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

I move:

That a sum not exceeding £1,263,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1968, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of the Gaeltacht, together with Housing Grants and Sundry Grants-in-Aid.

Is mór an chúis sásaimh dom go bhfuil glan-iomlán £1,263,000 á sholáthar do Roinn na Gaeltachta i mbliana—— timpeall dhá oiread an airgid a bhí ar fáil don Roinn trí bliana ó shin. Anuraidh a chuaigh Vóta na Roinne thar mhilliún punt den chéad uair agus ba mhaith liom a dheimhniú gur chaitheamar an t-airgead sin ar fad. Tá breis agus ceathrú-mhilliún eile curtha leis sin sa Mheastachán i mbliana agus is mar seo a leanas atá an soláthar do na príomhimeachtaí:—

£250,000 do scéimeanna tithíochta —méadú £16,000 ar an £234,000 a caitheadh anuraidh, £387,000 do scéimeanna feabhsúcháin sa Ghaeltacht—méadú £187,000 ar an £200,000 a caitheadh anuraidh, £232,000 do scéimeanna cultúrtha agus sóisialacha—méadú £32,000 ar an £200,000 a caitheadh anuraidh, £90,000 d'eagrais áirithe Ghaelige— méadú £20,000 ar an £70,000 a tugadh dóibh anuraidh, agus £220,000 do Ghaeltarra Éireann faoi mar a tugadh don Bhord anuraidh.

Ó bhí mé ag labhairt anseo cheana ar chúrsaí na Roinne i gcoitinne d'fhoilsigh an Rialtas tuarascáil í mí na Nollag seo caite faoin bPáipéar Bán um Athbheochan na Gaeilge agus bhí an méid seo a leanas le acu mar chuspóir don tréimhse atá romhainn amach:

Maidir le muintir na Gaeltachta, leanfaidh Aire na Gaeltachta de bheith ag feabhsú agus ag leathnú na scéimeanna atá ann chun a staid eacnamaíoch, shóisialach agus chultúrtha a chur chun cinn. Rachaidh Gaeltarra Éireann ar aghaidh ag cur barr forbartha ar a ghníochtaí tionscail d'fhonn cur leis na deiseanna atá ann chun fostaíocht shochrach a sholáthar. Leanfaidh na gníomhaireachtaí go léir a bhíonn ag plé leis an nGaeltacht de bheith ag déanamh curam speisialta de chaomhnú agus neartú na bpobal Gaeilgeoirí sa Ghaeltacht. Leanfaidh an Rialtas de bheith ag teannadh agus ag treisiú le hiarrachtaí áitiúla chun comhoibriú agus comharfhorbairt áitiúil a chur chun cinn.

Faoi mar a gheall an Rialtas, táimid ag feabhsú agus ag leathnú na scéimeanna atá againn agus ba mhaith liom cúpla sampla dá bhfuil déanta againn le déanaí a lua. Tá eolas faoi na scéimeanna ar fáil i Leabhrán Eolais na Roinne ar cuireadh cóip de chuig gach Teachta anuraidh agus tá roinnt leasuithe i bhfillteán nua a chuireamar amach ar na mallaibh. Beidh áthas orm cóipeanna breise den leabhrán a bhfuil an fillteán nua iontu a chur ar fáil d'aon Teachtaí a bheidh á lorg.

Faoi Acht na dTithe (Gaeltacht) (Leasú), 1967, a ritheadh i mí Iúil seo caite, tig linn deontais tógála agus deontais fheabhsúcháin a thabhairt i leith tithe seachas na tithe ina mbíonn gnáthchónaí ar na hiarratasóirí. Is féidir linn freisin, faoin Acht céanna, deontas suas go £300 agus iasacht suas go £300 a thabhairt d'iarratasóir príobháideach i leith gach ceann de thrí shealla saoire—ní raibh an deontas le fáil ach do shealla amháin roimhe sin. Is chun a chur ar chumas Ghaeilgeoirí sa Ghaeltacht tuilleadh cuairteoirí a choinneáil a rinneadh na socruithe sin. Ag an am céanna tá Scéim na Cóiríochta Saoire againn faoina dtugaimid suas le 20 faoin-gcéad breise den chostas ceadaithe do Ghaeilgeoirí sa Ghaeltacht a thuilleann deontais ó Bhord Fáilte Éireann—deontais a méadaíodh go mór sa Cháinaisnéis i mbliana.

