caint. Bhí mise beagánín mall chun cainte i nGaeilge agus i mBéarla. Thosaigh mé ag caint nuair a bhí mé trí bliana d'aois. Deirtear nár stop mé ó shin. An fhadhb ná nach raibh an Státchóras ann chun cuidiú iomlán a thabhairt dom. Gach uile áit a chuaigh mé, is ag troid ar son cearta teanga a bhíos nó a bhí mo chlann. Tá pobal bríomhar ann. Tá daoine bríomhaire ann agus tá siadsan sásta an troid a dhéanamh ar son na teanga, ach ní chóir go mbeadh siad ag troid ag an staid seo. Tá an oiread sin acmhainní ann anois ó thaobh na nua-theicneolaíochta de nó fiú caiteachas an Stáit gur féidir é sin a mhúnlú agus a athrú go dtabharfadh sé an chosaint sin dúinn.

Is féidir linn féachaint ar thíortha eile a dhein tarrtháil ar a dteangacha. Is tíortha iad seo ar éirigh leo teanga a athbheochan ó thús i gcásanna áirithe. Fiú is féidir linn díriú ar an méid a bhfuil ag tarlú sna Sé Chontae. Is áit í seo a bhfuil an Ghaeilge ag teacht chun cinn in ainneoin an Státchórais agus in ainneoin dreamanna atá ina choinne go huile is go hiomlán. Ba chóir go mbeadh i bhfad níos mó déanta in Éirinn agus ba chóir dúinn iomlán tacaíocht a thabhairt dóibh. Ba chóir dúinn glacadh leis an sampla atá ar fáil acusan. Níl gach rud in ísle brí.

Ceann de na príomhghnéithe gur féidir leis an Stát díriú ná go bhfuil níos mó daoine ag freastal ar Ghaelscoileanna agus Ghaelcholáistí, ach is lastigh den Ghalltacht nó san breac-Ghaeltacht an chuid is mó dóibh san. Sa Ghaeltacht, tá líon na ndaltaí scoile atá ag freastal ar scoileanna lán-Ghaeilge, idir bhunscoileanna nó an naíscoileanna agus meánscoileanna, ag íslú.

Ó thaobh na hollscoileanna de, níl aon mhórfhás tar éis teacht ar sin. Má tá an deis ag an Aire Stáit, iarraim air féachaint ar an méid a bhí le rá ag an Ollamh Seán Ó Colleáin san eagrán Feasta na míosa seo faoi an tslí ina bhfuil na hollscoileanna ag caitheamh leis an nGaeilge le blianta anuas. Ní ar leasa na Gaeilge atá siad ag obair. Don chuid is mó díobh, is cuma sa tsioc leo. B'fhearr leo go mbeadh an Ghaeilge gafa i roinn folklore nó a leithéid agus curtha ar leathtaobh mar ní thuileann sí airgead dóibh. Sin an fhadhb is mó ó thaobh ollscoileanna de. Tá siad ar fad dírithe ar conas is féidir leo airgead a thuilleamh toisc nach bhfuil siad maoinithe i gceart ag an Státchóras. Caithfidh athrú teacht ar an réimse sin maraon le gach uile réimse agus gach uile Rannóg Stáit. Caithfidh athrú meoin a bheith ann sna Rannóga Stáit, go huile is go hiomlán. Foilsíodh Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla in 2003. Ní raibh mé cinnte faoin Acht seo.

Dúirt mé nach n-éireodh leis, nach ndéanfadh an Státseirbhís an cur chuige ceart, agus nach mbeadh na pleananna nó na scéimeanna teanga go léir curtha faoinár mbráid. Bhí an ceart agam. Toisc nár chloígh siad le hAcht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla, tá siadsan ag cur brú ar an Aire agus ar an Rialtas seo maolú a dhéanamh, seachas a bheith sásta cur leis an méid dualgas agus spriocanna atáimid sásta glacadh leo. Níor chloígh an Státchóras ná na comhlachtaí pobail leis an dlí mar a bhí sé agus anois tá an cuma ar an scéal go bhfuil an Rialtas ag smaoineamh ar mhaolú a dhéanamh nuair a fheicimid Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla eile. Ní bheidh mise nó mo pháirtí sásta le haon mhaolú agus má tharlaíonn sé sin beimid ag cur go huile agus go hiomlán i gcoinne sin. Ba chóir go mbeidís ag déanamh cinnte go bhfuil sé níos daingne. Ní hamháin go bhfuil sé de cheart ag gach duine sa Ghaeltacht déileáil leis an Státseirbhís as Gaeilge. Ba chóir go mbeadh sé uathoibreach domsa nó d'éinne eile é sin a dhéanamh. Níl sé éasca agus déantar níos deacra é.

Ba chóir chomh maith, agus luaigh mé é seo thar na blianta, go mbeadh sé de dhualgas ar an Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna éileamh a chothú do Ghaelscoileanna agus do Ghaelcholáistí. Muna dtarlaíonn sé sin, beidh siad ag brath ar éileamh atá cruthaithe ag tuismitheoirí agus mar gheall ar na rialacha nua maidir le bunscoileanna, ní bheifear in ann Gaelscoileanna nua a chothú amach anseo. Ba chóir go mbeimis ag dul i dtreo difriúil mar feicimid cheana féin sa daonáireamh chuile bhliain go bhfuil líon breise Gaeilgeoirí sa Stát. Is é an dúshlán domsa agus don Rialtas ná iad siúd a mholadh agus a mhealladh, sa chaoi go mbeidh siad ag úsáid na Gaeilge sin de shíor mar braitheann sástacht na ndaoine, agus na Státseirbhíse bogadh sa treo eile, ar an méid a úsáidtear an teanga.

Is trua liom go ndearna Rialtais thar na blianta a bhí Fine Gael agus Páirtí an Lucht Oibre gafa leo athruithe áirithe maidir le seasamh na Gaeilge sa Státseirbhís. Tá sé sin fós ag tarlú, mar shampla trí na marcanna breise a bhí ar fáil don líofacht sa Ghaeilge sa phróiseas earcaíochta den Státseirbhís a bhaint. Sna 1970í fuarthas réidh leis an riachtanas dhá phas a fháil chun an ardteistiméireacht a fháil. Ní raibh gá ann é sin a dhéanamh. Cuireadh deireadh freisin leis an ngá Gaeilge a bheith ag duine chun post a fháil sa Státseirbhís. Ba chosaintí iad sin ar fad agus bhí siad ann toisc, ó bhunú an Stáit agus roimhe sin, tuigeadh go raibh gá ann go mbeadh Gaeilgeoirí sa Státseirbhís. Fiú leis na spriocanna atá leagtha amach, ní thiocfaidh aon fhás ar líon na nGaeilgeoirí sa Státseirbhís ar an slí go mba chóir go mbeadh sé. Ba chóir go mbeadh 25% ann ar a laghad. Ní tharlóidh sé sin thar oíche. Caithfear é a mhaoiniú ach caithfear riachtanais a bheith ann freisin agus tá an cuma ar an scéal nach bhfuil an Rialtas sásta go mbeadh riachtanais teanga ann amach anseo.

