Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Culture centres open to community

Conradh na Gaeilge is making the organisation's two main buildings in Dublin and Galway available to the Irish-speaking community to use as centres for meetings, conferences, classes and more in an effort to develop the buildings belonging to the Conradh as cultural centres of Irish in the heart of the two cities.

There are already Irish-language courses, conversation circles, conferences, meetings, and social nights with music and dancing organised regularly in both Conradh na Gaeilge buildings in Dublin and Galway, and any other Irish-language organisation or individual persons can rent rooms from the Conradh on a daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly basis to operate from either of the two buildings during the year.

Pádraig Mac Fhearghusa, President of Conradh na Gaeilge says "Conradh na Gaeilge is the democratic forum for the Irish-speaking community and the organisation is committed to working with other Irish-language organisations to promote the language throughout the island. Community support and cooperation is key to our work, and Conradh na Gaeilge is delighted to have this opportunity to invite other organisations and individuals who are working to promote the Irish language also, to utilise the facilities we have in Dublin and Galway to strength the Irish-speaking community in both those cities, and indeed throughout the country."

In addition to the national head-office of Conradh na Gaeilge, many important organisations in the Irish-language sector are already operating from the building on Harcourt Street, including Oireachtas na Gaeilge; Ógras; Seachtain na Gaeilge; Glór na nGael, Leinster; Rith 2010; the Irish-language chart-station, Raidió Rí-Rá; the Irish-language FLAC Centre of the Four Courts' Branch, An tIonad Saor-Chomhairle Dlí; the Irish-language bookshop, An Siopa Leabhar; and the Irish-language club, Club Chonradh na Gaeilge.

Conradh na Gaeilge's Galway development project, Togra Ghael-Fhorbairt na Gaillimhe, operates from Aras na nGael at 45 Dominic Street (Pictured on right in Galway as well as Club Áras na nGael and Ógras, Connaught.

Conradh na Gaeilge's historical headquarters at Number 6 Harcourt Street, Dublin 2 were recently renovated and repaired thanks to the generous donations of the branches of the Conradh and the aid of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs through the Irish-Language Fund, Ciste na Gaeilge, which is part-funded by the National Lottery, and the building is now being further developed as a place of work, a meeting facility and a cultural centre for the Irish-speaking community in the capital.

Áras na nGael is functioning as an Irish-language centre in Galway at present and Conradh na Gaeilge is also looking to find a new location on which to develop a bigger centre, so as to provide more facilities to the language community in the city in the future.

The original Irish version of this release with links!

New documentary on Pearse launched

Ó PHEANN AN PHIARSAIGH launched in Dublin
Alan Gilsenan's visual film-poem on Pearse's writings.

A visually compelling major new film for TG4 on one of the most enigmatic and controversial leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising was launched this evening at the newly restored Pearse family home in Dublin by the Chairman of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, Bob Collins.

Ó Pheann an Phiarsaigh is an hour-long dramatic montage from award-winning director Alan Gilsenan that draws solely on Pearse's own writings as it attempts to weave an artistic vision of the national icon's life and death and reflect on this divisive, controversial figure. The film will be broadcast on the Irish language channel on Wednesday 5 May at 9.30pm. Extensive use is made of archive film from the Irish Film Archive, IFI Irish Film Archive, Iarsmalann an Phiarsaigh, Fáilte Ireland, Gael Linn, Bailiúchán Clarke, NASA and the U.S. Library of Congress.

Pearse has become a somewhat divisive figure. For some, he is a towering hero of Irish independence, a major literary figure and educational theorist but for many others he's an out-moded totem, his character tainted by a dangerous love of blood sacrifice, a naive narcissism and unanswered questions about his sexuality and suitability as a role model.

This release in Irish (with live links)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A fully human language?

We talked about the Conradh na Gaeilge Árd Fheis in our piece, "A very modern contest," concentrating on the contest for the venerable position of President (Uachtarán), a position held first by by one of the founders, Dúbhglás de hÍde, who later became President of Ireland.

There was very little coverage of this in the English language media, and indeed the Irish language media had what could be regarded as a fairly light coverage. However the new kid on the block, Gaelscéal, has a report in this weeks issue which tries to give the flavour of the event.

Like all journalism it is perhaps concentrating on the contest and possible signs of division, young versus old, even Munster versus the rest. Certainly the election prospect seems to have galvanised attendance at this years event. The re-elected President (and indeed his opponent) were anxious that no bitterness should follow a keenly fought campaign. When asked about possible divisions he said firmly that he didn't want to continue in that vein at all . "I am not in the Conradh for controversy," he said. "I am in Conradh na Gaeilge for the work, for the unity, to put pressure on the civil servants that are against us. I wish to make it clear that I am not in the Conradh to foment disputes." The defeated candidate concurred and he vowed to continue his work with Pádraigh for the Conradh in the enthusiastic spirit of his campaign.

I'm from the government and I'm here to help you!The re-elected President, Pádraigh Mac Fhearghusa, made a very spirited and indeed feisty address to the delegates. Possible, according to some sources, a much more envigourated speech that that he made as an election. He emphasised how welcome the young generation was to this, one of the oldest national movements, only Cumann Luathcleas Gael is older. He emphasised particularly the civil service. He obviously feels the antipathy emanating from some of these servants of the state. "Do you regard Irish as a fully human language?" he asked.

Clearly he understands the incredible damage that the intransigence of the state beaurocracy has done to the language, the most important still living part of our heritage.

Clearly as the Conradh advances into it's second century it is far from moribund and intends to take its rightful place again as the inspiration of the ancient Gaelic nation. An old fashioned notion?

Let's watch and see.

Friday, April 23, 2010




N.B.Blog owners comment:
We've put this English translation of the Governments 20 Year Strategy on the language from the pdf copy (both versions Ireish and English on single document) which is available from the site of the Department of the Gaeltacht but only in pdf form.

Some people prefer to download and look at documents in this format while others prefer the HTML format as here. The Irish version has been available in HTML format since November 2009 on the Gaeltacht21 blog site. We now present this English Language version for study by people who feel intimidated by 91 pages of Irish - though they may find it easy enough to read the shorter pages - like the contents. We have divided the document up into the various chapters and divisions for the same reason.

This draft, and it is a draft, is being considered by a joint Oireachtas committee which has held many meetings, including public televised ones, both in Dublin and, historically, in the Gaeltacht itself, when representations were made by interested bodies.


Despite centuries of language shift from Irish to English, the Irish language continues to survive as a living community language in some traditional Gaeltacht heartlands and it is also in use on a daily basis by many people outside the Gaeltacht.

The last hundred years has also seen a flowering of literature and other art forms through the medium of Irish, such that Irish is now a fully-fledged modern European language.

The objective of Government policy in relation to Irish is to increase on an incremental basis the use and knowledge of Irish as a community language. Specifically, the Government aim is to ensure that as many citizens as possible are bilingual in both Irish and English.

The aim of Government policy is also to
  • increase the number of families throughout the country who use Irish as the daily language of communication;

  • provide linguistic support for the Gaeltacht as an Irish-speaking community;

  • ensure that in public discourse and in public services the use of Irish or English will be, as far as practical, a choice for the citizen to make and that over time more and more people throughout the State will choose to do their business in Irish; and

  • ensure that Irish becomes more visible in our society, both as a spoken language by our citizens and also in areas such as signage and literature.
Irish is part of the culture and heritage of Northern Ireland and the promotion and protection of the language there is also a priority for the Government.

The Government recognises the tremendous advantage to its citizens of fluency in English, the most widely used language in international affairs. The Government commits to ensuring that this advantage is retained through the development of a bilingual society, where as many people as possible can use Irish and English with equal ease and facility.

While strengthening the position of the language within our educational system is a key focus of this strategy, transmission of Irish as a living language within the family and between the generations is critically important. Our overall approach is to create a supportive framework and the opportunities in which Irish can be passed on in a natural way within households and communities.

