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Criteria shake-up will mean new Gaeltacht areas

Criteria shake-up will mean new Gaeltacht areas

The landscape of Gaeltacht areas across the country could be dramatically changed under plans agreed by the Cabinet.

Areas designated as official Irish-speaking areas and which are entitled to State funding will now be decided according to linguistic criteria instead of by geography, which has been the position to date.

The move means areas around the country, even in Dublin, could apply for the first time to be Gaeltacht designated regions.

Under the Gaeltacht Bill 2012, communities will be given two years to submit plans which must prioritise proposals to boost the take up of Irish and its use in their locality.

The Department of Gaeltacht last night said that language planning at community level will be central to the new definition of the Gaeltacht. Areas outside the traditional Gaeltacht areas may be recognised as Gaeltacht areas, subject to fulfilling particular criteria, it added.

Commenting on the decision by Cabinet to draft the heads of bill for the new measures, Dinny McGinley, the Gaeltacht affairs minister, said: “This is important legislation which will enable my department to take the appropriate steps to begin the language planning process in the Gaeltacht and to give statutory effect to Údarás na Gaeltachta to implement the 20-year strategy for the Irish language in the Gaeltacht.”

Gaeltacht areas are traditionally recognised as areas where Irish is the predominant language.

The 2006 census found there were almost 100,000 people living in Gaeltacht areas, with concentrations of Irish speakers in counties Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Kerry, and Cork. Newer Irish speaking communities have since emerged.

A project is under way in Ballymun, Dublin, where homes are being built for those who want to live in an Irish-speaking community in the heart of the city. There are Irish-speaking schools and creches too.

The upcoming bill will also make amendments to the role and functions of Údarás na Gaeltachta, the State agency which oversees the economic, social and cultural development of Gaeltacht regions.

Foilsithe ar 8 Feabhra 2012

Foisithe ar - 8 Feabhra 2012

Irish Examiner - Juno McEnroe

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