A new Bill being put forward by Fianna Fáil will, if enacted, reinstate direct elections to the board of Údarás na Gaeltachta. Elections to the Gaeltacht body were abolished in 2012.
An Bille Um Údarás Na Gaeltachta (Leasú ) 2018 is being put forward by Fianna Fáíl, and according to party spokesperson on Rural, Regional, Gaeltacht, and Island Affairs, and Galway West TD, Éamon Ó Cuív, it is "a clear statement of intent" towards supporting the demand of Gaeltacht dwellers to have "directly elected members to Údarás’s board".
Under the Bill, Údarás will consist of a chair, appointed by the Minister for the Gaeltacht, and 14 other members, 11 of whom will be directly elected, with the remaining three appointed by the Minister, one of whom must be resident on an offshore island that is in the Gaeltacht.
Direct elections were abolished by the Fine Gael-Labour administration of 2011-2016, a move which Dep Ó Cuív described as "an attack on democracy which took power from the people in Gaeltacht areas". FF is now seeking to build cross-party support for the Bill.
Údarás na Gaeltachta was set up to be a broad-based development agency for the Gaeltacht areas with a vital role to play in language development, infrastructure, training, education and employment. Dep Ó Cuív said it is "a vital employment enabler" with c400 client companies which employ more than 7,000 people throughout the Gaeltacht in areas such as Irish-language related employment, bio-medical, ICT, manufacturing, timber milling and natural resources, tourism, fish and seaweed processing and aquaculture, renewable energy, food, and arts and crafts.