Is é an cáineadh is mó a rinneadh ar an Rialtas seo ná nuair a d'éirigh an Coimisinéir Teanga as a phost anuraidh. Ní cáineadh díreach ar an Aire Stáit nó ar a Rialtas a bhí ann, ach cáineadh ar Rialtais roimhe sin. Bhí sé tinn tuirseach den slí a bhí an Státchóras ag caitheamh leis agus leis an nGaeilge. Shíl sé nach raibh sé in ann aon rud eile a dhéanamh toisc nach raibh sé ag fáil tacaíochta ón Rialtas nó nach raibh sé ag fáil tacaíochta reachtúla chun a dhualgais a chomhlíonadh. Is gá é sin a athrú go hiomlán mar beimid ar ais anseo chuile bhliain agus beidh mé ag cáineadh an Rialtais seo nó na Státseirbhíse go deo na ndeor mura dtagann brostú faoin tarrtháil atá ag teastáil agus ansin nuair atá an tarrtháil déanta go gcasfaimid athuair ar athbheochan ó athréimiú na Gaeilge.

An méid atá le rá agam inniu, tá sé ráite agam cheana, an bhliain seo caite agus an bhliain roimhe sin agus an bhliain roimhe sin arís. Is í an fhadhb atá ann ná nach bhfuil aon fheabhas tagtha ar an ábhar seo. Dúras ansin go mbeadh sé i bhfad níos fearr dá mbeadh níos mó ná lá againn i rith Seachtain na Gaeilge, go mbeadh níos mó iarrachta á dhéanamh againn i rith na bliana maidir leis an nGaeilge. Dúras freisin gur theip ar gach Rialtas ó bhunú an Stáit maidir le cúrsaí Gaeilge agus inniu ní labhraíonn ach mionlach sa tír seo Gaeilge.

Rud eile a dúirt mé, dá mba rud é go bhfuilimid i ndáiríre maidir leis an nGaeilge, ba cheart dúinn tosú le cúrsaí oideachais. Ba chóir go mbeadh gach bunscoil ina Gaelscoil i gcomhair trí nó ceithre bliana ar a laghad agus ansin bheadh gach dalta scoile in ann labhairt as Gaeilge. Tá sé soiléir go bhfuil fadhbanna móra sna scoileanna. Tá a fhios againn nach bhfuil a lán daoine in ann Gaeilge a labhairt tar éis ar a laghad ocht mbliana sa bhunscoil agus trí bliana sa mheánscoil, fiú na daltaí a dhéanann an cúrsa ardleibhéil Gaeilge san ardteistiméaracht. Ba cheart go mbeadh líofacht acu go léir sa Ghaeilge ach níl. Tá jab sármhaith á dhéanamh ag na Gaelscoileanna, na cinn atá lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht ach go háirithe.

Tá fadhb eile sna scoileanna toisc nach bhfuil grá ag go leor daltaí don Ghaeilge. Tá sé tábhachtach go mbeadh suim sa Ghaeilge agus grá di ag daltaí i scoileanna lán-Bhéarla. Caithfidh ranganna Gaeilge a bheith beomhar, cultúrtha agus praicticiúil. Muna bhfuil suim ag daoine sa Ghaeilge agus muna bhfuil grá acu di, ní fiú an páipéar ar a bhfuil an straitéis sin scríofa. Táimid ag brath ar an nGaeltacht, ar na hoileáin sa Ghaeltacht agus ar na Gaelscoileanna chun an obair a dhéanamh agus n'fheadair an bhfuilimid ag tabhairt dhóthain tacaíochta don obair atá á déanamh acu.

Uaireanta ceapaim nach bhfuil meas ag daoine atá líofa sa Ghaeilge ar na daoine a bhfuil ag iarraidh Gaeilge a labhairt. Níl na daoine sin líofa ach tá grá acu don Ghaeilge agus bíonn siad ag déanamh a ndíchill Gaeilge a labhairt agus úsáid a bhaint as na focail atá acu, cosúil liomsa. Bhí an t-ádh liom go raibh múinteoirí maithe agam sa mheánscoil. Bhí grá acu don Ghaeilge agus is dócha gur cainteoirí dúchais a bhí iontu. Spreag siad grá don teanga ionam agus i mo chairde. Ba mheánscoil trí Bhéarla a bhí inti ach toisc go raibh grá againn don Ghaeilge, bhíomar ag caint as Gaeilge cuid mhaith den am. Roimh an Drochshaol bhí 7 milliún daoine ann a labhair Gaeilge mar a gcéad teanga gach lá. Tá níos lú ná 20,000 duine á húsáid sa lá atá inniu ann.

Dúirt an tAire Stáit go raibh an tseachtain seo fíorthábhachtach nuair a bhí sé ag caint ach má tá sé chomh tábhachtach sin, cén fáth nach bhfuil níos mó rudaí ar siúl sa Dáil? Níl ach cúpla uair a chloig i gcomhar na Gaeilge i rith na seachtaine. Tá níos mó rudaí ar siúl lasmuigh den Oireachtas. Caithfidh mé a admháil nár aontaigh mé le cad a tharla ar maidin leis an Teachta de Bhailís. Dúirt sé nach raibh Gaeilge aige. Tá a lán daoine sa tír seo atá cosúil leis agus nach bhfuil Gaeilge acu i ndiaidh an 13 bliain sa bhunscoil agus sa mheánscoil. Dúirt sé é sin ach lean an Taoiseach ar aghaidh ag freagairt as Gaeilge. Bhí ceist thábhachtach ag an Teachta agus ba chóir go mbeadh níos mó tuisceana ag an Taoiseach le haghaidh daoine nach bhfuil Gaeilge acu. Tá a fhios againn go bhfuil Gaeilge líofa ag an Taoiseach.

Is teanga álainn í an Ghaeilge, a litríocht, a filíocht agus a ceol. Tá obair iontach á déanamh go háirithe ag TG4, Raidió na Gaeltachta agus Raidió na Life i mBaile Átha Cliath. Tá a lán rudaí suimiúla sa straitéis ach cá bhfuil sí ag dul? Níl sé ró-dhéanach an teanga a shábháil ach aontaím go bhfuil easpa deifre ann leis an obair seo.

I wish to share time with Deputy Tom Fleming.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

I wanted to speak in this debate because I believe it is an important one that comes up once a year. I am not a fluent Irish speaker; I am not even an Irish speaker. Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Maureen O'Sullivan raised many interesting points about where the Irish language is going. To my mind, unless a language is a living language, and unless it is nearly the primary language in a country, it is very hard to hold on to that language as a cultural and traditional language. I fully commend people who speak fluent Irish, those who teach it, those who love it and those who live their daily lives through the language. However, the reality is it is not the primary language of Ireland. There is a population of 4.5 million, yet the aim is to increase the number who speak Irish daily outside the education system from 83,000 to 250,000 in 20 years. I cannot see the practicality of that in the way we are implementing this at the moment.

An issue raised by Deputy Ó Snodaigh is how we make it become part of the workplace, part of the Civil Service, part of the education system and part of family life and general life so that we need to learn it. I would love to be able to speak French as I visit France quite regularly. However, the only way for a person to learn it is to force themselves to speak and actually engage in it. Other than that, a person is not going to learn it. There has to be a recognition of this by the Government and future Governments.

We must ask whether there is a basis for putting huge resources into the language. Is it the case that economic issues will become predominant and it will not be needed? For example, the multinationals and the Civil Service might not see the need for Irish in the workplace. When I came through education, we got the blackboard with Máire and the madra, and so on. I am not sure whether it has come on much from there, although there is probably more engagement in the classroom now. However, we would need to have a real injection of the type of radical measures Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan spoke about, such as schooling being through Irish for the first three years and Irish being spoken in crèches. That would mean huge investment and mean that teachers and crèche workers would all have to be able to speak fluent Irish. I do not know that the Government is willing to put that type of money into this.

There is a huge question around the language. If the position stays as it is, it will not be any sort of a living language, even in some of the Gaeltacht areas. This is because these areas will be highly influenced by the economic influences from elsewhere, as well as by the practical point that people have to converse in English in industry, economics, trade and so on.

