Any decision by the Fine Gael/Labour Government to remove the job creation remit from Údáras na Gaeltachta would come as a major blow to the economy of the Gaeltacht and to the protection of our national language, according to Donegal Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill.
Senator Ó Domhnaill commented, “I am appalled by reports that the Government is set to remove Údarás na Gaeltachta’s core function of creating jobs and supporting the growth of the local economy. The decision, due to be announced tomorrow, would be nothing short of disastrous for the economy of Gaeltacht regions, and would completely undermine the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish language.
“Údarás currently supports over 7,700 jobs, with 20% of the working population in Gaeltacht regions in 7 counties employed by Údarás supported companies. The agency has been in a position to create approximately 1,000 jobs every year with the continued support of the State, and has set out an objective of creating additional 8,500 jobs by 2015. That’s thousands of jobs that will fall by the wayside if Fine Gael/Labour pulls the enterprise function from Údarás.
“How can a Government which claims its top priority is job creation even consider pulling the job creation function from such a successful agency? Fine Gael and Labour’s much-hyped ‘Jobs Initiative’ failed to include any reference whatsoever to Gaeltacht jobs – evidence of this Government’s complete lack of commitment to supporting the economy of Gaeltacht regions.
“This goes beyond the economy and jobs, we are also talking about the protection of our national language and our culture. Fianna Fáil committed to retaining the enterprise function of Údarás, recognising that keeping our national language alive requires active employment in Gaeltacht regions and continued creation of new jobs. “This was a corner stone of our radical 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language, which has enjoyed the full support of Fine Gael and Labour to date. The strategy makes an express commitment to retaining the enterprise functions of Údarás and to providing a full Senior Cabinet post for Gaeltacht Affairs. If this decision is announcement tomorrow, it effectively means that this Governemnt is willing to throw out the 20 Year Strategy.”