The future of the language depends on people who make a positive choice to embrace the opportunities this Strategy will create. This is the challenge for all of us.


Article 8 of the Constitution of Ireland states that:
    “The Irish language as the national language is the first official language.”
This 20-year Strategy for the Irish language is built on the foundation of the Constitutional status of the language and follows on the Government’s Policy Statement on Irish published in December 2006. That Statement affirmed the Government’s support for the development and preservation of the Irish language and the Gaeltacht and set out 13 policy objectives to that end:
    Objective 1: The special status given to the Irish language in the Constitution and in legislation such as the Official Languages Act 2003, the Education Act 1998, the Planning and Development Act 2000 and the Broadcasting Act 2009(Now the Broadcasting Act 2009) will be upheld.

    Objective 2: The Official Languages Act will be fully implemented. The right of the public to use Irish in dealings with the State and with other bodies will be developed and the appropriate arrangements to deliver this will be put in place.

    Objective 3: The Irish language community inside and outside the Gaeltacht will be given encouragement and support to transmit Irish to the next generation as a living household language. Towards this end, a wide range of services in Irish will be provided.

    Objective 4: The Gaeltacht will be given special support as an Irish-speaking area.

    Objective 5: Irish will be taught as an obligatory subject from primary to Leaving Certificate level. The curriculum will foster oral and written competence in Irish among students and an understanding of its value to us as a people. This will be supported by enhanced investment in professional development and ongoing support for teachers, as well as in provision of textbooks and resources, and support for innovative approaches to teaching and learning.

    Objective 6: A high standard of all-Irish education will be provided to school students whose parents/guardians so wish. Gaelscoileanna will continue to be supported at primary level and all-Irish provision at post-primary level will be developed to meet follow-on demand.

    Objective 7: Irish language pre-school education will continue to be supported and third-level education through Irish will be further developed.

    Objective 8: The State will continue to support Foras na Gaeilge in the context of the British-Irish Agreement Act 1999.

    Objective 9: High quality broadcast services through the medium of Irish will be ensured, especially through the continuous development of RTÉ, Raidió na Gaeltachta and TG4.

    Objective 10: Every assistance and support will be given to the European Union in implementing the decision to make Irish a working and official language in the EU from 1 January 2007.

    Objective 11: In order to promote Irish nationally and to preserve and strengthen it in the Gaeltacht, the work being done by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and by agencies and bodies which come under its aegis will continue to be reinforced.

    Objective 12: The use of the Irish language by the Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces will be continued and developed.

    Objective 13: The Government recognises the vital role of the Irish language voluntary sector and will continue to support it.
It is also an objective of Government to support the promotion and teaching of Irish abroad, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. Particular emphasis has been placed on supporting the teaching of Irish in third-level colleges in a range of different countries.

In broad terms, therefore, the elements that make up the modern-day context for the Irish language include the following:
  • • Ireland is a bilingual State in which Irish is the first official language in accordance with Article 8 of the Constitution of Ireland.
  • • In the context of our European heritage, Irish is the oldest spoken literary language in Europe.
  • • According to the 2006 Census of Population, 42% of the population of Ireland have a certain ability to speak Irish – that equates to some 1.66 million people aged 3 years or more out of a total resident population of some 4.2 million.
  • • Irish is the main community and household language of 3% of the country’s population.
  • • According to surveys and opinion polls, most of the population believes that Irish is of particular importance for themselves personally and/or for the country as a whole.
  • • Irish was afforded official and working language status at EU level with effect from 1 January 2007.
This Strategy seeks to build on the foregoing context and objectives by setting out a series of areas for action to benefit the language and the Gaeltacht over the next 20 years. The Government believes that the Irish language is of particular importance for the people, society and culture of Ireland. As a spoken community language, Irish is unique to this country and is, therefore, of crucial importance to the identity of the Irish people and to world heritage.

This Strategy is underpinned by an analysis of the situation facing the Irish language, undertaken on behalf of the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs by a team of international consultants with expertise on language issues, led by DCU Fiontar. This analysis is being published separately. In relation to the Gaeltacht, the approach in this Strategy has been informed by recommendations in the Report of the Linguistic Study of the Use of Irish in the Gaeltacht, undertaken on behalf of the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs by Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta, University College Galway.

The Strategy has also been supported by a study undertaken by Fr. Micheál Mac Gréil and Fergal Rhatigan of the Department of Sociology NUI Maynooth on Attitudes towards Competence in and Use of the Irish Language 2007-2008. The study results show that positive attitudes and aspirations for Irish have been maintained at very high levels since the author’s previous studies in 1973 (Prejudice and Tolerance In Ireland) and 1996 (Prejudice in Ireland Revisited). The results show overwhelming support for preservation of Irish: 52.5% want Irish preserved in the Gaeltacht and revived for use in arts and culture outside, while 40.9% want Irish revived and used for public purposes throughout the State.

International perspectives
The value of linguistic diversity is recognised internationally. Languages are humankind’s principle tools for interacting and for expressing ideas, emotions, knowledge, memories and values. Languages are also primary vehicles of cultural expressions and intangible cultural heritage, essential to the identity of individuals and groups. The key role of language in the expression and transmission of cultural heritage is recognised in the United Nations 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Safeguarding languages such as Irish is thus a crucial task in maintaining cultural diversity worldwide. UNESCO reports that half of the 6,700 languages spoken today are in danger of disappearing before the century ends, a process that can be slowed only if urgent action is taken by Governments and speaker communities. UNESCO’s Endangered Languages Programme mobilizes international cooperation to focus attention on this grave situation and to promote innovative solutions from communities, experts and authorities. The most recent edition of the UNESCO Atlas of Endangered Languages (pdf) classified Irish as “definitely endangered”. This status has since been improved to “vulnerable”, in the light of information about the measures taken by Government to support the language in recent years.

The 2003 UN Convention recognizes the vital role of language in the expression and transmission of living heritage. All intangible cultural heritage depends on language for its day-to-day vitality and for being passed on to the next generation. In relation to oral traditions, whether it be song, poetry or folklore, language is not only the vehicle that contains the cultural heritage, it is its very essence. As well as analysing the situation of languages under pressure the world over, UNESCO has developed a framework for determining the vitality of a language in order to assist Governments and others in policy development, identification of needs and appropriate safeguarding measures. This framework based on the following nine criteria has also informed the development of this Strategy:
The Government’s strategy as set out in this document is organised around
  • • increasing the knowledge of Irish;
  • • creating opportunities for the use of Irish; and
  • • fostering positive attitudes towards its use.
We know from the situation that faces Irish that language use does not follow automatically from ability to speak the language. Actual language use results from the co-presence of ability, opportunity, and positive attitudes. This Strategy seeks, therefore, to create positive circumstances for greater use by our people of the language ability that they have and for a real increase in that ability over time.

The Strategy demonstrates the Government’s support for the development and preservation of the Irish language by a long-term commitment to a coherent and comprehensive approach to the future of the language as a living, spoken language with a firm position in the educational system, at the highest levels of our political system and in our public administration and in the Gaeltacht.

As already stated, Irish is part of the culture and heritage of Northern Ireland and the promotion and protection of the language there is a priority for the Government.

In the context of the Government’s continuing commitment to the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, it will continue to support Foras na Gaeilge, the North/South implementation body charged with promoting the language on an all-island basis, and to ensure its continued effective operation. The Government’s Strategy will have a beneficial impact on speakers of the Irish language in Northern Ireland. The Government will also continue to press for the full implementation of commitments relating to the Irish language, which fall to the British Government and the Northern Ireland Executive, including the introduction of an Irish Language Act and the enhancement protection and development of the Irish language in Northern Ireland.


As already referred to, the 2006 Government Statement on the Irish Language identified key policy objectives through which support for Irish and the Gaeltacht will be advanced. The areas for action set out below are associated and grouped in relation to those objectives and will be addressed in phases as follows:

Year 1 (2010): Establishment Phase
This year will be devoted to the communication of the goals and content of the Strategy and setting up the required organisational and operational structures. In addition, the overall resources required will be allocated and the ongoing monitoring, evaluation and modification procedures will be agreed and established. Operational plans will be requested and received from all implementing public agencies. Key priority measures will be established.