In my remaining time, I want to focus on the subject of Irish Sign Language, ISL, which has not had much mention in the debate. We know the Irish Sign Language Bill was debated in the Seanad in 2013 but it did not go through. This involves a small cohort of people, with 5,000 deaf people and up to 40,000 others using it daily. The situation to date is that no deaf child can fully learn Irish Sign Language as not all teachers are fluent or qualified in it. I raise this issue because, if we are not going to deal with Irish as a language, we are certainly not going to be able to deal with Irish Sign Language. The programme for Government stated: "We will examine different mechanisms to promote the recognition of Irish Sign Language." In the National Disability Strategy Implementation Plan 2013-15, there are only two references to sign language and only four references to deafness.

The question is what the Government is doing about Irish Sign Language. If it will not do anything for the Irish language, what will it do in a practical way to get Irish Sign Language onto the agenda again? Will it bring in a Bill to recognise Irish Sign Language? Will it introduce the structures that are needed in the schools, such as teachers and other supports that are needed for people to converse in Irish Sign Language?

This involves a group of people who are very cut off. The practical chances of them getting jobs within the community are insignificant when compared with the chances of others. Are we going to leave this group aside and say we are putting nothing into this? Only 8% of those who use Irish Sign Language are fully conversant in it. How are we going to address this? I have not heard anything to date that will even go near to dealing with this. I would like an answer in this regard.

I believe Government policies since the foundation of the State, rather than strengthening the Irish language, have left it to drift and then plummet downwards. Following our independence, our language was in a fairly healthy state. The oral tradition in non-Gaeltacht areas was still strong in the early 20th century. The older generation had a reasonable command of the language and it was actively spoken in homes and communities, and was still regarded at that time as being our official language. However, the economic climate before and after the Second World War left us in dire straits and it did not help matters that there was forced emigration. Even during the war years, a huge number of labourers and carpenters from rural Ireland were trying to maintain Britain, London in particular. There was a huge exodus of the younger generation. That led to a mindset whereby the Irish language was not seen as being of much use. There was no other option but to get out of the country because there were no possibilities here given the knock-on effects of the war. Therefore, people felt it was futile to foster the language in homes and communities.

At that time, people felt their livelihood would have to be made abroad. I believe we are in a similar mindset today given thousands of our younger generation are exiled. A certain amount of that is what we would call forced emigration, and it is again giving a negative view of the Irish language as being of no use to those perhaps going to the Continent or further abroad.

In the previous century, the Irish language was only taken seriously at national school level by those going on to second and third level, where there was a need to enhance their progress, especially for Civil Service jobs. It was a necessity for those striving to undertake further education but, outside of this cohort, there was huge negativity and apathy towards the language. In many cases, people were not going to carry on beyond primary school education or beyond second year of secondary level. The introduction of free secondary education gave a mild boost and was a help. There was a compulsory aspect if a person wanted to carry on to third level to get the job they desired, and that was also some help in fostering the language.

We can learn from the Welsh experience. There is a huge revival of the Welsh language which has been achieved through active engagement in the community and also through co-ordination with the school system. We should look at the model they have developed there because the Minister of State might be able to make that model work in the Irish system. We can certainly take a good example from that.

I compliment the Minister of State on developing his language ability.

The Minister of State would have performed excellently in another Department, as well as if not better than he is doing currently. In regard to matters pertaining to Gaeltacht areas, I believe proficiency in the language is essential. The Minister of State is certainly getting towards that now.

The approach taken shows the Government attitude. The Irish Language Commissioner resigned recently and we are not meeting the 3% target of proficiency in the public service. The Government commitment is lacking and needs to be re-examined.

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh an Aire Stáit, an Teachta McHugh, agus ba mhaith liom a rá go bhfuil sé ag saothrú go díograiseach ar son na teanga. Tréaslaím leis as an dea-obair sin.

Tá áthas orm a bheith ábalta páirt a ghlacadh sa díospóireacht thábhachtach seo. Tá an straitéis don Ghaeilge bunaithe ar thuairimí gach páirtí san Oireachtas. Is í an chéad aidhm atá ag an straitéis ná an méid daoine a úsáideann an Ghaeilge de gnáth a ardú, ó 83,000 go 250,000; an méid daoine a labhraíonn Gaeilge sna Gaeltachtaí a ardú 25%; agus na daoine a úsáideann seirbhísí trí mheán na Gaeilge a ardú. Sa gcomhthéacs sin, ba mhaith liom a rá go bhfuil Teilifís na Gaeilge agus Raidió na Gaeltachta ag déanamh sár iarrachta agus ag cur clár den chéad scoth ar fáil. Molaim sin.

Ba mhaith liom cúpla focal a rá faoi chúrsaí oideachais agus an Ghaeilge. Fuair cigirí na Gaeilge amach go múintear Gaeilge trí mheán an Bhéarla i 33% de bhunscoileanna. Tá sé tábhachtach é sin a athrú agus cúrsaí inseirbhíse a chur ar fáil do mhúinteoirí chun go mbeidh muinín acu astu féin ag úsáid na Gaeilge an t-am ar fad. I Meán Fómhair 2016, beidh curaclam nua do na ranganna sóisearacha againn. Tá méadú ó 20% go 40% ar an mhéid marcanna don bhéal scrúdú sna meánscoileanna do scrúdú an teastais shóisearaigh. Tá cuid mhaith scoileanna agus micléinn ag baint triail as an áis seo agus is fiú sin.

Tá sé tábhachtach an ceangal idir an Ghaeltacht agus na coláistí oiliúna a choimeád. Ba chóir go mbeadh sé riachtanach d'ábhair oidí níos mó tréimhsí a chaitheamh sa Ghaeltacht, ionas go bhfaighidís grá, spreagadh agus líofacht sa teanga. Go ginearálta, caithfimid béim mhór a chur ar thréimhse a chaitheamh sa Ghaeltacht. Téann mo chlann féin ann agus baineann siad sult as an gcuairt. Is fiú go mór sin a dhéanamh. Caithfimid na deontais a choimeád chun go mbeidh gach dalta ábalta dul ann. Ba chóir go ndéanfaí iarracht sna scoileanna mic léinn a mhealladh go dtí na Gaeltachtaí. B'fhéidir gur fiú teastais nó marcanna breise a úsáid chun iad a mhealladh ann. Níl aon rud níos éifeachtaí maidir le hathbheocan na teanga ná tréimhse a chaitheamh sa Ghaeltacht.

Tá Teilifís na Gaeilge ag déanamh jab iontach agus ba chóir leanúint ar aghaidh le tacaíocht don stáisiún. Tá éagsúlacht sna cláir a bhíonn ar siúl. Ba mhaith liom go mbeadh clár amháin sa seachtain ar gach raidió áitiúil trí Ghaeilge agus go mbeadh ár gcultúr agus ár dteanga mar ábhar lárnach ag an gclár sin. B'fhéidir gur cóir deontais a thabhairt do stáisiúin áitiúla chun seo a dhéanamh. Ba mhaith liom mo stáisiún áitiúil féin, Northern Sound, a mholadh, mar rinne sé iarracht seo a dhéanamh ó thosaigh sé. An rud is tábhachtaí ná go mbeidh meas agus grá don teanga i measc an phobail uilig. Sílim go bhfuil feabhas tagtha ar sin, ach caithfimid iarracht bhreise a dhéanamh. Molaim don Aire Stáit an cheist seo a scrúdú, go háirithe i gcomhthéacs chomóradh Éirí Amach 1916. Sílim gur fiú béim a chur ar an Ghaeilge agus ar an teanga labhartha ar an ócáid sin agus an seans sin a úsáid.

