The new Údarás na Gaeltachta Strategic Plan 2021-2025 was officially launched by Government Chief Whip and the Minister of State for Sport and the Gaeltacht, Jack Chambers, T.D., in association with the Údarás na Gaeltachta Chairperson, Anna Ní Ghallachair and CEO Mícheál Ó hÉanaígh in Gaoth Dobhair this morning.
At the core of this new Strategy for the Gaeltacht are the themes of Enable, Strengthen and the Sustainability of the Gaeltacht with an overarching aim of developing the Gaeltacht as a creative, innovative, and sustainable region. This ambitious strategy is being launched at a critical juncture for the Gaeltacht with a primary objective of fostering thriving, sustainable Gaeltacht communities, where Irish is the main language, and where employment, society and culture make a world-class quality of life available.
Údarás na Gaeltachta has identified two main objectives and five strategic objectives which will guide the development of new initiatives and investment in human resources, natural resources and capital resources in the Gaeltacht for the benefit of the community and the environment.
Main Language Planning Objective - Language plans being implemented in 26 language planning areas and 3 Gaeltacht service towns by the end of 2025.
Main Employment Objective - 9,000 people employed in client companies in the Gaeltacht by the end of 2025.
The objectives above will be implemented by the following strategic objectives:
During the lifetime of this strategy the following seven strategic projects will be progressed:
1. gteic – Gréasán Digiteach na Gaeltachta
By the end of the strategy 31 innovation and digital hubs with high-speed broadband connectivity will be operating throughout the Gaeltacht.
2. Green Gaeltacht
Údarás na Gaeltachta is committed to playing its part in reducing the carbon footprint of our own activities and those of our clients and the wider Gaeltacht community. To this end, a comprehensive programme of initiatives and actions will be undertaken to achieve this objective.
3. Páirc na Mara
The construction and marketing of this important, sustainable facility will begin during the period of this strategy which will create opportunities for local entrepreneurs and employees.
Tourism projects as well as tourism products and tourism packages will be developed throughout the Gaeltacht and advertised to the domestic and international markets. We will continue to invest in the Tourism Management Development Scheme to ensure that skilled people are available for this sector.
5. Branda na Gaeltachta
The Gaeltacht Brand will be further developed, and the Gaeltacht will be marketed as a place of work, community, language, arts, tourism. The brand will be used to promote Gaeltacht products. Companies will be encouraged to actively use the Gaeltacht Brand
6. Diaspóra na Gaeltachta
The strong links with the diaspora will be built on to attract investment to the Gaeltacht as well as focusing on attracting people back home. Groups with specific interests will also be targeted to form network and create communication platforms between Gaeltacht communities and the diaspora around specific interests such as the arts, the Irish language, business, sports and more
7. Cultúr na Gaeilge agus na Gaeltachta a Chothú i Measc an Aosa Óig
Based on research aimed at gaining a better understanding of Gaeltacht youth culture, a range of actions will be put in place. The aim is to foster confidence, pride and ownership among young people in terms of the language as they engage in activities that are of particular interest to them and which relate specifically to their distinctive identity as young Gaeltacht people.
At the heart of the Strategy are three key themes which will underpin the work of the organisation. These themes are intrinsic to the approach taken to realise the vision outlined by Údarás.
“Providing the opportunities and resources for individuals, for communities and for businesses to develop and progress”
“Strengthening and supporting the human, linguistic, cultural, economic and community infrastructure in the Gaeltacht”
“Supporting the development of Gaeltacht areas in a way that is sustainable and responsive to the cultural, economic and environmental surroundings in which we live”
Referring to the launch of the strategy Catherine Martin, TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media:
“I welcome the Údarás na Gaeltachta Strategic Plan 2021-2025 which is being launched today. It outlines a range of aims and actions that an tÚdarás are to implement over the next five years which are in line with Government policy regarding the Gaeltacht and the Irish Language including the Action Plan 2018-2022 and the overall 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language. In the Action Plan it is stated that the range of actions therein act as a specific baseline to be implemented over the duration of the plan for the benefit of the Gaeltacht and the Irish language in association with numerous stakeholders including Údarás na Gaeltachta. The implementation of the Údarás na Gaeltachta Strategic Plan agus the Action Plan will complement each other undoubtedly. With the challenges facing us all due to COVID-19 and Brexit it is essential now more than ever to have a strategic approach and a farsighted vision for the period ahead.”
Launching the strategy today Government Chief Whip and the Minister of State for the Gaeltacht and Sport Jack Chambers, T.D said:
“Údarás na Gaeltachta have outlined a vison for the Gaeltacht here for the next five years. It is an ambituous plan, a plan that will benefit the Irish Speaking Community, enterprise and community development in the Gaeltacht. Similar to other communities countrywide Gaeltacht communities are dealing with the implications of the pandemic, a crisis which caught the whole world by surprise. Údarás na Gaeltachta has a central role in all aspects of Gaeltacht life from the economy and community development to language planning. This new strategy will reveal the vital link with the community, the pioneering work required and the innovative work of the organisation that is required in the sectors in which they are operating.”
Speaking at the launch Anna Ní Ghallachair, Chairperson, Údarás na Gaeltachta said:
“On behalf of the Board, I welcome this ambitious strategy for the period 2021 - 2025. It is a strategy that builds on the foundation laid during the 2018 – 2020 Strategy and on the work that Údarás na Gaeltachta has been doing for this past forty years. This strategy sets out a vision for a vibrant and progressive Gaeltacht, with projects which look to the future and will benefit the economic, cultural and social life of the Gaeltacht.The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the country's economy over the past year and, as a consequence, we face a major development challenge in the coming years; but it is a challenge that we will tackle, as we always do, with spirit and enthusiasm.
Notwithstanding this challenge, we aim to employ 9,000 people in Údarás client companies by the end of the period of this strategy, a commitment to which the Board and the executive are strongly committed. During the period of the last strategy, the organisation, in conjunction with the local communities, made significant progress in introducing a language planning process in the Gaeltacht. Language plans have now been approved in most Language Planning Areas and Language Planning Committees and Officers will work with a view to consolidating and strengthening the language over the next five years.
Referring to the newly launched strategy Mícheál Ó hÉanaigh, Chief Executive Officer, Údarás na Gaeltachta said:
“Údarás na Gaeltachta's Strategy for the period 2021-2025 sets out a vision for the Gaeltacht as a creative, innovative and viable region. Our objective is to ensure that the Gaeltacht is a region where Irish is the living language of a community that is attractive to live in, with first-class employment opportunities. The strengthening, enablement and sustainability of the Gaeltacht is intertwined with the Strategy and the approach the Údarás will adopt over the next five years.
This Strategy comes at a time of great change in our lives. We need to be ready to seize opportunities and overcome challenges. First-class human, cultural and natural resources are available in the Gaeltacht. In the 40 years since its inception, the Údarás has played a role in developing an exemplary community and business infrastructure in the Gaeltacht. During the lifetime of this Strategy, we will focus on viable development, the principles of sustainability and the circular economy.