Gaeltacht Bill prompts Dáil walkout

 

All Opposition TDs walked out of the Dail this morning in protest at the Gaeltacht Bill.

The Bill abolishes elections for Udaras na Gaeltachta, the local authority that represents Irish language speaking areas and reduces its membership from 20 to 12.

The Bill gives the Minister for the Gaeltacht power to appoint seven members to the board. It also changes the way employment schemes are funded and provides for language plans to be developed for each of 19 Irish speaking areas.

They also criticised the legislation being rushed through and for being anti-democratic with the abolition of elections for the Udaras.

Thirty four opposition TDs were in the chamber and walked out as committee stage of the Bill, scheduled to take three hours, commenced, in protest because none of its 150 amendments were accepted.

Just seven Government TDs, all Fine Gael, were in the chamber.

Minister of State for the Gaeltacht Dinny McGinley said during the Dail debate on the Bill last week Government kept the debate going because there were not enough Opposition speakers.

He said he did not want to accuse people of "hypocrisy because it?s a 'big word'" but he questioned the democratic commitment of the Opposition for walking out.

The Minister, a native Irish speaker from the Donegal Gaeltacht, said action had to be taken now to save the language because while 97,000 people lived in Gaeltacht areas, just one in four spoke Irish on a daily basis.

He also renewed his criticism of the Dail dividing on the language. He said in more than 30 years as a TD, there were two issues the House never divided on ? the ?national question? and the Irish language.

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