Saturday, May 15, 2010

Killed by bureaucracy?

I suppose one of the most effective organisations in fostering love and use of the Language over the years has been Glór na nGael (Irish). It is a comparatively young organisation from it's foundation by the Catholoc Priests organisation Cumann na Sagart. It's first patrons were Úachtarán na hÉireann Éamon de Valeara and Cardinal D'Alton and the first competition was organised in 1961. It is now a company half owned by the Cumann and the other half by the umbrella group of all Irish language organisations, Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge (Bilingual).

It sends a team throughout the length and breath of the country looking for the town, parish or district looking at how they are progressing in the promotion of Irish in the life of the community and award not insubstantial prizes for those communities who, in their opinion, have advanced most in the preceeding year. The awards are graded to the size and type of community. This year the awards were presented recently in the hallowed and iconic chambers of Belfast City Hall, a city which recently, through the establishment of the only truly urban Gaeltacht, and historically has had such a positive influence on maintaining and growing the opportunities for developing a healthy Gaelic environment.

This story in Gaelscéal 7th May 2010Like most communities they are funded, especially for their running costs, but the state. Recently however they have been forced to issue protective notice to seven of their staff because there is no guarantee that funding will continue after July of this year. They are not alone in fearing that this funding will not be forthcoming. The other language organisations whether community based or even State bodies like Údarás na Gaeltachta expect to be faced with cuts or outright cessation of the grants which enable them to perform in a professional way. For instance the Language Commissioner (An Coimisinéar Teanga)was unable to use his entire budget last year because of delays and restrictions placed on him by the bureaucracy. The money was there but he was not allowed to spend it and so the statutary service he provides must suffer.

It is not denied that these are stringent times and good houskeeping is essential no matter how laudable an organisations vision and aims are. However the fact the the bureaucracy does not see fit to advise its decision in good time means that effective realistic planning, so important in our modern world, cannot take place.

Voluntary language organisations, such as the non-state funded Guth na Gaeltachta (Irish), and private individuals, have raised their voices in support of these bodies. They state that there is great danger letting these initiatives fade if we are to achieve the objectives of the Government's 20 year plan.

Eventually the new minister, Pat Carey, made a statement saying that there was no need for worry as long as the process of reassessment was in progress. He is referring to the examination of the many language organisations and their relevency. Most people do agree that some "rationalisation" is required in the nineteen language bodies but the delays caused in the meantime create a sort of limbo situation.

Delays like this caused the death of Foinse, leaving a gap in the Irish language newspaper scene which lasted for several months while the body charged with funding these assessed possible alternatives. And as Concubhar Ó Liatháin, (a paper he edited in the past, Lá Nua, also was allowed to perish due to Departmental ineffectiveness) in Fóram Iriseoireachta na Gaeilge (Irish)blog stated, this means that the expertese and knowledge fostered over a period of years is lost and valuable time is wasted by a new team getting up-to-speed. Not good planning!

So in effect the Minister is saying that the jobs are safe until they are not!

Hardly the most reasuring of news to people trying to make a living in this day and age.

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