Today is a historic day for the Gaeltacht and for the Irish language, according to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Dinny McGinley.
Speaking after the Government passed a the Gaeltacht Bill – despite an Opposition walkout – Minister McGinley, who hails himself hails from the Gaeltacht town of Gweedore, said: “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.”
He added: “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.”
In response to the full walk-out of all Opposition TDs, Minster McGinley said: “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.”
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