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Údarás a ‘job for the boys’ quango

Údarás a ‘job for the boys’ quango

Board member decries demolition of democracy

Anton McNulty

Údarás na Gaeltachta’s board selection process has branded ‘a farce’ by current board member and former county councillor Tim Quinn. 
Údarás na Gaeltachta is the regional authority responsible for the economic, social and cultural development of the Gaeltacht. Mr Quinn, who has announced he will not be seeking reappointment, said his remarks were aimed at a new board-nomination process introduced this summer.
Previously, 17 members of the 20-strong governing board were democratically elected by Gealtacht communities. However, these elections were scrapped under the new Gealtacht Act passed in July.
However, the number of board members is to be reduced from 20 to 12. With elections now scrapped, seven members of the board will be appointed by the Minister for the Gaeltacht, and the remaining five will be appointed through the County Councils with Gaeltacht areas.
The closing date for the public to put their name forward for nomination for appointments by the Minister was on Friday, August 17. The nominee for Mayo is expected to be appointed by Mayo County Council at the next meeting in September.

‘Complete waste of time’
“This is an awful demolition of democracy in the Gaeltacht … Since the first election in 1979 there has always been a keen interest in Údarás elections,” Mr Quinn told The Mayo News.
“The numbers voting would be on par with County Council and General Elections, but now there will be a void between the Údarás and the public and it will be nothing more than another quango. I accept the board was too big … but they should have kept the elections. I have no confidence in it at all … it is a complete waste of time and a farce,” he said.
The Mayo Gaeltacht consists of parts of Achill, Erris and Tourmakeady with two people elected to the board to represent the county. It is understood that the other Mayo board member, Ian McAndrew of Fine Gael, is still uncertain whether he will put his name forward to Mayo County Council for nomination.
As of last week, no names had been forwarded to Mayo County Council to be considered for appointment at the September meeting. It unlikely Fianna Fáil or the other parties will put a candidate forward, given the Fine Gael majority in the council.
A spokesperson for the Department of the Gaeltacht told The Mayo News that up to 50 people nationwide had put their names forward for one of the seven positions to be appointed by the Minister. However, when asked if any persons from Mayo had put their name forward, the Department told The Mayo News it would not supply the information and would ‘only release the names of the successful candidates once the Minister of State has appointed them’.
Belmullet-based councillor Rose Conway-Walsh said the people should have a say in who is appointed to the board, adding that the new process points to a ‘jobs for the boys’ scenario.
“Fine Gael have the majority in the Council, and they will appoint who they like regardless if they are suitable for the job just as they have done with many of the SPCs and VECs. It will mean more jobs for the boys, you can be certain of that,” she said.
Achill councillor Micheál McNamara added that the Minister’s appointments would be based on party affinity or loyalty, and he said the process lacked transparency.

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