NUI Galway Launches Irish Language Strategy 2021-25

Friday, 16 July 2021

NUI Galway
Pictured are (l-r): Róisín Nic Lochlainn, NUI Galway Students’ Union President; Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Deputy President and Registrar. NUI Galway; Michelle Ní Chróinín, Director of Strategy and Planning, Office of the Deputy President and Registrar, NUI Galway; Dr Máire Geoghegan Quinn, former EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science and Chair of the University’s Governing Authority; agus Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, NUI Galway President.

- Status of the Irish language in the University to be strengthened reinforcing its bilingual campus status
- Inaugural Irish Language Officer to be appointed
- New building and space for the Irish Language Community
- Irish Language Residency Scheme to be redeveloped
- 20% of professional staff will have the ability to conduct business through Irish

NUI Galway has launched its inaugural Irish Language Strategy. A Strategy for the Irish Language 2021-25 was officially launched today (16 July 2021) by Dr Máire Geoghegan Quinn, newly appointed Chair of the University’s Governing Authority and former government minister and European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science.

The strategy sets out an ambitious vision to bring the University’s bilingual campus to life and to set out a path for truly bilingual culture, through operational policies, governance structures and empowering its communities to be champions of the Irish language.

The strategy was developed by the newly established Irish Language Strategic Committee chaired by President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, with wide participation from both internal and external membership to the University. The Strategy identifies five main themes: Academic Affairs, Administration Affairs, Space and Resources, Student Affairs, and the Public at Large.

President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “Here at NUI Galway we are fite fuaite with our Irish language and Gaeltacht communities, and the Irish language is a central and deep part of our identity and our lives. It is our value as a university community to respect our diverse communities, both in the University and in our hinterland, to be open to the outside world and to be committed to the sustainability of culture and community. The Irish language is a core aspect of this respect, of this openness and sustainability. This is no burden – it is a privilege and a distinctive advantage for us and our community.

“NUI Galway is a leader in Ireland and, consequently, internationally in developing Irish language teaching, research and initiatives and, with that, an exemplar at home and abroad in terms of fostering close ties with language communities, especially Celtic and minority languages. That is the chance and the challenge that lies ahead.”

Key measures in A Strategy for the Irish Language 2021-25 include:

  • Space and Resources: This Strategy will commit to addressing space provision for the Irish language community on campus proposing the construction of a new building; further develop the Irish Language Residency Scheme to boost the Irish speaking community as a living community; and language hubs for the Irish language will be created and maintained on the Galway campus while a student-owned social space will also be developed.
  • Administrative and Management Structures: The University will appoint an Irish Language Officer who will have overall responsibility for driving the University’s vision for the Irish Language; ensure that ‘the Irish language in the University’ be a standing item on the Governing Authority agenda and also commit to hosting meetings in the Gaeltacht centres; implementation of new policy where there is now a requirement in respect of all units to provide customer services through the medium of Irish; implement a scheme whereby the Irish language as a skillset is officially recognised in recruitment processes; and 20% of professional staff will have the ability to conduct business through Irish.
  • The Use of Irish in the University: Establish a University Interpretation Service; Ensure that students are able to deal with the University’s administrative system through Irish from the beginning to the end of their study programme; and design and implement a new art scheme focusing on the placement of the Irish language across the campus.
  • Academic Affairs: Expand the offering of teaching through Irish and facilitate the development of ambitious, transformative research projects in the discipline; and investigate the options in relation to the offering of interdisciplinary modules through Irish.
  • The Community: The network of University Gaeltacht Centres has supported the promotion of the Gaeltacht community for over 20 years, and they are prepared to capitalise on opportunities arising from the State’s 20-Year Plan for the Irish Language and the amendment to the Official Languages Act. The University is at the forefront in the provision of Irish language training to student teachers in Ireland, and has excellent researchers in the fields of sociolinguistics, language planning and communications.

Dr Máire Geoghegan Quinn, commented: “NUI Galway has a rich Irish language heritage and a worldwide reputation for Irish language scholars, writers, actors, journalists, politicians and broadcasters who have served on this historic, innovative campus for over a century and more.    

“The Irish language has always had a particular advantage here at NUI Galway in terms of location and community. It was understood from the outset that it was in the interests of our language, the Gaeltacht and our University to foster and strengthen this relationship between us, which was done.

“This is the only university located on the doorstep of the Gaeltacht, the well of the living language. This unique location and our Gaeltacht Centers, in the Gaeltacht itself, give us the opportunity to develop that connection with the Irish language in innovative ways. This new Strategy lays a new, stable and integrated basis for the Irish language in all aspects of the life and work of the University and I welcome it.

“The Irish language was not seen as a statutory duty or a burden to be borne reluctantly but as a faithful, central part that goes to the heart of the institution and all parts of it. That was and will always be the case.”

The strategic priority areas and key objectives outlined in A Strategy for the Irish Language 2021-25 stemmed from the discussions and debates held at meetings of the Irish Language Strategic Committee; the various sub-committees comprised of internal and external members, including the student voice; and feedback from the overall University community following public consultation. The overall ethos of the working groups was that the vision and strategy be ambitious, so that the Irish language, which is at risk, can be promoted in University life, in the Gaeltacht community and in the Irish language community.

Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, NUI Galway Deputy President and Registrar, said: “This strategy is ambitious and is imbued with a vision of hope for the development and fostering of a sustainable bilingual environment. This strategy reinforces the message that NUI Galway’s Irish Language Strategy is an inclusive strategy and that everyone in the University has ownership of it, regardless of their language ability.

“Recognising the unique and influential role our university plays in our region’s society and economy, we plan to work with businesses, organisations and networks across the west of Ireland to ensure that our university is positively serving our region.”

Strategy Implementation
The Irish Language Strategic Committee will establish an Irish Language Strategy Implementation Committee from its membership to support the implementation of A Strategy for the Irish Language 2021-25.

A full implementation plan will be developed, addressing each of the strategic priority areas to include deliverables, timeframe, ownership and dependencies. The Deputy President and Registrar will pay particular attention to monitoring the progress of the plan and the achievement of strategic objectives and goals and will provide a progress report to the Governing Authority on an annual basis.

The University is committed to executing its statutory responsibilities under the Irish Language Act and the Irish Language Strategy Implementation Committee shall also have regard to the University’s established language schemes and its responsibilities, under the University College Galway (Amendment) Act (2006), to promote university education through the medium of Irish.

Read in full A Strategy for the Irish Language 2021-25 at http://www.nuigalway.ie/gaeilgebheo/

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Keywords: Press.

Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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