Years 2-3 (2011-12): Implementation Phase I - Laying the Foundations
During the first two years of the Strategy, all the long-term measures will be put in place so that the supply of qualified teachers, and other specialists are available, or the systems for their preparation are in place, early in the Strategy. In addition, a considerable number of measures will be fully implemented or commenced in this phase, including the preparation of materials for language education and literacy.

Years 4-15 (2013-25): Implementation Phase II - Expanding and Deepening
This phase can be seen as having three sub-phases, but overall it involves: full implementation of all measures; undertaking of rolling evaluations; and conducting of campaigns for promotion and fostering of positive attitudes to the language. The first graduates of revised teacher education programs will be produced and these will be deployed to schools and other education institutions.

During this phase Ireland will celebrate the 100th anniversaries of the Easter Rising and of independence, and these occasions will be linked to the Strategy for Irish, showcasing results attained, undertaking a major review of outcomes and mobilizing public involvement and support around the goals, spirit and vision of the Strategy.

Years 16-20 (2026-30): Implementation Phase III: Consolidating
The consolidation phase will be directed towards mainstreaming of all measures. It will build on the increased abilities in Irish amongst our people, expanded opportunities to use Irish and the active encouragement of positive attitudes towards Irish achieved in previous phases.

The provision of appropriate resources and support will be crucial to the implementation of the Strategy. Provision will be overseen by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and functions will be allocated to an existing agency (or agencies) or sourced from the private sector, as appropriate.

Arrangements will be put in place to:

  • - monitor, support and adapt practical language planning activities from other societies;
  • - initiate, survey and review materials which facilitate the use of Irish;
  • - host a central database of Irish medium materials, templates and IT applications;
  • - prepare guides and materials to assist individuals and voluntary organisations to promote Irish;
  • - provide a national public help-line;
  • - put in place a national information centre and clearing house for translation services and other language-related services;
  • - hold a national database of good practice activities in language planning;
  • - help develop supports for local area initiatives and the capacity to develop and manage such initiatives; and
  • - promote the development of language management systems in a variety of contexts.
Many of the priorities for action in this Strategy depend on the availability of such supports and resources and their organisation are, therefore, a high priority for early attention.


Following on from the 2006 Policy Statement, the headline goal has been set of increasing over 20 years the number of
  • • people with a knowledge of Irish from the current 1.66 million to 2 million; and
  • • daily speakers of Irish from the current level of approximately 83,000 to 250,000.
The achievement of these ambitious goals has been the overriding consideration in formulating the decisions on areas for action in this Strategy.

The specific objectives involved in the preparation of the Strategy are to:
  • • increase the number of speakers who speak Irish on a daily basis outside the educational system from 83,000 to 250,000;
  • • increase the number of speakers who speak Irish on a daily basis in the Gaeltacht as its invigoration will be critical to the overall plan/strategy; and
  • • increase the number of people that use State services through the Irish language and can access television, radio and print media through the language.


The 20-year Strategy will be integrated across the routine operations of the agencies of the State, with strong Government direction and leadership. All sections of public administration and key national and local stakeholders have a role to play in its implementation. For Irish to be expanded in its use will require ‘normalisation’. This term draws on the experience of other languages whose roles have been diminished. Irish will only attain a more secure social position through an active awareness and positive attitudes aimed at reversing its marginalisation, as well as greater unself-conscious use of the language for mainstream and routine purposes of communication. This task requires that all relevant agencies co-operate in pursuing the goals and programmes of the Strategy and that a coherent and effective management structure be in place for the Strategy.

The following will be the key Government structures to deliver the Strategy:
  • • The Cabinet Committee on Irish and the Gaeltacht, chaired by the Taoiseach, will maintain oversight of progress and report to Government as necessary.
  • • A Senior Officials Group made up of high-level officials from relevant Departments will support the Cabinet Committee.
  • • There will continue to be a senior Minister and a Government Department (the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs) with central responsibility for Irish language affairs.
Planning and Implementation of the Strategy will be directed from a Strategy Unit within that Department, with dedicated staff and the function of assigning duties and implementation roles to implementation agencies, as necessary.

The Strategy Unit will be responsible for:
  • • overseeing the strategic planning process;
  • • monitoring the development of resources;
  • • ensuring cross-departmental implementation of initiatives;
  • • providing expert advice;
  • • overseeing operational plans as developed by the implementation bodies; and
  • • publishing updates and relevant documentation for public information.
A small number of seconded staff with expertise in public administration management, language planning and education may be assigned to the Unit for specific tasks, if necessary. Evaluations, as required, or specific services may be commissioned by the Unit from existing agencies or from the private sector. Sectoral plans and commitments will be delivered through relevant Departments and agencies.

With regard to the main implementation agency to be responsible for delivering on the Strategy, it is proposed that an existing Irish language agency - Údarás na Gaeltachta - will be fundamentally restructured as a new national Irish language agency - Údarás na Gaeilge. While the implementation of certain Gaeltacht policies and plans will continue to be the responsibility of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, it may, however, devolve functions to Údarás na Gaeilge, as appropriate.

Foras na Gaeilge will continue to deliver on its statutory responsibilities in relation to Irish. These include undertaking supportive projects and grant-aiding bodies and groups to support the language as appropriate, developing terminologies and dictionaries, supporting Irish-medium education and the teaching of the Irish language on the island, and generally facilitating and encouraging the use of the language in public and private life. In fully carrying out its remit, Foras na Gaeilge will remain a key element of the support structure for the language in both parts of the island.


The Strategy sets out areas of action under nine key headings:


Recent reports in regard to Irish in schools indicate the following:
  • Inspectors judged that Irish was taught to a good or very good standard in only half of the primary classrooms inspected, and that in a third of classrooms Irish was taught through the medium of English. Pupils in just over half of lessons were able to express themselves satisfactorily in Irish.
  • The Harris report (July 2007) indicated that in English medium and Gaeltacht primary schools there was a fall of 36.1% and 40.5% respectively in the numbers of pupils achieving mastery in the development of listening, vocabulary and comprehension skills between 1985 and 2002. While a little over half of pupils mastered fluency of oral description and communication in 1985 in English medium schools, less than one third mastered them in 2002. The study also found a marked decline in teachers’ confidence, with almost 25% of teachers in English medium schools rating their own standards of spoken Irish as weak.
  • In junior cycle, reports on a third of the schools refer to limited oral ability among students. Steps have been take in the interim to increase the marks available for the voluntary oral at junior cycle and the national oral in the Leaving Certificate to 40% for all new entrants who began second level schooling in 2007/8.
While the foregoing facts indicate the scale of the challenge, the actions proposed in the area of education are designed to achieve the underlying principles of the Strategy to:
  • • enhance and extend ability in Irish more deeply and among larger numbers of people;
  • • reverse negative attitudes towards Irish language use and foster positive attitudes in their place; and
  • • expand the available opportunities for use of Irish within the education system by extending use of Irish as a medium of instruction, as well as a subject, and by linking school language learning to the informal use of Irish in recreational, cultural and other out-of-school activities.
The 2006 Statement on the Irish Language contains three education objectives:

Objective 5: Irish will be taught as an obligatory subject from primary to Leaving Certificate level. The curriculum will foster oral and written competence in Irish among students and an understanding of its value to us as a people. This will be supported by enhanced investment in professional development and ongoing support for teachers, as well as in provision of textbooks and resources, and in support for innovative approaches to teaching and learning.
Objective 6: A high standard of all-Irish education will be provided to school students whose parents/guardians so wish. Gaelscoileanna will continue to be supported at primary level and all-Irish provision at post –primary level will be developed to meet follow-on demand.
Objective 7: Irish language pre-school education will continue to be supported and third-level education through Irish will be further developed.

