Udaras na Gaeltachta: Staffing level has been cut from 156 in 2008 to 88
A Donegal TD is calling for more support for Udaras na Gaeltachta following an increase in funding in last week’s budget.
Deputy Pat ‘the Cope’ Gallagher made the call after a funding increase of €1.6m announced last week. But he said the increase is only €0 .9 m in real terms.
The staffing level has been cut from 156 in 2008 to 88, he said.
“The Udaras employment and development budget needs to be funded directly from the Department of Enterprise in line with other agencies such as IDA and Enterprise Ireland while at the same time maintaining its Gaeltacht identity,” he said.
Deputy Gallagher, Leas Cheann Comhairle said the slight increase in the Udaras na Gaeltachta annual budget is a welcome first step on the part of the Government, but significantly more needs to be done to support the agency to the level that it urgently requires.
“Udaras is charged with the role and responsibility of developing Gaeltacht areas, this is an ever-changing role and one which meets the same challenges as the IDA and Enterprise Ireland who preform similar functions in non-Gaeltacht areas,” he said.
“But, unlike those other two state agencies Udaras does not get the same level of state support and aid, and this is unfair and completely wrong on the part of the Government.
“Government policy is making second class citizens of Gaeltacht areas in terms of funding opportunities for employment creation and development potential. This anomaly whereby Udaras is effectively treated and funded solely by the Department of Gaeltacht, as opposed to the Department of Enterprise means that less funding is made available for Gaeltacht areas.
“Udaras na Gaeltachta at present supports and sustains over 7,700 jobs within the Gaeltacht areas, they furthermore run various programmes from Community Development, to Community employment programmes in addition to performing the functions of Local Enterprise Offices in Gaeltacht areas notwithstanding the functions of the various Plean Teanga (language planning ) in our Gaeltacht communities.
“In 2009, the Udaras current budget was €14 m, the current budget for 2019 is just €9.5m.
"Udaras backed business and employers with 10 employees or more have contributed over €800 m to the national exchequer, with 60% of that being exported. That is also contributing €150 m payroll to local communities and a return to the national exchequer of a nett €77 m in taxes alone.
"The blatant unfairness of what is occurring at present is best shown in yesterdays budget, whereby additional support is channelled through Department of Enterprise for supports and attracting new business and employers, in real terms the Udaras budget increase is just enough to keeping Udaras standing still in times of unequalled challenge.”