Galway West Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív has said he is deeply disappointed by the contents in the Gaeltacht Bill 2012, which was published today. Deputy Ó Cuív has raised particular concerns about the increased control offered to the Minister for the Gaeltacht under this legislation.
Deputy Ó Cuív said, “While at first glance much of this is based on the previous Government’s 20 year strategy on the Irish language, the Bill itself is very weak on detail and delivery. Instead of investing further in preserving and developing the language, this Bill involves further cutbacks.
“My greatest concern is that the proposed legislation takes power from the people and provides too much control to the Minister of the day. It spells an end of the democratic elections to the board of Údarás na Gaeltachta. Instead, Gaeltacht Minister Jimmy Deenihan proposes that he will nominate the board while the remainder are nominated by County Councillors, many of whom have no connection with the Gaeltacht whatsoever.
“It is clear that Minister Deenihan does not have confidence in the people to elect who they want to run Údarás. As Fine Gael belongs to the majority group on most of the councils in question, I am concerned about the level of control the Minister will have over the process. The Minister will also have the power to limit the enterprise work of the Údarás. This must be opposed strongly.
“In addition to this, the Bill fails to define the type of organisation that can apply to prepare a language plan for an area. The Minister will approve each Language Plan and will decide whether they are being implemented fully or not. Once again, this gives too much power to the Minister and the Coimisinéir Teanga should have a role in this work.
“There are a number of questions about how this will work in reality. It is clear that there is no intention to provide any extra resources to implement this new legislation, making it extremely difficult for the Bill to attain its objectives. It places responsibilities on Foras na Gaeilge, although the Minister nor the Oireachtas has control over the Foras as it is a North/South body. As a result it is not possible to be sure that the Foras will be happy to deliver on the responsibilities in the long term.”