Fine Gael TD for Galway West & Mayo South

Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge: Statements

Cuirim fáilte roimh an seans cúpla focal a rá faoin Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge. Straitéis 20 bliain atá i gceist, ní straitéis trí bhliain atá ann.  Níl gach rud sa phlean déanta ach tá dul chun cinn déanta ag an Rialtas ach tá rudaí atá fós le déanamh.

D’fhoilsigh an Rialtas deireanach an straitéis ag deireadh a thréimhse i lár drochstaid eacnamaíochta na tíre. Is mór an trua nár fhoilsigh siad an straitéis i lár an Celtic Tiger nuair a bhí airgid sa tír.  Is é sin ráite, ní theastaíonn airgid chun chuile rud a cur i bhfeidhm sa straitéis.

Tá dul chun cinn déanta ag an Rialtas ó thaobh na pleananna teanga sna limistéir Ghaeltachta.  Tá tús curtha leis an gcéad trí phlean.  Tá sé in Acht na Gaeltachta go mbeidh ról ag Údarás na Gaeltachta cuireadh a thabhairt do gach ceantar Gaeltachta plean a cur le chéile.  Tá sé suas do phobal na Gaeltachta a gceantair féin a shábháil ó thaobh stádas Gaeltachta.  Más rud é nach bhfuil ceantair in ann plean a cur le chéile, b’fhéidir nach mbeadh aon ról acu sa Ghaeltacht ag dul ar aghaidh.

D’fhéadfadh go mbeadh na ceantair gan aon phlean curtha amach as an nGaeltacht.  Níl an dualgas ar an Stát aon cheantar a choinneáil sa Ghaeltacht.  Tá an dualgas sin ar an bpobal i ngach ceantar.

Taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht tá plean do bhailte atá láidir sa Ghaeilge nó atá ag cur an teanga chun cinn.  Tá Foras na Gaeilge ag obair ar an bplean sin agus tá sé soiléir le tamall anuas go bhfuil feabhas ar chaighdeán na Gaeilge mar gheall ar na Gaelscoileanna ar fud na tíre.

Is maith an rud é go bhfuil daoine taobh amuigh don Ghaeltacht ag teacht le chéile chun ár dteanga a fheabhsú agus a chuir chun cinn. Is iontach go bhfuil an feabhas seo taobh amuigh don Ghaeltacht.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an bpolasaí nua chun cuóta a thabhairt isteach ó thaobh earcaíocht sa sheirbhís phoiblí.  D’athraigh an Rialtas i 1974 an polasaí a bhí ann go raibh sé riachtanach Gaeilge a bheith agat le hoibriú sa sheirbhís phoiblí. Cé go raibh daoine ag tabhairt amach faoin bpolasaí sin ní dhearna an chéad Rialtas eile aon athrú ar an gcinneadh sin, nó aon Rialtas ina dhiaidh sin. Bhí seans ann i rith an Celtic Tiger nuair a bhí méadú ag teacht ar an seirbhís phoiblí cuóta a cur ann ach níor thóg an Rialtas ag an am an seans sin. Anois tá na daoine céanna ag rá nach bhfuil seirbhísí ar fáil trí Ghaeilge sa Ghaeltacht.  Céard a rinne siad chun é sin a athrú?  Is mór an trua don teanga nach ndearna siad aon rud sa tréimhse sin nuair a bhí ardú sna huimhreacha sa sheirbhís phoiblí. Tá cuóta againn anois agus beidh ar an Stát daoine le Gaeilge a thabhairt isteach sa sheirbhís phoiblí. Is é seo an chéad chéim.  Tá sé suimiúil an rud a tharla san Iosrael blianta ó shin. Bhí laghdú ar an gcaighdeán agus ar úsáid Hebrew. D’athraigh an Rialtas an polasaí go gcaithfeadh daoine an teanga Hebrew a úsáid chun aon seirbhís a fháil ón Stát.  D’éirigh leis an bpolasaí sin chun an teanga Hebrew a shábháil.  Cén sórt tuairimí a bheadh sa tír seo dá má rud é go raibh polasaí mar sin againn don Ghaeilge?

Freisin tá an Roinn Caiteachas agus Seirbhísí Poiblí ag iarraidh fháil amach ó gach Roinn an méid daoine atá líofa sa Ghaeilge chun na daoine sin a úsáid ó thaobh déileáil leis an bpobal. Tá roinnt daoine atá líofa sa Ghaeilge nach bhfuil ag obair sa phríomhlíne agus ba cheart go mbeadh ról acu ann.

