Minister of State McHugh welcomes budget allocations for the Irish language, Gaeltacht and Islands for 2018
Statement by Government Chief Whip and Minister of State for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Joe McHugh TD
As Minister of State for our native language, our Gaeltacht areas and our islands, I know all too well my duty to protect and enhance the use of Irish throughout the country and the communities at the heart of this.
I welcome additional funding to my department in Budget 2018 announced today with another increase of €2.5M being provided – taking additional funding to more than €5M over two years.
There is a dedication in this Government to match the dedication to our culture across so many hard-working organisations across the State inside and outside the Gaeltacht.
This hard work has been recognised in the Budget with a total sum next year of €62.595 million for the language, the gaeltacht and the islands.
Included in my plans for next year are:
- An additional €1.4m to support the Language Planning Process under the 20 year Strategy for the Irish Language;
- €400,000 in additional funding for Údarás na Gaeltachta to invest in its capital programmes and to increase supports for Gaeltacht co-operatives and community development organisations, bringing capital funding for An tÚdarás up to €7m;
- An additional allocation of €687,000 for the Department’s Language Support Schemes outside the Gaeltacht.
Included in next year’s Budget is a substantial sum of €14.028m to be provided for An Foras Teanga, comprising Foras na Gaeilge and the Ulster-Scots Agency. These are indicative figures which are subject to the Estimates being approved in due course and subject to the agreement of the North South Ministerial Council in the case of An Foras Teanga.
Support for the Irish language and the sustainable development of our island communities will remain key priorities for me in 2018. There is a growing love for our language and our culture; it is what sets us apart. The incredible work in Gaeltacht areas to preserve and grow use of our language goes on alongside the work in our education sector throughout the country with demand growing every year for places in Gaelscoileanna and in secondary and third level Irish institutions.
The delivery of the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language is a key priority for Government, and I am pleased to see an increase in funding for the Irish language, in line with a commitment given in the Programme for Government.
I am particularly pleased with the additional €1.4m which has been provided to support the language planning process. Last month, I announced that the first three Gaeltacht language plans had been approved, allowing those plans to move on to the most important phase of the language planning process, that being the implementation of the language plans. This additional funding will be vital as more language plans are approved and move into the implementation phase over the coming year.
I am also pleased to have secured over €400,000 in additional funding for Údarás na Gaeltachta to invest in its capital programmes and to increase supports for Gaeltacht co-operatives and community development organisations. This increase in funding will bring the organisation’s capital baseline figure up to €7m while also increasing the allocation to Gaeltacht co-operatives and community development organisations. An tÚdarás has a key role to play in the language planning process, in retaining jobs in their client companies and in attracting further investment to Gaeltacht areas and I am confident that their overall allocation will enable them to fulfil their remit over the coming year.
An additional allocation of €687,000 has also been provided for the Department’s Language Support Schemes outside the Gaeltacht. These schemes have contributed greatly to some of the most innovative work being done in relation to the language in recent years, and I look forward to further progress in these areas in 2018. The extra funding being made available this year will also be used to fund various Irish language learning programmes both within and outside the Gaeltacht, thus aiming to increase the number of daily speakers of the language.