Major announcements for Irish language

Minister of State for the Gaeltacht, Dinny McGinley T.D., has announced two significant initiatives under the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030.

Minister of State for the Gaeltacht, Dinny McGinley T.D., has announced two significant initiatives under the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030.

“The Family Language Support Programme and the language planning process in the Gaeltacht involve a new approach that will make a considerable difference to the implementation of the 20-Year Strategy on the ground,” the Minister of State said at the launch in Galway.

The aim of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht’s Family Language Support Programme is to strengthen the Irish language as the household and community language in the Gaeltacht in accordance with the 20-Year Strategy. Under this programme, the Department intends to undertake 12 specific measures to support Gaeltacht families who are raising their children through Irish or who wish to raise their children through Irish.

The Minister of State announced that the Department has agreed with the co-operation of the Health Service Executive (HSE) to circulate an information leaflet, regarding the advantages of raising children through Irish, to expectant mothers and mothers of newborn babies. This awareness campaign will be initiated through the maternity services operating through the HSE in Galway city, Letterkenny and Castlebar. It is also intended to broaden this campaign to maternity services which serve other Gaeltacht areas.

In addition to the awareness campaign, the Minister of State announced the following new measures which will be implemented in conjunction with key stakeholders under the Family Language Support Programme:

* The Department’s Summer Camps Scheme will be enhanced to focus separately on 3 to 6 year olds and on 7 to 14 year olds (as opposed to the current 4 to 7 year old age group);

* Special training courses will be held for Gaeltacht teenagers between 15 and 17 years old who speak fluent Irish to enable them to work as assistants in the Irish language summer colleges;

* Community-based Gaeltacht committees/organisations will be assisted in organising suitable activities, e.g. parent and toddler/child groups;

* The Department’s Language Assistants Scheme will be developed in order to better serve children in Gaeltacht schools with regard to enrichment or acquisition of the Irish language; and

* A portal website for the Irish language will be developed to provide easy access to the public to Irish-language materials and resources. As part of this portal website, content will be developed online which will assist parents raising their children through Irish.

Language Planning Process

The Minister of State announced that the language planning process in the Gaeltacht is to begin. “I am delighted to get the language planning process in the Gaeltacht underway today. Under the Gaeltacht Bill 2012 which is currently being drafted, the Gaeltacht will be given a new definition based on language criteria as opposed to geographical areas, as is currently the case. In accordance with the 20-Year Strategy, a language plan will be developed at community level in all Gaeltacht areas,” the Minister of State said.

Under the language planning process, the Gaeltacht will be delineated into 19 distinct language planning areas. Each one of these areas will be required to prepare a language plan in due course. In order to implement a comprehensive and systematic language planning process in the Gaeltacht, the Minister of State indicated that he has invited 6 language planning areas to begin this process immediately.

The Minister of State said: “The language planning process is an opportunity for Gaeltacht communities. I expect the Department, the Údarás and the community-based organisations to work together to deliver this process.”

Language Planning Areas in the Gaeltacht

Under the language planning process, the intention is to delineate the Gaeltacht into 19 distinct language planning areas of which 6 areas including Gaoth Dobhair, Rann na Feirste, Anagaire, Loch an Iúir, Cloich Chionnaola, Gort an Choirce, Toraigh, An Fál Carrach, Machaire Rabhartaigh have been invited to start this process immediately.