Gaeltacht Courses have been cancelled this summer, for the second year in a row, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
During a consultation between Mná Tí, who provide accommodation for the students, course operators, and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, the former expressed "considerable health and safety concerns" for families and local communities.
Minister for the Gaeltacht, Jack Chambers, said a decision was taken not to proceed with the Irish language courses in the summer of 2021 and work is underway to develop a "stabilization package" for the sector.
Mr Chambers said after the consultation process with the groups involved, the Mná Tí and the colleges themselves, he acknowledges their concerns about having students in their homes and communities given the current public health situation.
Mr Chambers said: “We are conscious of the consequences of this decision for the Gaeltacht economy which is reliant on the summer courses.
"For this reason, we will evaluate the impact of this development on the sector with a view to progressing an appropriate stabilisation package."
Katie Halpin-Hill, Irish Language Officer at the Secondary School Students Union, said it is a shame the courses can not go ahead this summer.
She said: "Students are going to miss out on what can be a very valuable experience from a linguistic point of view, but also from the point of view, for many students, it is their first time leaving home.
"I suppose, look, a whole cohort of students are going to miss out on a very valuable experience...but at the same time, you know public safety and student safety must absolutely come first."
Mr Chambers acknowledged the disappointment that will be felt by "many young people who were looking forward to attending this year."
He added: "Some Irish Colleges will be offering online digital courses in 2021 and the Department is also supporting a number of digital initiatives to allow young people to continue to develop their language skills over the summer months and beyond.”
The minister said he is confident that a solution can be reached which will ensure the courses can continue in 2022.