Ba mhaith liom tréaslú le Foras na Gaeilge agus le hÉamonn Ó hArgáin as an sár obair a dhéanann siad. Tréaslaím chomh maith le Conradh na Gaeilge, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann agus Cumann Lúthchleas Gael as an obair a dhéanann siad freisin. Tá na heagrais seo ag déanamh sár obair agus molaim don Aire Stáit obair leo chun an Ghaeilge a fhorbairt. Tá tionchar acu agus dlúthcheangal acu le tromlach mhuintir na tíre. Tá an-mheas agam ar obair an tSeanadóir Labhrás Ó Murchú as an obair a dhéanann sé don chultúr agus don teanga. Is cúis áthais agus bróid dom go bhfuil mo sheanchara agus comharsa, Aogán Ó Fearghaíl, ina uachtarán nua ar Chumann Lúthchleas Gael. Tá an-mheas agus grá aige don teanga agus d'oidreacht agus do chultúr na tíre. Cabhróidh sé go mór leis an teanga sna blianta atá le teacht. Mar fhocal scoir, má oibríonn muid le chéile cosúil le meitheal, beidh torthaí iontach againn.

With the Chair's permission, I will now make some comments in English as my political assistant has insisted I do so in order to get our message out. I have great admiration for the work the Minister of State is doing, for how he has hit the ground running and for how genuinely passionate he is about our language and culture. I wish him well with his efforts in that regard.

I made the point that we should have a weekly programme in Irish on every local radio station, with an emphasis on our culture. I suggest to the Minister of State that he should look into organising and supporting this initiative financially. Perhaps he could sponsor it to ensure it happens. I congratulate my local station, Northern Sound, which has from its inception attempted to run a successful Irish programme every week. It is vital we have this type of programme on local radio stations throughout the country.

I also pointed out that it is important we put a significant emphasis on going to the Gaeltacht, both for trainee teachers and school students. In the case of teacher education, trainee teachers should have to spend mandatory periods in the Gaeltacht and this should be supported and encouraged by the Department. Anybody who intends to teach Irish in either primary or secondary schools should have had significant immersion in our living Gaeltachts. I urge the Minister of State to work with the Minister for Education and Skills and teacher training colleges to ensure this happens. This immersion is vital. It is also important that young secondary school students spend time in the Gaeltacht on a regular basis. My own sons have done this with great effect. Spending time in the Gaeltacht is important and I commend this practice to the Minister of State. This will involve support for the mná tí, the women who take these students into their homes. The Department must offer support to make it financially attractive for mná tí to take in these students and to make it possible for children across the country to go to the Gaeltacht.

I suggest the Minister of State should, in conjunction with the Minister for Education and Skills, consider some form of certification or extra marks for students who attend the Gaeltacht. There should be recognition and support for them to encourage the take-up of such a scheme. A child who goes to the Gaeltacht will have and never lose a love of Irish and will retain a sense of his heritage and culture. There is no substitute for that. This cannot be simulated in a city classroom elsewhere in Ireland.

I made the point that we have wonderful organisations in this country that work for our culture and heritage, for example, the GAA. I am proud my neighbour, Aogán Ó Fearghaíl, has become president of the GAA as he has a great love for the Irish language. We also have Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, through which Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú and the people working with him do excellent work. We also have Conradh na Gaeilge. These are all voluntary bodies.

There is more potential to propagate the language through those voluntary bodies. They have language officers etc. We should look to strengthen that because they have access to people in recreational conditions, which is very important.

There should be more in-service for teachers who have difficulty teaching Irish, particularly at primary level and through the medium of Irish. In two thirds of classrooms, teachers teach through Irish but in the third where they do not, it is not that teachers do not appreciate the importance but rather that they are not confident or fluent enough to do it. They need support through in-service and Gaeltacht opportunities. That question needs to be addressed.

Respect for the language is growing and we should all work together as a meitheal or team. We must include the voluntary sector, Ministers, State agencies and people in education, and in doing so we can do much in the coming years. We should not consider this as a job that cannot be done, as we can succeed if we have the heart and will to do it.

I am sorry I have to speak in English but I am probably representing the majority of the population, who do not have sufficient confidence and ability to speak in Irish. In Stratéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge, there are many very high-minded aims and ambitious targets to increase the use of the Irish language but we must be extremely sober as well. The document states that Ireland is a bilingual State, as it is, but the majority of people like me have emerged through an education system without being able to speak it with confidence.

Some 3% of the population uses Irish as the main language of household and community, with 42% having a certain ability to speak Irish. I would even question how much of an ability exists in that 42%, and I am sure the use of the language varies widely. This leaves 55% of people in this country who do not have the ability to speak Irish. Despite this, there is much goodwill towards the Irish language. Survey after survey indicates that people feel the language is very important for the country and personally. The aim of the strategy is to increase the number of people with knowledge of Irish from 1.6 million to 2 million and the number of daily speakers of Irish from 83,000 to 250,000, multiplying the current figure by three. These are massively ambitious targets but I am sorry I do not see any sign that this can be achieved. Frankly, it is a pipe dream, unless radical steps are taken. Among these radical measures would be a major investment of funds required to make this happen, as well as an end to austerity, which is killing the Gaeltacht very slowly.

The aim in Gaeltacht areas and among bilingual or native Irish speakers is to increase numbers of people speaking Irish on a daily basis by 25%. The Gaeltacht is being slowly murdered through mass emigration, which has been an historic problem but which under the current and previous Administrations, has become a severe problem. There is also mass migration of young people from Gaeltacht areas to the cities, with an ongoing failure to create jobs that would sustain communities in Irish-speaking areas. The effects can be seen in the traditional industries of fishing and agriculture. I am on the environment committee and we saw how a traditional pastime that allowed Gaeltacht families boost their income, working with seaweed, was taken when Údarás na Gaeltachta handed the rights to the product to a multinational company. That speaks volumes of this Government's commitment to maintain jobs and livelihoods in Gaeltacht areas. Even public sector jobs have been decimated in the Gaeltacht, and it is shameful for the Government to turn around and argue that it wants to encourage the Irish language.

What about the use of Irish in the general population not in Gaeltacht areas? Page 7 of the document indicates the aim of creating positive circumstances for greater use so that people can have the ability and the opportunities to use Irish. I would certainly welcome this but a previous speaker hit on an issue that is a major bugbear of mine. Why is going to the Gaeltacht currently the preserve of the middle class? Before coming here, I checked the price of sending a child to a Gaeltacht for a week, which is €240 for one of the Donegal schools. Students would have to go for much longer than a week really to come into contact with Irish as a living, spoken language in everyday life. It is essential for this to be part and parcel of the education system if we really want to encourage and develop Irish. That would involve the Government giving grants to working class students in order to go to the Gaeltacht, or alternatively making it free and part of the education system. That would take it from the hands of the well-heeled, who have the funds to send their children to the Gaeltacht schools.

There has been ongoing gutting of education in the past seven years which was begun by the previous Government. The result is that classes have become much bigger, with a larger pupil-teacher ratio. A number of supports have been taken from education. Smaller classes are absolutely vital to encourage more people to use Irish as a spoken language. One of the aims of the document is for the oral component of Irish to be 40%, with certification and marking reflecting that. We would want very small classes to be able to do that, and in many classrooms in the country, there are 30, 31 or even 32 students per teacher.

One of the findings of the surveys was that 25% of teachers feel they have less confidence in their ability to teach Irish. A previous speaker called for much more training of teachers and visits to the Gaeltacht but there is no money for that in the strategy document. I struggle to see how it will be possible to increase the number of Irish speakers by 300% without any funding going in. It has been mentioned that partial immersion would become the norm in schools. As well as Irish being spoken during the Irish lesson portion of the school day, other subjects would also incorporate Irish language. That would also require much investment in education, including funding for existing and additional teachers.

Will the Government provide free classes around the country for adults who would like to learn Irish? Many people passed through a system that was rural-oriented. We all know that poor Peig is being blamed for many of the ills in Irish education, although I am not suggesting it. I went through school in an urban environment and the curriculum, because of its history, was rural-based and seemed quite irrelevant and outdated for many students. We know there was an emphasis not so much on oral skills but on written language and grammar etc. Many adults would like to go back and they would be more encouraged to help their children, and we would also need free classes.

Investment is not just needed in the public sector: what will happen within the private sector? This Government and previous Administrations with a neoliberal mindset have always gone on about the private sector but has the Minister of State insisted that banks and other agencies should be able to provide a bilingual service for customers? What is being put in place in that regard?

I have much goodwill for the Irish language and I would like to see it developed, maintained and encouraged as outlined in the document. I do not have much hope, based on the fact that the Government has not outlined how it will provide the major inputs needed for the education system.

It is critical that we give young people an opportunity to go to the Gaeltacht because that is the only way Irish can seem relevant to their daily lives. An effort needs to be made to ensure going to the Gaeltacht is not just the preserve of the privileged, but is a right for every young person in this country. Accessing one's heritage, language and culture should not be the preserve of the middle class and the wealthy in this country.

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh an Aire Stáit, an Teachta McHugh. Déanaim comhghairdeas leis as ucht an dul chun cinn atá déanta aige lena chuid Gaeilge. Tá an bheirt againn ag foghlaim. Tá sé deacair dúinne nár tógadh le Gaeilge sa bhaile an teanga a labhairt chuile lá. Tá a lán daoine cosúil linn sa tír.

Tá áthas orm cúpla focal a rá maidir leis an dul chun cinn ata á dhéanamh leis an Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge. Tá muid i mbliain a cúig den straitéis. Mar a deirtear, tá a lán déanta agus níos mó le déanamh. Nuair a d'fhoilsigh an t-iar-Rialtas an straitéis, bhí an tír briste agus bhí an Ciste Airgeadaíochta Idirnáisiúnta inár measc. Anois, tá an tír ar an mbealach ar ais, a bhuíochas den Rialtas agus go mórmhór de mhuintir na hÉireann. Tá feabhas ag teacht ar eacnamaíocht na tíre. Tá níos mó airgid ag an Rialtas chun an straitéis a chur i bhfeidhm. Caithfimid é sin a dhéanamh.

Tá dul chun cinn á dhéanamh ó thaobh na bpleananna teanga faoin Acht teangan. Tá na ceantair ag ullmhú na bpleananna áitiúla, ag leagan amach an chaoi ina bhfuil an teanga á cur chun tosaigh acu agus ag míniú na bpleananna atá acu chun a gceantair a láidriú. Tá sé de dhualgas ar gach ceantar fanacht laistigh den Ghaeltacht. Ní ar an Rialtas atá an dualgas, ach ar an bpobal. Is é sin an fáth go bhfuil na ceantair ag ullmhú na bpleananna de réir an Achta. Mar a dúirt mé ag an gcomhdháil cearta a d'eagraigh Conradh na Gaeilge i lár mí Feabhra, agus mar atá ráite agam leis an Aire Stáit, tá an cuóta de 6% atá leagtha síos d'earcaíocht sa tseirbhís phoiblí i bplean an Rialtais ró-íseal. Tá an moratóir i bhfeidhm ar feadh tamaill anois. Seachas earcaíocht san earnáil phoiblí, mar shampla, múinteoirí, gardaí agus réimsí spriocdhírithe eile, níl aon ardú suntasach déanta sa tseirbhís phoiblí. Beidh sé sin ag athrú sna blianta amach romhainn. B'fhearr liom cuóta níos airde, mar go dteastaíonn sé chun an difríocht atá á teastáil a dhéanamh.

In aon fheachtas earcaíochta, mar shampla in áiteanna Gaeltachta ar nós Gaillimh, ba chóir go mbeadh sé riachtanach go mbeadh cuóta earcaíochta níos airde i dtaobh Gaeilgeoirí laistigh de na húdaráis áitiúla, an tseirbhís sláinte, srl. Níl aon spriocanna ar leith i nGaillimh i dtéarmaí líon an phearsanra i seachadadh seirbhísí. Bíonn rudaí níos deacra nuair a chailltear daoine a bhfuil Gaeilge acu, de réir príomhfheidhmeannach Chomhairle Chontae na Gaillimhe. Dúirt sé go mbeadh fáilte aige roimh fheachtas earcaíochta poiblí. Mar is eol do dhaoine, tá an moratóir ann le tamall fada. Tá níos mó daoine le Gaeilge agus gan Ghaeilge ag teastáil sa tseirbhís poiblí. Tá sé ráite ag an Aire Dlí agus Cirt agus Comhionannais, bunaithe ar eolas ón Garda Síochána, go bhfuil 10% do na hearcaigh nua sa Gharda Síochána líofa sa Ghaeilge. Tá sé i gceist go mbeidh na gardaí sin ag obair sa Ghaeltacht ar feadh tréimhse, mar atá leagtha síos ag Coimisinéir na nGardaí.

Is oth liom a rá go bhfuil daoine sa tír seo atá in aghaidh na teanga náisiúnta. Tá daoine sa Státseirbhís agus b'fhéidir sa pholaitíocht a bheadh níos sásta gan an Ghaeilge a bheith againn sa tír seo. B'fhéidir go gceapann siad go mbeadh saol níos éasca acu gan an teanga. Is é sin an fáth go dteastaíonn an straitéis uainn. Tá sé tábhachtach go bhfuil aidhmeanna leagtha síos agus go bhfuil ar an Rialtas glacadh leo. Tá breis airgid ag teastáil chun cuid de na spriocanna atá leagtha síos sna pleananna a bhaint amach. I gcásanna eile, tá athrú ar pholasaí an Rialtais nó polasaí na Státseirbhíse de dhíth.

Tá seans againn poist nua a chruthú ó thaobh sheirbhísí aistriúcháin san Eoraip. Tá maolú ann ón am a rinneadh an cinneadh chun aitheantas a thabhairt don Ghaeilge mar theanga oifigiúil san Eoraip. Caithfimid deireadh a chur leis an maolú sin. Tá sé leagtha síos i gcuspóir 10 sa straitéis go dtabharfar "gach cúnamh agus tacaíocht don Aontas Eorpach i bhfeidhmiú an chinnidh an Ghaeilge a bheith ina teanga oibre agus ina teanga oifigiúil san AE". Tá a fhios agam go raibh díospóireacht ag Conradh na Gaeilge ar an ábhar seo le gairid, le linn an chomhdháil teangan. Is léir ón eolas atá agam go bhfuil sé ráite ag feidhmeannaigh ón Roinn nach bhfuil an oiread sin daoine ar fáil chun na poist sin a líonadh. B'fhéidir go bhfuil sé seo fíor, ach caithfimid tuilleadh a dhéanamh chun poist a chruthú do dhaoine le Gaeilge agus gan Ghaeilge. Caithfimid an seans atá againn poist ghairmiúla a chruthú a thógáil. I mo thuairim, caithfear deireadh a chur leis an maolú sin.

