Conradh na Gaeilge and Guth na Gaeltachta have voiced their full support for the Opposition's decision to withdraw from any further debate on The Gaeltacht Bill 2012 in the Dáil today (19 July 2012), in light of the Minister for the Gaeltacht Dinny McGinley TD refusing to accept any of the 150 plus amendments to the bill as put forward by the Opposition before its enactment.
According to Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge: "The Opposition's decision to leave the Dáil today shows the Government's complete lack of partnership and lack of communication when dealing with the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht communities, and indeed with the political system, regarding this legislation.
"Government Irish-language policies have enjoyed cross-party support over the last number of years, and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Gaeltacht affairs has played a central, critical role in the dialogue and discussion with the public to ensure this cross-party support; the Joint Committee wasn't given the opportunity to even discuss The Gaeltacht Bill 2012 however, as the most important legislation pertaining to the Gaeltacht and the Irish language in almost 60 years was pushed through the Houses of the Oireachtas before the summer break.
Since its publication four weeks ago (19 July 2012), Conradh na Gaeilge and Guth na Gaeltachta have lobbied both members of the Opposition and of the Government to make various amendments to The Gaeltacht Bill 2012 which would ensure the strongest and most effective legislation for the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht communities. Mr de Spáinn notes: "The Opposition showed their clear support for the majority of the recommendations made by Conradh na Gaeilge and Guth na Gaeltachta; when approached, many members of the Fine Gael and the Labour parliamentary parties let it be known to us that the decision had been made, that they had no control over the situation, and that the Government was not going to accept a single amendment to The Gaeltacht Bill 2012."
Éamonn Mac Niallais, Guth na Gaeltachta said: "Every stage of this process has exposed the lack of democracy and lack of public engagement in relation to The Gaeltacht Bill 2012, legislation intended to provide for the needs of the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht communities, but which totally and utterly disregards the opinions, recommendations and proposed amendments of those self-same communities.
"The Opposition indicated earlier today that they would put an amendment Gaeltacht Bill before the Houses of the Oireachtas in the coming months, and Guth na Gaeltachta and Conradh na Gaeilge will work with them and with the public to draft a comprehensive, satisfactory bill, a bill that will complement The 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010 - 2030."
While Údarás na Gaeltachta elections must be held no later than 30 September 2012 in accordance with current legislation, this is no excuse for enacting The Gaeltacht Bill, 2012 without adequate consultation with the public as the Government could have extended the time limit for the elections, as previously enacted under The Údarás na Gaeltachta Bill (Amendment), 2010:
- To amend Section 28(1) of The Údarás na Gaeltachta Act, 1979 so that the maximum period of time between elections for An tÚdarás can be extended from five and a half years to seven and a half years.
Conradh na Gaeilge and Guth na Gaeltachta are calling on the public to consult their local TDs about the amended Gaeltacht bill before the Dáil resumes in September and to take an active role in the debate and discussion about the legislation over the summer break.
Julian de Spáinn,
General Secretary, Conradh na Gaeilge
+353 (0)86 8142757 / +353 (0)1 4757401
Éamonn Mac Niallais,
Guth na Gaeltachta
+353 (0)87 6387467
Conradh na Gaeilge is the democratic forum for the Irish-speaking community working to promote the language. There are over 200 branches of Conradh na Gaeilge and since its foundation in 1893, members of the Conradh have been actively promoting Irish in every aspect of life in Ireland and especially its use in their own areas. Conraitheoirí are at the forefront of campaigns to secure and strengthen the rights of the Irish language community. It is also possible to register as an individual member of the Conradh. Conradh na Gaeilge runs Irish courses in Dublin, Galway, Mayo and other places throughout the country as well. www.cnag.ie/courses
Guth na Gaeltachta is a non-political, cross-party campaign concerned with the Irish language and the Gaeltacht. This community campaign was founded in the Gaeltacht to inform the public on the effect the proposed cuts for the Irish language and the Gaeltacht would have and to oppose such cuts. This campaign will focus wholly and completely on Irish language and Gaeltacht issues only. www.guthnag.com
Aontas Phobal na Gaeilge (APG) is an alliance of Irish-language organisations working to promote Irish across Ireland and the world through more strategic language-planning.
Aontas Phobal na Gaeilge consists of Comhaltas Uladh, Comhluadar, Conradh na Gaeilge, Glór na nGael and Seachtain na Gaeilge, organisations dealing with different aspects of the promotion of Irish in the community that came together to form a working alliance that would ensure a better provision of services and more value for money.
APG will fulfil the all-island brief for the Irish-language sector following the North/South Ministerial Council's announcement on 02 December 2009 that Foras na Gaeilge would have to look for funding requests from the voluntary sector from "One organization (or perhaps a limited number of organizations, [...]), with a representative, circulating information, advocacy and resources and support provision role to the whole sector".
Aontas Phobal na Gaeilge will continue the work currently undertaken by the united organisations of the alliance, and that programme of work will be added to. APG will continue to organise a national festival of the highest calibre publically celebrating the Irish language; it will further develop its lobbying and advocacy programme; it will emphasise the importance of language transmission from generation to generation; it will run an Irish-language competition, nationally and internationally; it will ensure there are wide-ranging opportunities for people to learn Irish; and it will promote innovative new ways in which Irish can be used. Here follow the strategic objectives of Aontas Phobal na Gaeilge:
1. To provide a joined-up plan of action, a structure, and human and physical resources for the operation of the APG;
2. To develop and encourage the ability to speak and learn Irish, the transmission and acquisition of the language;
3. To increase the use of Irish in the community;
4. To acknowledge and extend the status, image, rights and awareness of Irish;
5. To nurture the transmission of Irish from generation to generation on an all-Ireland basis; to maintain and promote the Gaeltacht; and to develop new Gaeltacht networks as language sanctuaries.
Aontas Phobal na Gaeilge values the amount of voluntary work done in the sector and will ensure that consistent, expert professional assistance is provided to volunteers, along with offering an independent forum as a support for the invaluable voluntary work done, for the Irish language. www.aontaspg.ie