Tugadh scéim nua—Scéim na Seomraí Oibre—isteach cúpla mí ó shin chun cabhrú le ceardaithe oilte sa Ghaeltacht seomraí agus fearais oibre a sholáthar dóibh féin d'fhonn cur le tairbhe a saothair. Faoin scéim sin, tig linn deontas suas go £250 a thabhairt do cheardaí chun seomra oibre a thógáil nó deontas suas go £100 chun seomra oibre atá ann cheana a fheabhsú agus, ina theannta sin, deontas suas go £250 eile chun fearas de chineál ceadaithe a chur ar fáil i seomra oibre.

Is le scoláirí lae amháin a bhain an Deontas £10 go dtí an scoilbhliain seo. Anois, áfach, i gcás daltaí a thuill an deontas sin mar scoláirí lae agus atá ag freastal ar scoileanna cónaithe iarbhunoideachais ina múintear na hábhair trí Ghaeilge, tig linn Deontas £20 a íoc ach a bheith sásta gurb í an Ghaeilge gnáth-theanga an teaghlaigh acu agus go labhraíonn siad í go líofa nádúrtha dá réir.

Is cúis áthais dom go bhfuil ceantair Ráth Cairn agus Bhaile Gib i gContae na Mí aitheanta anois mar chuid den Ghaeltacht oifigiúil. Beidh tairbhe scéimeanna na Roinne le fáil feasta ag Gaeilgeoirí Ghaeltacht na Mí agus tá súil agam go gcabhróidh sé go mór leis an nGaeilge a chaomhnú agus a leathnú ansin agus go mbeidh tarraingt mhór Gaeilgeoirí ar Ghaeltacht atá chomh gairid sin do Bhaile Átha Cliath.

I measc na scéimeanna feabhsúcháin atá ag an Roinn, tabharfar faoi deara go bhfuil méadú mór ar an soláthar le haghaidh muiroibreacha. Is amhlaidh atá socraithe againn tuairim £92,000 a chaitheamh ar an bpiara i gCill Rónáin, Oileáin Árainn, ar mhaithe le cúrsaí cumarsáide agus cúrsaíiascaigh. Tá conraitheoirí ceaptha chun na feabhsúcháin sin a chur i gcrích agus tá súil agam go mbeidh ar a gcumas dul ar aghaidh leis an obair gan ró-mhoill. Chomh maith leis sin, beidh tuilleadh saoráidí calaíochta fós á bhfeabhsú chun an iascaireacht a fhorbairt. Bunaíodh foireann suirbhéireachta tamall ó shin chun ceist na saoráidí i gContae Chiarraí a mheas agus tá an tuarascáil uathu á scrúdú faoi láthair. Tá foirne eile i mbun an chúraim chéanna i gContae na Gaillimhe agus i gContae Mhaigh Eo agus tá súil agam go mbeidh moltaí na bhfoirne sin ar fáil go luath.

Faoi mar is eol don Dáil, is é Gaeltarra Éireann an príomhghléas atá ag an Rialtas chun tionscail a chur chun cinn sa Ghaeltacht. Ní fada ó ritheadh Acht anseo chun cumhachtaí breise a thabhairt don Bhord agus is cúis áthais dom go bhfuil toradh le feiceáil cheana féin ar na cumhachtaí sin. Tá Gaeltarra tar éis dul i gcomhar le tionsclaithe eile chun marmar Chonamara a phróiseáil in aice leis an Spidéal. Tógfar monarcha ansin gan mhoill agus beidh obair do scór fear inti i dtosach báire. Tá súil agam go mbeidh ar mo chumas comhthionscal eile atá le bunú i gCo. Dhún na nGall a fhógairt go luath. Ag an am céanna tá na deontais suas do dtí £2,000 á gceadú ag Gaeltarra chun miontionscadail shomhaoineacha a chur chun cinn gan dul i bpáirtíocht leis na daoine ina mbun agus tá an fhostaíocht sa Ghaeltacht ag dul i méid dá réir.

