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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 27 Mar 1969

Vol. 239 No. 8

Committee on Finance. - Vote 36: Roinn na Gaeltachta.


Go ndeonófar suim fhorlíontach nach mó ná £10 chun íoctha an mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31ú lá de Mhárta, 1969, le haghaidh Tuarastail agus Costais Roinn na Gaeltachta, maille le Deontais le haghaidh Tithe agus Ildeontais-i-gCabhair.

Is chun na deontais-i-gcabhair do Ghaeltarra Éireann a mhéadú go dtí £330,000 sa bhliain airgeadais reatha trí £80,000 a chur leo atá an Meastachán Forlíontach seo á thabhairt isteach.

Is ar fhorbairt na tionsclaíochta sa Ghaeltacht is mó a chaithfear an t-airgead atá i gceist. Faoi mar is eol do na Teachtaí, téann Gaeltarra i gcomhar le tionsclaithe eile, a bhfuil eolas teicniúil agus teacht ar mhargaí acu, d'fhonn tionscail a bhunú agus, chomh maith leis sin, tagann siad i gcabhair ar thionscail bheaga gan páirt a ghlacadh iontu. Na tionscail a bhfuil cabhair ceadaithe dóibh sna dóigheanna sin le cúipla bliain anuas, meastar go gcuirfidh siad saothrú lánaimsire ar fáil do thuairim 700 duine. Is maith an tús 700 post nua don Ghaeltacht in imeacht gearrthréimhse ó leathnaíodh cumhachtaí Ghaeltarra.

Faoi mar a d'fhógair an Rialtas ar na mallaibh, bainfidh Gaeltarra barr úsáide as a gcumhachtaí chun go mbeidh fostaíocht shochrach ar fáil do Ghaeilgeoirí. Tá gach dóchas agam go ndéanfar dul ar aghaidh fónta ar mhaithe leis an nGaeltacht sna blianta atá romhainn. Molaim an Meastachán Forlíontach don Teach dá réir sin.

Cuireann an Vóta seo airgead ar fáil do Ghaeltarra Éireann agus fáiltím roimh aon airgead a deonfar do Ghaeltarra Éireann le caitheamh sa Ghaeltacht. 'Sé Gaeltarra Éireann an príomh ábhar fostaíochta sa Ghaeltacht agus cuirimid fáilte roimh aon leathnú dá chuid gnóthaí. Tá súil agam nach bhfostófar ach daoine go bhfuil an Ghaeilge ar a dtoil acu chun scéimeanna na heagraíochta seo a chur i gcríoch. Tá fáitchíos orm nach dtuigeann cuid des na hoifigigh feidhmiúcháin na cúrsaí atá fén a gcúram toisc easba taithighe bheith acu ar an gnó, agus go minic bíonn dúbailt oibre agus cailliúint airgid dá bhárr.

I welcome this Vote because any Vote that gives more money to Gaeltarra Éireann to spend in the Gaeltacht is always welcomed by any Deputy who represents the Gaeltacht. I am beginning to think that the Gaeltacht is becoming overloaded with officials. There is a factory in Kilcar and I do not know who is in charge of it. A number of young people who enter the Civil Service through examinations are then passed on to the factories throughout the Gaeltacht. I do not think they are improving the image of the factories. It would be much better to procure some person with technical know-how to put in charge, particularly in a factory such as that at Kilcar. Only last week I asked the Minister about this and informed him that some official had requested a number of the employees to take a week's compulsory holidays but when it became known in the district that I was going to raise the matter here another official came along and put them on overtime and they worked 24 hours of the day. That is bad for the image of Gaeltarra Éireann.

I welcome the fact that there are now some factories in the Gweedore Gaeltacht but unfortunately they employ mostly female labour and we have only a limited supply of female labour there. These factories are now trying to recruit from the small labour pool in the locality persons who already have permanent employment in existing factories. I would be glad if the Minister would request Gaeltarra Éireann to try to establish an industry that would employ male labour, as distinct from female labour. I wonder if we are over-concentrating on the type of garment being produced in the Gaeltacht factories and are we giving the purchaser of the finished garments value for money. I am only afraid that our good name has been taken from us by foreign articles foisted on the market in the name of Gaeltarra Éireann and in the name of Irish Cottage Industries. Some effort should be made to secure the trademark of Irish garments and not have them competing with inferior foreign articles on the world market. Very often we pick up imported goods and find printed on them in the Irish language "Déanta sa tSeapain". I do not know what advantage this is either to Irish industry or to the Irish language.

