General Election candidate, Deputy Thomas Pringle (IND), has today published his Gaeltacht policy document outlining reduced funding for Donegal's Gaelscoileanna and consistently high unemployment rates as the main threats to Irish language survival in Donegal.
Speaking on the issue, he said, "We’ve seen enough reports proving the unsustainability of the Irish language situation as we find it. This is due to previous Government failures to address the key issues threatening this unique socio-linguistic heritage in Ireland which are under-investment in education and high unemployment rates. Austerity policies have meant that funding for Údarás na Gaeltachta has been cut by €14 million since 2008, from €32 million to €18 million now. That is almost a 50% cut from the budget of the authority administering an area under threat of extinction."
"Other candidates’ Irish policies state the need for a senior Minister for the Gaeltacht, an increase of expenditure in the Gaeltacht and a full Oireachtas Committee for Irish Language and Gaeltacht affairs and while I agree with these demands, my demands go further," he continued. "Education and unemployment in the Gaeltacht need to be addressed. Serious investment is needed to bring the various Gaelscoileanna up to standard. You only have to look at Gaelscoil na gCeithre Mháistrí in Donegal Town which is still operating from prefab buildings, or Gaelscoil Bhun Cranncha which is operating out of a community centre despite countless promises."
"High unemployment rates force young people to leave the Gaeltacht area making it very difficult to ensure that the language carries on from generation to generation. To address that issue, I would recommend a complete rethink on Údarás na Gaeltachta’s strategy on job creation. The current policy of focusing only on foreign direct investment is short-sighted and empty factories in the Gaeltacht area serve as a reminder that this is not a sustainable model."
"I am recommending that Údarás focus on developing a team of Irish speaking mentors who can go around the Gaeltacht, speaking to local people about forming cooperatives to address unemployment in their own area and advising them on the best ways to go about setting up cooperative businesses in sectors such as renewable energy, such as biomass, wave and tidal energy and cultural tourism, and to derive proper community benefit from the advances made by the Wild Atlantic Way," concluded Pringle.
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