Wednesday, 4 February 2004

Ceisteanna (88, 89)

Pat Rabbitte

Ceist:

158 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made to date in implementing the report of the Gaeltacht Commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3099/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

164 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his proposals for a campaign to promote the greater use of the Irish language among Irish speaking parents in Gaeltacht areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3104/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 158 and 164 together.

The Deputies will be aware that in order to progress the full implementation of the Official Languages Act 2003, I have allocated €500,000 in my Department's Estimates for the current year to provide for the establishment of the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga. This Act will address many of the recommendations contained in the report of Coimisiún na Gaeltachta, particularly those on the provision of improved public services through Irish.

In order to provide for the implementation, where appropriate, of other recommendations contained in the report of Coimisiún na Gaeltachta, an additional €890,000 has been set aside in 2004 to facilitate the implementation of a number of specific initiatives and measures. These include: the commissioning of a comprehensive linguistic study of Irish usage in the Gaeltacht, the contract for which is being awarded to Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh, in partnership with An tInstitiúid Náisiúnta um Anailís Réigiúnach agus Spásúil, Ollscoil na hÉireann, Má Nuad, this study will commence in early April; a community-based language planning initiative in the Gaeltacht, the details of which I will be announcing shortly; the further development of third level education and training through the medium of Irish in the Gaeltacht; and the implementation of changes in certain Departmental schemes in the Gaeltacht, namely Scéim Labhairt na Gaeilge, Scéim na gCúntóirí Teanga agus Scéim na gCampaí Samhraidh, aimed at strengthening their effectiveness. My Department's various other activities in support of the maintenance and strengthening of the Irish language in the Gaeltacht, and the promotion of sustainable and culturally vibrant communities there, are being progressed continually.

A number of other issues and initiatives being progressed or under consideration at present and include: a submission from my Department to An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta regarding critical issues affecting the Irish language in primary and post-primary education in the Gaeltacht; the active support by my Department to the Department of Education and Science for the development of an education centre for the Irish language at Baile Bhúirne, County Cork; and submissions regarding the linguistic impact of planning policy in the Gaeltacht from my Department to local authorities responsible for Gaeltacht areas in the context of the preparation and implementation of county development plans and local area development plans.

These measures emphasise the importance of adopting language-centred initiatives and, in so far as Údarás na Gaeltachta is concerned, an additional €1 million has been allocated to further enable the Údarás to implement relevant recommendations contained in the commission's report, particularly in relation to pre-school education, youth services and the role of the Gaeltacht co-operatives. Recommendations contained in the report regarding the role and structure of the Údarás are also being discussed with that body.

A sum of €300,000 has also been allocated for the implementation of a language awareness campaign in Gaeltacht areas primarily aimed at informing prospective parents, as well as parents of children up to five years, of the advantages of choosing Irish as the main language of the household. While the campaign will focus on that target group, it is expected to generate an additional benefit of heightening awareness nationally regarding the advantages of possessing fluency in Irish. This approach is in line with the relevant proposals contained in the report of Coimisiún na Gaeltachta. While television and radio advertisements will form part of the campaign, specific measures will also be undertaken to provide support and advice to parents who wish to raise their children with Irish, including the provision of suitably designed literature. Precise measures are currently in hand in association with Údarás na Gaeltachta with a view to launching the campaign in the near future.

The successful outcome of the overall process is of course largely dependent on the co-operation and commitment of the Gaeltacht communities themselves, as well as all who have a stake in the future of Irish as the chosen language in Gaeltacht areas.

Question No. 159 answered with QuestionNo. 150.