Written answers

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Departmental Schemes

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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233. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to increase the capital grant available to encourage new households to enter the scheme to provide accommodation for students attending summer colleges; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32471/22]

Photo of Jack ChambersJack Chambers (Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
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As the Deputy is aware, under Scéim na bhFoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge my Department provides a once-off grant up to €2,000 (or 50% of the allowable costs whichever is the lower) to encourage new Gaeltacht households to enter the sector for the first time and to offset the costs associated with complying with the current fire safety regulations as set out by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

The issue will be further considered by my Department together with relevant stakeholders in the autumn when courses have concluded and the opportunity presents to consider matters. Any identified need for an increase in the capital grant available will be fully evaluated by my Department at that time.  However, it should be pointed out that there is no evidence to suggest that the existing level of grant-aid available to households has not been sufficient to date.  

The Deputy will be aware that my Department has invested over €8m over the last two years in support of the Irish summer colleges sector. Five specific supports were devised over that period, aimed at supporting the colleges themselves, community infrastructure used by them and the 700 or so Gaeltacht householders.

Furthermore, in the current year, my Department provided additional funding for a further three measures – including a 10% increase in the grant payable to mná tí under the Department’s Scéim na bhFoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge, in addition to the provision of 400 scholarships under the DEIS Gaeltachta initiative – a social inclusion measure, aimed at providing opportunities to students of DEIS post-primary schools to attend Gaeltacht summer colleges.

In overall financial terms these measures represent an additional state investment of c. €800,000 in further support of the sector this year, the largest single increase in investment in any given year since the Department first initiated Scéim na bhFoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge in 1972.

This ultimately will result in an overall exchequer investment of approximately €5.3m in support of the sector this year.

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