It is a cause of serious concern for Conradh na Gaeilge that the Gaeltacht is no longer specifically mentioned in the title of the state department with responsibility for Gaeltacht and Irish-language affairs. According to the announcement by the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, in the Dáil last night (14 June 2017), the department will henceforth be known as the Department of Culture.
Niall Comer, President of Conradh na Gaeilge says:
“Responsibility for the Gaeltacht involves so much more than questions of culture. The Gaeltachts of Ireland are areas where people live in communities with specific needs, communities that deserve decent and appropriate services as citizens of this country. These needs include infrastructure, employment, community development, and a range of other services that are vital if the Gaeltachts are to survive as areas in which Irish is spoken as the everyday language.
“The Trojan work already being undertaken by Gaeltacht communities as part of the language planning process shows just how fragile the language is in each of these areas. We must focus on the language issues and other challenges that these Gaeltacht areas face as a matter of absolute urgency, and there is no way that these responsibilities can or should come under the title of culture only.”
Peadar Mac Fhlannchadha, Advocacy Manager with Conradh na Gaeilge says:
“Gaeltacht funding will be under threat if the department reforms as announced by Taoiseach Varadkar go ahead. Conradh na Gaeilge’s research illustrates the huge disparity suffered by both the Gaeltacht and the Irish language when it comes to state funding to date. Compared to funding received by the IDA and Enterprise Ireland, for example, our research shows that Údarás na Gaeltachta was hit with a 70% reduction in its capital budget since 2008 while both of the other two agencies received significant increases.
“Without a specific reference to the Gaeltacht, there is a very real danger that Gaeltacht funding will be left high and dry yet again. Coincidentally, this is happening at a time when 80 Gaeltacht and Irish-language groups across the country have agreed an investment plan for the community together. Part of the plan calls for funding to create 1,000 more jobs in the Gaeltacht. Conradh na Gaeilge is calling on Taoiseach Varadkar to reconsider the title of the department to ensure that the Gaeltacht receives the specific recognition it deserves, and that funding for Údarás na Gaeltachta is increased.”