• Daithí Ó Gallachóir
  • Foilsithe Samh. 23, 2018

Concerns Over Future of Gnó Mhaigh Eo

Following the announcement in July by Minister of State Joe McHugh TD, that a comprehensive language plan would be prepared for Castlebar as an official Gaeltacht Service Town, Gnó Mhaigh Eo, has been appointed as the lead organisation to spearhead this process. The news comes with a commitment of €20,000 initially, to prepare the language plan, and then a further €100,000 annually over 7 years to implement the plan. Combined with the annual funding committed to Gnó Mhaigh Eo by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, this would see an investment of over €1.7 million euro in the provision of Irish language services over the next 7 years. However, it has come to light that funding previously committed by Mayo County Council is no longer forthcoming to Gnó Mhaigh Eo, leaving this organisation in jeopardy in January 2019.

Prior to the restructuring of the local government, Gnó Mhaigh Eo received a total of €30,000 from Mayo County Council - a sum of €15,000 from Mayo County Council itself, and €5,000 from each Town Council. Although the town council funding was verbally committed to Gnó Mhaigh Eo under the new structure of the Municipal Districts, this money has not been made available to the organisation. As there are funding agreements in place with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, based on a certain percentage of local investment, the future of the organisation is left hanging in the balance. Gnó Mhaigh Eo still receives a sum of €15,000 from Mayo County Council on an annual basis, but the balance has not been met by the Municipal Districts. 

Gnó Mhaigh Eo’s Development Officer, Daithí Ó Gallchobhair, commenting on the current situation said “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 3 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.”

Following the news that the funding will not be provided, Gnó Mhaigh Eo has requested to attended municipal district meetings and discuss the matter with councillors. Speaking in relation to local support, Freda Nic Giolla Chatháin said that, “a number of councillors have committed to support the organisation and help secure the future of Gnó Mhaigh Eo and for that we are extremely grateful. It shows that we do 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”.

Continuing to talk about the lack of support at administrative level, she said “The past couple of months have been extremely frustrating, to say the least, as it is difficult to stay motivated in your work, when the future of the organisation is insecure. We receive lots of positive feedback and recognition for our work nationally, and the continued support of the Department is testament to our achievements. In addition, we have been invited to attend and present at events around the country, as other counties hold our work in high regard, and approach us, as a best-in-practice model, which they seek to follow. We were also accredited as a Business All-Star this year, further endorsing our commitment to providing a high quality professional service. Having been appointed by the government as the lead organisation responsible for Castlebar’s Language Planning Process, it is most disappointing that Mayo County Council, home to 3 Gaeltacht areas, cannot see the value and importance of the language for the people of Maigh Eo. Reneging on this funding not only undermines our hard work in promoting the language but could also jeopardise the future of our organisation, which is soul destroying.”

Gnó Mhaigh Eo run a number of creative initiatives to promote the Irish language, primarily in the business sector, but they also work closely with festivals and other community groups. They offer language support to businesses, and organise most lucrative business awards, with sponsorship and awards worth over €15,000, thanks to partnership with local media and print companies, and TG4. The company employs two people on a full-time basis and their office is on Main St., Castlebar.