Tá faighte amach ag Gaeltarra gur mhór an chabhair dóibh dá mbeadh monarcha nua ullamh acu le tairiscint do chuid de na tionsclaithe a mbíonn siad ag plé leo. Tá socraithe acu mar sin dul ar aghaidh agus réamh-mhonarcha amháin a thógáil i nGaoth Dobhair agus ceann eile ar an gCeathrú Rua. Ansin nuair a bheidh tionscal fóirsteanach i ngach ceann acu sin, tiocfaidh le Gaeltarra tabhairt faoi chúpla réamh-mhonarcha eile a thógáil. Idir an dá linn, ar ndóigh, tig leo deontais a thabhairt do thionsclaithe arbh fhearr leo monarchana dá gcuid féin a thógáil sa Ghaeltacht.

Ba mhór an chúis sásaimh dom nuair a d'fhógair Bord Ghaeltarra ar na mallaibh go bhfuil socraithe acu a gceanncheathrú a aistriú ó Bhaile Átha Cliath go Gaeltacht Chonamara. Ceann de na cúiseanna atá acu leis an mbeartas sin ná gurb é a dtuairim gur fearr a fhéadfar tionsclaithe a tharraingt chun na Gaeltachta más sa Ghaeltacht féin a bheidh suíomh ar cheanncheathrú an chomhlachta a bhfuil cúram tionsclaíochta na Gaeltachta air. Is athrú bunúsach é sin agus is comhartha anmhaith é, dar liom, ar a dhiongbháilte atá an Bord i mbun na hoibre atá faoina gcúram. Tá gach dóchas agam go mbeidh rian an bheartais nua sin le haithint ar eacnamaíocht na Gaeltachta i gcoitinne le himeacht aimsire.

Is mór an fhorbairt atá ar siúl i dtionscal an bhréidín lámhfhite atá á reachtáil ag Gaeltarra. Is i gCo. Dhún na nGall amháin a bhí an tionscal sin go dtí tamall beag ó shin agus ní miste a lua go mbeidh monarcha eile le haghaidh na bhfíodóirí á tógáil i nGaoth Dobhair go luath. Chomh maith leis sin, áfach, tá monarcha nua fíodóireachta ag Gaeltarra i Ros Muc anois—rud a thugann deis do mhuintir na háite sin an scil a bhí ag a sinsir rompu a fhoghlaim agus a chleachtadh athuair: níl ach glúin nó dhó imithe ó bhí fíodóirí go fairsing ag obair ar na seolta baile ar fud Conamara. Faoi mar a dúirt mé ag an oscailt oifigiúil ar na mallaibh, féachfaidh Gaeltarra chuige go dtabharfar oiliúint d'aos óg an cheantair ar gach gné den cheardaíocht a bhaineann leis an mbréidín lámhfhite agus, ansin, braithfidh dul chun cinn na monarchan ar a fheabhas a éireoidh leis na hoibrithe an oiliúint sin a chur chun tairbhe. Tig le muintir Ros Muc tionscal a chruthú a mbeidh siad féin agus pobal uile na tíre mórálach as.

Maidir le cur chun cinn na Gaeilge lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht, tabharfaidh an Dáil faoi deara go bhfuil méadú ar an soláthar atá againn i mbliana le haghaidh na n-eagras Gaeilge. Tá sé sin á dhéanamh de bhrí go gcreidimid gur féidir leis na heagrais dheonacha eolas ar an nGaeilge agus grá don teanga a chothú lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht ar shlí nach bhféadfadh aon Roinn Rialtais é a dhéanamh. Táimid agus beimid ag brath go mór ar na heagrais sin. Tá cúnamh eile á thabhairt againn lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht i mbliana freisin den chéad uair, is é sin, cúnamh do choláistí Gaeilge atá aitheanta ag an Roinn Oideachais ar feadh tréimhse cúig bliana ar a laghad; cuireadh na sonraí chuig na coláistí atá i gceist. Is chun coláiste mar sin a dheisiú nó a fheabsú a thabharfar an t-airgead agus beidh ar ár gcumas suas go dtí dhá thrian den chostas ceadaithe a íoc ach a bheith sásta go bhfuil gá leis an deisiú nó leis an bhfeabhsú, go bhfuil an caiteachas thar acmhainn an choiste agus gur fiú, ag féachaint do shaothar an choláiste, an cúnamh a thabhairt.

