Health and safety concerns expressed by Gaeltacht communities
Stabilisation package for sector to be progressed
Government Chief Whip and Minister of State for the Gaeltacht and Sport, Jack Chambers TD, today (7 May 2021) announced the outcome of the extensive consultation process undertaken with the Irish Language Summer Colleges sector.
During the consultation process mná tí, who provide accommodation for students, and course operators expressed considerable health and safety concerns for Gaeltacht families and the local communities arising from the hosting of summer courses due to COVID-19.
Following the consultation process and in recognition of the concerns expressed, a decision has been taken not to proceed with State-backed courses in summer 2021. Work is now underway on developing an appropriate stabilisation package for the sector.
Minister of State Chambers said:
"We engaged extensively with all those crucial to the operation of Gaeltacht summer colleges including mná tí and the colleges themselves. In the course of this, it was very clear that Gaeltacht accommodation providers were concerned about bringing visiting children into their homes in the context of the public health situation. I completely understand and respect those views.
“We are conscious of the consequences of this decision for the Gaeltacht economy which is reliant on the summer courses. For this reason, we will evaluate the impact of this development on the sector with a view to progressing an appropriate stabilisation package.
"I understand that this will be disappointing for many young people who were looking forward to attending this year. Some Irish Colleges will be offering online digital courses in 2021 and the department is also supporting a number of digital initiatives to allow young people to continue to develop their language skills over the summer months and beyond.
“I am confident that a solution can be reached over the coming weeks which will ensure this important sector can continue into 2022 and beyond."