Links to out-of-school usage
The education system is one of the critical engines for generating the linguistic ability on which this 20-year Strategy is premised. In formal schooling the State can actively assist the development of the linguistic capabilities of our population. The achievement by the education authorities of a more systematic and intensive national focus on universal learning of Irish is therefore a central goal.

The critical need to give life to the Irish language outside the classroom for the young people who study it in the formal educational system is a widespread conclusion of language revitalisation efforts throughout the world. Fostering the creation of youth culture and identity, and the appropriate Irish language forms for this, involves providing opportunities for its natural use and creating ICT mediated networks of speakers. The education sector will work in partnership with relevant agencies in this regard.

The Gaeltacht Summer Colleges are an important existing dimension of the encouragement of young people to use and apply the Irish they learn in school. The effectiveness of the Summer Colleges can be increased substantially with a more coherent and well-planned curriculum design process for the colleges and, in this regard, the Department of Education and Science will continue to be involved in quality assurance of the sector. The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs will work to ensure more emphasis by the Summer Colleges on family language learning experiences so that networks of natural use of Irish can be promoted with mechanisms for their continuation post-Summer College in families and among friendship groupings. Programmes targeted at trainee primary teachers will benefit from being re-structured and enhanced, and the Department of Education and Science will consult with the Teaching Council in this regard.

Partial Immersion
From as early as possible in Phase II, it is proposed to move towards a situation where partial Irish language immersion will be offered to all children. This will be implemented on a phased basis in line with the progress made in strengthening teacher’s competences in this area through a comprehensive investment programme of professional development for teachers. This could be delivered through the teaching of some mainstream subject matter in Irish in the infant classes, and be complemented by the preparation in Phase II of designated subject areas to be taught through Irish in the middle and upper years in primary schools. Ultimately, the aim will be that by Phase III all students in mainstream schools undertaking Irish language as a core subject will be offered the experience of partial immersion education in other subjects. These measures will be achieved on a phased basis, supported by investment in the upskilling of teachers. Use will be made, as appropriate, of incentives such as the GLEO award scheme to encourage schools in this area. The strategy will be supported by the development and provision of resources and materials for schools.

National assessment
National assessment of aural and oral competence in Irish will be implemented at both junior cycle and senior cycle level for all recognised schools. It is recognised that oral assessment at junior cycle can only realistically be achieved in the context of a model of local assessment by class teachers with external moderation. Standardised test instruments at primary level are being developed at present in Irish.

Innovations in curriculum require the development of appropriate instruments and procedures for the assessment of learning Irish. A beneficial linkage can be made with the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for defining the linguistic and communicative standards that the assessment procedures will verify.

Curriculum for teaching of Irish
At primary level, the curriculum is relatively new and there would appear to be consensus that it is in keeping with good practice and current thinking on language teaching. In this context, there will be greater focus on more explicit articulation of the linguistic objectives at the various levels of the primary schooling and the development of high-quality materials to support the implementation of the curriculum.

At post-primary level, where programmes in Irish are offered at three levels, there will be a strong emphasis on fostering oral, aural and written competence in Irish, and on ensuring a significant shift in emphasis towards Irish as a spoken language, where students can communicate and interact in a spontaneous way, and where Irish is spoken every day in schools.

Pre-school and parent support programs
Pre-school and non-formal learning are important dimensions of Irish language revitalisation. All the research on this area has shown that it is easiest to acquire a new language in the earliest years. As such, it is intended that some level of pre-school Irish language education will be offered in all localities.

Childcare and pre-school facilities will be facilitated to offer an Irish language dimension and create a language-friendly environment for their young charges, for example, through provision of supports such as Irish language DVDs geared for young children, and teaching of nursery rhymes and games in Irish. The focus, in particular, is to ensure that there is Irish-medium pre-school provision (naíonraí) in every area where there is an Irish-medium primary school, and in other areas where there is a demand.

Parents need to receive active reinforcement of their Irish literacy so that they are able to continue to support their children’s growing Irish learning in the primary school years. Such training is important for other education and care-giving professionals and will be extended to day care workers, crèche workers and members of community associations, especially in areas where a moderate percentage of the population are Irish speakers.

Specialist subject provision
Services in recreational education (such as visual and performing arts) outside the formal curriculum of schools will be included in local area language plans during primary school years.

Teacher Education
Generating the teacher force to achieve objectives regarding competence in the Irish language is critical, as are links between schools and recreational and youth centres, clubs and activities. In this regard, it is noted that the Teaching Council, as the statutory body charged with determining standards for the teaching profession, has been asked to make recommendations on the appropriateness of initial teacher education programmes at primary and post primary level to 21st century needs.

A two-pronged approach is proposed in this Strategy to prepare the teaching force to meet the proposed objectives. To achieve Objective 5, the Teaching Council will work progressively to raise the standard of Irish language competency for teaching the subject of Irish. This is to be achieved through specific initiatives to include the following:

Mainstream Education - Primary System
  • - In order to ensure that the professional Irish standard (Gaeilge Ghairmiúil) is achieved in all teacher education colleges, the Teaching Council, as part of its aforementioned review, will strengthen and set standards for the teaching of professional Irish across all initial teacher education provision.
  • - Steps will be taken to encourage the use of Irish generally inside and outside the classroom.
  • - Other subjects of the initial teacher education programme, in addition to professional Irish, will be delivered through the medium of Irish.
  • - In the area of teacher education, student teachers will follow a defined programme of language teaching in the Gaeltacht. The tuition time and attendance of student teachers who attend Gaeltacht courses will also be increased.
  • - A new Gaeltacht scholarship scheme will be introduced for primary teachers to attend intensive courses in the Gaeltacht.
  • - Colleges of Education will be encouraged to put in place initiatives to attract students of high ability in Irish from Gaeltacht, Irish-medium and other schools. Up to 20% of places in Colleges of Education will be retained for students educated through Irish in Gaeltacht schools and Gaelscoileanna, with students in English-medium schools also being eligible, subject to a high performance threshold in Irish in the Leaving Certificate.
  • - An extended Gaeltacht placement will be put in place for a significant proportion of trainee teachers in which students will follow a defined programme of language teaching.
  • - The Irish language and Irish medium teaching components of the Bachelor of Education degree course will be bolstered, including the provision of intensive Irish courses as appropriate in consultation with the Teaching Council.
  • - A new specialisation in Irish-medium primary teaching (partial or total immersion) will be introduced in Colleges of Education.
Irish-Medium Education – Primary System
A post-graduate programme specifically targeted at the needs of Irish-medium schools will be introduced. This new post-graduate programme for a Diploma in Irish Language Education (Primary Teaching) will provide specialised skills in Irish to those who have already completed a teacher education programme.

Irish Medium Education – Post-Primary System

  • - A new Post-Graduate Diploma in Education delivered in full through the medium of Irish will be introduced.

To further assist the realisation of Objective 5 and Objective 6, a National Centre for Irish-medium Teacher Professional Development will be established in an existing educational institution. This will be a centre of excellence, aiding and advising the Colleges of Education in preparing teachers for the entire cycle of Irish medium schools through consultancy, professional development activities, accredited training programmes and resource development. The National Centre will work in conjunction with the Colleges of Education and mobility of professional staff between all education providers and systems and the National Centre will be encouraged. There will be a formal qualification available for all primary and secondary school teachers to support them to teach in Irish-medium schools. This will be an attractive and desirable additional qualification for those seeking to work in Irish-medium schools and a useful indicator for employers that applicants have the necessary linguistic competency.

The new academic programmes - Batchelor of Education, Graduate Diploma in Education (Primary Teaching), and Post-Graduate Diploma in Education – as well as the operation of the National Centre for All-Irish Teacher Training will be offered for open public competitive tendering among the relevant existing educational institutions.

The professional development opportunities identified above will be supplemented by significantly increased investment in the provision of short cycle and on-line professional development options for serving teachers provided through the curriculum support services and the Education Centre network at primary and post primary level.

In further support of these measures to augment the position of the language in the education system at all levels, special recognition will be given to schools where there is good practice in teaching Irish. A wide range of textbooks, new technology materials and resources to support the teaching of Irish and teaching through Irish will be developed and provided.

A scholarship scheme for children from disadvantaged areas to attend courses in the Gaeltacht, as well as funding for Summer Irish colleges throughout the country, will be provided.

The arrangements for exemption from studying Irish in schools will be reviewed to ensure that exemptions are based on objective language criteria.

Third-Level Education in Ireland
University level and non-University adult programmes in Irish will continue to be supported and developed and professional specialisations provided.

In furthering the development of third level education through Irish, the Government will take the following into account:
  • • There has been significant recent investment by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and Údarás na Gaeltachta in this sector both inside and outside the Gaeltacht, including in particular support for Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge in NUI Galway and Fiontar in Dublin City University;
  • • There is an existing statutory framework for third level education in Irish, including the obligation on the HEA under the Higher Education Act 1971 to “bear constantly in mind the national aims of restoring the Irish language and preserving and developing the national culture and shall endeavour to promote the attainment of these aims”. This is further strengthened in section 12 of the Universities Act 1997, which provides that the objectives of all universities include ‘[promotion of] the official languages of the State, with special regard to the preservation, promotion and use of the Irish language and the preservation and promotion of the distinctive cultures of Ireland’. The special role of NUI Galway in the provision of third level programmes through the medium of the Irish language is recognised in the University College Galway (Amendment) Act 2006.
Tertiary education through the medium of Irish needs to be of high quality and delivered in a strategic and coordinated way to ensure:
  • - diversification in the range of disciplines offered, with a particular focus on market requirements for people competent in Irish;
  • - an output of highly qualified graduates with specific skills needed to serve the national and EU status of Irish;
  • - development of particular specialisation in each college and restriction of duplication of provision in more than one or two locations;
  • - value for money and quality assurance in research and teaching, also avoiding duplication or fragmentation; and
  • - development of courses and accreditation in Professional Irish for as many professions as possible.
Funding will be provided to enable the HEA will put in place a specific programme to strategically develop this sector.

Adult Language Learning
Additional opportunities will be afforded to adults interested in learning the language or in increasing their ability to speak Irish. An accredited adult Irish language learning programme, catering for all levels, will be recognised as the agreed national Irish language-learning programme.

To foster excellence at a high academic level in the study of Irish, we will build on the work of the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies and the universities in the development of research and teaching of Celtic Studies and strengthen Ireland’s position as a world centre of excellence in this discipline.

Advice and support services
Information and resource materials will be produced for various categories of school professionals such as speech therapists, guidance counsellors, careers advisers and others promoting the benefits of bilingualism (and especially of Irish language learning). Specific advice will address the following groups:
  • • Children whose first language is Irish and/or children attending Irish medium schools: It is important that all professional and para-professional staff consistently support the maintenance of Irish. These professional groups will be made aware of the vast literature supporting the intellectual, speech, and career benefits of bilingualism. Specific advice will be offered to support the bilingual needs of children with special needs.
  • • Children whose first language is English and/or children attending English-medium schools: Similarly for such children, school staff concerned with special needs will be provided information supporting the intellectual, speech and career benefits of bilingualism - and specifically the advantages of learning and using Irish.
  • • Immigrant children in Ireland: Newly-arrived immigrant children in Ireland will also be afforded the opportunity to participate in all Irish language activities and specific attention be paid to their language learning needs.
Education in the Gaeltacht
All the above measures apply equally to the Gaeltacht. In addition to these, the Government acknowledges the specific difficulty of accommodating the needs of pupils with diverse linguistic abilities in Gaeltacht schools. This can be complicated further depending on the status of the Irish language within the school community. It is acknowledged that teaching resources are a major issue for Gaeltacht schools, both at primary and second level. It may be noted that, with investment by Foras na Gaeilge and An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta, there has been a considerable improvement in the availability of teaching resources in Irish, although there needs to be sustained investment in this area. The needs in this area apply also to Gaelscoileanna. In addition, there is a critical need to provide resources for Irish in English medium primary schools.

At the same time, the Government is fully aware of the importance of the education system in the maintenance of the language in the Gaeltacht and this objective was encompassed in the Education Act 1998. In addition to those initiatives already outlined, the Government has decided to progress a number of actions in the Gaeltacht as part of this Strategy:
  • • A review of the Gaeltacht scholarship scheme operated by the Department of Education and Science will take place with the aim of increasing its effectiveness as an Irish language support mechanism.
  • • Measures will be taken to progress the development of the Irish language education resource centre in Baile Bhuirne, Co Cork.
  • • A new language acquisition unit at primary level will be developed in each of the three main Gaeltacht regions.
  • • Provision will also be made for intensive summer/evening courses in Irish for post-primary pupils in the Gaeltacht who need additional support.
  • • Designated inspectors will continue to be deployed by the Department of Education and Science for Gaeltacht schools and Gaelscoileanna.
  • • The present approach to Gaeltacht Summer Colleges will be reviewed with a view to a more coherent State involvement in the regulation and development of these colleges, increasing the effectiveness and standard of the services provided, and ensuring an improved and more consistent curriculum design process.
  • • A review of immersion provision at post-primary level in Gaelscoileanna and in the Gaeltacht will be carried out.
  • • Schemes operated by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs which support the educational system in the Gaeltacht (such as supports for Irish language assistants and other supports in Gaeltacht schools, as well as the system of home visits for linguistic support purposes) will be strengthened in consultation with the Department of Education and Science.
  • • All Gaeltacht students will continue to have the opportunity to receive their education through the medium of Irish. The Department of Education and Science in consultation with the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs will examine and implement suitable arrangements for such provision in the varying circumstances of each Gaeltacht area.
  • • Appropriate structural arrangements will be made, in the context of any review of VEC structures nationally, for the provision of all Irish secondary school education throughout the State, including in the Gaeltacht, and to ensure that all staff in Irish-medium schools area capable of carrying on their daily business through Irish and that an integrated approach is taken to the provision of back-up, support and advisory services to Irish-medium schools so that such services are provided in Irish where possible. Educational supports such as Irish language textbooks and audio-visual material will be made available to such schools.
Third Level Irish Courses Abroad
In 2006 the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs established a dedicated fund to support the development of Irish language courses in third level institutions overseas. The objectives of the fund are to promote and foster goodwill for the Irish language and indeed for Ireland and Irish culture in general across Europe, North America and Canada and to provide a platform from which the Irish language can be assessed and showcased as an international language. This increases awareness of the Irish language and culture outside of Ireland and leads to links between Ireland and the countries in which these institutions are located, resulting in positive long-term impacts on the language. It also provides an excellent opportunity to present the Irish language to the academic community worldwide and gives the Irish language equal status to other European languages being taught abroad. In addition, many students who study Irish in their own countries continue their studies here in Ireland and as a consequence students from all over the world can now be seen attending courses in the Gaeltacht. This results in bonds of friendship and a lifelong interest and understanding of the rich language and culture of this country.

Currently over thirty 3rd level colleges and universities in the USA, in European countries and further afield are actively providing Irish language and Celtic Studies programmes within their own institutions.

These measures by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs to support teaching of Irish overseas (including the joint programme with the Fulbright Commission and the Ireland Canada University Foundation) will be further developed as a vehicle to expand the teaching and learning of Irish in universities outside Ireland.


In its 2006 Statement on the Irish Language, the Government affirmed its policy to strengthen the Gaeltacht as an Irish-speaking community and ratified Government support for the Gaeltacht. The Statement contains three objectives that refer to the Gaeltacht:

Objective 3: The Irish language community inside and outside the Gaeltacht will be given encouragement and support to transmit Irish to the next generation as a living household language. Towards this end, a wide range of services in Irish will be provided.
Objective 4: The Gaeltacht will be given special support as an Irish speaking area.
Objective 11: In order to promote Irish nationally and to strengthen it in the Gaeltacht, the work being done by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and by agencies under its aegis will continue to be reinforced.

