At an Údarás na Gaeltachta Board meeting in An Rinn, Co. Waterford today (24 September), members of the Board expressed grave concern about the future of an tÚdarás and The Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs. The Department of Finance published a Review on Capital Expenditure in July which illustrated a substantial reduction in the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affair’s capital budget, from €105m in the current year to €86m in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
Of this amount, approximately €70m will be reserved for the implementation of the Leader Programme for those two years, leaving a balance of €16m for the Department and for the agencies for which it provides funding, an tÚdarás included. It’s important to note that an tÚdarás has a capital budget of €15m for the current year.
The former Minister, Éamon Ó Cuív, T.D., and the current Minister, Pat Carey, T.D., confirmed that the future of Údarás na Gaeltachta is secure within the structure of the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language. One week following the publication of the Capital Expenditure Review, the Oireachtas Joint Committee presented the revised draft-strategy to Minister Carey. This strategy emphasises the importance of the organisation continuing as a Gaeltacht development agency with enterprise and employment functions. No decision has been made regarding the draft-strategy to date. Neither has a decision been made regarding the appointment of a new Chief Executive as a successor to the current CEO. An tÚdarás and the Gaeltacht community are very concerned regarding this continuing uncertainty.
Budget planning for 2011 has now commenced, a year which may be crucial regarding the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language and the future of the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs. At the Údarás Board meeting today, it was decided that a delegation from the board would seek a meeting with Minister Pat Carey, T.D., to discuss those issues and request the Minister to:
– act on the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language:
– approve the appointment of a new Chief Executive;
– ensure the availability of sufficient capital funding in 2011 in order for an tÚdarás and the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht affairs to meet the economic development, employment, social and language needs.