Calls for govt to increase funding for Gaeltacht areas in Budget 2020

first_imgThe treatment of Udaras na Gaeltachta by various Governments since 2010 has been nothing short of a national scandal.That’s the view of Donegal TD Pat the Cope Gallagher ahead of Budget 2020 tomorrow (Tues).Speaking ahead of the national budget on Tuesday, Deputy Gallagher said the current situation in Gaeltacht areas followed years of heavy cuts by successive governments. He said: “The present situation whereby Udaras the only agency charged by Government to be responsible for and in sole charge of job creation and economic development in Gaeltacht areas has seen its current and capital budgets more than halved while at the same time its responsibilities expanded, while been starved of additional resources, staffing or extra funding.Pat the Cope added that Udaras na Gaeltachta at present support and sustain over 7,700 jobs within the Gaeltacht areas.He added: “They run various programmes from community development to community employment programmes in addition to performing the functions of Local Enterprise Offices in Gaeltacht areas notwithstanding the functions of the various Plean Teanga ( language planning ) in our Gaeltacht communities.“The Gaeltacht areas have a population of 100,716 as per the 2011 census, with most of the population divided over Gaeltacht areas in Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Kerry, Cork, Waterford and Meath. “Udaras na Gaeltachta is the sole development and job creation agency in Gaeltacht areas, it has the remit for sustaining and creating jobs in the most remote and isolated areas in all of Ireland.“The purpose and function of Udaras is essential for the long-term sustainable development of our Gaeltacht areas, but for Udaras to carry out their function properly they must be funded accordingly, as opposed the present situation where they are grossly underfunded,” Pat the Cope said.“Present funding levels of Udaras are farcical, Udaras are hamstrung from the outset and curtailed by lack of funding from central Government while at the same additional demands are being placed on it by various Government Action Plans and National Strategies.“The present situation within Udaras is at near breaking point, the current budget of Udaras in 2019 in real terms is just a meagre €5 million per annum, from that budget all regional offices, costs of staffing and the entire budget for job creation must be taken from.The lack of an appropriate level budget for attracting and marketing Gaeltacht areas for job creation is having serious impacts on how the Udaras targets and projections can be achieved,” Pat the Cope added. “In 2009, the Udaras current budget was €14 m, the current budget for 2019 is just €9.5m and as we witness priority is been given to IDA and Enterprise Ireland who year on year have experienced budget growths of 9% to 15 % per annum, but Udaras is a similar agency to them albeit covering Gaeltacht areas – but no budget increases are afforded to them.“It is now time that the present Government align Udaras with the other job creation agencies within the Department of Enterprise in terms of future funding and support.“This can be achieved while at the same time maintaining the cultural and language importance of the Udaras. It is not conceivable or just any longer, that these agencies are being treated differently, they all perform the exact same functions and responsibility,” stated Pat the Cope.“A similar situation exists in Capital Budget terms within Udaras, the 2009 capital budget was €25m, whereas the 2019 budget is only €9m. This is case in point where budgets have been cut to unsustainable levels over time, and without budgets being restored, the impossible is being asked of the Udaras at present. “The staffing level of Udaras is also cut from a staff of 156 in 2008 to present-day levels of 88 people only.“Whereas the previous Government may well have decided to keep the Udaras as a development and job creation agency, it has effectively overtime destroyed its ability to compete and function as an employment agency on a kin to IDA or Enterprise Ireland despite all three having the exact same responsibility and function,” Pat the Cope stated.“Udaras backed business and employers with 10 employees or more have contributed over €800 m to the national exchequer, with 60% of that being exported.“That is also contributing €150 m payroll to local communities and a return to the national exchequer of a nett €77 m in taxes alone. Therefore, funding of Udaras is a massive nett contributor to the national exchequer and is the only possible way of the sustainable development and providing for the long-term future of our most rural communities,” Pat the Cope added.“Unless real and substantial funding is made available for the Udaras, the targets set by both Government and by Udaras themselves for employment creation simply will not happen, and the further threats of Brexit and global uncertainty will only add to the challenges facing this state agency.“In recent media reports, the government are prioritising Brexit proofing businesses and jobs, that is the correct course of action but unfortunately with Udaras not being directly under the Department of Enterprise, it does not seem to be getting the same priority nor funding envelope.“Budget 2020 is a critical crossroads for Udaras na Gaeltachta, and by extension our rural communities in Gaeltacht areas, unless we see real commitment and proper increases in our funding of this state agency we are staring into uncertain times for our Gaeltacht areas.“Million of additional resources given to Department of Enterprise thus far for Brexit proofing strategies but none have filtered to Udaras.“Budget 2020 must prioritise Gaeltacht development, must begin a transformation of bringing Udaras into mainstream employment and development funding opportunities, it must create a hybrid model whereby employment initiatives in Udaras are supported directly from the same funding opportunities as IDA and Enterprise Ireland, while at the same time recognising the uniqueness of our Gaeltacht and linguistic responsibilities of Udaras and our Gaeltacht communities.“In short Udaras must be put on a level playing field with other agencies otherwise we are treating Gaeltacht citizens as lesser priorities and that will not be tolerated,” concluded Pat the Cope.Calls for govt to increase funding for Gaeltacht areas in Budget 2020 was last modified: October 6th, 2019 by Shaun KeenanShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img

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