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“Practical supports urgently needed for Irish speaking families”

April 30, 2012

Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge has welcomed the progress made under the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish language with the announcement of a new language support programme and a language planning process in Gaeltacht areas.

However, the umbrella body for the Irish language voluntary sector has said that further clarification is required in relation to the roles which various state agencies will play in implementing this work and in particular the role of the Department of Education and Skills.

Yesterday, (April 26th) Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs, Dinny McGinley TD, announced details of the new language support programme and language planning process.

The new language support programme will come into place following the end of Scéim Labhairt na Gaeilge, a scheme where an allowance  was given to Irish language speaking families in Gaeltacht regions.

Minister McGinley indicated that the new language support programme will make provision for an information campaign in conjunction with the Health Service Executive where information about the advantages of raising children with the Irish language will be provided to new mothers and expectant mothers in hospitals in the western region.

An Chomhdháil recognises this as a valuable starting point however  Kevin De Barra, Acting Director of Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, says the time has come for more practical measures  to support young families who wish to raise their children with Irish and that this should be done in consultation with organisations who have been working in the field for many years such as Comhluadar.

“Gaeltacht families in particular need support as the most recent linguistic study of the Gaeltacht has shown that the language may not survive as a community language in Gaeltacht regions before the  full implementation of the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish language”.

Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge has also welcomed the announcement of the development of the Department’s Language Assistants Scheme which supports children attending schools in Gaeltacht in learning and developing their language skills.

Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge will insist the Department provides, without delay, the necessary training and support to language assistants, as pledged, to ensure the success of this scheme at community level.

Minister McGinley also announced yesterday, the details of a language planning process for the Gaeltacht. Under the Gaeltacht Bill 2012, which will be put before the Houses of the Oireachtas later this year, Gaeltacht areas will in future be defined based on linguistic criteria, rather than the current geographical approach.

Under the new process, the Gaeltacht will be divided into 19 distinct language planning areas, and a unique language plan will be drawn up for each area.

The language plans will be implemented by co-operatives and community-based organisations funded by Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Kevin De Barra, Acting Director of Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge questions the choice of grouping together various language communities with different patterns of language use within language planning areas.  He notes that one of the areas, Cois Fharraige, in Conamara, is a large region which spans from Na Forbacha further west to Ros an Mhíl, with great language diversity among its residents, some of whom live in Category A communities, and others who live in Category C, as defined in the Comprehensive Linguistic Study of the Use of Irish in the Gaeltacht.

The Minister of State outlined plans to develop inactivates in conjunction with Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge in the area of language planning training to community organisations. Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge believes further resources and support must be made available to organisation who  already have challenging work programmes in place in order to accomplish the necessary language planning objectives.

A press release issued by Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge