As the Deputy will be aware, exchequer funding is allocated through the annual budgetary and estimates process.
Total funding for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands for 2020 announced in today’s Budget amounts to almost €58m, up from €55.5m last year and representing an increase of 4%.
Of this, Údarás na Gaeltachta will receive an additional capital allocation of €1m, bringing its core capital allocation to €10m - an increase of over 11% on 2019. This will enable the attraction of additional investment to Gaeltacht areas and support the creation of jobs, whilst also supporting community and language development in the Gaeltacht regions. Údarás na Gaeltachta will also receive an additional €200,000 in current funding for Gaeltacht co-operatives, bringing to over €1m the increases provided to this important sector over the past 5 years. Údarás na Gaeltachta will also have access to additional funding in the event of a no deal Brexit.
An additional €500,000 will go towards the language planning process in 2020. The establishment of Gaeltacht Language Planning Areas is well underway, and the Department expects up to 23 language Plans to be approved under the process before the end of the year. So far, of the 26 Gaeltacht Language Planning Areas, 16 plans have been approved to date. This follows measures announced over the past year to support the language planning process, including additional significant investment to support the early years sector, language transmission in the family setting and the traditional arts.
An additional allocation of €275,000 for 2020 will ensure the continued provision of essential transport services to the islands. This additional allocation follows the recent establishment by Minister of State Kyne of an Inter-Departmental Committee for Island Development.
I am particularly pleased to be in a position to obtain additional current and capital funding for Údarás na Gaeltachta at a time when the work of the organisation will be more important than ever. Budget 2020 has, of course, been framed in the context of an imminent Brexit and the Government has, accordingly, been prudent in its funding decisions. For this year, therefore, we are targeting spending increases carefully, while maintaining services and delivery of ongoing projects and programmes. However, continued investment, in challenging times, in the implementation of the Government’s 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language underpins the Government’s commitment to the Irish language.