Fianna Fáil Donegal Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill has labelled changes to the appointment process for Údarás na Gaeltachta as nothing more than ‘Jobs for the Boys’.
Senator Ó Domhnaill confirmed that he has not sought a nomination to the new board of Údarás na Gaeltachta after democratic elections to the board was ended this year in favour of appointments by the Government.
Senator Ó Domhnaill was first elected to Údarás na Gaeltachta in 1999 and re-elected in 2005. Nominations to the board closed at 5pm today.
Senator Ó Domhnaill said: “Today I take the opportunity to call on the Minister of State for the Gaeltacht to appoint the new board members, not based on political affiliation or loyalties, but rather on the set of particular skills that they can bring to the new Údarás. It’s vitally important that the Government move away from a scenario of ‘Jobs for the Boys’ to one of appointments based on merit, ability and experience, irrespective of political affiliation or held beliefs.
“I have not sought a nomination as I believe it would be contrary to my belief that democratic elections to the board should be held. Fianna Fáil has, at every turn, sought to have the democratic voice of Gaeltacht residents upheld. Unfortunately, however, the FG/Labour Government have put an end to the democratic opportunity of a voice at the ballot box and instead will appoint 12 members to the new board, through Ministerial appointment of 7 members with the 5 remaining members being appointed through the County Councils of Donegal, Mayo, Galway and Kerry while the Councils of Meath, Waterford and Cork have a rotating position.”
Senator Ó Domhnaill continued: “Successive Governments since 1950s have recognised the need for a dedicated Regional Development Agency for the Gaeltacht. Stabilising the economic base through employment generation was recognised as the key to population maintenance and this, in turn, was recognised as the best foundation to achieve language maintenance and growth. This approach will be more important than ever in the challenging and determinative period that lies ahead.
“The Government decision to end democratic elections to the Údarás board is hugely disappointing, there is a huge risk that vital voices in the Gaeltacht community will not be heard now.”