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Ultach Trust fighting to maintain the work it does

February 13, 2014

I would like to respond to Newton Emerson’s article on Foras na Gaeilge’s plans to dismantle the Irish language core-funded sector in Northern Ireland (February 6).

He appears to give some credence to Foras na Gaeilge’s argument that much of the funding to the sector was wasted on salaries rather than services. What is at issue is not salaries versus services, but what services are provided and how well they are delivered. No-one would say that in the health service too much funding goes on salaries for doctors and nurses. Like all of the sector, my organisation, ULTACH Trust, spends as little time as possible on administration in order to maximise services. In recent years, Foras na Gaeilge’s increasing obsession with counting beans – often the wrong beans – has made this more and more difficult. We are not fighting for jobs, we are fighting to maintain the work we do.

I do not necessarily agree with his assessment that Sinn Féin has deliberately targeted the northern organisations. Although it has recently embraced the promotion of the Irish language on a cross-community basis, it is true that the party has not been a great fan of my own organisation in the past, and it may be that the party now wishes to distance itself from Pobal. But Altram, the Irish-medium pre-school organisation, provides a vital support service on the ground to the 40 or so Irish-medium preschools on this side of the border.

Sinn Féin is unlikely to have wanted Altram’s five underpaid, highly qualified and dedicated staff to be thrown on to the dole queue in July.

It seems to me that this was less a plot than a guddle and that the DCAL Minister and her advisers were asleep at the wheel.

Director, ULTACH Trust