This Supplementary Estimate deals merely with Gaeltarra Éireann and has nothing to do with the Gaeltacht except in so far as Gaeltarra Éireann gives employment in the Gaeltacht. I should like to see only Irish speakers being employed by Gaeltarra Éireann in Irish-speaking areas where these factories are located. At the moment we have made a start in my own part of the country with the seaweed factory at Meenmore in the Rosses. The factory is too small; it is working for 24 hours of the day and only six men are employed in it. I am referring now to indoor employment and not to outdoor employment. I would like to see the factory extended and many more being employed in it. In private I have mentioned to the Minister the very depressed areas, Fintown, Glenfinn and Edinfagh in County Donegal. Surely something can be done by Gaeltarra Éireann for these depressed areas which have no industry of any description? I have asked the Minister to see if perhaps Bord na Móna, at his behest, might move in and do something there. Alternatively, the Forestry Section of his own Department may be able to assist the Irish speakers in that locality.

I am merely speaking for the Donegal Gaeltacht and I know nothing about the Gaeltacht areas in the west or south, or very little, although I did know something about them at one time. In Donegal there is a very good factory at Crolly which manufactured the now famous Crolly dolls. I understand that these dolls are no longer manufactured there, that the finishing touches are merely put to the dolls at Crolly and that some factory in the west does the main work of assembling the dolls. It would be much better if the whole product could be completed in one factory and it would save a considerable amount of transport. I did appeal to the Minister, and I must say I received a patient hearing from him, about a small project at Meena Cross, Dungloe. We had a small factory set up there by local initiative in which seven girls are employed and I explained to the Minister why that factory must now close down. If the Minister used his good offices with Gaeltarra Éireann it might be possible for Gaeltarra Éireann to take it over and endeavour to retain the seven ladies in permanent employment. Voluntary subscriptions initiated the project and I hope the factory will not now shut down through lack of capital. I do not think any of the subscribers to the original capital—of whom I am one—are over-worried about repayment. Certainly I would not like to see these girls thrown out of employment. Gaeltarra Éireann with the extra £80,000 which we are voting them might be able to do something to retain these ladies in employment.

We always welcome moneys for expenditure in the Gaeltacht. Sometimes we are inclined to criticise Gaeltarra Éireann, rightly or wrongly. I think Gaeltarra Éireann renders a social service to the people of the Gaeltacht and if at times they lose money, so long as they do not lose it in competition with private enterprise, they should not be over-criticised.

Níl ach cúpla focal le rá agam ar an Meastachán Forlíontach seo. I have listened to Deputy O'Donnell telling of his problems in Donegal. We also have problems in the west. Under this Vote I think we are more or less tied down to discussing Gaeltarra Éireann. There is mention of 700 new jobs for the Gaeltacht. That represents a good beginning. Could we have this figure broken down as to how many of the mohair group will be drawing big money leaving very little for others? I should like to get down to this. I have seen Gaeltarra Éireann do very good work. Crolly dolls were mentioned by a previous speaker. This doll is an excellent job. Any little girl becoming the owner of one would be proud to have it.

These are not made in Japan?

No. Tá siad déanta sa Ghaillimh. There are backroom industries in Dublin—I have mentioned this here before—claiming to make the famous Aran pullover and the crios or belt. The Aran people should be protected by some form of official label. It is not enough to have an official label; we must let the public know that anything else is spurious and should not be purchased as coming from Aran. Backroom and underground factories in Dublin have been cashing in on the Aran name.

I regret that there is no mention of the proposed transfer of Gaeltarra Éireann to Furbo. Has that proposal gone into the limbo of forgotten things? Perhaps the Minister, when replying, would let us know what the position is. When does he envisage the first work will be done there, whether in laying foundations, or in some other way? Will this be the same as the proposed transfer of the Department of Lands to Castlebar and the Department of Education to Athlone? I know that something has been done but I am not satisfied with that.