The 2007 Report on the Linguistic Study of the Use of Irish in the Gaeltacht recommends that the main strategic focus of language policy in the Gaeltacht should be on supporting and empowering future generations of young Gaeltacht parents to raise their children through Irish. The Report reinforces in particular the importance of maintaining and increasing the proportion of active Irish speakers in Gaeltacht areas.

It is against this background that the major changes outlined in this Strategy are being implemented by Government. The development of a comprehensive language planning system at community level in the Gaeltacht is central to the strategy that will be put in place to ensure that Irish survives as the community language in the Gaeltacht.

Linguistic status of Gaeltacht communities – new legislation
The Government accepts the broad thrust of the recommendations in the Report on the Linguistic Study of the Use of Irish in the Gaeltacht with regard to Gaeltacht status being based on linguistic criteria. This will be given statutory status through a new Gaeltacht Act. The legal definition will be broadly based on the criteria outlined in the Report with some fundamental modifications.

As already referred to, Údarás na Gaeltachta will be fundamentally restructured as a national Irish language agency – Údarás na Gaeilge (with its headquarters in the Gaeltacht) - with responsibility for Irish language matters throughout the State, as well as keeping many of its present functions. Legislation will be prepared in order to place the new body on a statutory footing. Údarás na Gaeilge will be run by a board made up of both elected representatives and members appointed by the Minister.

In parallel with this, a Gaeltacht Advisory Committee will be established, made up of elected Údarás na Gaeilge and local authority members living within the Gaeltacht, to advise specifically in relation to matters relating to the Gaeltacht. Údarás na Gaeilge will provide secretarial back-up to the Committee.

For language planning and implementation purposes, the various types of language maintenance and strategic interventions (including integrated language plans) will be based on the identified linguistic needs of the various communities with the intention of increasing numbers of daily Irish speakers.

In the case of majority Irish-speaking communities, the emphasis will be on protecting and strengthening these strong language communities by ensuring the linguistic sustainability of Irish as the community language of these regions. In the case of other Gaeltacht regions where the daily Irish speakers are a significant minority, the emphasis will be on strengthening the Irish language community networks that continue to exist there.

Communities that cannot comply with the criteria in the new legislation will be afforded a period of 2 years to develop plans to ensure that they maintain their status as Gaeltacht communities. Communities who fail to develop acceptable sustainable plans within the two-year period will no longer be included in the Gaeltacht.

Plans will be reviewed every seven years and areas that do not achieve the linguistic criteria for the Gaeltacht set down in the new Act will cease to have Gaeltacht status. New areas may also be included in the Gaeltacht if they meet the linguistic criteria laid down in the new Act.

Language Planning in the Gaeltacht
Under the new Act, a language planning process will be instigated whereby a language plan will be prepared at community level for each Gaeltacht district. These plans will integrate the approach in relation to linguistic issues, education, physical planning, and social and community development. Community buy-in and participation will be critical. Resources will be made available to implement the language plans.

These plans will be first and foremost language-centred, incorporating all aspects of community life in these districts. In order to address the threat to the sustainability of the Gaeltacht as a linguistic entity, priority will be given to language planning activities necessary to stabilise the position of Irish as the community language. These language plans will comprise activities/plans under the following headings:
    ➢ Education Planning

    ➢ Family Support Services, including childcare services, pre-school services, language advisory services for families, after-school services, networks for Irish-speaking parents and children, pre-marital and ante-natal advice services, language awareness programme for families, speech therapy and psychological services, and public health services.

    ➢ Youth Services, including the promotion of language awareness among the young in the Gaeltacht, Gaeltacht summer colleges and camps.

    ➢ Local Government Services.

    ➢ Local and Physical Planning, including infrastructural development, economic development, housing and settlement policy.

    ➢ Community Development.

    ➢ Planning for economic, industrial and local business development, including the promotion of language awareness among business service providers in the Gaeltacht districts.

    ➢ Development of Cultural/Educational Tourism.

    ➢ Religious Services.

    ➢ Care for the Elderly.

    ➢ Care of children with special needs.

    ➢ Health Services.

    ➢ Sport.
Future State expenditure on the language in the Gaeltacht will be determined by reference to its linguistic impact and particular priority will be afforded to linguistic supports for families and young people so as to ensure the continued transmission of the language from generation to generation.

Particular emphasis will be placed on the promotion of an Irish language youth culture in the Gaeltacht, which will see the further development of Gaeltacht youth services and a linkage through the Gaeltacht Summer Colleges with national youth organisations.

The State will also develop a comprehensive set of supports for Irish-speaking families in the Gaeltacht in consultation with parents of young children and infants, and expectant parents.

Planning and Development in the Gaeltacht
The Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government will prepare extensive planning guidelines to assist local authorities with regard to the implementation of the Planning and Development Act in the Gaeltacht so as to ensure the protection of the unique linguistic identity of the Gaeltacht.

In recognition of the need for greater collaboration between national and local government and between various sectors in delivering a more integrated efficient service, the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, in co-operation with the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and City and County Managers, will aim to develop new shared services with appropriate and specialised expertise for all Gaeltacht areas in the planning arena.

Gaeltacht area plans will have the same status as town plans. As well as being approved by the local authority, Gaeltacht area plans will be approved by Údarás na Gaeilge to ensure adequate input from the perspective of the sustainability of the language into the plans.

Delivery of services to Gaeltacht communities
As many non-language services as is practicable will be delivered in the Gaeltacht by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and Údarás na Gaeilge, in recognition of their proven ability to deliver services through Irish. It is not therefore proposed to transfer any existing schemes operated by Údarás na Gaeltachta or the Department to other Departments or agencies, but an examination will be made of other programmes that could be delivered in the Gaeltacht by the Department and the Údarás.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


The actions proposed in the area of family transmission of the language are of critical importance. The 2006 Statement on the Irish Language contains the following objective in this area:

Objective 3: The Irish language community inside and outside the Gaeltacht will be given encouragement and support to transmit Irish to the next generation as a living household language. Towards this end, a wide range of services in Irish will be provided.

Language transmission in the family is a crucial element in the language planning process, and a vital building block in the efforts to increase the number of fluent speakers.

Language transmission within the family is increasingly being recognised world wide as one of the key issues which need to be explored if lesser-used languages are to survive. Families where parents speak Irish need advice and guidance on how to raise their children as balanced bilinguals, especially if only one parent speaks the language.

The home, family and neighbourhood - this stage of daily, informal, oral interaction between grandparents, parents and children - is crucial to the maintenance of Irish as a living language. The family is the building block of such transmission. Above all, it is in the family that a deep bond with language and language activities is fostered, shared and fashioned into personal and social as well as cultural and linguistic identity.

Parents may not fully understand the economic, employment and educational advantages of speaking Irish to their children.

Therefore, the proposed interventions in this area are partly about encouraging and supporting parents to raise their children bilingually, and partly about providing factual information and raising awareness of the inherent advantages to the child’s development of speaking more than one language.

The aim of State supports in the promotion of language transmission in the family will therefore be to:
  • provide advice, guidance and support for families where Irish is spoken in the home; and
  • promote a greater understanding of practical bilingualism in a family environment.

In practical terms this will entail:

  • · raising awareness amongst parents, prospective parents and the public at large of the advantages of bilingualism;
  • · supporting the changing of language patterns of families where one parent speaks Irish, in order to increase the number of children who speak both Irish and English in the home; and
  • · bringing the message of the advantages of bilingualism into the mainstream work of the health and social services who provide advice to new parents.

There is considerable experience in other jurisdictions, including Wales and the Basque Country, in supporting families raising children with two languages. Building on experience in Ireland, particularly in supporting networks of Irish speaking families and providing language support for children in Gaeltacht schools, and on international best practice, a range of practical measures will be put in place to support the transmission of Irish in the family.

