Tuesday, 14 December 2010
Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs
Question 59: To ask the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs the discussions he has had with the Department of Education and Skills regarding simplifying the grammar of the Irish language; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46053/10]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 58 and 59 together.
As the Deputy is aware, further to a Government decision in late 2008, my Department commenced a review of the Caighdeán Oifigiúil (Official Standard) for Irish earlier this year. It could be said that organic development is at the heart of this process. The Caighdeán has not been reviewed or updated since it was first published in 1958. In linguistic terms, it is inevitable that there will always be a gap between any spoken language and the official written standard for any language. However, it is widely accepted that this gap is now excessive with regard to the Irish language, since the spoken language has continued to develop over the last 50 years.
I appointed a Steering Committee to oversee the Review of the Caighdeán Oifigiúil, which is due to be completed in June of next year. The Department of Education and Skills has a representative on the Committee and its involvement in the process is crucial. Education is one of the areas where the new Caighdeán Oifigiúil will have most impact. What is clear from submissions received during the public consultations is that, above all else, people want clarity on rules in the Caighdeán. This may involve simplification in some instances, but simplicity was one of the criteria adopted by those who published the Caighdeán in 1958. As I stated at the outset of this Review, some rules will go, some rules will be amended, and completely new rules may be put in place. However in all cases, the criteria underpinning these decisions will epitomise the concept of organic development - clarity, internal consistency, simplicity and due regard to the spoken language in the Gaeltacht. Taken together, these show that organic development is a progressive yet complex process. It is my hope as Minister that the final result in this review process will highlight the best traits of such organic development, while also providing the clarity that people are looking for.
My proposals in relation to the development of the language at community level within the Gaeltacht and throughout the State will be set out in the 20-year Strategy for the Irish Language, which will be published shortly, and in respect of which there are separate Questions to me on today's Order Paper.