Schoolbooks should be available in Irish, committee says

Funding for Irish-language youth groups ‘should match funding for English language groups’

The committee proposed  exchange programmes should take place between Gaeltacht and Irish medium schools. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

The committee proposed exchange programmes should take place between Gaeltacht and Irish medium schools. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

A public commitment should be given by the Minister for Education that school books will be made available in Irish in all subjects at junior and senior cycle level within three years, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands has said.

The call was made as part of a series of 10 recommendations by the committee following a review of a strategy proposed by Muintearas, an organisation with a role in the planning and implementation of activities for young people in Gaeltacht areas.

The recommendations are outlined in a report titled “Tuarascáil ar an Straitéis Óige don Ghaeltacht” which was compiled by the committee following a meeting in October with representatives of Muintearas.

The goal of the Muintearas strategy is to tackle the challenges faced by young people in Gaeltacht areas and to help create the conditions that would encourage those who wish to remain in the Gaeltacht to do so.

The committee said young people in Gaeltacht areas should be recognised as a distinct group by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs for the purposes of funding. It calls for a range of measures including the strengthening of ties between schools in Gaeltacht areas and Irish medium schools outside of the Gaeltacht in order to facilitate exchange programmes during transition year. It is also proposed that students attending these schools work on projects together throughout the year.

Organisations that work with young people in Gaeltacht areas through the medium of Irish should receive funding matching that provided to organisations that work through the medium of English.

The joint committee also recommended that “every assistance” should be given to help establish and maintain drop-in centres where young people could meet and organise activities through the medium of Irish.

Challenges

Committee chair Catherine Connolly TD said the committee “is aware of the challenges” facing young people in the Gaeltacht and those who wish to remain living in the Gaeltacht “when they attend third-level colleges, when they seek employment and when they start to raise families of their own”.

The committee welcomed the Muintearas strategy “as an active and encompassing plan that will benefit young persons living in the Gaeltacht and will benefit the Gaeltacht itself”.

Ms Connolly said the committee’s report was intended to assist the implementation of the strategy “and how best it can be used to provide for the youth of the Gaeltacht and facilitate them in remaining in their local areas as native speakers”.

Other recommendations include a call for the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation to introduce an apprenticeship scheme in Irish for people in Gaeltacht areas within two years.

The committee also called on the GAA, the IRFU and the FAI to provide support for sporting groups who wish to operate through the medium of Irish.