  • · The cúntóirí teanga scheme operating in Gaeltacht schools will be extended to all Irish-medium schools.
  • · Enhanced support for networks of Irish-speaking families at local level will be provided.
  • · Programmes to assist grandparents and other older people to pass the language on to the new generation will be supported.
  • · Targeted language learning opportunities will be put in place to assist families where only one parent speaks Irish.
  • · The Gaeltacht Summer Colleges will place more emphasis on family language learning experiences so that networks of natural use of Irish can be promoted with mechanisms for their continuation post-Summer College in families and among friendship groupings.
  • · Awareness of the advantages of bilingualism in the mainstream work of health and social care professionals that work with young families will be raised.
  • · The functions of county childcare committees for the Irish language crèche/playschool sector throughout the State will be discharged in future through the new Údarás na Gaeilge.


The actions proposed in the area of administration, services and community are designed to support achievement of ability, opportunity and attitudes conducive to the expansion of Irish. The 2006 Statement on the Irish Language contains five objectives related to these areas:

Objective 3: The Irish language community inside and outside the Gaeltacht will be given encouragement and support to transmit Irish to the next generation as a living household language. Towards this end, a wide range of services in Irish will be provided.
Objective 8: The State will continue to support Foras na Gaeilge in the context of the British-Irish Agreement Act 1999.
Objective 11: In order to promote Irish nationally and to strengthen it in the Gaeltacht, the work being done by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and by agencies under its aegis will continue to be reinforced.
Objective 12: The use of the Irish language by the Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces will be continued and developed.
Objective 13: The Government recognises the vital role of the Irish language voluntary sector and will continue to support it.

Structural changes
As already stated in Section 6, a number of significant structural changes are to take place:
  • • New legislation will provide for fundamentally restructuring Údarás na Gaeltachta as a new national Irish language agency – Údarás na Gaeilge - with responsibility for Irish language matters throughout the State, as well as keeping many of its present functions.
  • • Foras na Gaeilge will continue to be supported in providing resources and supports to the language on an all-Ireland level.
  • • A further category of language community will be recognised in the new Act to allow for targeted initiatives to develop new language communities/networks outside the Gaeltacht. These will be predominantly in urban communities that have achieved the essential critical mass of community and State support for the Irish language.
  • • In recognition of the need for greater collaboration between national and local government and between various sectors in delivering a more integrated efficient service, the relevant players will co-operate in aiming to develop new shared services with appropriate and specialised expertise for all Gaeltacht areas in the planning arena.
  • • The possibility of Údarás na Gaeilge carrying out, on an agency basis, functions through Irish for other public bodies, both inside and outside the Gaeltacht, will be investigated.
Measures for Irish in Public Service
Language awareness and language training programmes need to be developed/strengthened so that a higher proportion of public service staff are truly functional in Irish and can deliver services in Irish to customers who seek them. The Department of Finance and the Public Appointments Service will devise appropriate arrangements to increase the cohort of the public servants who are functional bilinguals. These arrangements will be put in place over time, recognising the present constraints on public sector recruitment. They will be supported by the development, within the existing overall national qualifications framework, of an independent, standards-based accreditation system for Irish language competency within the public service. A National Diploma in Bilingualism and Language Practice will be designed and offered, so as to support the delivery of quality services to the public in both Irish and English.

The Official Languages Act has adopted the “language scheme” as a core instrument by which bilingual services are to be provided. Future language schemes will specify the posts within an organisation that require an Irish language competency requirement.

Local Language Initiatives and Plans outside the Gaeltacht
The Report of the Linguistic Study of the Use of Irish in the Gaeltacht recommended recognition of distinct types of language communities within the Gaeltacht for which targeted, appropriate language planning interventions would be devised. The Government considers it appropriate that a new type of ‘network Gaeltacht’ be recognised in the new Act. This category will allow for targeted language planning initiatives to develop new language communities/networks outside the Gaeltacht. These will be predominantly in urban communities that have achieved a basic critical mass of community and State support for the Irish language, such as childcare facilities through Irish, Gaelscoileanna, second level education through Irish, Irish language youth clubs and other services, including mother and toddler groups, Irish language religious services, etc. Specific criteria to be developed for this category will relate to public attitudes, language ability, provision of Irish-medium education and the willingness to actively participate in Irish language initiatives.

The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and the new Údarás na Gaeilge will provide supports for such language plans. Support will also be available from Oifigigh Ghaeilge employed by local authorities and other experts within existing bodies.

The aim of a local action plan will be to draw together local people and public/voluntary groups to facilitate the use of Irish locally. This will be done through the increased co-ordination and public awareness of existing activities. The approach will be to map and identify Irish language vitality in the local area. It will be supplemented by a language audit process which will identify ongoing strengths and weaknesses and provide time-series evidence of the impact which language-related policies and reforms would have on actual language use. These plans will be integrated with County Language Plans and will include the development of social and resource centres.

In the long-term, the local action plans will;
  • - create social conditions that will nurture positive attitudes towards Irish and an increase in its general use;
  • - normalise the use of Irish as a medium of social and institutional communication; and
  • - emphasise the close relationship between language and attitudes which relate to quality of life issues, the environment and the local economy.
A key role of local Irish language plans will be to foster learning and usage opportunities across schools and between individual schools and recreational, trade, library and community activities. The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and the new Údarás na Gaeilge will undertake an active facilitative role in supporting local Irish language-centred activities that link school language learning to these related fields of cultural, recreational, trade and entrepreneurial/enterprise activity. Adult, continuing and life-long education and training activities will be included in integrated local area activities to extend initiatives in Irish language support from school and community domains into trades training, adult literacy and recreational or vocational preparation programmes.

Local language initiatives will include the establishment of 'one-stop community shops' to
  • • provide advice to new parents who wish to raise their children bilingually;
  • • offer guidance on the range of Irish medium educational opportunities which are available;
  • • assist public and voluntary organisations who wish to increase their use of Irish; and
  • • encourage business who wish to offer a bilingual service to their customers.
Activities could focus on providing or enhancing social and learning opportunities for children and young people to use their Irish outside the classroom in a range of cultural, social, leisure and sporting activities.

County Language Plans
All counties with designated Gaeltacht areas, including ‘network Gaeltacht’ areas, will be required to prepare and implement County Language Plans. Each such plan will contain initiatives to increase the percentage and number of daily Irish speakers on a yearly basis through specific targeted initiatives for that county. These measures will be delivered by stakeholders with assistance from language planning experts. Following an evaluation, this approach may be extended to other counties.

Language Plan for Dublin City and County Councils
A substantial number of daily Irish speakers reside in Greater Dublin and in its catchment area. The presence of the Irish language in the capital city is of great symbolic importance, both to the people of Ireland and to visitors arriving in Dublin on business or for tourism. A major Irish language promotion plan for Dublin City and its surrounding environs will be developed and implemented in the first period of Phase II. The key target of this plan will be to increase the proportion of daily Irish speakers in Dublin year on year by increasing the visibility of the language and by providing opportunities for normal daily use of the language in the city.

The Important Role of the Voluntary Sector
The local voluntary sector will have a strong role to play in the development of local language initiatives and plans. It is important, therefore, that the sector be accorded a voice and an opportunity to contribute to policy at local level, and that support be provided to groups that want to engage with the language at national and local levels in line with the aims and content of this Strategy.

The Irish language is a central part of the ethos of national voluntary organisations, such as GAA and Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. The Government recognises their key role in promoting the language. The State will develop and intensify its support for these organisations in promoting our language. Other voluntary sporting and cultural organisations have the potential to have a central role in widening use of the Irish language out beyond the schoolroom. The Government will proactively engage with such organisations to unlock the potential of their community-based sporting and cultural activities to contribute significantly to the Strategy.

At present the State provides funding for many diverse Irish language organisations. A more integrated ‘cradle to old age’ approach will be taken with a radical re-organisation of State-funded language organisations being undertaken to provide comprehensive language support services on an area basis.

