Minister of State for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Joe McHugh TD has announced that discussions regarding a financial package to back a year-long official celebration of the Irish language in 2018 are nearing completion.

Minister McHugh made the announcement in Killarney, Co Kerry where he launched the annual cultural celebration, Oireachtas na Samhna.

The Fine Gael Minister said at the function: “We have carried out a lot of work on the Irish language since Oireachtas na Samhna was held this time last year. We have had a busy year in dealing with the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish language, a new Language Bill, language planning, budgeting and future planning.

“There will be lots of events in Killarney over the next five days with activities in many areas including drama, film, culture, language and heritage.

"I am pleased to announce that we will have a very special year in 2018. Conradh na Gaeilge will launch their program for Bliain na Gaeilge 2018 on Saturday.

“Over the last few months, my Department's officials have been working together with Foras na Gaeilge, Údaras na Gaeltachta, Conradh na Gaeilge and the other lead organisations in order to promote this concept.

“Discussions are currently underway in order to agree a financial package for the next year's events  and I am hopeful to see the results of these talks before Oireachtas na Samhna finishes on Sunday.

“In addition to support from my own Department, I want Bliain na Gaeilge 2018 to receive support across the entire system and, in that regard, I will be talking again with my colleagues in Government in the coming weeks.

“Today, I have already received the Taoiseach's support from the US for the project and he has expressed an interest in launching the full Bliain na Gaeilge Program with me before Christmas.

“Bliain na Gaeilge 2018 will be a national and international celebration and will build on the love of Irish in the United States, Canada, Europe and further afield.

“To this end, my Department staff in Na Forbacha and the staff of Irish language organizations will be supported by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht staff currently working on the Creative Ireland Program and who also worked on the last year's National Commemoration of the Easter Rising.

“We will all play a major role in this celebration next year in order to tell our story to the world - our story is that Irish is still alive and well and is vibrant not just here in Ireland but in many places around the world.”

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