Ó Domhnaill slams ‘anti-democratic’ Gaeltacht Bill

Donegal Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill has slammed the Government’s Gaeltacht Bill, which he says takes power from the people and gives the Minister of the day too much control over Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Donegal Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill has slammed the Government’s Gaeltacht Bill, which he says takes power from the people and gives the Minister of the day too much control over Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Senator Ó Domhnaill has also raised concerns about the cutbacks involved in this Bill and the Government’s failure to commit to resources for Gaeltacht regions.

He said: “Far from preserving and developing the language, this Bill involves further cutbacks. It is clear that the Government has no intention of providing any extra resources to implement this new legislation, making it extremely difficult for the Bill to attain its objectives.

“But more worrying still is the fact that this legislation will spell an end of the democratic elections to the board of Údarás na Gaeltachta. The Gaeltacht Minister clearly doesn’t have confidence that the people will elect who he wants to the board, so he wants to change the system so that the Minister of the day will appoint many of the board members himself. The remainder of the board will be nominated by County Councillors, many of whom have no connection with the Gaeltacht whatsoever.

“In addition to this, the Bill fails to define the type of organisation that can apply to prepare a language plan for an area. The Minister will approve each Language Plan and will decide whether they are being implemented fully or not. Once again, this gives too much power to the Minister and the Coimisinéir Teanga should have a role in this work.

“There are a number of questions about how this will work in reality. It is clear that there is no intention to provide any extra resources to implement this new legislation, making it extremely difficult for the Bill to attain its objectives. It places responsibilities on Foras na Gaeilge, although neither the Minister nor the Oireachtas has control over the Foras as it is a North/South body. As a result, it is not possible to be sure that the Foras will be happy to deliver on the responsibilities in the long term.”