Dáil debates

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Bille na dTeangacha Oifigiúla (Leasú), 2019: An Dara Céim - Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2019: Second Stage


3:15 pm

Photo of Johnny GuirkeJohnny Guirke (Meath West, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I wish to apologise for speaking on the Bill in English. I am not one of those who has any fluency in our native tongue and I regret that. Like many others, I am a product of an education system which did not help me to get a grasp of Gaeilge. I would love to be speaking as Gaeilge and am committed to learning and using the cúpla focal inside and outside the House.

In my county, there are two small Gaeltacht areas, namely, Ráth Chairn and Baile Ghib. People were relocated to those areas from the western seaboard between 1935 and 1937, leaving their humble abodes to head to county Meath under a resettlement scheme undertaken by the Irish Land Commission. Like every other Gaeltacht, the very survival of those areas is threatened because of a lack of investment in local jobs, education and the protections that would have allowed them to thrive and be a beacon of the revival of Gaeilge and living as Gaeilge from cradle to grave.

There is a need for additional funding for Foras na Gaeilge, Údarás na Gaeltachta, TG4 and Raidió Rí-Rá. I have met those groups and they have asked that they be adequately resourced such that they can properly implement, assist and plan in conjunction with the 80 Irish-language and Gaeltacht groups that currently exist. Children from disadvantaged areas do not have the option to attend a summer college in the Gaeltacht as the fees are so high. Will the Minister consider bringing in a scholarship scheme such as that recommended in the investment plan by the 80 Irish-language and Gaeltacht groups in order that such students have the option of attending summer college in the Gaeltacht?

It is good that the Bill is before the House because it is an acknowledgement of the failure of the State to deliver its services bilingually nationwide and as Gaeilge in Gaeltachtaí such as Baile Ghib and Ráth Chairn. There are wonderful people there who are tireless warriors for their community. I invite the Minister to visit the area. The Comharchumann Ráth Chairn would be more than willing to give her a tour if she has not been there previously.


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