McGinley says €500,000 could be saved with no Údarás elections


NOT HOLDING elections for Údarás na Gaeltachta will save the State €500,000, Minister of State for the Gaeltacht Dinny McGinley has told the Dáil. The Minister defended the Government’s approach to the future of the authority and said he would bring the outline of legislation to change its structure to Cabinet shortly and the Bill would be published next year.

During questions on arts, heritage and the Gaeltacht, Mr McGinley said the legislation would reduce the number of board members from 20 to 10 or 12 and would end the necessity for elections.

Speaking in Irish, Mr McGinley said one of the options for appointing board members could involve local authorities with a Gaeltacht in their region nominating board appointees. The Minister could also nominate members with expertise.

Sinn Féin Gaeltacht affairs spokesman Peadar Tóibín accused the Minister of “going at a snail’s pace . . . You are in Government for eight months and Údarás is still in limbo.”

He and Fianna Fáil spokesman on the Gaeltacht Michael Kitt highlighted unemployment levels in Gaeltacht areas and questioned funding levels for the authority.

Mr Tóibín pointed to the cut in capital expenditure from €26 million to €6 million. Because of unemployment levels in areas such as Derry and Galway, he added, there were large numbers emigrating and a minimum of €12 million in capital funding would be needed to keep jobs.

Enterprise Ireland was giving €12 million to Shannon Development and €10 million to the IDA but nothing to Údarás.

Mr McGinley said there was great co-operation between Enterprise Ireland, the IDA and Údarás and they had the same goal in creating jobs. He insisted that Údarás would have a future and a role in enterprise. It received €6 million in as a capital budget, had €7 million from other sources and €13 million to provide jobs.