01 July, 2009 - Minister O'Keeffe and comedian Des Bishop discuss steps to promote Irish

The Minister for Education and Science, Batt O'Keeffe TD, and comedian Des Bishop today discussed a number of steps aimed at promoting Irish as a vibrant language in the community.
Speaking after a meeting in Government Buildings today, Minister O'Keeffe said: 'The Government's key objective is to promote the use of Irish as an every day community language and the education system is key to achieving that objective.
'Des Bishop has shown what can be achieved by becoming fluent in Irish in a very short timeframe.
'I'm keen to build on the goodwill he is generating towards Irish so that we can continue to encourage the use of the language in schools by students and teachers,' said Minister O'Keeffe.
As part of a forthcoming campaign to promote the Irish language in schools, Des Bishop and the Department are considering number of initiatives including:

  • Leveraging the power of social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo and new media such as YouTube to target young people;
  • Promoting new online supports for the teaching of oral Irish to be piloted in a dozen post-primary schools from September;
  •  Embarking on a year-long nationwide tour of post-primary schools to create a sense of excitement around Irish in the classroom;
  •  Developing  podcasts aimed at Junior Certificate students.

Des Bishop, whose award-winning documentary 'In The Name Of The Fada' was based on his year learning Irish in Connemara Gaeltacht, said he wants to work with Minister O'Keeffe to get more young people speaking Irish regularly.
'It was liberating to be able to go to a Gaeltacht without a word of Irish and emerge fluent in the language after a year.
'I believe that we can make an important breakthrough in the teaching of Irish by making learning more enjoyable and interactive and by emphasising the importance of the spoken word.
'Ultimately, we want to improve students' grasp of the everyday language and make it much more popular in the community than it is,' said Mr Bishop.
Minister O'Keeffe said: 'For the first time next year, the optional Junior Certificate oral exam will be worth 40pc of the marks rather than 20pc now.
'I’d like to see more schools offering the oral Irish exam at that level.
'The proportion of marks for oral Irish in the Leaving Certificate will increase from 25pc to 40pc from 2012.
'Clearly, then, our initiatives today will be key to preparing students for oral Irish exams and in generating a renewed sense of appreciation among school-goers for our native tongue.'