Tá sprioc leagtha amach ag deireadh na straitéise ó thaobh saol eacnamaíochta na tíre. Chuir mé síos ceist Dhála maidir le pacáistíocht dhátheangach le déanaí. Dúradh liom go bhfuil an Roinn ag obair le Foras Na Gaeilge agus le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta chun an sprioc seo a chur i bhfeidhm. The reply stated:

An Foras Teanga, has a key statutory role in the provision of resources and support for the Irish language on an all-island basis... Foras na Gaeilge is currently compiling an e-book on best practice in bilingual packaging. The recommendations in the e-book entitled "Pacáistíocht Dhátheangach – Treoir ar an gCleachtas is Fearr" are based on research commissioned by Foras na Gaeilge and carried out by the Dublin Institute of Technology. The e-book is aimed primarily at private sector companies and will demonstrate how bilingual packaging can be used to competitive advantage... Foras na Gaeilge has already produced an e-book on best practice in bilingual signage... a voluntary code of best practice for businesses that wish to use the Irish language, Q-Mharc Gnó le Gaeilge, is being developed by Foras na Gaeilge.

Údarás na Gaeltachta is also giving grant assistance to client companies in the Gaeltacht. There are specific conditions in the grant agreement that relate to the use of the Irish language. A comprehensive language plan, incorporating bilingual labelling and packaging, has been agreed by Údarás na Gaeltachta with all its client companies. It has also compiled a business guide, Gnó le Gaeilge, to encourage and assist companies to increase and consolidate the use of Irish in the workplace and to implement language plans in the workplace. It is worth noting that bilingual labelling and packaging is a central part of the marketing strategy of many of Údarás na Gaeltachta's client companies, including household names like Bácús Uí Bhaoill, Rí na Mara and Iasc de Brún. This issue is part of the strategy. If one sees bilingual packaging at the breakfast table everyday, one is learning everyday. It is part of the strategy in so far as it relates to the economic life of the country.

As I said earlier, it is very positive that 10% of those recruited to the Garda Síochána will be fluent Irish speakers and will be stationed in Gaeltacht areas for a period of time as determined by the Garda Commissioner. It is to be hoped that they will continue to be based in such areas. Obviously, it is important for Gaeltacht people to be able to speak to the local garda as Gaeilge, in line with their general desire to be able to avail of Irish language services in their own communities.

The progress report produced by an Roinn Comhshaoil, Pobail agus Rialtais Áitiúil, which relates to the period up to the end of September 2014, states that the Department has been in discussions with the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Údarás na Gaeltachta since late 2013 regarding "Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs) that have Gaeltacht areas in their respective local authority area and regarding a possible implementation role in LEADER, SICAP and other local development programmes in the Gaeltacht". That certainly did not happen in Galway, unfortunately. It is regrettable that no representative from Údarás na Gaeltachta was put on the Galway local community development committee. That should have happened but it did not, unfortunately.

I would like to mention a few other things before I conclude. The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has reported that it "is in the process of drafting a protocol with Údarás na Gaeltachta regarding the Local Enterprise Offices". This is a welcome development. According to the Department, the "protocol will underpin the Government decision that Údarás na Gaeltachta will maintain responsibility for micro-enterprise and small business supports in the Gaeltacht as well as having appropriate access to supports from the new Local Enterprise Offices". That is welcome. The Department has said that while it has "a number of staff who are fluent in the Irish language, it has not to date identified any specific posts within its business services which currently require fluency in Irish". I think that response is typical of the responses we received when we tabled parliamentary questions to a number of Departments. It is regrettable because there is a role for people with fluency in Irish in every Department.

I wonder if there is scope to extend the co-operation between the Department and Údarás na Gaeltachta to ensure that services can be provided through Irish, because both obviously have a job creation remit. It is a 20-year strategy, not a three-year, four-year or five-year strategy, and while we want to see progress in every area, not everything can be achieved immediately. Some things can be achieved because the economy is improving and money will become more available, but others require changes in policy. I highlighted the issue of the derogation on the translation of documents in Europe. There is great potential for job creation in that area and the derogation should be removed as soon as possible. The fact that these jobs are there means that, even if people are not ready at the moment to take them up, the potential is there and, over time, people with the necessary competence and ability will become available.

I welcome the 20-year strategy. I am not a knocker and I like to see the positive side of a Government, but at the beginning of this Government's term in 2011 I was very worried about the policies of Fine Gael and its commitment to the Irish language. I had concerns that they were abandoning the Irish language, but I welcome the work that has been done on this strategy. I believe it takes us in the right direction and I now believe the Government appreciates that the Irish language is terribly important to us in a number of different ways. Culturally, we have to protect our national tongue, but the Gaeltacht areas themselves have to be protected and enhanced.

I wish to talk about the service provided over many years by our mná tí. I remember being in Kilnamartyra in the house of Bean Lehane, God be good to her - she has now gone to her eternal reward. She was one of many people who opened up their houses to young students and who spoke Irish with them from morning until night whether they liked it or not. They drilled the language into them, but they were very kind and caring people. I would love the bean an tí system to be protected and enhanced with the necessary incentives so that people continue to open up their homes. The money they make out of it is very small and, as the Minister knows, it is more of a vocation than a job. They are also deeply committed to the Irish language and to the education of young people and they provide an excellent service. I urge the Government to ensure our mná tí are still there in five, ten or 20 years' time, and their children after them.

The Irish language should, of course, be kept as a compulsory subject for the leaving certificate, because there is no other way we can ensure young people embrace the language. There should also be a requirement for certain professions such as teachers, gardaí, civil servants and public service jobs in general. We should ensure the public service has a requirement as regards the Irish language.

At the time they came to power I thought Fine Gael was saying that money invested in the Irish language was wasted. It is not wasted. Any money we put into the Gaeltacht areas and the Irish language is an investment in our future. I know the Minister of State believes that, but I want to ensure that some of our urban Ministers appreciate it as much. The Minister of State may have to be more forceful in imposing his views on his colleagues.

Some farm smallholdings in Gaeltacht areas have been lost in the past few years and young people are emigrating. The last hope for the survival of these areas is the Irish language. The local economy of Ceann Trá and west Dingle is reliant on the Irish language and its survival. When I hold clinics there I am able to go to the ceilí sessions in my local hall and see youngsters enjoying their culture, their set dancing and the Irish music. I was once such a youngster myself in Ballyvourney and it was very special to see them all doing these very important things.

There should be an increase in funding for Tús Maith, as it encourages small children to learn their subjects through Irish. I would appreciate the Minister of State's support for that. Cúntóirí teangan are very important to enable native speakers to talk to children outside the Gaeltacht areas and encourage them to use our native tongue. I ask the Minister to ensure that future funding for this is ring-fenced.

As regards the provisions of child care as Gaeilge, there should be a strong emphasis on ensuring childminders are available who are fluent in the Irish language to take care of our young people. I spoke with a family living in a Gaeltacht area who wanted a childminder who was fluent in Irish to take care of their child but, despite their best efforts, they were unable to find one.

There is an opportunity therefore to ensure that employment is provided to people. That is because if childminders were fluent in Irish, they would be able to get such work. The Government should encourage young people who are being educated in the childminding sector to learn Irish. If they educate themselves to be fluent in the language, it might enhance their employment opportunities. It is an important thing for the Minister of State and the Government to consider.

As I have said, I am not a knocker. Four years ago, I was worried that the Government would throw the Irish language to one side due to the bad economic situation when it took office. I appreciate, however, that the Government now says it will do everything it can to enhance the language and protect Gaeltacht areas by investing in them. Together with my constituents and those in the west Cork Gaeltacht, I warmly welcome any such work by the Minister of State and his officials. We are grateful for any steps to protect the Irish language.

