The Government has set into motion a policy that will require that from 2030, at least 20 per cent of all recruits to the public service will be proficient Irish speakers.
Minister of State for the Gaeltacht and Sport Jack Chambers announced on Tuesday the start of the advisory committee that will ensure the target is met.
The Irish Language Advisory Committee will have the specific function of ensuring that the amount of public services provided through Irish is substantially increased.
There are significant deficits in provision for those people who want to conduct their interaction with the State and its bodies through Irish, as highlighted each year by the annual report of An Coimisinéir Teanga Rónán Ó Domhnaill.
The Official Languages Act, signed into law at the end of 2021, includes provision for a national plan to ensure that, by the end of the decade, one-in-five new recruits to the public service can speak Irish at a high standard.
The committee will be chaired on an interim basis by Dr Aodhán Mac Cormaic, the director of Irish at the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.
Mr Chambers said: “With the establishment of this committee, I am thrilled that we have taken another step towards implementing the Official Languages Act.
“We can now look towards the relevant research that is needed in order to ensure the publication of the National Plan on increasing the provision of public services through Irish.”
He said that within two years of the committee being formed, a deadline will be set out by which time all public services in the Gaeltacht and for the Gaeltacht will be made available through Irish.
At present, many native speakers – including those with poor command of English – cannot access some health and social welfare services through Irish, because of a lack of Irish speakers.