Tuesday, 14 December 2010
Dáil Éireann Debate
33. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs if he has considered the 20-year strategy for the Irish language; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46121/10]
41. Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs his plans regarding progressing the 20-year strategy on the Irish language in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46055/10]
As I mentioned earlier, the 20-year strategy on the Irish language was approved by Government at its meeting of 30 November. It is intended to publish the final document next week and further information will be available at that time concerning the steps to be taken for its implementation. The strategy has been developed in line with the Government’s policy statement on Irish of December 2006, which affirmed the Government’s support for the development and preservation of the Irish language and the Gaeltacht. As discussions have gone on, I think the House is united on this.
The objective of the strategy is to increase on an incremental basis the use and knowledge of Irish as a community language. The strategy is the culmination of a process that involved widespread consultation with the public, key stakeholders and a cross-party Oireachtas committee.
The strategy has a number of areas for action such as education, the Gaeltacht, family transmission of the language, public services and the community. The implementation of the strategy will begin in 2011 when appropriate structures will be put in place and legislation brought forward in order to ensure the successful implementation of the strategy in a cost-effective manner over its 20-year time frame.
Deputy Dinny McGinley: Whatever about the policy of Straitéis na Gaeilge, on which all parties are agreed, does the Minister agree that its implementation is now a top priority? Is the Minister seriously stating it will be possible to implement all aspects of that policy when there are such huge cutbacks to the resources available to Roinn na Gaeltachta and Údarás na Gaeltachta. The latter bodies will have a certain responsibility in the implementation of this policy. It will be an impossible task and this calls into question the Minister’s seriousness and the Government’s commitment to the strategy at this late hour.
Deputy Pat Carey: It is a 20-year strategy, not a 20-week one. Everybody is serious about this matter. A unit has been established in my Department to co-ordinate the implementation of the strategy as soon as the final document is published. Some €1.5 million has been set aside in the coming year’s Estimates specifically for rolling out the initial phases. Whatever Governments are in office over that 20-year period will have to adhere to the strategy. It is recommended that the Cabinet sub-committee on Gaeilge and the Gaeltacht will have a monitoring role in implementing the strategy, as will the Dáil, and the Seanad if it is around. To answer Deputy McGinley’s question, I am convinced that it is possible to implement the 20 year strategy in full, but every Government will have to make a commitment. The fact that parties on the other side of the House have taken ownership of the strategy reassures me that it will be possible.
Of course it will involve resources, year on year. That is why resources will have to be committed to it. I am advised that €1.5 million will be sufficient to roll out the initial phases of the strategy. There will be other parts to it. The education sector will have to play a part in the strategy, as well as other Departments.
The Minister mentioned a co-ordinating unit in his Department. What powers will the unit have? Will it merely consult with other Departments or has it powers to make sure the various recommendations of the strategy are put in place? Will it simply be another harmless talking shop with no effective function?
Deputy Pat Carey: I repeat that the strategy is a 20 year one. The next couple of years will be frugal, but I am sure that whatever Government is in power will put in enough money to roll out the initial phases of the strategy.
The unit is not a toothless talking shop. It is headed by an official at director level. She will be working with a team of people across the Department to ensure that the objectives of the strategy are implemented. It will not be a toothless tiger. It will make sure that the objectives are pursued and fulfilled across Departments. An Coimisinéir Teanga also has a role in this. There will be a high level committee of senior civil servants and the Cabinet committee on Gaeilge and the Gaeltacht will be there also. The implementation group is based in Furbo. The senior officials group has been in place for some time and is working on the drafts of the strategy, and there is also the Cabinet Committee on Gaeilge and the Gaeltacht.
Deputy Pat Carey: Foilseofar an straitéis an tseachtain seo chugainn. Cuirfidh mé eolas cruinn chuig an Teachta nuair atá an dáta socraithe. Déanfar iarracht í a foilsiú Dé Máirt seo chugainn, más féidir liom é sin a eagrú. Beidh mé i dteagmháil leis an Teachta.
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