FEARS FOR THE FUTURE Pictured at the launch of Gnó Mhaigh Eo’s business initiative ‘Oscail An Doras’ two years ago was special guest Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh with Gnó Mhaigh Eo’s Development Officer, Daithí Ó Gallchobhair and the organisation’s Chief Executive, Freda Nic Giolla Chatháin. The organisation now fear for their future due to funding issues. Pic: Michael McLaughlin
THE future of Gnó Mhaigh Eo hangs in the balance because local authority funding is no longer forthcoming and thus jeopardises significant central government grants. In an attempt to resolve the crisis the Castlebar-based organisation, which supports businesses to utilise the resource of the Irish language, hopes to attend Mayo County Council meetings of the various municipal districts to highlight the funding issue.
The crisis is compounded by the fact that last July Minister Joe McHugh announced that ‘a comprehensive language plan would be prepared for Castlebar as an official Gaeltacht Service Town’ with Gnó Mhaigh Eo being appointed as the lead organisation spearheading this process. A grant of €120,000 over seven years, along with annual funding by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, would mean an investment of over €1.7 million euro in the provision of Irish language services over that time period.
However, as Gnó Mhaigh Eo’s Development Officer, Daithí Ó Gallchobhair explains: “Like most funding agreements across the country, a certain commitment is expected from the local authorities. This funding had been historically provided by Mayo County Council, but in the last three years, with the abolition of the town councils, the funds have been withheld. It is a considerable oversight, given that €1.7 million euro worth of funding could be lost. There has been no explanation given as to why the funding has been withheld, being told it’s just ‘not there’ is not good enough and there comes a time when accountability at the highest level in Mayo County Council needs to be ensured.”
He explained that prior to the restructuring of the local government, Gnó Mhaigh Eo received funding from each town council. While there was a verbal commitment made to continue this practise, the money is no longer made available to the organisation.
The organisation’s Chief Executive, Freda Nic Giolla Chatháin said: “A number of councillors have provided funding from their personal allocations to help secure the future of Gnó Mhaigh Eo and we are extremely grateful to them for their support. It shows that we have some public representatives who understand the importance of investing in our native tongue. The councillors in Mayo have an understanding of how important the language is, not only on an economic level, but they also understand that it is the foundation of our heritage and culture, something Mayo is very proud of,” she said.
MEANWHILE, in response to Mayo News questions, Cllr Tereasa McGuire (FG) confirmed there was an understanding that each town council would contribute to the organisation.
She said: “This legacy is not being recognised now and so Gnó Mhaigh Eo is in trouble. Gnó is the leader in the Baile Sherbhís Gaeltachta that will deliver hundreds of thousands of euros to Castlebar. As a county with three Gaeltachta, we need to stop paying lip service to the Gaeilge and put our monies where our beliefs are.”