Thursday, 23 September 2021
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
I reiterate that there is an enormous commitment to this issue within the Department. The funding in excess of €20 million speaks for itself. Significant work has been done and supports put in place, not just for the teaching of the Irish language but also for providing supports to Irish-medium schools within Gaeltacht areas and, indeed, outside them. Work has commenced on the development of a new policy for Irish-medium education, as outlined in the programme for Government, with the view to providing a framework for the delivery of a high-quality Irish-medium education in Irish-medium schools and early learning and care settings outside the Gaeltacht. The new policy will complement the separate policy on Gaeltacht education, which will continue to support early learning and care settings and schools within Gaeltacht areas.
Efforts to promote extended use of Irish in local communities and the implementation of local Gaeltacht language plans are set out in the Gaeltacht Act 2012. An interdepartmental working group has been established within the Department to progress this work as efficiently as possible. The planned next steps to be taken to inform the development of the new policy include the commissioning of a review of relevant national and international literature and research, along with an extensive consultation process with key stakeholders. Implementation of the policy will commence following the conclusion of all necessary stages of policy development, including comprehensive and extensive stakeholder engagement, which is vital to ensuring well-informed policy development.
As regards the leaving certificate specifications, there was an extension of the consultation process in that regard. This is important because the wider the consultation, the more effective it will be.