Saturday, January 7, 2012

Údarás na Gaeltachta–value or wanton waste?


Údarás na Gaeltachta caters for a supposedly Irish language speaking population of 92,000 persons. 

It employs 96 persons but has a very costly  20-person board of directors whose fees and expenses for the last four years exceeded €1.5 million.  The incidental expenses of the board in 2010 amounted to over €90,000, of which €64,723 was in respect of travel only.  The travel-only figure for this board compares to a combined travel-only expense of €21,287 in respect of the 48 members who serve on the boards of IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Shannon Development.

The following table puts these 2010 board expenses into a comparative context:



Other Expenses


Údarás na Gaeltachta




Enterprise Ireland




IDA Ireland




Science Foundation Ireland




During this time it has paid €96 million to a cluster of companies with the following employment profile:



Employment Base

Jobs ‘Created’

Jobs ‘Lost’






















During the same period it paid over €12 million in research & development grants and, in the 2010 it claimed that the recipients of the €2.6 million paid in research & development grants caused a total investment of €19.9 million by the recipients, a multiplier of 7.6.  If this multiplier was applicable throughout the past five years research and development in Ireland by the recipients would be in the region of €94.2 million.  Where is the economic impact of this expenditure in the context of the table above?

It claims that the client companies paid €42.22 million in taxes to the Irish exchequer in 2010, while the agency itself spent over €65 million that year

Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta

Last September, this State-funded hobby horse and absorber of resources closed after a consultant’s report proved that it was insolvent.  This so-called partnership had 34 employees + another 100 somewhere or other in the shadows and operated under the shadow of Údarás na Gaeltachta with its own board of no less than 24 individuals, four of whom are also serving members of the board of Údarás na Gaeltachta.  Under this titanic emblem of ‘excellence in corporate governance’ was a series of regional coordinating committees with 46 members.

Irish Language

Údaras na Gaeltachta is the national guardian of the Irish language.  It is stated in its 2006 annual report that there are heartening signs of vitality and reinvigoration in some important spheres of the maintenance of Irish as a community language in the Gaeltacht. More and more people are recognising the language as advantageous to material advancement arising from the gradual implementation of the provisions of the Official Languages Act, the emergence of a new tier of small language-based enterprises in the Gaeltacht augmenting the existing audio-visual sector, and the growth in third-level accredited courses through Irish focusing on employment opportunities in these sectors.’

Five years later after frittering over €315 million of public funds it states in 2010the publication by the previous Government of the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language in 2010 and the commitment by the current Government to support the Strategy and to deliver on its achievable goals and targets is an important step for both the Gaeltacht and the Irish language community.  Previous studies show the vulnerable position of the Irish language with experts predicting that the language may only survive as a household and community language for another 15 to 20 years’.

2012 Budget

The august board of this agency met last month to consider the provision of funding by the State for 2012 – funding of the order of €18.8 million for capital and current expenditure, a reduction of on the funding provided in 2011.  But they agreed that this allocation is a ‘vote of confidence’ in themselves and the ‘central role’ they claim to have in presumably ‘buying’ the future of the Irish language and in promoting community, social and cultural development.

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