Ní beag le rá an dul chun cinn atá déanta againn le bliain anuas. Tá feidhm na scéimeanna atá ag an Roinn chun staid na Gaeltachta a fheabhsú ag dul i bhfairsinge; tá iarrachtaí Ghaeltarra chun tuilleadh fostaíochta a chur ar fáil i ngnóthaí tionscail ag dul i dtreise; tá spreacadh na n-eagras Gaeilge chun an Ghaeilge a leathnú ag dul i neart; agus tá suim an phobail sa teanga—faoi mar is léir ón tarraingt a bhíonn ar an nGaeltacht agus ón éileamh atá ar "Buntús Cainte"—ag dul i mbríomhaireacht. Is léir, mar sin, go bhfuil toradh ag teacht ar ár n-iarrachtaí ar mhaithe leis an nGaeltacht agus leis an nGaeilge. Molaim an Meastachán don Teach.

Níl ach cúpla rud le rá agam ar an Meastachán seo. Tá sé soiléir anois go dtuigeann an Roinn gur ceist eacnamaíochta í ceist na Gaeltachta. Is é an rud céanna a bhí i gceist ag Fine Gael sa leabhar úd: "Beartas Gaeilge". Seo sliocht as:

Bhí faillí á thabhairt sa Ghaeltacht féin fad is bhíothas ag iarraidh an Ghaeilge a athbheochan lasmuigh dí ar bhealaí nach raibh glacadh leo i gcoitinne ag na daoine. Ní dhearnadh ach mion-iarrachtaí fóirithint ar an nGaeltacht féin.

Tá a fhios againn gur adhb dheacair nach furasta a réiteach í seo. Dá ndéantaí forbairt eacnamúil sa bhealach mícheart ar na háiteanna sin is lagú in ionad neartú a dhéanfadh sé ar an teanga iontu. Mar sin féin measaimid gur féidir breis a dhéanamh thar mar rinneadh chun iad a chur ar bhonn ceart eacnamúil. Tabharfaimíd tosaíocht don cheist seo seachas aon cheist eile a bhaineann leis an teanga.

Ba chóir obair a chur ar fáil sa Ghaeltacht agus ba cheart do mhuintir na Gaeltachta bheith i ndán airgead a thuilleamh sa Ghaeltacht. Ní féidir leis an Ghaeltacht a bheith láidir ná ní féidir leis an dteanga dul ar aghaidh ina n-éamais. Aontaíom le gach rud atá sa Mheastachán. Is geal liom scéimeanna na seomraí oibre.

Tá ceist amháin agam le cur ní ar Rúnaí Parlaiminte na Gaeltachta ach ar an Aire Oideachais ach iarraim ar an Rúnaí Parliaminte an cheist seo a chur faoi bhráid an Aire Oideachais. Ar mhiste leis a rá leis an Aire nach bhfuilim sásta le cúrsaí bunscoil sa Ghaeltacht. Dúnadh scoil amháin im bhaile dúchais bliain ó shoin. Ba chóir don Roinn cúpla focal a rá leis an Aire Oideachais chun an cheist seo a réiteach.

Tá áthas orm go bhfuil Gaeltarra Éireann ag dul ar aghaidh. Do chaith siad go leor airgid anuraidh. Tá áthas orm go bhfuil feabhas tagtha ar chúrsaí.

Níl mórán eile le rá agam. Ní ábhar troda na cúrsaí seo. Tá áthas orm go bhfuil an Ghaeltacht ag dul chun cinn. Ba chóir obair a chur ar fáil sa Ghaeltacht mar gan í ní féidir leis an Ghaeltacht a bheith láidir agus ní féidir léi dul chun cinn a dhéanamh.

Níor mhaith liom an deis seo a ligint tharm gan rud nó dhó a rá ar an Meastachán seo i nGaeilge. Tá tábhacht faoi leith ag baint leis an meastachán seo ó thaobh na teanga agus ó thaobh mhuintir na Gaeltachta dhe. Ba chóir dúinn ár ndícheall a dhéanamh chun an Ghaeltacht a chaomhnú agus níl slí is fearr chun sin a dhéanamh ná gach cabhair agus cúnamh a thúirt don mhuintir úd ar leo sean-chultúr na hÉireann.