Go raibh míle maith agat, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. I am delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to statements on the 2020 strategy for the Irish language. I disagree with Deputy Healy-Rae about compelling people to do something against their will because compulsion belongs to another era. We are living in the 21st century and people should have free choice. People should be educated, not forced or driven like herds of cattle. I hope Deputy Healy-Rae does not think one can drive people into doing something against their will. I would not like to see that happening in a modern society.

As a member of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht, I have had a fair deal of experience of issues relating to the Irish language and the Gaeltacht in recent years. I have always believed that the Irish language is an emblem of our national identity and we should always recognise its value and cultural importance, together with our customs and other aspects that give us our Irish identity.

The importance of Irish is enshrined in our Constitution, Article 8.1 of which states: "The Irish language as the national language is the first official language." Many decades before these words were written, however, the shift from Irish to English as the main language had already begun. One of the key aims of the 2020 strategy is to strengthen the position of the language within our education system. According to recent reports, teaching inspectors have judged that Irish was taught to a good or very good standard in only half of the primary classrooms inspected. In addition, pupils in just over half of the lessons were able to express themselves to a satisfactory level in Irish. This point is reinforced by the Harris report of July 2007. It found that a little over half of pupils were competent in oral communications in 1985 in English-medium schools, while less than one third had mastered them in 2002.

The study also found a marked decline in teachers' confidence, with almost 25% of teachers in English-medium schools rating their own standards of spoken Irish as weak. This is a fundamental problem, so we really need a comprehensive reform of teaching Irish. We must reform the curriculum and focus on the teaching of Irish as a living language, a language of modern communication. We need to overhaul the way in which Irish is taught at primary and second level schools. We must ensure teachers are equipped with the right tools to instil a love of the language for all students. In addition, the curriculum must be designed to inspire students to continue speaking Irish after leaving school. Reinventing the way we teach Irish will encourage more students to engage with it once they leave the classroom.

The Government's strategy will focus on supporting the development and preservation of the language by a long-term commitment to ensuring its future as a living, spoken language with a firm position in the education system. Such a firm position can be achieved when steps are taken within the strategy. The steps include, for example, the proposal of a new Gaeltacht scholarship scheme to be introduced for primary teachers to attend intensive courses in the Gaeltacht or when the tuition time and attendance of student teachers who attend Gaeltacht courses is increased. These are a few small steps that we can take as part of a much wider framework to ensure the Irish language achieves a much firmer and more sustained position within our education system.

I also welcome the series of initiatives and State supports designed to bolster economic activity and entrepreneurship among the Irish-speaking community. The new Irish language and Gaeltacht authority will facilitate the creation of a business network for Gaeltacht and other Irish-language businesses. This network will work to support businesses providing services through Irish in order to raise awareness throughout the business community of the link between the language and economic development.

We should remember that the Irish language was once spoken the length and breadth of this island. It was once our true native language. In the 21st century, we should seek to increase the number of families throughout the country who use Irish as their daily language of communication. That should be our aim. I commend the Minister of State on all his work on this matter, to date. In the last few years he has become very proficient and fluent in the language. He will encourage other Members to become involved in language tuition.

Including the Deputy himself.

I have a little bit of Irish thanks, but we could all do with learning a little more. It is a nice language and many foreigners who have come here appreciate it. I have been surprised by the grasp of, and love for, the language by foreign students in our schools. Some of those students are ten or 11 years old, yet they can speak four or five languages. Some of them are the best Irish speakers in their class at 11 or 12 years of age. We should take note of this because when people love a language they will grasp it.

Our problem dates back to the educational systems that were in place in bygone days. People either loved or hated the subject, but the model for teaching the language in schools had a big impact on people not grasping or using it as an everyday language.

Tá áthas orm go bhfuil an seans seo agam cúpla focal gairid a rá faoin straitéis 20 bliain dár dteanga, an Ghaolainn. Déanaim comhghairdeas leis an Aire Stáit. Nuair a chuir an Taoiseach glaoch ar an Teachta McHugh cúpla mí ó shin chun an post mar Aire Stáit um ghnóthaí Gaeltachta a thabhairt dó, bhí a lán daoine ag tabhairt amach nach raibh Gaolainn ró-fhlúirseach aige. Bhí an tAire Stáit i nGaeltacht Mhúscraí cúpla seachtain ó shin agus bhuail sé le han-chuid daoine, idir pháistí, mhúinteoirí agus daoine ag obair i monarachain. Bhuail sé le cumann peile Naomh Abán, cumann peile Chill na Martra agus a lán daoine eile chomh maith. Bhí na daoine go léir lánsásta leis an mblas a bhí ag an Aire Stáit agus an dul chun cinn a bhí déanta aige maidir le labhairt na Gaolainne.

Bhí mé ag éisteacht leis an Teachta Coppinger agus tá an ceart aici. Tá grá don Ghaolainn againn go léir ach b'fhéidir nach mbíonn an seans ró-mhinic againn í a labhairt. Bíonn muid saghas intimidated ag na daoine a bhfuil á labhairt gach lá. Is iadsan na daoine is mó a bhí ag tabhairt amach faoin Aire Stáit nuair a bhfuair sé an post. Is dóigh liomsa go bhfuil apology deserved ag an Aire Stáit. Bhí na daoine seo mí-cheart. Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí. Sin seanfhocal. Mol an tAire Stáit agus tiocfaidh seisean freisin. Is saghas linguistic imperialism atá ag cuid de na daoine a chuireann eagla ar ghnáthdhaoine nach bhfuil an Ghaolainn ró-mhaith acu. Táimse an-sásta a rá go raibh na daoine as Gaeltacht Mhúscraí lánsásta leis an Aire Stáit agus an blas Gaeilge a bhí aige agus é ann.

Bhuail an tAire Stáit le roinnt daoine agus tá siad fós ag fanacht chun chloisteáil uaidh maidir le rudaí ar a labhair siad leis, ina measc cumann peile Naomh Abán. Tá a fhios ag an Aire Stáit go bhfuil comórtas peile na Gaeltachta ag teacht go dtí Baile Bhúirne in 2016. Tá deontas á lorg ag an gclub chun dul chun cinn a dhéanamh maidir le na dressing rooms atá acu agus cúrsaí eile mar sin. Is dóigh liom go mbeidh an tAire Stáit in ann cuid airgid a thabhairt dóibh.

Tá mise cosúil len a lán daoine eile. Tá cúpla focal agam ach is dóigh liom nach bhfuil mé ábalta caint continuously as Gaeilge. There are a few points I would like to make in the context of the strategy which I think are important. Bhí cuid de na daoine eile ag caint faoi education. Tá sé sin an-tábhachtach. Is dóigh liomsa go bhfuil seans an-mhór againn anois language tourism a chur sa straitéis dár dteanga féin, an Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge. Tá sé an-tábhachtach go mbeadh grá ag daltaí ár dtír féin don Ghaolainn. Tá a lán daoine ar fud an domhain gurb Éireannaigh iad, a bhfuil a dtuismitheoirí as Éirinn nó atá grandparents acu as Éirinn. Tá timpeall 40 million people in America who claim Irish descent. It is the same in Australia, New Zealand and Canada and on our doorstep in the UK. There is major interest in cultural tourism. Given the success, for example, of the Wild Atlantic Way, we could backfill it. Along that coastline we could also dot Gaeltacht Mhúscraí and Coláiste na Mumhan. Bhuail an tAire Stáit le daoine as Coláiste na Mumham. Is coláiste samhraidh é sin. We should link together the Wild Atlantic Way and language tourism as attractions. We should link in with models which are already well developed such as the Fulbright Scholarship and the Irish Canadian Fund. With a little bit of imagination, we could link in with other universities. I understand Harvard University has an interest in this concept. We could be on to a real winner. We should not just teach in a sterile learning environment like a university lecture theatre. We should bring people into these Gaeltachts and teach the language in the context of the culture of the area. There is tremendous opportunity for this. It should form a key component of the strategy for the Irish language. Economic opportunity in the Gaeltacht consolidates its population and its work opportunities. This is the surest contribution we can make to ensure the language survives and prospers in the Gaeltacht and outwards from the Gaeltacht subsequently.

