McGinley had 'no input' into letter
MINISTER FOR the Gaeltacht Dinny McGinley had nothing to do with a disciplinary letter sent by his department to an employee who publicly criticised the Gaeltacht Bill, he said.
The Minister told the Dáil he heard reports a letter had been sent. He made inquiries and the department confirmed it. “That’s the whole story,” he said.
Donal Ó Cnaimshí, a gardener at Glenveagh National Park in Donegal and spokesman for the organisation Guth na Gaeltachta, publicly criticised the controversial legislation.
The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht issued a letter to the effect that his public comments might have breached the terms of his employment contract.
Mr McGinley was questioned by Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty, who asked if the Minister stood over the letter being sent to Mr Ó Cnaimshí “because he’s been speaking out for the people of the Gaeltacht”.
Mr McGinley said “the Minister has no input” and it was a matter for the Civil Service. He said anyone who joined the service signed up to rules and codes and if they broke them it was a matter for the department, not the Minister and this had been the way since the foundation of the State.
“There is a line there and we don’t cross the line.”
Mr Doherty said no Irish language organisation supported the legislation, which he said was undemocratic with the abolition of elections. But the Minister told him that in the Bill “we’re giving people a role in the future of the language for the first time ever”.
“I don’t know how long I’ll be here but at least I’ll be able to say I stopped the tide,” he said, referring to the drop in people speaking Irish on a daily basis from 250,000 in the 1950s to just under 25,000 currently.
During sharp and heated exchanges the Minister repeatedly accused the Sinn Féin TD of being a hypocrite and out for his party rather than the language, when Mr Doherty said: “Let the HR department do what it does but you should be happy to stand up and praise people like Donal Ó Cnaimshí, who are standing up for the Gaeltacht.”
The Minister said he had “a lot of respect for everyone’s work in the Gaeltacht and he accused Mr Doherty, his constituency colleague, of “making a political football about the role of the department”.
Fianna Fáil Gaeltacht spokesman Michael Kitt said there were 7,700 jobs in the Gaeltacht but he asked how the language strategy target to create 8,300 jobs over the next three years would be implemented.
Mr McGinley said the Údarás would have increased responsibility for enterprise. The Údarás this year is receiving funding of €19.08 million and is allowed to reinvest capital from property sales which is estimated this year at €5 million.
Earlier, Taoiseach Enda Kenny ruled out a delay in passing the legislation to allow further debate.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams criticised the Government for failing to properly consult Irish language organisations and for rejecting all Opposition amendments.
He called for more time to discuss the Bill.