Do mholfainn don Rúnaí Parliaminte féachaint chuige tionscail oiriúnacha a bhunú sa Ghaeltacht agus ar an gcaoi sin stop a chur leis an imirce agus ní imirce go dtí tíortha iasachta atá i gceist agam ach an imirce úd go dtí na bailte móra agus, go h-áirithe, go hÁth Cliath. Ba chóir aon tairbhe is féidir a bhaint as an gcuartaíocht mar níl áit is fearr in Éirinn chun saoire a chaitheamh iontu ná na Gaeltachtaí. Tá roint áirithe déanta ach d'fhéadfaí a thuilleadh a dhéanamh chun daoine, agus ár muintir féin ina measc, a mhealladh go dtí na Gaeltachtaí.

Ach an Ghaeltacht a chaomhnú táimid ag déanamh deimhin de go mairfidh an Ghaeilge agus má mhaireann an Ghaeilge, agus mairfidh sí ach cur chuige i gceart, ní baol don náisiún.

I suppose it will be regarded as slightly dishonourable of me to address myself for the rest of the time to this subject in the tongue of the foreigner, But, nonetheless, it would not be realistic for us to deal with this very important Estimate only in the native tongue. As we know, not everybody has reached that happy condition where they readily understand Irish. It is not sufficient that the Parliamentary Secretary should simply read his introductory statement and that there should be no discussion in the House on this important matter except, as we say, "through the medium". If we are to bring home the importance of the Gaeltacht to the maximum number of our people, we will have to speak to them in Dáil Éireann, through the press, in the language which most of them understand.

There is a tremendous fund of goodwill throughout the length and breadth of this country for the Gaeltacht areas. It is something more than a sentiment. Everybody accepts there still exist in these areas the remnants of what was once a nation-wide Celtic culture and civilisation. We all accept the obligation placed upon us to try to preserve what is there, to try to foster regard for such of it as has survived, and particularly regard for the language and the practice of the language. I have often seen ill-informed comment outside this House on the amount of Irish used within the precincts of Dáil Éireann. It has been my experience that, taking one thing with another, there is greater use of Irish among Deputies in the ordinary course of their daily business and social intercourse in Dáil Éireann than there is among any body of people of a like number in any outside employment, except perhaps in the more elevated areas of the Civil Service where we know the use of Irish is something more than a badge of nationality—it is a social and occupational cachet. All Deputies are anxious to do what they can to see that this Department should do well in the promotion of the practice of the Irish language and in the creation in the Gaeltacht areas— this is the fundamental thing—of a viable economic way of life.

We have to accept that emigration has been the stamp of the population of the Gaeltacht for well over a century. It began with the hardships of Black 47 and all that happened since and the apparent inability of the region to exist agriculturally as a unit. There is an acceptance of the fact that we have to promote some form of suitable industry there which will induce our young people to remain. On this front, we are not just fighting a battle purely of economics. It is the common experience of those of us who have gone through these areas to meet young people who have travelled far more extensively than most of us have, particularly in Britain, and to whom Camden Town, Birmingham and Coventry are far better known than O'Connell Street.

This is a feature peculiar in its universality in these regions. When we talk about keeping these young people in the Gaeltacht areas, keeping them speaking Irish, trying to preserve what it is possible to preserve of what is left there, in competition with the pressure of modern conditions, we must always be reminded that we have to combat the unquestionable attractions held out to them by life across the water, which can provide much higher wages than they can earn here—for much lighter work, be it said—which can provide recreational facilities and perhaps, too, a freedom in the enjoyment of such recreations they will not find at home. This is all part of the problem. It is not an easy one. At election times the Gaeltacht becomes very much a football between different political teams. But to those who think about it at all, it is perfectly obvious that unless there is an united all-Party effort to save what is left, then we may very well see the end of this historic heritage as we know it in our time.

That is not to say that everything in the Gaeltacht is worth preserving, nor is it indeed to say that the entire population of the Gaeltacht have not had their share of the heritage of original sin like the rest of us. In fact I should just like to draw this to the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary. I was talking to a child of 9 or 10 years of age some two or three months ago who had been on one of these holidays in a certain Gaeltacht area. I do not want to identify the area; I can if it is necessary, but I do not think any useful purpose would be served by doing so. Nor do I want it to be thought that what I have to say applies in any general way.

