The sun may have been shining down on Gaoth Dobhair on Friday last but inside the corridors of Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaelige the sitting members of Údarás na Gaeltachta were sad to hear that the next line of appointees to the board would no longer elected by the public.
It was announced at the meeting at which the Minister of State, Dinny McGinley, was present, that in the future the board of Údarás na Gaeltachta would be named by the county council, the minister and the department. The members were also told that advertisements would soon appear in relevant publications asking interested parties to send details in.
Grainne Mhic Geidigh, a Sinn Féin representative on the board said: “The Minister himself said that the process would still be democratic, however, I disagree with him. Údarás na Gaeltachta was established because the Gaeltacht needed democratic representation. The Údaras and the board are there to specifically look after Gaeltacht employment, giving first priority to the language. I would have serious concerns about how much councillors understand about Gaeltacht matters. I believe that the majority of the board members, while I do not speak for them, feel like this is a step back,” she said.
She added that she hoped that priority and money would be allocated to linguistic projects in communities.
Nationally 20 members sit on the board of which four, Grainne Mhic Geidigh, David Alcorn, Padraig Ó’Dochartaigh and Senator Brian Ó’Domhnaill represent the Donegal Gaeltacht. It is assumed that the next number of members on the board will range between 10 and 12.
Ms Mhic Geidigh believes that by September the board of Údaras na Gaeltachta would change.
“I believe that by September the board will seize to exist as we know it.”
She added that she hoped the new board would be given proper funding and alloctions that would ensure the future of the Gaeltacht would develop and blossom under their stewardship.
David Alcorn who has been a member of Údarás for over 20 years said that he was very disappointed to hear the Minister’s news on Friday morning. He said that during his twenty years he had only missed one or two meetings and had done all he could do to serve the Gaeltacht community as best he could during his decades on Údarás na Gaelachta.
“The Minister said that it was a government decision and that it is over and done with,” he said.
Meanwhile, those gathered at the meeting heard that number of new projects were approved throughout the Gaeltacht which will lead to the creation of 54 new additional jobs when developments are complete. It was also announced by the minister that a capital expenditure of €145,000 for necessary renovation works to ‘An Marglann’ (the Mart), an Údarás-owned building in Gleann Cholm Cille, for the purposes of providing arts, cultural and sporting activities will be made.