The first meeting of the new Board of Údarás na Gaeltachta was held in Údarás na Gaeltachta’s headquarters in Na Forbacha, Co. Galway today. The new Board will be in place for a period of 5 years until January 2022 and at least 8 board meetings will be held in 2018. The practice of holding board meetings at major Gaeltacht events such as Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta and Oireachtas na Samhna will continue. It is hoped a Board Meeting will be held on Cléire Island in Co. Cork for the first time ever in September.
Anna Ní Ghallachair, the reappointed Chairperson of the Board, welcomed the new members of the Board Debra Ní Shúilleabháin, Mary Uí Chadhain, Séamus Breathnach, John Shéamuis Ó Fearraigh and Seán Mac Congamhna as well as the reappointed members Ian Mac Aindriú, Eunan Ó Cuinneagáin, Máire Seó Breathnach, Siobhán Seoighe, Séamus Cosaí Mac Gearailt and Seosamh Ó Laoi.
At an Údarás na Gaeltachta Board Meeting at the Údarás’s headquarters in Na Forbacha in Co. Galway today (02/02/18) the Board approved a number of initiatives which will result in 92 full-time positions and 4 part-time positions and over €7.2m in investment when said initiatives are underway. Gaeltacht companies in Donegal, Galway, Mayo, Kerry and Meath will be supported through these new initiatives which will result in employment creation. Support was approved for initiatives in the food & drink, medical devices and audio-visual sectors in Galway and will create 22 jobs. Approval for support was granted for 22 positions in Co. Mayo along with the same number in the Meath Gaeltacht. 20 positions received approval in the Donegal Gaeltacht for initiatives in the manufacturing industry.
Three new Lead Organisations have been named for the Language Planning Process surrounding Galway City
The Board received an update on the language planning process, the current stage of plan preparations and the aims which have been set out for the coming year. The Board was informed that 3 language plans have been approved and that 5 language plans had been submitted to the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for approval. An aim was set out that 12 language plans would be implemented on the ground by 2018, 20 plans by 2019 and 26 language plans by 2020.
The Board also gave its blessing to the recommendation that three steering committees be appointed to prepare a language plan for the three LPAs surrounding Galway City. The newly established Coiste Pleanála Teanga Bhearna & Chnoc na Cathrach has been approved as a Lead Organisation for the Bearna & Cnoc na Cathrach LPA, An Bruach Thoir has been selected as a Lead Organisation for the Galway City East LPA and Coiste Stiúrtha Plean Teanga an Eachréidh has been appointed as the Lead Organisation for the Eachréidh LPA. Contracts for the newly appointed Lead Organisations will be arranged shortly which will mean that all 26 LPAs will have begun preparing their language plans.
Údarás na Gaeltachta’s Strategy 2018 – 2020
A summary of Údarás na Gaeltachta’s Strategy for the 2018 – 2020 period was presented to the Board. The Strategy sets out the Organisation’s Mission Statement, Vision, Values & Strategic Themes as well as aims and operational indicators which will serve as a framework to implement our policies and aims.
There are two main principles in the Údarás na Gaeltachta Strategy 2018 – 2020: the preservation and strengthening of the Irish language and the development of Innovation and the creation of Employment. These principles are at the very heart of the organisation’s strategy. Every effort will be made to bring about the necessary circumstances to ensure that the Gaeltacht is an area where the Irish language is the main community language and an area which attracts ordinary people, entrepreneurs and tourists to live and work here.
To that end, resources in terms of language, community and culture must be supported and developed, innovation must be nurtured and enterprise must be increased. We will focus on programmes and research projects to nurture innovation and enterprise as an integral part of our development programme. An tÚdarás believes there are significant opportunities here for all the Gaeltacht areas, as long as the necessary resources are available to implement the strategy in its entirety.
A Study into developing a Cultural Centre in An Rinn
At today’s Údarás na Gaeltachta Board Meeting (02/02/18) the Board approved a feasibility study grant for Comhlucht Forbartha na nDéise Teo. to conduct a study and research the development of a Cultural/Tourism Centre in Baile na nGall in Na Déise. Comhlucht Forbartha na nDéise Teo. aims to develop a multipurpose centre which would house tourism, enterprise, cultural and community services. An audit must be carried out on the capital costs entailed in the proposed development as well as the running and administrative costs for such a development. €12,100 was permitted as support and Comhlucht Forbartha will put any remaining funds towards research.
Údarás na Gaeltachta’s Grant Schemes
The Board of Údarás na Gaeltachta was presented with comprehensive information in relation to the various grant schemes and supports which An tÚdarás uses to support eligible businesses and enterprises.
There are over 30 various schemes which may be used and include support for newly established businesses, businesses which are expanding, businesses which are researching, focusing on new markets or businesses starting to export for examples. Comprehensive information in relation to these schemes is available on Údarás na Gaeltachta’s website www.udaras.ie.
Planning Constraints in the Gaeltacht
The Board discussed in detail and had a lengthy debate about the physical planning constraints in Gaeltacht areas and the common difficulties faced by communities in the various Gaeltacht areas around the country. The difficulties faced by local people in receiving planning permission in their own areas was referred to as were the perceived restrictions being placed on development in the Gaeltacht. A reference was also made to the importance of housing supply in Gaeltacht areas for local people and for the Gaeltacht diaspora whom are returning home. Issues in relation to physical planning are at the heart of the language plans being prepared throughout the Gaeltacht at the moment and is also one of the headings set out for the language plans.
The Board expressed its concern in relation to the planning permission rejections in Gaeltacht areas and decided to consult with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht as a start to get an insight into what An tÚdarás and the Department could do in relation to this issue.
A motion was unanimously accepted that a recommendation be submitted to the relevant authorities demanding that a representative from Údarás na Gaeltachta be placed on the board of An Bord Pleanála to provide the organisation with expertise in relation to the Irish language and the Gaeltacht.