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Babaí steps to promote Irish language

April 27, 2012

EXPECTANT AND new mothers are being recruited for the Government’s new Irish language support programme.

Flyers will be distributed in maternity wards in west coast hospitals, advertising the benefits of rearing your child through Irish.

Announcing details of the family-oriented programme, which is part of the Government’s 20-year strategy for Irish, Minister of State for the Gaeltacht Dinny McGinley acknowledged the “deontas”, or system of grants administered over decades to keep the language alive had “failed”.

“We used to have the Gaeltacht grants for houses and doors and windows, which might have helped the infrastructure and quality of life, but did nothing for the native tongue,” he said.

“If we are going to increase the number of daily speakers, we need to give families more practical support, not money.”

The HSE is facilitating the new awareness campaign, focusing initially on maternity services in Galway city, Castlebar, Co Mayo, and Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

New parents who wish to raise their children through the medium of Irish will be offered a “support pack”, which includes a CD and book “suitable for children”, and told about a dedicated website.

Teenagers are also to be enlisted under the plan to reverse the downward trend of Irish use, evident in various censuses, Mr McGinley said. Fluent speakers between 15 and 17 are to be offered special training courses to enable them to work as assistants in Irish-language summer colleges.

Speaking in Inverin, Co Galway, yesterday, Mr McGinley also announced that new language initiative will be developed in 19 Gaeltacht areas, beginning with six of them. This will be conducted by community-based organisations in association with Údarás na Gaeltachta and the department.

Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has asked why plans were not being initiated for all 19 areas, and has also expressed concern about the fact that the procedure will be overseen by Mr McGinley’s department.