The objective of Government policy in relation to Irish is to increase on an incremental basis the use and knowledge of Irish as a community language.
Specifically, the Government’s aim is to ensure that as many citizens as possible are bilingual in both Irish and English.
It is an integral component of the Government’s Irish language policy that close attention be given to its place in the Gaeltacht, particularly in light of research which indicates that the language’s viability as a household and community language in the Gaeltacht is under threat.
The aim of Government policy is also to:
- increase the number of families throughout the country who use Irish as the daily language of communication;
- provide linguistic support for the Gaeltacht as an Irish-speaking community and to recognise the issues which arise in areas where Irish is the household and community language;
- ensure that in public discourse and in public services the use of Irish or English will be, as far as practical, a choice for the citizen to make and that over time more and more people throughout the State will choose to do their business in Irish; and
- ensure that Irish becomes more visible in our society, both as a spoken language by our citizens and also in areas such as signage and literature.
Irish is a part of the culture and heritage of Northern Ireland and the promotion and protection of the language there is also a priority for the Government.
The Government recognises the tremendous advantage to its citizens of fluency in English, the most widely used language in international affairs.
The Government commits to ensuring that this advantage is retained through the development of a bilingual society, where as many people as possible can use Irish and English with equal ease and facility. However, the Government also recognises that the focus of policy in the Gaeltacht needs to be on maintaining the linguistic identity of the community in the Gaeltacht as a distinctive language region, rather than one of bilingualism.
While strengthening the position of the language within our education system is a key focus of this Strategy, the transmission of Irish as a living language within the family and between the generations is critically important.
Our overall approach is to create a supportive framework and the opportunities in which Irish can be passed on in a natural way within households and communities. This is of special importance in the context of the Gaeltacht.
The future of the language depends on people who make a positive choice to embrace the opportunities that this Strategy will create. This is the challenge for all of us.