February 18, 2021
‘Neamhaird mhaslach’ don Ghaeltacht léirithe i ndialann Aire na Gaeltachta – Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

‘Neamhaird mhaslach’ don Ghaeltacht léirithe i ndialann Aire na Gaeltachta – Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Foilsíodh dialann an Phríomh Aoire agus Aire Stáit Spóirt agus Gaeltachta, Jack Chambers, le déanaí mar thoradh ar bhrú ó urlabhraí Gaeilge agus Gaeltachta Shinn Féin an Teachta Aengus Ó Snodaigh. Dúirt sé gur “léir ón méid atá i ndialann an Aire Chambers ó ceapadh é an neamhaird mhaslach dá dhualgas mar Aire i leith na Gaeltachta atá déanta aige.”

Cé go bhfuil sé de chleachtas ag Airí agus Airí Stáit an dialann oifigiúil atá acu a fhoilsiú thóg sé ós cionn sé mhí don Aire Stáit Gaeltachta a dhialann a fhoilsiú, tar éis don urlabhraí Gaeilge, Gaeltachta, Ealaíon agus Cultúir de chuid Shinn Féin trí cheist parlaiminte agus cúpla glaoch fóin a chur ar oifig an Aire Stáit.

“Níor tugadh leithscéal ar bith dúinn faoi cén fáth nach raibh dialann an Aire foilsithe,” a deir an Teachta Ó Snodaigh, “rud a ritheann go huile is go hiomlán in aghaidh rialacha saorála faisnéise, ach seans go raibh siad ag iarraidh an neamh-shuim leanúnach léirithe aige don Ghaeltacht a choimeád faoi rún.”

Labhair an Teachta Ó Snodaigh faoin méid atá le feiceáil sa dialann:

“An rud is tubaistí atá soiléir ann ná go bhfuil an Ghaeilge in íochtar ar fad i measc na cúramaí éagsúla atá ag Jack Chambers mar Aire.

“Caitheann sé an cuid is mó dá lá, gach lá, ag déileáil le freagrachtaí an Phríomh Aoire, agus ní haon íonadh é sin, is ról gnóthach é ann féin, ach bhí roinnt seachtain ann agus níor phléigh sé cúrsaí Gaeilge nó Gaeltachta ar chor ar bith.

“Is cosúil nár chas sé le haon grúpa pobail Gaeltachta nó eagraíocht Gaeilge seachas Conradh na Gaeilge ó ceapadh é i mí Iúil 2020 go deireadh Eanair 2021, agus d’fhiafraigh mé an raibh cruinnithe eile ann nach raibh luaite sa dialann, agus d’fhreagair sé nach raibh. Sa tréimhse céanna, chas sé le beagnach 30 eagrais agus clubanna spóirt éagsúla ar fud na tíre ina ról mar Aire Spóirt.

“Fiú agus é ar a chuairt mhór siar go cheanncheathrú Roinn na Gaeltachta i nGaeltacht na Gaillimhe, chaith sé níos mó ama idir 10 agus 12 Meán Fómhair ag bualadh le grúpaí spóirt áitiúla – lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht in oirthear na Gaillimhe nó sa chathair don chuid is mó – ná le heagrais Gaeltachta. Deir an dialann linn nár chaith sé ach leathuair a chloig in oifigí Roinn na Gaeltachta sna Forbacha, agus is é sin an t-aon cuairt a thug sé orthu ó ceapadh é.

“In áit díriú isteach ar a chuid cúramaí Gaeltachta – agus é léirithe ag Oifigigh Pleanála Teanga, Tuisimitheoirí na Gaeltachta, Conradh na Gaeilge, Misneach, agus an Choimisinéir Teanga, nach bhfuil dóthain á dhéanamh aige sa reachtaíocht chun seirbhísí a sholáthar trí Ghaeilge agus chun an Ghaeltacht a tharrtháil – ní hamháin go bhfuil an Ghaeilge fágtha in áit na leathphingine go fóill, ach tá an Taoiseach tar éis dualgais breise a chur air mar Aire Stáit Cosanta anuas ar gach rud eile.

“Bhí faitíos orainn nuair a ainmníodh Catherine Martin mar Aire Turasóireachta, Cultúir, Ealaíon, Gaeltachta, Spóirt agus na Meáin go mbeadh an Ghaeltacht caillte i measc na cúramaí go léir eile, agus anois níl sé fiú mar phríomh- nó dara-thosaíocht ag an Aire Stáit. 

“Is léir gurb í an Ghaeilge an cloch a thit as phaidrín an Aire agus an Aire Stáit. Is léir do chách, seachas Rialtas Micheál Martin, go bhfuil i bhfad Éireann níos mó aird de dhíth ar an nGaeilge agus i gcruachás ina bhfuil sí ná mar a bhéas ag teacht as an sórt cur chuige ón aire agus rialtas go dtí seo.”

‘Total disregard’ for Gaeltacht revealed in Minister’s Diary – Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

The diary of the Chief Whip and Minister of State for Sport and the Gaeltacht, Jack Chambers, was finally published only recently as a result of pressure from Sinn Féin’s Gaeilge and Gaeltacht spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh. He said “Minister Chambers’ Diary makes clear from the day he was appointed the total disregard he has shown to his responsibilities as Minister responsible for the Gaeltacht”.  

Even though it is normal practice for Ministers and Ministers of State to publish their official diary, it took over six months for the Minister of State for the Gaeltacht to publish his diary, after Sinn Féin’s Gaeilge, Gaeltacht, Arts and Culture spokesperson submitted three parliamentary questions and made several phone calls to the Minister of State’s office. 

“No explanation was given for why the Minister’s diary was not published,” Teachta Ó Snodaigh said, “which goes completely contrary to the rules of freedom of information, although perhaps they just wanted to hide the consistent lack of interest he has shown towards the Gaeltacht.”

Teachta Ó Snodaigh spoke about the diary’s contents:

“What is most worrying is how low a priority the Irish language is amongst Jack Chambers’ various responsibilities as Minister.

“He spends most of his day, every day, dealing with the responsibilities of the Chief Whip, which is of no surprise given how time-consuming that role is in its own right, but there were several weeks where he appears not to have dealt with Gaeilge or Gaeltacht matters at all.

“He also seems not to have met with a single Gaeltacht community group or Irish-language organisation other than Conradh na Gaeilge from when he was appointed in July 2020 to the end of January 2021, and I asked did he meet with any other groups not mentioned in the diary, and he said he didn’t. In the same period, he met with almost 30 different sporting organisations and clubs across the country in his capacity as Minister for Sport.

“Even during his highly-publicised visit to Department of the Gaeltacht HQ in the Galway Gaeltacht, he spent more time from 10 to 12 September meeting with local sports groups – for the most part in East Galway and the City, outside the Gaeltacht – than with Gaeltacht bodies. The diary even tells us he only spent a half hour in his own Department’s offices in na Forbacha, the only time he visited the offices since being appointed.

“Instead of focusing in on his Gaeltacht responsibilities – after widespread criticism that he is not doing enough in legislation to ensure services are provided through Irish or on Gaeltacht recovery – not only is the Irish language still in the halfpenny place, but he has now chosen to take on additional responsibilities as Minister of State for Defence on top of everything else.

“We were worried when Catherine Martin was named Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media that the Gaeltacht would get lost between all the other responsibilities, and now we see that it is not even the first or second priority of the Junior Minister.

“Gaeilge appears to be the buck that fell by the wayside after being passed from Minister to Minister of State, and it deserves a lot better than that as it faces an unprecedented crisis at present.”

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