The Minister of State could not have been but impressed, when he visited the Gaeltacht, by the level of local entrepreneurship. We visited the industrial estate in Baile Bhúirne, which has been developed substantially by Údarás na Gaeltachta. I wish to salute, in this Chamber, the efforts over many years of the now retired former board member, Mícheál Ó Scanaill. He made a sterling effort over many years in a quiet, efficient and diligent way to assist and develop the industrial estate. It was not just in Baile Bhúirne, but in Ballingeary and in Cill na Martra also. He contributed to the creation of economic opportunity for local people to find work locally. I do not hear enough recognition of the role of Údarás na Gaeltachta in the context of the Government's efforts to regionalise job opportunities. This is a criticism which needs to be taken on board. Údarás has a significant track record in working in the most peripheral and disadvantaged areas with some considerable success. It needs to be woven into the efforts which are being made to promote industry in the regions.

We saw Folláin jams in the Múscraí Gaeltacht are building a fabulous new facility and expanding. On the one hand, we have a food industry such as this. There is also the micro-food industry, Putóg de Róiste, which is also growing and expanding quickly in a short period of time. We have long established companies such as Firebird and new companies such as EuroFoil. This full range of industries in a small local community is a real testimony to the knowledge and skill of the people in Údarás na Gaeltachta. We should tap into this knowledge if we are serious about regional development in difficult areas.

Níl mórán ama fágtha agam but to conclude, ba le Naomh Abán an first cruinniú a bhí ag an Aire Stáit agus ba shin an cruinniú is tábhachtaí, is dóigh liomsa, ar an lá sin. Impím ar an Aire Stáit gan dearmad a dhéanamh ar an deontas atá á lorg acu chun dul chun cinn a dhéanamh roimh chomórtas peile na Gaeltacht 2016.

In conclusion, the Minister of State is a great example to all of us who have latent capacity to speak the language. It is regrettable that people abused the Minister of State and criticised him on his appointment. We should not use the language as a badge of exclusivity. We should be much more welcoming and encouraging. There is, as I said at the outset, a latent capacity in all of us, as a result of the drip-drip of the language, to speak it. I could get into the debate on compulsion versus nurture of a loved language. There is a capacity in all of us to speak the language because we all went through the education system, primary and secondary. We probably should be better at it, but we do not get enough opportunity. The Minister of State is an example to everyone of what can be achieved and I wish him continued success in his post.

Regrettably, tá dearmad déanta nach mór ar mo Ghaeilge scoile. B'fhéidir go ndéanfaidh mé lorgaireacht ar an Aire Stáit agus foghlaimeoidh mé Gaeilge. Comhghairdeas leis.

Gabhaim buíochas leis na Baill. Chuala mé go leor teachtaireachtaí. Chuir siad moltaí úra in iúl dom. Chuala mé na teachtaireachtaí seo. Gabhaim buíochas le gach duine a ghlac páirt sa díospóireacht. Thug 12 Teachta eolas agus moltaí dom sa díospóireacht, as Béarla agus as Gaeilge. Tá cúpla nóiméad agam agus ba mhaith liom comhghairdeas a dhéanamh le chuile dhuine sa Teach seo, sa Seanad agus taobh amuigh de Theach Laighean faoin bhfíoriarracht a rinneadh ar son na Gaeilge. Rinneadh iarracht an teanga agus an sárobair a dhéantar ar a son a bhogadh chun tosaigh.

Tá mórán grúpaí freagrach as an teanga ach tá dualgas orainn go léir an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn agus go háirithe na grúpaí, mar shampla Údarás na Gaeltachta, Foras na Gaeilge, an Roinn Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta, Conradh na Gaeilge, Gael Linn agus gach grúpa eile a d'oibrigh go dian thar na blianta. Níor tharla an sárobair inniu nó inné. Tharla sí thar na blianta. Cuireadh fíoriarracht isteach sa chlár agus tá clár mór ann. Labhair mé san óráid faoin Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge, faoi na limistéir pleanála agus faoi na líonraí sna ceantair lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht atá Foras na Gaeilge freagrach astu. Tá ról mór ag Údarás na Gaeltachta. Tá an ceart ag an Teachta Ó Críod. B'fhéidir go bhfuil ról mór againn maidir leis an obair dhearfach a dhéanann sé a chur in iúl do dhaoine. Mar shampla, i mo cheantar féin tá Randox sa Chlocháin Liath. Bhí ceangal mór idir an chomhlacht seo agus Údarás na Gaeltachta agus anois tá Randox ag lorg oibrithe agus tá scéal dearfach ann.

Fuair mé teachtaireacht dearfach inniu. Bhí na Baill ionraic. Tá fadhbanna ann, tá dúshláin ann, ach tá deiseanna ann fosta. Tá daoine le Gaeilge thart timpeall orainn uilig. B'fhéidir go bhfuil duine i do pharóiste féin ag éirí amach as a phost mar mhúinteoir scoile agus Gaeilge acu. Tá Gaeilge sna ceantair Ghaeltachta agus tá daoine lasmuigh de na ceantair Ghaeltachta le Gaeilge acu. Is é sin an rud is tábhachtaí, go mbeadh na daoine atá Gaeilge acu á húsáid. Ná bí buartha faoi bhotúin. Cinnte déanaimse botúin. Rinne an Teachta Ó Críod cúpla botúin freisin, ach tá sé ag déanamh fíoriarrachta agus is é sin an rud is tábhachtaí. Ní ligfidh mé d'eagla faoi bhotúin mé a choinneáil siar.

Rinne mise botúin chomh maith.

Ní dhearna an Teachta Ó Snodaigh botúin. Mura bhfuil daoine ag foghlaim nó ag athfhoghlaim na Gaeilge, is é an rud is tábhachtaí ná an iarracht. Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil le gach duine sa Teach, sa tír - sa Tuaisceart nó sa Deisceart - agus timpeall an domhain. Fuair mé teachtaireacht ó fhear ón Astráil an samhradh seo caite. Bhí sé ag athfhoghlaim Gaeilge agus bhí sé os cionn 80 bliain d'aois. Níl sé i bhfad ródhéanach chun dul ar ais, an Ghaeilge a athfhoghlaim agus an focal a scaipeadh do 80 duine eile.

Má tá smaointe úra nó moltaí úra ag aon duine sa Teach seo, táimse anseo. Ba mhaith liom oibriú le chéile agus oibriú leis na heagraíochtaí atá ag obair go dian ar fhiontar, nuálaíocht agus tionscadail sna ceantair Ghaeltachta. Aontaím leis na moltaí faoin nGaeilge. Tá sé tábhachtach an teanga a choinneáil beo. Tá ceangal mór ag Slí an Atlantaigh Fhiáin go náisiúnta agus go idirnáisiúnta leis mar tá ceangal mór idir an teanga Gaeilge, an stair, an cultúr, gach rud a tharla sna ceantair agus muintir na háite. Mar a dúirt na daoine i mo cheantair féin, "keep her lit" - coinnigh ag dó í.

Sitting suspended at 5.55 p.m. and resumed at 6.30 p.m.