I should like to know from the Minister what is the position about employment in Gaeltarra Éireann? Is the administrative staff top-heavy? At Inishmaan where there was an establishment, I see it is now derelict and there is nothing left for the youth. Something should be done to help youth, not merely to help them to get the fare to go to Boston but to encourage them to stay on these islands. The islands have more people in Boston than they have at home.

To a great extent the purpose of the Supplementary Estimate is to help in preserving our native language. Unless we preserve the native speakers we can scarcely hope to preserve the language. People who acquire the language, as the Minister did, are not the people who keep it alive. They use it when it suits them perhaps but the people of Aran imbibed the language with their milk. It is their heritage. To preserve the language we must preserve the native speakers. There is only one way to do that—give them a livelihood. I do not want to be taken as criticising the Department but this is something we feel should be done.

An chéad rud ba mhaith liom a rá ná nach bhfuil dabht ar bith ann ach go bhfuil dul chun cinn an-mhaith déanta ó thaobh obair a chur ar fáil do mhuintir na Gaeltachta. Tá athrú an-mhór ar fad déanta le trí nó ceathair de bhlianta anuas agus tá sé sin le feiceáil i ngach aon chearn sa Ghaeltacht. Is é sin an rud a thug dóchas agus atá ag tabhairt dóchais do mhuintir na Gaeltachta. Tuigeann siad go bhfuil suim an-mhór ag an Rialtas sa Ghaeltacht agus sa Ghaeilge agus tá sé sin le feiceáil sna monarchana nua atá curtha ar bun agus sa mhéid airgid atá á chaitheamh sa Ghaeltacht. Fiú sa Mheastachán seo tá tuilleadh airgid á chur ar fáil do Ghaeltarra Éireann le tionscail a chur ag obair sa Ghaeltacht agus le cuidiú le muintir na Gaeltachta a choinneáil sa bhaile.

Labhair an Teachta Ó Domhnaill faoi na monarchana nua a cuireadh ar bun i nGaoth Dobhair agus dúirt sé gur cailíní is mó a bheidh ag obair ansin agus gur mhaith leis go dtabharfadh Gaeltarra Éireann aghaidh ar obair a chur ar fáil do na fir. Ba mhaith liom é seo a rá i dtreo nach dtiocfaidh míthuiscint ar bith as sin: níl an méid a dúirt an Teachta ceart chor ar bith. Nuair a bheidh na monarchana seo faoi lánseol i nGaoth Dobhair beidh ceathrar fear ag obair do gach aon bhean a bheidh ionta. Ba mhaith liom anois go bhfaigheadh an méid sin poiblíocht mar tá sé antábhachtach go dtuigfidh muintir Ghaoth Dobhair gur fir is mó a bheidh ar obair sna monarchana nua seo atá curtha ar bun againn ann.

Luaigh an Teachta fosta ceist Chill Charthaigh agus an Cheist Dála a chuir sé síos dom an tseachtain seo caite. Is é an rud a tharla ansin gur tugadh seachtain bhreise laetheanta saoire—trí sheachtain ar fad—do na hoibrithe sa mhonarcha sin don chéad uair riamh i mbliana agus cionn is gur fearr leis na daoine a bhíonn ar obair sa mhonarcha sin laetheanta saoire a fháil ag an am den bhliain is táirgeacht agus, ar an ábhar sin, is airgead dóibh, chuaigh lucht bainistíochta Ghaeltarra Éireann sa mhonarcha sin i gcomhairle leis na hoibrithe agus dúirt siad leo go dtiocfadh leo dhá sheachtain saoire a ghlacadh dá mba mhian leo ag an am sin. Ach, do réir dealraimh, ní raibh na hoibrithe sásta leis sin agus fágadh an scéal mar sin ina dhiaidh sin. Dúradh fosta, nuair a bhí a fhios ag an lucht bainistíochta thuas ansin go raibh an Teachta le Ceist a chur síos sa Dáil mar gheall air sin, gur cuireadh na daoine ag obair ní amháin sa ló ach san oíche fosta. Níl sé sin i gceart ach an oiread, mar i gcuid den mhonarcha sin bhí obair ar siúl i rith an lae agus i rith na hoíche le tamall. Ach obair de shaghas eile a bhí i gceist anseo. Tá socrú déanta anois, sílim, a bhfuil gach aon duine sásta leis.

