The Údarás na Gaeltachta 2002 end of year review, which I have examined, shows that 2002 was a difficult year for the creation and retention of employment in the Gaeltacht. There was a net loss of 522 full-time jobs, which represents a reduction of 6% on the numbers employed at the end of 2001, mainly in the traditional manufacturing sector.
The report of the working group on the creation of employment in the Gaeltacht, which was published in December 2002, contains a number of recommendations regarding initiatives that should be pursued to attract new industry to the Gaeltacht. These include a major marketing initiative to attract modern knowledge based industry, the development of enterprise centres and initiatives aimed at fostering Irish language based job opportunities.
Also arising from this report, Údarás na Gaeltachta has put together an action plan to tackle the significant unemployment problem in the north-west Donegal Gaeltacht and has taken an important step in appointing a senior officer to its regional office in Gweedore to oversee implementation of this plan.
The review of the other recommendation of the working group is continuing by the Údarás and my Department to determine how they can be most effectively implemented.