The Gaeltacht Act 2012 created a legislative basis for the language planning process. The Gaeltacht Act makes provision for language plans to be prepared in communities in areas that are recognised as potential Gaeltachta language planning areas, Gaeltacht service towns or as Irish language networks.
Once a plan has been drafted by a community for their area, this plan must be approved by the relevant minister in order to receive official status and to begin the implementation of the language plan.
The steps involved in the language planning process are set out in The Language Planning Guidelines (5th Edition) published by the Department of the Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Foras na Gaeilge and Údarás na Gaeltachta.
Every language planning process is unique based on the needs and the desires of the communities and the current status of the Irish language in that area will also have an influence on the language plan. Although there are different approaches for selecting Gaeltacht service towns and Irish language networks, the same language planning process is followed.
Here are the shared steps that take place in every language planning process:
Step 1: Inform the community of the language planning process
Language planning is a participatory process and the community’s input is needed at every stage in the process. At the beginning of the process, a meeting or series of meetings will be organised in order to make the public aware of the language planning process.
Step 2: Applications from organisations to be the lead organisation during the process
An application process will be open for groups or organisations to be selected as the lead organisation for the language planning process. This group will be responsible for drafting the language plan, ongoing communication with the public and administering the support funding that is available to prepare the plan.
Step 3: Appointment of the lead organisation
A lead organisation will be appointed to lead the language planning process in a particular area along with a language planning steering committee which will be comprised of representatives from the community, for example, the arts, the business sectors, local schools etc. Foras na Gaeilge assesses the application/applications and a group will be chosen as the lead organisation for that area. In the case of Irish language networks Step 2 and Step 3 take place prior to the official beginning of the process.
Step 4: Preparing the language plan
Once the lead organisation has been appointed to carry out the language planning it can take a period of up to two years to write the language plan. More information on this stage of the plan is available below. Once the plan has been written and agreed with the community it will be sent to either the department or to Foras na Gaeilge for approval.
Step 5: Approval of the language plan
The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media or the Foras na Gaeilge board will approve the language plan after assessing it and the area will be official recognised as either a Gaeltacht service town or an Irish language network.
Step 6: Implementation of the language plan
The language plan will be implemented over a period of seven years. The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media or Foras na Gaeilge will carry out periodic reviews of the plan during the seven years and Foras will also provide ongoing support and assistance.