Conradh na Gaeilge has welcomed today’s Government announcement (6 July 2017) that the Gaeltacht has been included in the title of the new Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
Niall Comer, President of Conradh na Gaeilge says:
“In its announcement of the official name for the new Department today, the importance of the Gaeltacht has been recognised in the appropriate Department title by the Taoiseach and by the Government. Responsibility for the Gaeltacht clearly involves so much more than just questions of culture. The Gaeltachts of Ireland are areas where people live in communities with specific needs, communities that deserve decent and appropriate services as citizens of this country. Credit goes to everyone who took the time to speak with their local TDs about this issue.”
Conradh na Gaeilge also recognises the Government’s clarification as regards the decision to drop the Government Committee with responsibility for the Irish language and for the Gaeltacht, and the new arrangement to take its place. The Government Committee was originally established in 2011 as part of the Government’s implementation of the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language.
Now, instead of one Government Committee with responsibility for the Irish language and for the Gaeltacht, the language will henceforth be presided over by two Government Committees. These include the committee dealing with social policy and public services which will also cover education, children, equality, social inclusion, justice, the arts; and the committee dealing with the economy, employment, Brexit, and the Rural Development Action Plan.
Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge says:
“We understand the reasoning behind the decision to make Irish-language and Gaeltacht issues more central in Government discussions covering everything from education to the economy. However, there is a danger that these Government Committees won’t have enough time to make the language and the Gaeltacht the priority it should be. Only time will tell. Conradh na Gaeilge will certainly continue to work to ensure that this doesn’t happen, and we will keep the community updated on the matter."
Regardless of which Government Committee deals with the language, Conradh na Gaeilge is calling on the Government to focus on two important issues as a matter of priority. These include the provision of funding for the Investment Plan agreed by 80 Irish-language and Gaeltacht groups, and the necessary action to ensure that amendments to the Official Languages Act of 2003 are passed by Christmas 2017. These issues are all the more urgent in light of the Census 2016 results which highlighted the first reduction in the number of Irish speakers in the state since 1946, and more pressingly, the drastic reduction in the number of Irish speakers in the Gaeltacht.
The investment plan would create over 1,150 new jobs, it would make essential resources available for language planning, and it would provide numerous opportunities for the public throughout Ireland to use Irish.