Wednesday 18 October 2017 01:16:55 AM

The Big GQ Plan To Map Future For The Gaeltacht Quarter
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CULTURE Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, Education Minister John O’Dowd and Environment Minister Mark H Durkan have endorsed the Gaeltacht Quarter Charter at a special GQ summit.

The summit attended by local school children, MLA’s, community representatives and academics will finalise a new Big GQ action plan for the next decade.dn_screen

Hosting the event Minister Ní Chuilín said: “It is nearly ten years since the Dutton Report on the Gaeltacht Quarter was produced. Now is the time to review that report, take stock of our progress and decide how best we can move into the future. The use of the Irish language is no longer confined to specific areas and specific groups. It is something that is used by many, in their homes, schools and workplaces.

“The promotion of the Gaeltacht area will help maximise the economic opportunities of the language provided by the growing clusters of cultural based activities and enterprises. This area of West Belfast is one of the most deprived in the whole of the north. By different Departments coming together we are able to address the many and differing needs and reasons for social deprivation. By working together we are able to promote equality and tackle social exclusion and poverty.”

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan added: “The Gaeltacht Quarter offers great potential for increasing our cultural and heritage tourism. This is an area that has grown naturally. It is not some new cosmetic fix. It has grown as people have come together using their common bond of the Irish language. We must therefore ensure we continue to energise and give confidence to this community and area.

“I will continue to build on the work of Alex Attwood who challenged Northern Ireland Environment Agency to identify innovative ways to maximize Built and Natural heritage led development opportunities of the Gaeltacht Quarter. Through targeted regeneration such as this, we can help people to continue and work in local areas. In turn people are then able to contribute to the growth and sustainability of their local areas. A win win.”

Speaking to some of the local school children at the event Education Minister John O’Dowd said: “Interest in Irish Medium Education continues to grow; more and more children are being educated through the medium of Irish. Education is one of the mainstays of the Quarter and is home to Gaelscoil an Lonnáin, Gaelscoil na bhFál, Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh and Coláiste Feirste.

“With a high proportion of young people graduating from Coláiste Feirste and going onto Higher and Further education it is vital that we continue to look at ways of developing and increasing opportunities for them across the board as well as opening up new opportunities in the workplace and especially in specialised and technical industries.”