An announcement this week that Údarás na Gaeltachta is to avoid making further funding commitments due to a shortfall in government funding has been met with fury by Westport TD Michael Ring who claims that 200 jobs are now in limbo because of the lack of funding.
Only last week the news that 80 jobs are to be lost at ICT Eurotel in Belmullet, a company which received €1.8 million in support from Údarás na Gaeltachta since it set up in June 2002, was met with anger and dismay in north Mayo.
The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs said this week that Údarás would need €47.7 million to meet its commitments up to 2012 but the organisation was only sanctioned €19.65 million in capital funding from the Exchequer for 2009. “Given the very high level of these commitments, it has been considered prudent for Údarás to avoid creating further commitments for a period, pending agreement on how the existing commitments are to be managed within the level of resources likely to be available to the organisation in the period to 2012,” a Department spokesperson said this week.
Discussions between the Department and Údarás regarding funding have been under way for some time but the position has not yet been reached where the Department could, within the guidelines laid down, agree to Údarás approving funding for further projects. It is now up to Údarás to demonstrate how it will comply with these guidelines and discussions with the Department continue in this regard. Given the current economic difficulties the Department has ordered Údarás to operate within the guidelines for sanction of new projects, in common with other public bodies.
According to Deputy Ring there are 200 new jobs ready to be approved that cannot proceed because Údarás has no funding. Dep Ring said that at a time when almost 22,000 people were added to the Live Register last month, it is outrageous that 200 potential jobs should be left in limbo.
“I have been highlighting the fact that Údarás na Gaeltachta has no funding to resource job creation following the loss of jobs in Eurotel Marketing this week. I now understand that Údarás has 200 jobs ready to be approved but does not have the funding for them to go ahead.
“This is absolutely crazy when rural Ireland is crying out for jobs and there are now 413,500 people on the Live Register. It makes economic sense to fund jobs that are ready to go as it gets people off the dole, back to work, paying tax, and more able to spend money in the economy.
“Údarás must have the resources to make these jobs a reality and I have now called on the Enterprise Minister to make it happen.”