Dinny Mc Ginley TD, Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, has described the passage of the Gaeltacht Bill as an historic moment for the Gaeltacht and the Irish language.
Minister McGinley commented: “Today is an historic day for the Gaeltacht and for the Irish language. This is the first major piece of legislation regarding the Gaeltacht in over 50 years. Since then – and as time has passed – it has become increasingly urgent that a new legislative framework, and a new approach, is needed for the Gaeltacht and the language.
“In 2007 we were warned that Irish as a living community language had a lifespan of 15 to 20 years unless remedial action was taken urgently. Since coming into Government, we decided to make this bill a top priority, and I am delighted to have delivered on this commitment today.
“There has been extensive consultation – and wide debate – regarding the provisions of this new legislation. As I have said, at every stage of this process, the old approach has failed. That is clear to any person who has watched the continuous decline in the use of Irish as a community language in Gaeltacht areas. Today, 23,000 people use Irish on a daily basis in Gaeltacht areas. We have to stem that decline.
“I am particularly happy that this new legislation gives people and communities the power to decide their own linguistic future. I believe that it is only with real engagement, and by bringing people with us, that we can make progress.
“I am very disappointed that the opposition chose not to engage in the final stages of this bill. However, this matter is too important for the future of the language to delay any further. In the coming period, I will be travelling the country and appealing to local communities, to schools, to voluntary organisations, and to local representatives, to engage with the new legislation and – most importantly – to work with us in this historic new way forward for Irish and the Gaeltacht.”
The Minister made no reference to a gagging order issued against a Glenveagh gardener and Department employee over his personal opposition to the Bill.