THE Gaeltacht will disappear within five years if proposed Government cutbacks of 80% are implemented, it was warned yesterday.
Organisations from Gaeltacht areas, including Cork and Kerry, have joined forces to oppose the cuts, which would reduce spending through the Department of Gaeltacht Affairs from €149 million, in 2008, to €30m, in 2016.
Gaeltacht community-based co-operatives and local development companies are opposing the cuts. They would be the largest reduction in any government department, according to Gaeltacht co-ops joint committee chairman Gearóid O Brosnacháin.
“The implementation of the key recommendation in both the draft 20-year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 and from the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Irish Language are central to the future of the Irish language and the future of Gaeltacht communities,” he said. “The Department of Finance estimates are in total conflict with these recommendations. There is little point in talking about a 20-year Irish language strategy if all the state and community institutions in the Gaeltacht are to be closed down,” he said.
The 29 Gaeltacht organisations want funding for the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs to be maintained in the coming years. These community enterprises employ 140 people on a full-time basis and 230 part-time, as well as over 100 people on employment schemes which they administer.
They have an annual turnover of €10m and are active in operating businesses, such as Irish language summer courses, management of airstrips and ferry services, community broadband schemes and cultural tourism projects.
Mr O Brosnacháin, manager of a co-op in the west Kerry Gaeltacht, said they also provide essential social services and facilities to communities, including services to the old and the young.
They also play an important role in promoting the Irish language through language planning schemes, the organisation of cultural events and the implementation of other language development schemes.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved