Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Ceisteanna - Questions - Priority Questions
Irish Language Issues
5. To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will consider Irish text only day; if he or his Department officials have examined this idea in the past; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51695/13]
The purpose of my question is to encourage the Minister of State with responsibility for the Gaeltacht to do something innovative to save the Irish language. I know he is doing many things, but much of these would appear pretty similar to what has been done in the past. We know that if we keep doing something that has failed over and over again, it is time to start looking at a new way of doing it.
What I am proposing is that we make use of technology. Unfortunately, I have limited use of the Irish language, but I make an effort to text a couple of my friends in Irish. It is a good way to employ the language, whatever one's ability. Will the Minister consider promoting a national text-in-Irish day?
My Department has overarching responsibility for co-ordinating the implementation of the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030. The strategy promotes a holistic, integrated approach to the language, which is consistent with international best practice. It is an ambitious and challenging strategy covering nine areas of action, including education, the Gaeltacht, the family, public services, the media and legislation. The implementation of the strategy is being progressed in collaboration with key stakeholders, including agencies directly funded by my Department.
In that context, Foras na Gaeilge has a key role in regard to the provision of resources and supports for the Irish language on an all-island basis. The strategy notes that Foras na Gaeilge will continue to deliver on its statutory responsibilities in respect of the language, which include funding projects and grant-aiding bodies and groups to support Irish, as appropriate. A comprehensive list of apps available through Irish may be found at , for which funding was provided by Foras na Gaeilge. The website is a directory which provides information on computer facilities that are generally available in Irish. These facilities encourage the daily use of Irish, especially among young people. Another useful site which provides assistance and advice on various aspects of using Irish in modern technology is .
I commend the Deputy on his innovative suggestion of introducing an Irish language texting day. While my Department has no direct function in such a matter, it is an initiative that might be pursued by one or more of the various voluntary Irish language organisations. I will be happy to bring the Deputy's suggestion to the attention of Foras na Gaeilge.
I thank the Minister of State for his positive response. The thinking behind my proposal is that one can go into complexities in a text message, even though it is short, that one might be embarrassed - the word náire comes to mind - to attempt in the spoken word. There is the option with texting of checking a dictionary, which is not available in spoken conversation. Texting gives the opportunity to consider and develop one's reply. I intend to write to the various mobile service providers to ask whether they will accommodate this initiative. If they are amenable, I hope the Department will do its best to promote it. It is essential that we save the language, and any new initiative in that regard is worth pursuing.
The Deputy has put forward a creative and imaginative idea and, as I said, I certainly will convey it to the relevant authorities, including Foras na Gaeilge and perhaps some of the voluntary language organisations. I agree that social media represent a vital and influential element of social intercourse. This is particularly so for young people, who are the people we want to target for the future of the language. Cuirim fáilte roimh an moladh seo. I recall that one of the Deputy's first contributions was during Question Time, when I was answering questions, when he recalled his own school days. A dhroimeann donn dílis, a shíoda na mbó, cá ngabhann tú san oíche is cá mbíonn tú sa ló? I will be happy to pass on his proposal.