Extract from Statement issued by Anna Ní Ghallachair, Chairperson
and Mícheál Ó hÉanaigh, Chief Executive, Údarás na Gaeltachta
825 new full-time jobs were created in Gaeltacht companies in 2021, the highest number of jobs created in one year since 2008. When job reductions are taken into account, there is a net increase of 446 in overall employment – the largest annual net increase since 1996.
There were 7,809 full-time and 485 part-time jobs in companies supported by Údarás na Gaeltachta at the end of 2021.
Employment levels in Údarás na Gaeltachta client companies in the Galway, Cork and Waterford Gaeltacht areas are at their highest levels in the history of the organisation.
Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gaeltacht companies have shown good levels of stability and the region witnessed a degree of recovery in terms of employment, driven by company innovation and the considerable growth of the medical devices and medical products sectors.
Economic Impact of Gaeltacht Businesses
Údarás na Gaeltachta client companies have a significant impact on both the Gaeltacht and national economies. According to ABSEI research conducted in 2021 of Údarás na Gaeltachta client companies had
These figures reflect a significant return on State investment in the Gaeltacht.
Innovation in the Gaeltacht
Innovation is intensifying in the Gaeltacht continually and five client companies, in conjunction with other parties, had projects worth €15m approved under the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment for pioneering Gaeltacht initiatives; a noteworthy achievement for our clients HiTech Health, ÉireComposites Teo, Aran Biomedical, Novelplast and Lárionad Acmhainní Nádúrtha (LAN).
Language Planning Activities
A significant milestone was reached during the year which saw language plans prepared for all of the 26 LPAs along with two language plans approved for the three Gaeltacht Service Towns (GST) located in the Gaeltacht. During 2021, language plans were being implemented in 20 of the 26 recognised Gaeltacht Language Planning Areas (LPAs) with total investment of €2.2 million as well as 19 Language Planning Officers and four Assistant Language Planning Officers employed at year end.
gteic — Gaeltacht Digital Network
The gteic network of digital hubs was a crucial and intuitive investment in the Gaeltacht’s business infrastructure and despite COVID-19 restrictions over 320 people, in excess of 180 of which are not included in employment figures, were working in the 27 digital hubs that had been developed at the end of 2021. This vibrant gteic network of hubs has already shown that it is part of the essential infrastructure of the Gaeltacht.
Community development sector
Údarás na Gaeltachta recognises that community development organisations are critical to the ability of Údarás na Gaeltachta in achieving its strategic goals in partnership with the Gaeltacht communities. Údarás na Gaeltachta, in association with the DTCAGS&M, provided €2.816m in funding to 33 community development organisations to enable them to undertake a community development programme aimed at the needs of the local community and tourism projects, language planning, renewable energy and the gteic network, among others.
As part of the Gaeltacht Social Enterprise Programme, a budget of €179,000 was made
available, with a specific focus on innovative projects in the areas of tourism, enterprise,
and natural resource development.
An Ghaeltacht Ghlas
Considerable strides have been made with the strategic project ‘An Ghaeltacht Ghlas’ (the Green Gaeltacht) in promoting photovoltaic projects in Gaoth Dobhair, An Cheathrú Rua and on our business parks. In 2022, a particular emphasis will be placed on supporting and encouraging Gaeltacht client companies to take steps in terms of renewable energy and climate change activities. The development of Ros an Mhíl as a strategic location to meet the needs of the offshore wind energy industry will continue to be supported.
Welcoming today’s statement the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin TD said:
“I welcome the publication of the Údarás na Gaeltachta 2021 End-of-Year Statement and the significant job creation figures it outlines for Gaeltacht areas. It indicates how State investment positively affects the Gaeltacht along with the extraordinary work being carried out by Údarás na Gaeltachta. It also shows the resilience of the Gaeltacht who struggled with the challenges and obstacles of the pandemic and Brexit over the past two years, but where certain sectors are now going from strength to strength and as language communities reinforce their efforts to ensure the Irish language is at the centre of the community.”
The Government Chief Whip and the Minister of State for the Gaeltacht and Sport Jack Chambers, TD also added:
“Today’s statement is great news for the Gaeltacht community and indicates how Údarás na Gaeltachta supports communities and companies located in the Gaeltacht. I was pleased to launch the Strategic Plan during the year which sets out a vision for the Gaeltacht over the next 5 years. It is an ambitious plan, a plan that will benefit the Irish speaking community, enterprise and community development in the Gaeltacht and today’s announcement shows the progress made since then and which will be seen in the future.”
Speaking Chief Executive of Údarás na Gaeltachta, Mícheál Ó hÉanaigh said:
“Gaeltacht communities and companies deserve huge recognition for their perseverance during this pandemic. The resilience shown has resulted in an increase in Gaeltacht employment over the past year. The challenges placed on Gaeltacht businesses and communities by this pandemic and Brexit are yet to be overcome but it is a source of considerable encouragement to see greenshoots of recovery by companies including the surge in the medical device sector in the Gaeltacht. Some of these indigenous companies are a real source of inspiration to others, those businesses that started out with just one or two employees and are now among the largest employers in the Gaeltacht.”
The Chair of Údarás na Gaeltachta, Anna Ní Ghallachair also added:
“The Board of Údarás na Gaeltachta take significant encouragement from these employment figures and the progress that is evident in certain medical and scientific sectors which provide high quality job opportunities for Gaeltacht communities. A significant milestone has been reached in terms of language planning thanks to the diligence of the Gaeltacht communities in preparing the plans. For the first time, language plans will be implemented at a community level in every Gaeltacht community in 2022 supported by direct investment in those language communities.”
The full 2021 End of Year Statement including County breakdowns Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Kerry, Cork, Waterford and Meath can be downloaded here