The decision by the Government to scrap democratic elections to the board of Údarás is an attack on democracy and another example of broken promises from the Fine Gael/Labour Government, according to Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Gaeltacht Affairs Michael Kitt.

Deputy Kitt said, “The Government has today announced that they are removing power from the people to elect the board of Údarás na Gaeltachta, and instead giving complete control over board appointments to politicians. This is an attack on democracy, and Fianna Fáil will oppose it in the strongest possible way.

“The Fine Gael/Labour Government have essentially replaced democracy with a ‘jobs for the boys’ approach in this case. This is in complete contrast with their pledge to reform the system of appointments to State boards. Again, we have another u-turn from Fine Gael and Labour, who are only too willing to abandon their election platforms of transparency and honesty.

“The vast majority of Councillors in counties with Gaeltacht regions are not from the Gaeltacht and have no connection to it whatsoever. These are the politicians who will now decide who runs Údarás. It is a direct affront to democracy, and raises questions about what aspect of our democratic system the Fine Gael/Labour Government will attack next.

“Today’s announcement has also raised questions about the future job creation programme at Údarás. I am calling on Minister McGinley to clarify if Údarás will retain its independent enterprise function in the coming years. The Minister has said that the ‘status quo’ at Údarás will be maintained and that its ‘limited resources’ will be directed towards cooperation with other enterprise agencies. But while Údarás will be supported in maintaining existing jobs, there are fresh concerns that it may no longer be the primary job creation agency in the Gaeltacht.

“Fianna Fáil stands by the 20 Year Strategy on the Irish Language and we firmly believe that it should be implemented in full. Now we have a situation where elements of the strategy are being abandoned.  Údarás na Gaeltachta is the most successful job creation agency in the country, and it must be allowed to continue what it does best. The people directly affected by the decisions made at Údarás must also continue to have an input over how the agency is run.”