It's clear that Fine Gael don’t give a damn about the Irish Language - Peadar Tóibín TD
The government’s Culture, Language and Heritage plan falling under the Project Ireland banner was officially launched today, the document majoring on glossy promises with little substantive detail.
Speaking today, Deputy Tóibín said;
“While the Taoiseach breathlessly mooted a €1.2 billion ‘investment package’, this actually translates as an increase in capital investment of €11.2 million in additional spending each year in Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
“Parliamentary questions I’ve put to the Department asking for a detailed breakdown were not answered in any detail. We do not know where these yearly incremental increases averaging €11.2 will be spent and adhering to what timeline.
"The Irish Language has suffered deep and damaging cuts in the last number of years. These cuts have been far out of kilter with comparable Departments. Capital Investment in the Irish language today is 1/7 of what it was in 2008, this despite the fact that public spending as a whole has reached the levels of 2008.
"The government’s language policies are failing with the number of daily speakers falling radically within the Gaeltacht in the last few years. There are only 500 preschool aged children in the Gaeltacht now who speak Irish every day outside the education system. The future of the Gaeltacht is hanging on a precarious narrow thread.
"The government is getting obvious, simple stuff completely wrong. The majority of children in the Gaeltacht go to English language preschools and there is no Irish on the ECCE curriculum throughout the rest of the State. Demand for Gaelscoileanna out strips supply by 500% and yet the provision of new Gaelscoileanna by the Department of Education has ground to a halt.
"The quality of Irish taught in our school is, by the Government’s own admission, falling. There exists no plan in the Department of Education for the Irish Language at all in the education system outside of the Gaeltacht.
"Plans the government do publish are generally target or timescale free. The sum of ambition in today’s launch is a capital investment for Údarás na Gaeltachta in 2027 which is no higher than it was in 2008. The majority of Irish Language Networks and Gaeltacht Service Towns which were legally provided for in the 2012 Bill are still not in place. Its clear that Fine Gael don’t understand the meaning of urgent in Irish or English.
"If Minister Madigan would simply acquaint herself with the needs of the language and provide the necessary investment there would be a real opportunity of turning the story of our National Language around. There would be a real opportunity in seeing the language flourish to the benefit of future generations."