Funds and plans
Pól Ó Muirí
Irish-language voluntary groups will meet together tomorrow in Newry for some internal discussion about the future and then meet with their funders, Foras na Gaeilge, on Friday. The Friday meeting should be very interesting, involving as it does, funding for the groups. The North/South language body, Foras na Gaeilge, have been directed by the Department of the Gaeltacht, who were directed by the North/South Ministerial Council, to discuss a new funding model for the voluntary sector.
Of course, a number of questions immediately spring to mind. Certainly, no group has an automatic right to funding and it is only right and proper that the use of that money be scrutinised. However, there seems a certain irony in the fact that the Department of the Gaeltacht – which the McCarthy Report (remember that?) deemed superfluous to requirements – is pushing the agenda. More ironic again is the fact that Foras na Gaeilge are the ones who will be appointing advisors to come up with a new funding model. Who is going to look at what FnaG have done over the last ten years and how that adds, or takes away, from the promotion of the language?
Surely, if the voluntary sector’s funding and role is to be debated, then FnaG’s funding and role ought also to be looked at? After ten years in existence, this (experimental) body just carries on regardless. It is high time that an indepedent advisor produced a ‘money map’ of FnaG’s work. How much money was spent in Belfast in comparison, to say, Sligo or in Derry in comparison to Limerick, or in Dublin compared to Cork? How did Tipperary fare? Or Leitrim? Which counties received the most funding and which received the least? In short, what was achieved and what still needs to be done? What’s the plan? Is there a plan?