Minister of State Seán Kyne announces €4.7m stability fund for the Irish summer colleges sector
Senator Seán Kyne, Minister of State for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands has announced the approval of a once-off emergency measure worth €4.7m to support the stabilisation of the Gaeltacht Irish summer college sector.
The stabilisation fund is being provided as a specific once-off measure with the overall objective of ensuring the ongoing viability of the sector thereby enabling it to continue to contribute to the systematic effort being made to support the language and Gaeltacht regions in line with the overarching objectives of the Government’s 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 and the accompanying 5-Year Action Plan for the Irish Language 2018-2022.
Under the stability fund, up to €3.1m will be directed at supporting the college authorities to refund fees/deposits to parents while a further €1.6m is being allocated under the measure towards offsetting losses incurred by up to 700 certified Gaeltacht householders who normally keep students attending one of the recognised 42 colleges during the summer months.
The measure follows the cancellation, on 20th April 2020, of Irish summer college course by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in the interests of protecting public health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Announcing the launch of the stabilisation fund Senator Kyne said:
“I am well aware of the unique challenges faced by Gaeltacht communities as a result of the Department’s decision that no Irish language courses would be run in the Gaeltacht this summer. The stabilisation fund I am announcing today worth €4.7m seeks to stabilise the sector in a way which recognises the important contribution it makes in providing language learning and enrichment opportunities beyond the normal school and college setting to over 26,000 students annually. The sector, which represents a critical part of the Gaeltacht economy, estimated to be worth €50m annually, also provides a valuable income source to over 700 Gaeltacht householders who provide accommodation for attending students while also generating significant down-stream benefits to Gaeltacht communities. In light of this and the importance of ensuring the sector’s ongoing viability into the future in the broader context of the language, I am delighted to be in a position to provide this stability fund which will be met from existing resources within the Department’s Community and Language Supports Programme.”