I am pleased to inform the Deputy that I recently announced the establishment of a new fund worth €250,000, by which third-level students will be provided with the opportunity to live with Gaeltacht families for three months while attending a recognised third- level course for the duration of an entire semester.
Under the new fund, a subsidy worth €17 per day will be payable to Gaeltacht households who are registered under my Department’s Irish Language Learner’s Scheme (Scéim na bhFoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge). This subvention equates to an overall subsidy of approximately €1,428 per student per semester.
This measure which is being introduced with effect immediately is expected to accommodate up to 175 students per annum initially and represents significant progress in the implementation of measures 2.13, 2.15 and 2.19 of the Government’s Action Plan 2018-2022 for the Irish Language, which was launched in June 2018.
The fund also represents a practical step forward in seeking to further build capacity within the public service insofar as the provision of services through Irish are concerned.
The three-month language immersion period will be directed towards third-level students:
- who have Irish as a core subject in their university student programme (for example B.A. in Irish or B. Comm with Irish) or:
- for whom Irish is not a core subject but who require a high level of competency in Irish in order to work in professions in the public service, in particular in which engagement with the Irish speaking community through Irish is required.
I should also point out that my Department intends to ensure, insofar as is possible and practical, and in collaboration with prospective third-level institutes, that courses are organised having regard to an appropriate geographic spread across Gaeltacht regions.