Údarás na Gaeltachta was reformed in 2012. Direct elections by persons in Gaeltacht communities are abolished. Number of board members is reduced to 12. Members are nominated by County Councils containing Gaeltacht areas. Five are nominated by the Councils and seven by the Minister.
All electoral divisions within a Gaeltacht as currently defined under the Gaeltacht areas orders are to continue to be Gaeltacht areas under the legislation. The Minister may using the prescribed language planning criteria designate areas to be Gaeltacht Language Planning Areas.
Donegal, Mayo, Galway and Kerry County Council nominate members to Údarás na Gaeltachta. The remaining nomination is filled in rotation by annually elected member name nominated by one of the County Councils into smaller areas in the Cork, Waterford and Meath.
Generally an elected member will be nominated or in some cases an unelected member, the remaining members are appointed by the Minister from persons who have experience or have some capacity in matters relevant to the functions of Údarás.
Údarás na Gaeltachta is given a wide remit in relation to the promotion of linguistic, cultural, social, physical and economic development of the Gaeltacht. It is the implementation agency for the 20-year strategy for Irish language 2010 to 2030.
Údarás is given specific functions in relation to language planning and promotion. Certain of its committees are abolished.
Údarás na Gaeltachta retains its powers in relation to enterprise and functions and promotion. It may operate in cooperation with other enterprise agencies in relation to significant projects of high potential that may arise.
Gaeltacht Language Planning Areas
The Gaeltacht Act 2012 provides for a statutory language planning process and amends the functions and constitutions of Údarás na Gaeltachta.Údarás na Gaeltachta will assist communities with the preparation and implementation of language plans in Gaeltacht Language Planning Areas.
The existing Gaeltacht is designated as a number of Gaeltacht language planning areas. The areas are with reference to language planning criteria rather than geographical criteria as had formerly applied. This follows on the recommendations of the comprehensive linguistic study of the use of Irish in the Gaeltacht.
Areas are to be designated as Gaeltacht Language Planning Areas. These will comprise electoral districts or smaller subdivisions where language plans have been agreed by communities with the Department in accordance with regulations. The purpose is to strengthen the Irish language as the family and community language in such areas.
Designation of Language Planning Area
The Minister may publish notices with intention to designate a Gaeltacht Language Planning Area. The notice is to specify the period in which the language plan for the area is to be prepared.
Local organisations may apply to Údarás na Gaeltachta to be chosen to prepare language plans for Planning Areas. Údarás may assist organisation with development of plans. Areas may be excluded during the process if no organisation applies to prepare a plan.
Where the Minister does not approve the plan, and is of the view that there is no reasonable prospect of an acceptable plan being submitted, the Minister may extend the periods for submission of plans. The process may be recommenced with an amended area in the event that the Minister wishes to exclude part of a previously designated area.
Implementation of Plan
There is provision to implement the Language Plans in the relevant Gaeltacht Language Planning Areas. Údarás na Gaeltachta provides assistance. The Minister is to review the implementation of the plans.
If a plan is not being implemented, the Minister may request the organisation to remedy the deficiencies identified. If they have not been remedied, a Minister may by order revoke the designation of the area.
Irish language networks or communities supporting use of Irish language and for which language plans have been agreed, organisation may apply to Foras na Gaeilge to prepare and implement language plans for the community with its assistance.
The Minister may approve a language plan by order. Its implementation is reviewed by the Department. If there is a failure to implement, notice of deficiencies are to be given. Ultimately, the designation may be revoked.
Gaeltacht Service Towns
The legislation allows for designation of Gaeltacht Service Towns. These are towns within or adjoining Gaeltacht Language Planning Areas in which public services are delivered. An organisation must prepare a language plan and have the plan approved by the Department in accordance with regulation.
There was a procedure for designation of Gaeltacht Service Towns. This provides for the period during which the language plan is to be prepared and submitted for approval by the Minister. And organisation in a town may apply to either Údarás na Gaeltachta or Foras na Gaeilge to prepare a language plan for the town.
The language plan for Gaeltacht Service Towns are to be implemented. The Department is to periodically review implementation. There are provisions for remedying deficiencies within the periods notified. Orders may be made revoking designations of the town.
Irish Language Networks
Údarás na Gaeltachta or Foras na Gaeilge will assist organisations in relation to implementation and preparation of language plans. The legislation allows for designation of Irish language networks. These are language communities outside Gaeltacht Language Planning Areas.
The networks are areas which have a basic critical, communit for the Irish language of which Irish language plans have been prepared by an organisation in the community concerned and agreed by the Minister in accordance with regulations.