Líofa: Irish language fluency campaign surpasses 2015 target
A Stormont initiative to encourage people to learn and use the Irish language has set a revised target after its success surpassed expectations.
The Líofa campaign, which translates as fluent in Irish, was launched by Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Carál Ní Chuilín, in September 2011.
Its initial target was to get 1,000 people to sign up and commit to learning and speaking Irish by 2015.
On Saturday, Ms Chuilín said more than 13,000 people have signed up to Líofa.
The campaign organisers have now set a new target to enrol 20,000 people on Irish language courses by 2020.
The figures were highlighted as the minister marked the fourth anniversary of the campaign.
"Irish is a language for everyone and when I launched Líofa in 2011 I never imagined that I would have to revise the target so many times," Ms Chuilín said in a statement.
"People from all walks of life have availed of the opportunity to sign up to learn the language. "
To celebrate the fourth anniversary, the minister announced that a series of intensive Irish language courses will be held in various venues across Northern Ireland on Saturday.
"The courses are free and are accessible to all and every support will be given to participants both on this course and beyond as they endeavour to improve on their language skills," Ms Chuilín added.
Last month, a report by the Republic of Ireland's Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) found there was a significant difference in Irish language fluency across the island of Ireland.
In the Republic of Ireland, 11% of 2,000 people surveyed said they could conduct most conversations in Irish, compared to 2% in Northern Ireland.