Joint Structure Needed To Implement 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language

The Irish-language and Gaeltacht community came out in force at a meeting organised by Conradh na Gaeilge in the Menlo Hotel, Galway on Friday (01 February 2013), calling for the establishment of a crucial high-level structure recognising the language community as stakeholders in the implementation of The 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language.

Donnchadh Ó hAodha, President of Conradh na Gaeilge says: "The Irish-language and Gaeltacht community has a role to play in implementing the decisions regarding The 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language emanating from the Department for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, but the community has no role or representation within the current structure that makes those decisions.

"There is a colossal difference between being consulted with and having concrete input into decisions being made: it is not enough to consult with the Irish-language and Gaeltacht community if that community doesn't have representation on the board that makes the decisions regarding the Strategy."

Stakeholders in other sectors are recognised and represented at the table when important decisions are being taken, and the Irish-language and Gaeltacht community wants the same recognition and representation given to them.

Conradh na Gaeilge wants to ensure that the community and the authorities have joint ownership of The 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language through the establishment of a Planning Unit, which would guarantee integrated, effective and effectual planning for the language on the ground. The Planning Unit would pre-empt problems by securing agreement on important issues effecting the community, where interdepartmental committees would present reports to the Planning Unit before decisions were made and the Minister for the Gaeltacht would then be advised to accept or reject them.

The Department of Education and Skills' recent decision to integrate An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta & Gaelscolaíochta (COGG) with the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) also arose as an issue of grave concern for the Irish-language and Gaeltacht community at Friday's meeting.

Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge said: "This decision to integrate COGG with the NCCA is yet another attach on Irish-language institutions that have the greatest respect of the Irish-language and Gaeltacht community, but Conradh na Gaeilge strongly believes that problems with the Gaeltacht Bill, with the merging of the office of An Coimisinéir Teanga with the Office of the Ombudsman, and with the integration of COGG with the NCCA amongst others, would not have occurred had these decisions been discussed and agreed upon beforehand, with input from both the Irish-language and Gaeltacht community and the authorities included.

"The 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language is failing to have any real impact on the public as the Irish-language and Gaeltacht community have no ownership or control over its implementation; the people don't have a place at the table where the decisions on this language legislation are being made and as a result, the Government's decisions lack the grassroots' expertise, drive and experience to guide the authorities in the right direction to further and foster the Irish language."

There was a consensus at the meeting that the gap between the community and the power must be closed and to that end, the meeting called for the recognition of the Irish-language and Gaeltacht community as stakeholders in the implementation of The 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language; for the establishment of a Planning Unit to ensure both the community and the authorities share ownership of the Strategy; and for this crucial high level structure to facilitate the communication and co-operation between the authorities and the Irish-language and Gaeltacht community. END

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Donnchadh Ó hAodha,
President, Conradh na Gaeilge
+353 (0)87 2421267 / +353 (0)1 4757401

Julian de Spáinn,
General Secretary, Conradh na Gaeilge
+353 (0)86 8142757 / +353 (0)1 4757401

EDITOR'S NOTE:

15.00 Welcome from the Chairperson
- Lorcán Mac Gabhann, Director, Glór na nGael

15.10 Todhchaí na Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge 2010-30: Staid reatha, droch-chinntí glactha, COGG, éileamh déanta
- Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary, Conradh na Gaeilge

15.30 Conas tionchar a imirt ar pholaiteoirí na tíre
- Harry McGee, Political Correspondent, Irish Times

15.50 Discussion and recommendations on the way forward

16.30 Round up of recommendations

Conradh na Gaeilge is the democratic forum for the Irish-speaking community working to promote the language. There are over 200 branches of Conradh na Gaeilge and since its foundation in 1893, members of the Conradh have been actively promoting Irish in every aspect of life in Ireland and especially its use in their own areas. Conraitheoirí are at the forefront of campaigns to secure and strengthen the rights of the Irish language community. It is also possible to register as an individual member of the Conradh. Conradh na Gaeilge runs Irish courses in Dublin, Galway, Mayo and other places throughout the country as well. www.cnag.ie/courses

Aontas Phobal na Gaeilge (APG) is an alliance of Irish-language organisations working to promote Irish across Ireland and the world through more strategic language-planning. Aontas Phobal na Gaeilge consists of Comhaltas Uladh, Comhluadar, Conradh na Gaeilge, Glór na nGael and Seachtain na Gaeilge, organisations dealing with different aspects of the promotion of Irish in the community that came together to form a working alliance that would ensure a better provision of services and more value for money.

APG will fulfil the all-island brief for the Irish-language sector following the North/South Ministerial Council's announcement on 02 December 2009 that Foras na Gaeilge would have to look for funding requests from the voluntary sector from "One organization (or perhaps a limited number of organizations, [...]), with a representative, circulating information, advocacy and resources and support provision role to the whole sector".

Aontas Phobal na Gaeilge will continue the work currently undertaken by the united organisations of the alliance, and that programme of work will be added to. APG will continue to organise a national festival of the highest calibre publically celebrating the Irish language; it will further develop its lobbying and advocacy programme; it will emphasise the importance of language transmission from generation to generation; it will run an Irish-language competition, nationally and internationally; it will ensure there are wide-ranging opportunities for people to learn Irish; and it will promote innovative new ways in which Irish can be used. Here follow the strategic objectives of Aontas Phobal na Gaeilge:

1. To provide a joined-up plan of action, a structure, and human and physical resources for the operation of the APG;
2. To develop and encourage the ability to speak and learn Irish, the transmission and acquisition of the language;
3. To increase the use of Irish in the community;
4. To acknowledge and extend the status, image, rights and awareness of Irish;
5. To nurture the transmission of Irish from generation to generation on an all-Ireland basis; to maintain and promote the Gaeltacht; and to develop new Gaeltacht networks as language sanctuaries.

Aontas Phobal na Gaeilge values the amount of voluntary work done in the sector and will ensure that consistent, expert professional assistance is provided to volunteers, along with offering an independent forum as a support for the invaluable voluntary work done, for the Irish language. www.aontaspg.ie

Associated Organisations of Conradh na Gaeilge