24 January 2008 Edition

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Government failing Gaeltacht areas - Pearse Doherty

SINN FÉIN Regional Development and Irish Language spokesperson Senator Pearse Doherty has called for a Government reaction to a report from Údarás na Gaeltachta which shows that Irish-speaking areas gained just 73 jobs last year. Senator Doherty noted that the Donegal Gaeltacht did not gain any jobs and unemployment in the area now stands at approximately 20 per cent.
“The end of year statement from Údarás na Gaeltachta makes for dismal reading,” he said.
“Even though the Údarás statement notes a net gain of 73 jobs in Irish-speaking areas, many Gaeltacht areas, including in my own county of Donegal, have made no progress whatsoever. Unemployment in Donegal Gaeltacht areas now stands at approximately 20 per cent, over four times the state average,” Doherty said.
The Donegal senator said that everyone knows the factors that have led to this dire situation.
“The geographical location of most Gaeltacht areas has played a significant role in bringing about this scenario. The Government has continually failed to adequately invest in the infrastructural needs of these areas. In Donegal alone there is a lack of telecommunications, transport and social infrastructure, all of which have played a role in deterring local enterprises from establishing themselves in the county. I personally know of a number of businesses that have run into serious difficulties when trying to establish enterprises in Donegal due of a lack of access to broadband.”
The fact that such a situation exists at the tail-end of the Celtic Tiger era is hugely disappointing, Doherty said, and another example of how the Government has mismanaged the huge resources available to the state over the past ten years.
“At the end of ten years of unprecedented wealth we are facing record levels of unemployment in Gaeltacht areas and the Chief Executive of Údarás na Gaeltachta is warning of a challenging year ahead. That is a severe indictment of Government. The Celtic Tiger should have been used to target areas of low unemployment such as the Gaeltachts not only to provide the local population with employment but also to sustain the local economy.
“We need to see an immediate Government reaction to this problem. It is essential that all barriers to emerging enterprises in these areas are removed. That means the Government standing up and taking note of reports such as this one from Údarás na Gaeltachta.
“I have ensured that the Chief Executive of Údarás na Gaeltachta, Padraig Ó hAoláin, will be invited to address the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Arts, Sports, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. At that meeting I will ask him to outline the impediments Gaeltacht areas face in relation to job creation.”

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