This child told me the manner in which he and those who were with him from the city were treated in the guesthouse, as it was euphemistically described, to which they were sent, left a great deal to be desired and that he had not known what hunger was until he went west, not directly west, slightly north of west. What I have to say is this, that there will be people in the Gaeltacht areas, as there are everywhere else in Ireland, as there are everywhere else in the world, who will take advantage of schemes and of subsidies and bounties to make the maximum amount of money for themselves.

This, I suppose, is part of the frailty of human nature, but great care should be taken to see that, in our administration of these holiday schemes which involve the payment of monies, the subsidisation of any hotel or guesthouse, the first principle, which is the care of the guests, particularly when they are children, is ensured.

In saying that, let me add that this may be the only case in all the Gaeltachts that are in existence, but it was brought to my notice. It is by no means a condemnation of the many thousands of decent people who do their best to show the traditional hospitality with which we are all familiar, that is, those of us who have had the pleasure and privilege of spending any time there. There is the odd one. This is an odd one. I shall tell the Parliamentary Secretary about it privately when I get the opportunity. It is only right that it should be mentioned for the discouragement of others.

I saw today in the paper a letter from somebody who apparently is very much concerned about the proposal to transfer the headquarters of Gaeltarra Éireann to the West. It is somebody living in Dublin who puts a point of view which perhaps is worthy of some consideration. I do not know who the person is. All of us welcome in a very general way the idea that Gaeltarra Éireann—indeed some of us think the Department of the Gaeltacht, the whole apparatus of the State which deals with matters of this kind— should be moved from Dublin to a rural centre with the idea of revitalising that place, in so far as the shift of civil servants can be said to revitalise any place, with the idea of bringing greater trade, and may I use the word "industry."

Congeniality.

Yes, trade and congeniality to these districts. It is a very laudable idea and I hope it will be at least tried, and we shall see how it works. However, I want to make a plan in respect of this person of whom I know nothing, because there may be many like him. When one comes to think about it, there must be many people working in such organisations as Gaeltarra Éireann who have their whole being in this city, who have built up family life, who have houses here, perhaps whose children are being educated here, perhaps whose children are working here and to whom a shift holus bolus to a country town would represent a bit too much for them at a certain stage of their lives. Every argument can be made where young people are concerned, particularly single people. There should be no argument against discommoding them, young, single people who are living in Dublin, many of whom are country people themselves who should welcome, and I am sure would welcome, the more relaxed tempo of a small town and the generally less hectic atmosphere of such a place.

At the same time I hope the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary will take care to see that in any such change workers who, as I say, are inextricably bound to the city of Dublin and for whom such a shift would mean economic disaster or at least domestic upset not to be contemplated at middle age or little more than middle age, will not be required to have their lives disrupted in that fashion. While I say that, I applaud most sincerely the whole idea of decentralisation of which this is, I hope, the beginning. The decentralisation of many of our arms of administration is a very necessary thing. We must by some means or other, by whatever means lie within our reach, halt this frantic rush to Dublin city, this swelling of the conurbation, this desertion of the rural areas which is going on. If we do not do that, we shall become so lopsided as to make talk about rural Ireland something of the past with little relevance to fact. All of us are aware of this matter of depopulation. It has been talked about ad nauseam in this House. In my journeys into the hinterland and quite recently when I had the opportunity of going West and South during the course of a few days' holiday in the Recess, I was struck by the fact that early in the morning you could travel 100 miles and would not see a living soul. You would not see the slightest spiral of smoke even in some of the towns. As the day wore on, you might see some life in the towns; and the odd thing, even some of the smallest towns had parking signs. Possibly this has little to do with the Gaeltacht except that it is related to it so far as the people are fleeing there also and to an extent that is frightening for anybody who has the concern of the country at heart.

Political Parties, particularly those with representation in the Gaeltacht areas, bear a heavy responsibility in this matter which they cannot shuffle off easily by saying: "It is an inevitable development," because, at every election I can remember, political Parties have come forward with programmes promising the solution of all the evils to which the flesh is heir, including those of the Gaeltacht. There has been a great deal of deceptive discussion of the matter and an avoidance of facts. Perhaps it is true that these areas of which we now speak, the Gaeltacht areas, never could have supported their populations. Perhaps we can now admit in a mature way that these areas if they had remained purely agricultural, never could have given a decent standard of living to the large numbers who once were there. I think that is evident. The population is now attenuated and there is still inability to provide for them on the part of the central Government, not just this Government. This has applied since the State was founded. It may be that what was blamed on foreign occupation 50 or even 100 years ago, while it was due in large measure to the maladministration of the hated Saxon, had a sort of inevitability about it and that the large population in the west and south of Ireland by their very existence in too small a space could never have achieved a decent standard of life.

