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Minutes of Foras na Gaeilge Board Meetings Published

January 29, 2013

Only seven of Foras na Gaeilge’s sixteen board members were present when decisions concerning funding for the Irish Language Voluntary Sector were taken in 2012.

Foras na Gaeilge recently published the latest series of minutes from board meetings held in 2012 which show that less than 50% of board members were present when issues relating to funding of voluntary organisation such as Gael Linn, Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge and Conradh na Gaeilge were examined.

An Foras Teanga (the North South Language Body) was founded on 2 December 1999 under the British-Irish Agreement Act 1999. An Foras Teanga comprises two separate Agencies, Foras na Gaeilge and Tha Boord o Ulstèr-Scotch (The Ulster-Scots Agency). The primary responsibility of Foras na Gaeilge is the promotion of the Irish Language throughout the island of Ireland and Foras is also responsible for funding organisations working in the Irish language voluntary sector.

Minutes of a board meeting held on 20th April 2012, at which 9 members were present, state two members left the meeting due to potential conflict of interest before decisions relating to projects such as Seachtain na Gaeilge, The Preschool Fund, Clár na Leabhar Gaeilge and corefunding for Gael Linn and Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge were decided upon.

A board meeting on 29th June 2012 saw a total of 5 board members leave the meeting, including the vice-chairperson, to avoid any potential conflict of interest. With five members having left the meeting, this left only seven members remaining to decide upon corefunding, with a total value of €5.68 million, for voluntary organisation primarily located in the Republic of Ireland and funding valued close to £1 million to organisations located in Northern Ireland for 2012/13.
Review of Corefunding
Certain information in relation to the review of the Irish Language Voluntary Sector is not disclosed in the recently published minutes due to it being exempt information under the Code of Practice for Freedom of Information.

Not disclosing such information gives little confidence to the voluntary organisations who have already expressed their dissatisfaction to Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs Dinny Mc Ginley TD and Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure in Northern Ireland Carál Ní Chuilín MLA at the manner in which Foras na Gaeilge has undertaken the preparation of its alternative funding proposals. The voluntary organisation stated in a letter to the ministers that they have no knowledge of any proposal/proposals presented by Foras na Gaeilge to the North South Ministerial Council.

Speaking before the Stormont Assembly lately, Minister Ní Chuilín MLA said it would be foolhardy by the The Ulster-Scots Agency to ignore not only the views but their experience and opinions of all stakeholders in decisions relating to projects undertaken to the promotion of the language.

It is clear from the letter sent by the voluntary Irish language organisations to both Ministers that they believe their experience and expertise is being ignored by Foras na Gaeilge as they prepare a new funding model for the sector.

The review of corefunding for the Voluntary Irish Language Sector will be the focus of the next Language Sector Meeting of the North South Ministerial Council in 2013.

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