Government Chief Whip and Minister of State for the Gaeltacht and Sport, Jack Chambers, met with members of the Irish Language Services Advisory Committee when they had their first meeting in the Foras na Gaeilge building in Dublin City Centre.
The Committee was established last month, in accordance with the provisions of the Official Languages (Amendment) Act 2021, which was signed into law in December last year. The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media is responsible for providing a secretariat for the Committee.
The Committee has an ambitious agenda, with a National Plan for the provision of public services through the medium of Irish to be prepared within two years of the establishment of the Committee. In this National Plan, regard will be given to the overall objectives of the Act, for example, that 20% of new recruits to the public service will be Irish speakers no later than 31 December 2030 and that the Minister will set deadlines by which all public services in and for the Gaeltacht will be made available through the medium of Irish and under which public offices located in the Gaeltacht will operate through the medium of Irish.
The half-day event started this morning at 10am and on the agenda was a presentation on the Act by interim Chairperson, Dr. Aodhán Mac Cormaic, along with the agreeing of the terms of reference and other administrative documents of the Committee.
However, the most significant topic for discussion on the day was to agree an approach to the National Plan and the research that could be commissioned for it. To that end, the Committee has decided that a Request for Tender will be sought for this research through the open procurement method through etenders.gov.ie before the end of August. This procurement process will be announced again by press release once it’s underway.
Speaking at the event, Minister of State Chambers said, “with the first important steps taken by the Committee now in terms of putting together the National Plan and their decision to commission research in relation to it, the Committee has already given a good boost to its work. Two years is not a long time when you look at what is to be included in the National Plan. It is extremely important therefore that no time is lost in acting on it. The Committee have clearly demonstrated to me today, their understanding of and commitment to what they have to achieve.”
It is intended that the Committee will meet every month.