Tuesday, 22 June 2021
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
70. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of the development of the Gaeltacht language planning process including Gaeltacht language planning areas and Gaeltacht service towns; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33296/21]
The Language planning process is being rolled out under the Gaeltacht Act, 2012. Údarás na Gaeltachta is charged with facilitating the implementation of the process in Gaeltacht language planning areas and Gaeltacht Service Towns located within the Gaeltacht with Foras na Gaeilge having similar responsibility for the implementation of the process outside the Gaeltacht.
Of the 26 Gaeltacht Language Planning Areas, 22 language plans have been approved to date. My Department is currently undertaking an analysis of three further plans - Oileáin Árann, Cléire and Maigh Eo Thiar. I am also informed by Údarás na Gaeltachta that preparation of a Language Plan for An Ghaeltacht Láir, Co Donegal is currently underway. I am confident that language plans for each of the 26 language planning areas will be approved and indeed that their implementation will be underway before the end of 2021.
To date, language plans for four Gaeltacht Service Towns have been approved under the process, namely, Letterkenny, Daingean Uí Chúis, Galway City and An Chlochán Liath, which I recently approved. My Department is also currently evaluating the language plan for Tralee, Co Kerry. The process of preparing language plans is underway for the following Gaeltacht Service Towns: Dungarvan, Cahirciveen and Cork City.
I should also point out that language plans have been approved for the Irish Language Networks of Clondalkin, Ennis and Loughrea.
19 Language Planning Officers and four Assistant Language Planning Officers have been recruited and are implementing the plans approved to date.
My Department has, through successive budgets, increased the allocation available for implementation of the language planning process. The total allocation from budget 2021 for the process amounts to €5m - an increase of €1.3m on the 2020 allocation. From this allocation, I was, in recent weeks, in a position to approve funding of €3.4m for Údarás na Gaeltachta and Foras na Gaeilge to assist them with implementation of the process during the current year. From this allocation, my Department is also supporting the early years, family and traditional arts sectors through the provision of funding for Comhar Naoínraí na Gaeltachta, Tuismitheoirí na Gaeltachta and Ealaín na Gaeltachta respectively with each of these sectors being an important component of the language planning process.
All in all, I am satisfied that the language planning process is now gaining momentum. At full-implementation stage, we will have a team of nearly 50 full-time language planning officers dedicated exclusively to the implementation of language plans across Gaeltacht Language Planning Areas, Gaeltacht Service Towns and Irish Language Networks. This important work at community level will be complemented by the new initiatives provided for in the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill to be taken at Dáil Report Stage shortly. These initiatives include the objective of 20% of new recruits to the public service being competent in the Irish language by 2030 and the development of a National Plan for the Provision of Irish-Medium Public Services - the implementation of which the Government has already committed to in its Civil Service Renewal Strategy 2021-2030.