The Academy, known as Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge is being set up by NUI Galway to develop University courses through the medium of Irish, both on campus at NUI Galway and at the University's centres in the Gaeltacht. The University Authority founded the Acadamh and has appointed President Ó Muircheartaigh as Rector (Reachtaire) and Mr. Peadar Mac an Iomaire, Director of the Office of Spoken Irish, as Chief Executive.
The complete work of the Office of Spoken Irish and the activities of the University's three Gaeltacht Centres will now be taken over by an tAcadamh. This currently constitutes 40 full time posts but this number will be built on as academic courses, research programmes and the advisory services of an tAcadamh flourish over the coming years. Some 12 posts have already been advertised under the auspices of an tAcadamh and many of these positions have now been filled. More posts will be advertised over the coming months. Arrangements are currently being made to appoint an tAcadamh's Board of Directors and Academic Board.
Thanking the Minister for Government support, President Ó Muircheartaigh said, "The Governing Authority and I are delighted with the support shown by Government for an tAcadamh. Securing the role of the Irish Language in third-level education is an intrinsic part of the University's Strategic and Academic Plans."
Another important step was taken in the development of these policies earlier last month (October '03) when the University Authority provided guidelines for University management to develop an exemplary bilingual campus at NUI Galway. "This campus will be a role model for all universities serving minority communities and lesser-used language communities throughout the world," said Dr. Ó Muircheartaigh.
Dr. Ó Muircheartaigh was also pleased to announce that 73 students are attending NUI Galway courses through the medium of Irish at the University's Centre, An Chrannóg, in the Donegal Gaeltacht for the first time this year. A further 53 students have enrolled on courses being run by An Chrannóg in other locations in Ulster. Courses are now well founded at the Gaeltacht centres in Connamara: Áras Shorcha Ni Ghuairim, Carna agus Áras Mháirtín Uí Chadhain, An Cheathrú Rua.
The University Authorities believe that the structural developments currently being undertaken will secure the future for third level education through the medium of Irish. They are also strongly of the opinion that these developments are meeting the needs of the Irish speaking community, both within and outside the Gaeltacht.
"These latest groundbreaking steps taken by the University are activating a concept which was laid down by the University Act of 1929. This Act named National University of Ireland, Galway as the third level Institute which would lead third level education through Irish," said Dr. Ó Muircheartaigh. "It is now necessary to amend this act in order to facilitate the growth and development of an tAcadamh. The University Authority has unanimously accepted the need for this amendment."