Community focus of Gaeltacht Bill essential to survival of Irish as a living language
Galway City poised to become Ireland’s only ‘Gaeltacht Service City’ enhancing its role as the Irish language capital
The Community focus of the first Gaeltacht Bill since 1956 is essential to the survival of Irish as a living language. The Bill, which was debated in the Dáil and voted on last night (Tuesday), provides clear recognition of the invaluable role communities have in planning for the future of our first official language.
The Bill is a significant component of the 20-year national strategy and introduces ‘Gaeltacht Language Planning Areas’ under which community groups will be asked to create ‘language plans’ setting out the measures which will protect, develop and promote the use of Irish.
Furthermore, for the first time key support areas such as Galway City, Dingle and Dungarvan among others, will be designated as ‘Gaeltacht Service Towns’ which play a significant role in the delivery of public services and social, commercial and recreational facilities for the Gaeltacht communities.
Speaking in the Dáil Galway West Deputy, Seán Kyne commented: “The Gaeltacht Bill is an attempt to reverse the increasing retreat of the Irish language from areas already geographically part of the official Gaeltacht while also encouraging the Irish language communities which have been established outside traditional Gaeltacht areas.
“Some commentators have pressed for a re-defining of the Gaeltacht boundaries which would in effect remove large areas of Galway including Knocknacarra in the City, Barna, Moycullen and Claregalway in the County and would seriously undermine the efforts of these communities and the Gaelscoileanna who are successfully developing linguistic Gaeltachts.
“I’m greatly saddened that the Irish language has been exploited, by some members of the opposition, as an opportunity to score political points. I concur fully with the sentiments expressed in the Dáil by Gaeltacht Minister Dinny McGinley who expressed his disappointment that the opposition has departed from a long-standing tradition of the Dáil whereby measures to support and protect the Irish language were unanimously supported.
“Considerable research, most notably the ‘Comprehensive Linguistic Study of the use of Irish in the Gaeltacht’ has strongly indicated that without urgent intervention and the adoption of a new approach the Irish language is in danger of disappearing from communities altogether.
“Certainly, the Gaeltacht bill is but one component in the fight to retain and revive our first official language. Educational policy is an area which also requires urgent attention so that we can avoid the experiences of the past when generations of Irish people outside the Gaeltacht were discouraged from embracing Irish due to the educational methods and practices.
“Notwithstanding this the Gaeltacht Bill represents a significant step in planning for the future of our native language both within and outside the Gaeltacht area and as such all public representatives should support it,” concluded Deputy Kyne.