Tá feachtas anois ag lucht na Gaeltachtaí faoina cearta.  Tá an ceart acu gur chóir dóibh seirbhísí a fháil trí Ghaeilge.  Ach ní raibh na seirbhísí sin acu roimh 2011 nuair a tháinig an Rialtas seo i gcumhacht. Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil chuile duine sa Ghaeltacht dáiríre faoin teanga ach níl sé ceart go bhfuil siad ag cur milleáin ar an Aire ná ar an Rialtas faoin easpa seirbhísí sa Ghaeltacht. Más rud é go bhfuil daoine dearg le fearg mar atá siad ag rá, cén fáth nach raibh fearg orthu roimh 2011 faoin easpa seirbhísí trí Ghaeilge?

Tá an straitéis againn agus caithfidh an Rialtas í a cur i bhfeidhm.  Tá ról ag comhlachtaí agus eagraíocht phoiblí freisin as ocht n-oibleagáidí atá leagtha amach sa straitéis.  Mar shampla, tá ról ag Coimisinéir an Garda Síochána faoin earcaíocht atá ag dul ar aghaidh anois.  Tá ról ag Ceann Foirne Óglaigh na hÉireann ó thaobh earcaíochta maidir leis an straitéis freisin.  Tá sé leagtha amach sa straitéis i gCuspóir 12 go leanfar agus déanfar forbairt ar úsáid na Gaeilge sa Gharda Síochána agus sna Fórsaí Cosanta.

Maidir le Cuspóir 10 faoin gcúnamh agus tacaíocht don Aontas Eorpach i bhfeidhmiú an cinneadh a dhéanamh chun Gaeilge a bheith ina teanga oifigiúil, tá a fhios agam go bhfuil an Rialtas ag déanamh teagmháil le grúpaí agus eagraíochtaí Éireannach san Eoraip maidir leis seo.  Tá sé ráite ag an Aire go mbeidh an Rialtas ag smaoineamh faoi seo go luath i mbliana.  I mo thuairim féin, ba cheart go mbeadh ról láidir ag an nGaeilge san Eoraip agus go mbeadh deiseanna ag daoine atá líofa sa nGaeilge.

If this debate was taking place 17 years after the introduction of the strategy and there were lots of things remaining to be done, I could understand the concern.  However, we are only in year three of the strategy.  Progress is being made but, as acknowledged by the Minister of State, Deputy McGinley, and others, there is more to do.

I know, through my role as a public representative and former councillor of Galway County Council, that there are people in various sections of the local authorities who can converse with the public in Irish.  It is important these people are to the fore in that regard.  The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is currently engaged in ensuring that all Government bodies and agencies have in their employ people fluent in the Irish language who can engage with the public.  As I said earlier, recruitment is currently under way in the Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces.  As set out in the strategy, these bodies are required to promote the Irish language when recruiting.  It is the responsibility of the Garda Commissioner and Chief of Staff to ensure adherence with the strategy in that regard.

I recently spoke to a principal of a Gaeltacht school, although not a gaelscoil, about the progress of the Irish language at that school over the past number of years.  He told me that while progress was being made, much was dependent on teachers.  He said that a teacher who was a confident native Irish speaker had more chance of instilling the grá for the language in his or her pupils.  He also told me that for this reason the board of management of his school had taken the decision to continue the use of English rather than Irish textbooks at the school, which was interesting.  He said that without Irish textbooks Irish could only be taught to a particular level.  Under Acht na Gaeltachta, the local authorities are required to get involved with their schools with regard to progressing the Irish language.  In this regard, a school might be encouraged to teach particular subjects through Irish using Irish textbooks.  As it is difficult to ask parents to purchase Irish and English textbooks for all subjects, where a school makes such decision, would it be possible for a small deontas to be made available to parents?  I am sure this is an issue we will come across in the future in respect of other languages.  It is an interesting point which had not crossed my mind until I spoke to the principal concerned.

I support the right of people to protest for their rights, including to do their business as Gaeilge.  I have no problem with that.  Complaints have been made about the lack of Irish speaking staff in the HSE and other bodies.  As I said at the committee on the Irish language last week, while the Minister has a role in this regard, these bodies also have a role to play.  I acknowledge the recruitment of Irish speaking staff is difficult owing to the moratorium.  This is the reason for the introduction of the new quota system in the context of recruitment.

Last month, I sent a tweet as Gaeilge, following which I received a response informing me that I had put a fada on the first “a” in damáiste when it should be on the second one.  While I sent a reply thanking the person concerned, I wondered if picking people up on such issues discourages people from attempting to use the Irish language.  What is important is that people make an attempt at it.  People are not being praised for their attempts at speaking the language rather they are being criticised for their failure to do so perfectly.  That puts people off.  The Minister of State who is fluent in Irish is very accepting of those of us who are less than perfect at doing so but make an effort.  It is important there is the same acceptance across the Gaeltacht.  Owing to our education system not everybody is flúirseach sa teanga.

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