Physical resource centres
Dedicated resource centres will be developed in the centre of Dublin and other major urban areas. Such centres might include theatre space, coffee shops and restaurants, bookshops, offices for Irish language organisations, internet centres, historical materials, meeting and conference rooms, display areas, and research and development start-up units. In other areas, existing resource centres, including the regional resources centres established by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann with public funding and centres run by other cultural, sporting and local development bodies, will with the agreement of the body concerned serve as a centre for Irish language promotion and activities.

An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces
Maintenance and development of the position of the Irish language in the Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces is important, both because of the symbolic importance of these Forces in our national life and because of the services, particularly in the case of the Garda Síochána, provided to the public. Measures already in train under the Official Languages Act to strengthen the position of Irish as an internal working language in Gaeltacht areas and other Irish-speaking units, in services to the community and in the symbolic role of the Garda Síochána and Defence Forces in national life and on state occasions will be further developed.


The 2006 Statement on the Irish Language contains one objective addressing media and technology:

Objective 9: High quality broadcast services through the medium of Irish will be ensured, especially through the continuous development of RTÉ, Raidió na Gaeltachta and TG4.

The Irish language in the twenty-first century is already charting its course in new directions. The traditional sectors of education, community, arts, and media are no longer discrete domains in which separate individual policies can be formulated and implemented. Languages which were previously disadvantaged by their dispersed community base are now well-positioned to benefit from opportunities for innovation through new communications and media technologies. These developments have immense potential for resource building in the arts and education and open up new channels for individuals and communities to increase their knowledge and regular use of Irish.

Reading, Writing and Speech
Building ability in reading and writing Irish requires new thinking beyond the limitations of the printed word reproduced on paper. Future policy must take account of the opportunities for linking developments in the arts, media, technology and education, as well as building on the traditional models of creating and disseminating content. Opportunities for reading and writing in Irish, which includes the production of all print media and literature in the language, and its application in education, culture and leisure, need to be exploited by a combination of traditional and innovative means. This includes those modes of communication that make little use of written language. New media and technologies should also be employed to increase public participation in reading and writing Irish in new ways and places.

Traditional products like printed newspapers, magazines and books will continue to be produced and supported where effective distribution channels and reasonable sales can be established and verified. Support limited mainly to production of these single-media materials is ineffective without distribution and marketing supports, and a reasonable threshold of public demand. Easy public access to printed materials in Irish in newsagents, bookshops and on the internet is essential if literature and print journalism are to be sustainable into the future.

As technologies and marketing techniques are continually evolving, the most effective strategy for developing reading and writing in Irish is likely to change significantly in the coming years and will need to be constantly reviewed. The reading and writing of Irish will be supported through CDs, DVDs, audio books and print media in the short- to medium-term through:
  • development of literary events and activities in public libraries throughout the year (and not only during Seachtain na Gaeilge) - author-readings, launches, reading and listening clubs, and literary programmes for schools;
  • guided reading programmes in schools at specific points of intervention (e.g. 5th class in primary school, transition year in post-primary and in Irish Summer Colleges, where listening to and reading of books and other materials in Irish would be led by an author or critic to support development of individual reading habits);
  • prominent display of new materials in Irish in selected designated leading bookstores, with suitable promotional materials, stands, bookmarks, promotional events, window-displays and author presence (with collaboration and support of relevant public agencies if necessary);
  • development of a modern on-line stock and order management system, managed by the main distribution agency for CDs/DVDs/books in Irish, where orders can be placed electronically 24/7, and tracked by booksellers, Irish-language publishers and individual purchasers awaiting orders;
  • development of an attractive on-line store for Irish materials, showcasing new titles, authors, reviews, blogs and other resources, which could also be used in schools and classes for adult learners;
  • promotion and development of book clubs in Irish as a priority in local community language initiatives, and provision of appropriate on-line support for book clubs;
  • development of at least one physical literary Irish-language venue or space in Dublin, including a CD/DVD/bookshop, a programme of literary events, and facilities like a coffee-shop, where individuals and families could enjoy meeting;
  • development of a literary promotion brief by RTÉ and TG4, with a key role in literary awards, book programmes, profiling of authors and contributing to their visibility and media status, and cultivation of stronger links between writing for the media and for book publication as ‘complementary’ activities; and
  • development of initiatives to encourage writing in Irish by young people in a range of media - journalism, blogging, creative writing, drama and film scripts.
Oireachtas na Gaeilge, as the primary national language festival, will be encouraged and supported to allow it to continue to grow. The growth needs to be carefully managed, however, in an organic manner, so that the festival will remain an Irish language festival.

RTÉ, as the national public service broadcaster, will normalise the use of Irish and English in their broadcasts, building on the success of Seachtain na Gaeilge. RTÉ will continue to support and develop Raidió na Gaeltachta so that a broad spectrum of high standard programmes will be delivered to those communities that listen to this service.

A youth-focussed radio to target young people will be developed using both the internet and conventional radio broadcasting.

TG4 will be further supported to provide television services through Irish. TG4 now has a new target of a six-hour daily Irish language schedule, up from a current level of approximately 4.4 hours. Sufficient funding is vital for TG4 to carry out its statutory remit and to retain its market share in an increasingly competitive environment as an independent statutory body.

The continued development of TG4 will also ensure that the independent production sector in the Gaeltacht continues to provide varied employment opportunities.

The Broadcasting Act 2009 sets a framework for both RTÉ and TG4 in the coming years.

Section 25 of the Broadcasting Act 2009 imposes an obligation on the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to endeavour to ensure:
that the number and categories of broadcasting services made available in the State by virtue of this Act best serve the needs of the people of the island of Ireland, bearing in mind their languages and traditions and their religious, ethical and cultural diversity,
and an obligation to:
promote and stimulate the development of Irish language programming and broadcasting services.

A number of detailed changes in that framework enhance the position of the Irish language through the activities of the public service broadcasters. These include:
  • allowing more favourable charges, terms and conditions in respect of archive schemes by public service broadcasters for the purpose of Irish language broadcasts;
  • increase in the allocation of licence fee money away from RTÉ to the Broadcast Fund (from 5% to 7%), of which TG4 is a main beneficiary;
  • continuation of a 'free hour' of Irish language television from RTÉ to TG4 (valued around €10m);
  • deepening RTÉ's remit in relation to the Irish language;
  • language programmes now free from 'peak hours' restriction in case of Broadcast Fund funding;
  • TG4 has been given specific powers to provide on-line non-linear services in Irish;
  • Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to consider multi-annual funding requirements of TG4.
In fulfilment of the obligations created by this Act, the Government will specifically ensure that the support provided to the Irish language services of the public service broadcasters is further strengthened.

Subtitling options will be substantially increased in order to offer the option to have subtitles in Irish, English, or both, or no subtitles, thus significantly reinforcing the accessibility of TG4 to learners and non-proficient users of Irish as well as fluent speakers.

The Good Friday Agreement provided that the British Government would work with the relevant British and Irish broadcasting authorities to make TG4 more ‘widely available’ in Northern Ireland. The Government will continue to work with the relevant British authorities to ensure that this will be achieved in the context of the switchover to digital television by 2012.

All Irish language initiatives with a specific arts remit, to include drama and traditional arts, will be planned and developed as part of an integral arts strategy between the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism in tandem with the Arts Council.

Information and Communication Technology
The Government will request the inclusion of Irish in all EU-developed ICT programmes. It will also actively engage with major IT suppliers to license and distribute Irish-medium. An IT strategy will be developed, to include IT terminology and lexicographical resources; localisation and open source applications; switchability of interface and language attributes; additional content creation aids to supplement spellcheckers and computerised dictionaries; diacritic markers; multilingual web pages; translation and terminology for computer-aided translation; multilingual content/document management systems; language technology issues and corpora; speech technology, speech synthesis, speech recognition, adaptive technology and embedding issues; capacity building for end users and technology specialists; e-learning and the Irish language; call centre software; back end databases and bi/multilingualism; metadata; mobile devices; optical character recognition; and handwriting recognition.

Such IT developments need also to be embedded in educational, social and work-related practices to become effective means of enhanced communication.