Call to Snip Gaeltacht Affairs ignored

TAOISEACH Brian Cowen has revealed he will cast aside another standout recommendation made by An Bord Snip Nua.

It means Professor Colm McCarthy’s suggestion to abolish the Department of Community Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs will now not be acted upon.

Mr Cowen defended the department and said it would continue to play an important role in providing support for the Gaeltacht areas.

In an interview with TG4 he said Gaeltacht areas have problems different to those of other parts of the country.

“Níl sé ar intinn agam deireadh a chur leis An Roinn [I do not intend to abolish the department],” he said.

The decision casts further doubt on the extent to which the €5.3 billion worth menu of cuts drawn up by Prof McCarthy will be the template the Government uses to guide its plans for the December budget.

Tánaiste Mary Coughlan caused controversy this week when she said many parts of the McCarthy report do not make sense.

However, Mr Cowen and Finance Minister Brian Lenihan subsequently said the report had not been shelved and was being used to guide policy.

Yet the Cabinet has indicated an increasing willingness to look for alternatives to the unpopular measures outlined by An Bord Snip Nua.

Minster Eamon O Cuiv, who runs the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, has been the most outspoken member of Cabinet with regards to the McCarthy report.

At the Ploughing Championships this week, Mr O Cuiv said there were parts of the report which the Government simply could not implement. And the Opposition was hoping they would be implemented in order to damage Fianna Fáil.

Last night Mr Cowen described the Irish language as a valuable jewel “seod luachmhar” and that the State had an obligation to support it and the Gaeltacht areas.

He also gave reassurances to those who host students attending Irish language colleges during the summer.

A spokesman for Fine Gael said the latest comments were another example of confusion and indecision within the Cabinet.


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