It is positive news that elections will return from 2025 onwards, and that the formation of the Board will be restructured. Clear progress has been made, but there is still an opportunity to discuss the functions of Údarás na Gaeltachta as the legislation is examined in the new year.
Conradh na Gaeilge welcomes the new approach announced yesterday by Minister Catherine Martin and Minister of State Jack Chambers regarding the appointment process for the Board of Údarás na Gaeltachta. Údáras na Gaeltachta holds great importance for the Gaeltacht community, and it must be ensured that the members of the Board have the expertise, experience and understanding to properly represent that community.
It is a positive development that every Gaeltacht county will have permanent representation on the Board under these new changes, and that no board member can also be a member of a local authority, a member of either House of the Oireachtas, or a member of the European Parliament. The Gaeltacht community will have a stronger voice as a result, and it is hoped that an independent Board will be formed.
Conradh na Gaeilge also supports the decision that all candidates must have achieved a minimum standard of B2 in Irish in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. This comes in line with The Official Languages (Amendment) Act 2021, and ensures consistency and alignment regarding the standard of Irish across public bodies.
Speaking today, Paula Melvin, President of Conradh na Gaeilge said:
“This is a positive step for the Gaeltacht community. It is incredibly important that the voice of the people can be felt on the Board, and that they are properly represented - representation that takes into account every element of society in the Gaeltacht. The current Board of Údarás na Gaeltachta comprises 40% women, and it would be great to see gender equality achieved on the Board in the future. The Board has the potential to be an example for the younger generation in the Gaeltacht, who will understand that there are opportunities for them to have a central role in the development and promotion of their area”
Mairéad Ní Fhatharta, Chairperson of Conradh na Gaeilge’s Meitheal Ghaeltachta commented:
“We are very pleased with this news. It is great for the smaller Gaeltacht areas that they will now have permanent representation on the Board in future, and that the candidates will have to be living in the Gaeltacht - we are hoping that the new appointment process will ensure representation from the islands on the Board also.”
Róisín Ní Chinnéide, Advocacy Manager with Conradh na Gaeilge stated:
“This approach is a hopeful sign, an approach that will benefit the Gaeltacht community. As the Bill that will give effect to these changes is being drafted and examined in the Houses of the Oireachtas, however, we hope consideration will be given to the functions of Údarás na Gaeltachta, and that opportunities to delegate additional powers to the Údarás will be looked at. It would stand to reason that Údarás na Gaeltachta would have powers relating to housing planning - this particular question has already arisen in Gaeltacht na nDéise, where there is an ongoing attempt to provide social housing on land owned by Údarás na Gaeltachta, land which the Údarás cannot grant for housing purposes because they lack those powers. We want to see a solution for these kinds of situations.”
Róisín Ní Chinnéide, Advocacy Manager:
Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary: