Gaeltacht groups reject alteration to County Galway Development Plan

A proposed alteration to the County Galway Development Plan, concerning the Gaeltacht, is meeting with stiff opposition from some Gaeltacht community groups, who have asked that it be withdrawn.

Last Monday was the deadline for submissions to Proposed Alteration 2(b ), which deals mainly with land use in three Gaeltacht villages, An Spidéal, An Cheathrú Rua agus Claregalway. If adopted the Alteration 2(b ) would replace the Gaeltacht Area Plan, which laid down strict language conditions for housing schemes in the South Conamara Gaeltacht.

A submission from Cumann Forbartha Chois Fharraige has asked that the proposed alteration be withdrawn and that the Gaeltacht Area Plan, adopted in 2008 be extended and reviewed.

The submission from the Cumann Forbartha has described the proposed alteration as a ‘céim ar chúl’ in terms of language protection and also has said that it does not outline any policy or objectives for dealing with the housing needs of Irish-speaking communities in South Conamara outside the villages of An Spidéal and An Cheathrú Rua.

Cois Fharraige’s language planning body, Fóram Chois Fharraige um Pleanáil Teanga, in its submission to the County Council states that if the Alteration 2(b ) is accepted it could result in a substantial weakening of the protection which Galway County Council is obliged by legislation to provide in the Gaeltacht to Irish as the community language.

The Fóram is the umbrella organisation of community groups which came together to prepare a comprehensive language plan for the Cois Fharraige Gaeltacht, an area which stretches along the coast from Na Forbacha to Ros a’ Mhíl. The plan, Plean Teanga Chois Fharraige, has been approved by the Minister for the Gaeltacht and is awaiting an agreement on its funding, before implementation.

The Fóram in its submission to Galway County Council says that the proposed Alteration 2(b ) would be at variance with the measures proposed in Plean Teanga Chois Fharraige, which called for a strengthening of language protection measures in the planning process for the Cois Fharraige area.

According to a report in Tuairisc.ie, Deputy Éamonn Ó Cuív, the Gaeltacht based TD, has also called for the adoption of the Alteration 2(b ) to be deferred until revised Rural Planning Guidelines are issued and until the National Planning Framework is approved.

He states in his submission that the decision of the European Court of Justice in the Flemish Decree Case could have very serious ramifications for the Gaeltacht. Cumann Forbartha Chois Fharraige in a statement says it will be asking the nine councillors for the Conamara Municipal Area to stand together on this issue and ask for the Alteration 2(b ) to be withdrawn in its present form, to allow for the Gaeltacht Area Plan 2008 - 2018 to be reviewed and extended, after a period of proper consultation with Gaeltacht communities.

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