Luadh an marc trádála, bréidín Dhún na nGall agus mar sin de. Tá deacracht ag baint leis seo: chuamar isteach ann cheana féin nuair a chuir Teachta éigin Ceist síos á rá gur cheannaigh sé éadach i Sasana a rinneadh san Iodáil, sílim, agus "Bréidín Donegal" scríofa air. Fuaireamar amach gur rí-dheacair marc trádála a chlárú a bhfuil ainm áite ar leith ann, go háirithe, cuirim i gcás, nuair a chiallaíonn focal mar "Donegal" saghas áirithe bréidín ar fúd an domhain—fiú amháin i gcás daoine nach bhfuil eolas ar bith acu faoi Dhún na nGall anseo in Éirinn.

Chuir an Teachta Ó Domhnaill agus an Teachta Ó Cúgáin ceist cé hiad na daoine a gheobhaidh obair sna monarchana nua seo. Bhuel, níl dabht ar bith ann ach gurb iad muintir na Gaeltachta atá agus a bheidh ag obair iontu. Bíonn orainn bainisteoirí a fháil taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht uaireanta—daoine a mbíonn an scil acu nó daoine a mbíonn céird na bainistíochta foghlamtha acu—ach go geinearálta na daoine a fhaigheann obair sna monarchana sin is daoine de mhuintir na Gaeltachta agus ní daoine ón taobh amuigh iad. Ach mar is gnách leis an Teachta Ó Cúgáin, is maith leis rud a tharraingt anuas a gheobhaidh na ceannlínte, mar a déarfá, agus is é an rud is mó a bhíonn ar siúl aige anois ná trácht ar na daoine leis na cótaí mohair. Níl a fhios agam cé hiad sin ach, de réir dealraimh, tá aithne ag an Teachta Ó Cúgáin orthu. Is é an port amháin a bhíodh ag an Teachta Ó Cúgáin anseo i gcónaí ná caint ar na daoine ag dul síos chuig na báid agus muintir na Gaeltachta ag imeacht amach as an tír ar fad. Ach tá deireadh ag teacht leis sin mar tá fhios aige, faoi láthair, cionn is go bhfuil dul chun cinn chomh maith sin déanta againn sa Ghaeltacht go bhfuil daoine as an Gaeltacht i nGlascú, i mBirmingham agus in áiteanna eile ag scríobh abhaile chuig a muintir ag cur ceisteanna orthu i dtaobh na monarchana nua seo agus á fhiafraí díobh an mbeadh seans acu poist a fháil iontu ionas go dtiocfadh siad abhaile. Sin é an bealach a bhfuil na daoine sin ag teacht anois agus, nuair atá an cluiche a bhí aige caillte ag an Teachta Ó Cúgáin, caithfidh sé teacht ar cheannlínte nua.

Mar a dúirt mé ag an tús, tá an dul chun cinn sin á dhéanamh ag Gaeltarra Éireann. Tá siad ag cur obair ar fáil do dhaoine sa Ghaeltacht agus táimse bródúil as an méid oibre atá déanta acu le blianta beaga anuas. Tá a fhios agam go leanfar ar aghaidh leis an obair seo níos gaiste fiú amháin ná mar a táimid ag dul le tamall.

Maidir le hArdoifig Ghaeltarra sna Forbacha, tá an dúshraith istigh agus na ballaí á dtógáil agus ní eol dom cúis ar bith nach mbeadh an foirgneamh réidh don fhoireann i mbliana. Arís, ba mhaith liom Gaeltarra Éireann a mholadh as ucht na fostaíochta a chuireann siad ar fáil do mhuintir na Gaeltachta agus, mar a dúirt mé, is é an aidhm atá againn ná go mbeidh muintir na Gaeltachta ábalta obair a fháil ina gceantair féin agus nach mbeidh orthu dul thar lear leis an obair sin a fháil. Sin é an chuma atá ag teacht ar an scéal anois.

Vote put and agreed to.
Vote reported and agreed to.