Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
1400. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the steps she will take to assist the parents of children in a school (details supplied) to recover the deposit and fees they paid for a course in a college which is not going ahead. [6368/20]
The Deputy will be aware that on foot of consultation with health authorities and in the overall interests of protecting public health, having regard to the emergency measures being taken due to Covid-19, my Department announced that no Irish language courses will be run in the Gaeltacht this summer
It is recognised that this is an unprecedented, uncertain and challenging period and that this decision represents a significant setback to Gaeltacht regions and to the many thousands of students who had looked forward to attending courses over the summer. However, the health of our communities remains the priority for Government at this time.
Under Scéim na bhFoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht provides a subsidy to Gaeltacht households who provide accommodation for students attending Irish language summer colleges in the Gaeltacht. The households also received payment from the colleges.
These colleges are recognised as a vital part of the social and economic infrastructure of the Gaeltacht with up to 27,000 students attending over 40 colleges and staying with one of the 700 Gaeltacht families registered to provide accommodation. The sector is estimated to generate c. €50m of economic activity for Gaeltacht areas, given its wider impact on hotels, B&Bs, restaurants and public houses when parents visit their children.
Since the onset of the pandemic, both I and my officials have met on a number of occasions with the colleges’ representative organisation, CONCOS, with a view to identifying the financial pressure points for the sector in order to ensure the survival of this important sector for the Irish language and the Gaeltacht and the cultural life of the country as a whole. While the question of repayment of deposits to those who have reserved places on courses scheduled for summer 2020 is primarily one for the colleges concerned, the matter is being actively considered as part of this process.