Reduced funding a concern for Údarás na Gaeltachta

The board of Údarás na Gaeltachta has expressed concern this week about the future of the authority, and also that of the Department of Community, Equality, and Gaeltacht Affairs, following revelations of a substantial funding drop in next year’s budget. Gaeltacht areas in Mayo supported by the authority are located in north Mayo, Achill, and Tourmakeady.

At an Údarás na Gaeltachta board meeting in An Rinn, Co Waterford, over the weekend, board members expressed grave concern about its future following a review published by the Department of Finance on capital expenditure which showed a substantial reduction in the Department of Community, Equality, and Gaeltacht Affairs’ capital budget, from €105m in the current year to €86m in 2011 and 2012. Of this amount approximately €70m is to be reserved for the implementation of the Leader Programme, leaving a balance of €16m for the Department and for the agencies for which it provides funding, which includes the Údarás.

Members at the board meeting emphasised the importance of the organisation continuing as a Gaeltacht development agency with enterprise and employment functions, which has also been highlighted by the Údarás in a draft strategy to the Government. No decision has been made regarding the draft-strategy to date nor has a decision been made regarding the appointment of a new chief executive as a successor to the current CEO, Padraig O hAolain.

The Údarás board decided that a delegation from the board would seek a meeting with Minister Pat Carey to discuss issues and ensure the availability of sufficient capital funding in 2011 in order for an tÚdarás and the Department of Community, Equality, and Gaeltacht affairs to meet the economic development, employment, social and language needs of Gaeltacht areas. It was also noted that the Údarás has a capital budget of €15m for the current year.

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