Ní aontaím nach bhfuil aon airgead acu. At the outset, I emphasise that almost €60 million has been provided in the 2017 Estimates for the Irish language and the Gaeltacht and islands programme, including funding for An Foras Teanga. This represents an increase of €2.3 million over the 2016 baseline provision.
I assume that the Deputy is referring to the annual summer camps scheme funded by Foras na Gaeilge. In that context, there are three general points I wish to bring to the attention of the House. First, Foras na Gaeilge, as an agency of An Foras Teanga - a North-South implementation body - is co-funded by my Department with the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland. Consequently, its budget is subject to approval by the North-South Ministerial Council, NSMC. Second, the indicative provision of €13.239 million in my Department's Vote for An Foras Teanga in 2017 is intended to fund both agencies of the body - Foras na Gaeilge and the Ulster-Scots Agency - in addition to providing ring-fenced funding for Clár na Leabhar Gaeilge agus Colmcille. Third, in regard to funding for specific programmes of work, the dispersal of Foras na Gaeilge’s budget is primarily an operational matter for the agency within the framework of the NSMC approved business plan and budget.
With regard to the specific issue of summer camps, I understand from Foras na Gaeilge that funding was provided to 69 summer camps attended by 3,002 young people in 2016, but that if additional funding had been available, it would have been possible for it to provide funding for a further 45 applications which met the criteria of the scheme. From a wider perspective, the House will be interested to know that in addition to the summer camps funded by Foras na Gaeilge, my Department provided funding for 183 summer camps attended by 6,077 children in Gaeltacht areas and for 26,004 children attending the summer colleges scheme under Scéim na bhFoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge.
I am aware that good work is under way in regard to providing opportunities for young people to learn, to improve and to use the Irish language in a social and recreational context outside of the formal education setting. However, it is also clear that there is an even greater demand for participation in such schemes and that more could be done with the availability of additional resources. The Minister, Deputy Humphreys, and I met recently with Foras na Gaeilge regarding these and other associated matters, and I am committed to continuing to seek additional funding for the Irish language within the overall budgetary resources available to the Government.