Conradh na Gaeilge and Guth na Gaeltachta are very disappointed with what seems to be a rush to push The Gaeltacht Bill, 2012 through the Oireachtas before the summer break, despite being the most important legislation pertaining to the Gaeltacht and the Irish language in almost 60 years.
Dónall Ó Cnáimhsí, spokesperson from Guth na Gaeltachta says: “ Dinny McGinley himself, Minister of State for the Gaeltacht, noted recently in the Seanad that this legislation may well be our last chance to save the Gaeltacht and if that is the case, then Guth na Gaeltacht believes it a disgrace not to leave adequate time to discuss The Gaeltacht Bill properly.
“Having waited 55 years for a Gaeltacht Bill to foster and support the Irish language and the Gaeltacht, it makes absolutely no sense at all to us that the Government would not wait even a few more months to enact this vitally important legislation.”
According to Donnchadh Ó hAodha, President of Conradh na Gaeilge: “It was obvious from the sheer number of amendments to the legislation put forward at the Seanad Stage that the first draft of The Gaeltacht Bill was seriously flawed, and it seems that neither politicians nor the public will have the chance to properly discuss and debate this Bill before it is rushed through the Dáil.
“The Gaeltacht Bill 2012 will have far-reaching, long-term consequences for the Irish language and for the Gaeltacht in the future, and Conradh na Gaeilge strongly believes that such important legislation should not appear on the Dáil agenda in the final days before it rises for the summer when everyone knows that the amendments it requires will not be properly discussed before it is enacted.”
The Gaeltacht Bill, 2012 is the first draft of legislation dealing specifically with the Irish language and the Gaeltacht since The Gaeltacht Industries Bill of 1957; debate in the Seanad on The Gaeltacht Bill, 2012 will finish this Wednesday (11 July 2012) and the Second Stage of the Bill will come before the Dáil on Thursday (12 July 2012) before Committee Stage (Stage 3 - 5) will conclude in the Dáil Thursday week, 19 July 2012 - the last day of term in the Houses of the Oireachtas, meaning there will be a substantial amount of legislation to discuss and put through the Houses on those days.
Conradh na Gaeilge and Guth na Gaeltachta strongly believe it would be better to hold off enacting The Gaeltacht Bill, 2012 until the Dáil resumes in September 2012, as opposed to rushing such significant legislation through the Oireachtas before summer break. This would mean that the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community would have the opportunity to discuss The Gaeltacht Bill, 2012 in depth, ensuring that the legislation would support the Irish language via a comprehensive statutory language planning process, a purpose of the Bill explicitly expressed in the memorandum.
The Gaeltacht Bill, 2012 also aims to provide for amendments to the board and functions of Údarás na Gaeltachta; Údarás elections must be held no later than 30 September 2012 in accordance with current legislation, though this is no excuse for enacting The Gaeltacht Bill, 2012 without adequate consultation with the public as the time limit for the elections can be extended, as previously enacted under The Údarás na Gaeltachta Bill (Amendment), 2010:
To amend Section 28(1) of The Údarás na Gaeltachta Act, 1979 so that the maximum period of time between elections for An tÚdarás can be extended from five and a half years to seven and a half years.
Conradh na Gaeilge and Guth na Gaeltachta are calling on Minister for the Gaeltacht Dinny McGinley TD to give The Gaeltacht Bill 2012 its due period of consultation and debate and to refrain from rushing the legislation through the Dáil before summer break, but rather wait until the Dáil resits in the autumn.