Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Brian Ó Domhnaill has hit out at the Government for cutting capital spending for the Irish Language by €6m next year.  Senator Ó Domhnaill says this harsh reduction is a damning indictment to the Government’s commitment to the Irish language.

“There was much talk in recent weeks about fairness in this Budget, but that only seems to apply to people living in urban areas. A growing urban rural divide has developed in Ireland since 2011. Poverty and unemployment are higher in rural Ireland. A targeted approach is required if the growing disparities are to be addressed. The ongoing worrying trend of minimal state agency assisted employment in rural areas and certain regions is a real and substantive cause of concern. The lack of an adequate rural broadband network, coupled with poor transportation presents a substantial challenge which this Government is failing to address.

“While I welcome the fact that Fianna Fáil, through the Confidence & Supply Agreement was able to secure changes to the Farm Assist programme, additional money for the CLÁR scheme and extra places on the Rural Social Scheme, many other aspects of rural life have been left behind. Regrettably, this budget represents a missed opportunity to implement measures to support rural Ireland. For instance, the implementation of a Rural Enterprise Scheme focussed on creating quality, sustainable jobs with career progression pathways and the front loading of broadband investment to roll-out rural broadband was not addressed.

“The 9% cut for the Irish language is particularly punitive and is indicative of this Government’s disinterest in the language.  Regional investment has fallen down the priority list and this week’s announcement will do little to reverse two tier economy.

“The €3.25m allocation for Udaras na Gaeltachta current expenditure programme is a step in the right direction but much more is needed to redress the urban rural imbalance.  This is the first of three Budgets under the Confidence & Supply arrangement and Fianna Fáil will continue to fight for rural Ireland to secure increased funding for initiatives over the coming years”.