I mention this because I feel, and have always felt, as many others feel, that a lot of bunk is talked about the Gaeltacht and the areas on the western seaboard and their preservation. I hate to use these cliches but in ransacking my mind. I cannot find any others. We have much lip service brought into the matter of the Gaeltacht. What is the answer? How can we keep these areas, what I would regard as a precious heritage, a uniqueness without which we are no different from the rest of the world, this thing which makes us the Irish people? It does not make us any better than the rest of the world. I do not claim that because I am not a racialist. It does not give us any superiority over any other nationality; it might even make us worse. It may be a small thing but it is our own and it is for this reason that we should preserve it. How can we do it? One thing is certain: we shall not do it by tearing it apart in this House, by saying: "You did this" or "Somebody else did that or said that." We cannot do it by bowing before fanaticism of any kind, and we get plenty of it from both sides, either the antis of the pros. It needs the cooperation of everybody, a pooling of the thought of everybody interested in the problem. Up to now, so far as I can see, the Gaeltacht has been made the plaything of the Parties and of interests outside the House which, perhaps, are not very obviously connected with Parties, various vested interests of one kind or another.

The idea which has been operated in Glencolumbkille is one of which I cannot speak with any authority, except what I have read about the efforts of the priest there. The idea of the co-operative use of land by neighbours, the co-operative use of the tools with which to work land by neighbours, the pooling of resources, helping one another and sharing the results—all this was first adumbrated in any political sense by James Connolly, the socialist, long before 1916. Let me say that the dogs would not lap his blood for saying such things. It was atheistic; it was red, roaring communism; it was all that was bad. But it is respectable now. It is even more than respectable but I shall not go further, as I am tempted to do, along that road in describing what use is being made of it today.

I rise merely to offer these comments on this very important Estimate and to say that as far as the Labour Party are concerned, we feel that unless there is a concerted national effort by all elements in the community, including political Parties, and unless the political Parties cease to make a plaything of the Gaeltacht in order to win a few Dáil seats and unless the true interests of the people of the Gaeltacht are taken into account in a determined approach in this way, the grave danger is that the Gaeltacht will disappear completely and that children now coming into the world will live to boast that they knew people whose fathers and grandfathers were there when there was a Gaeltacht, which will not be there then.

Ba mhaith liom a rá i dtosach báire nach bhfuil mé ar aon intinn leis an Teachta deireanach a labhair faoi chuid de na rudaí adúirt sé faoin Ghaeltacht. Ba cheart dó dul go dtí an Ghaeltacht agus tamall a chaitheamh ann i dtreo go bhfeicfidh sé nach bhfuil na rudaí adúirt sé faoin dteanga sa Ghaeltacht ceart.

Ba mhaith lion a rá freisin go bhfuil mé an-shásta leis an Meastachán a chuir an RúnaíParlaiminte ós ár gcóir cúpla noiméid ó shoin agus ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh an rud adúirt sé—go bhfuil méadú mór ar an soláthar le haghaidh muiroibreacha agus go bhfuil socraithe airgead a chaitheamh ar an bpiara i gCill Rónáin, Oileán Árainn agus go bhfuil conraitheoirí ceaptha chun na feabhsúcháin sin a chur i gcrích.

Tá mé fíor-bhuíoch den Rúnaí Parlaiminte agus de Bhúird Bhord Ghaeltarra Éireann as ucht an monarchain nua a thógáil i bparóiste Rosmuc le goirid. Monarchán figheadóireacht é. Tá ós cionn 20 buachaillí óga ag obair ann i láthair na h-uaire agus ag dul ar aghaidh, le cúnamh Dé, a bheidh sé. Ba mhaith liom monarchain bheaga mar seo a fheiceáil scaipithe ar fud na Gaeltachta, is cuma cé chomh beag a bheidh siad. Beidh daoine ag obair iontu agus beidh feabhas, le cúnamh Dé, ar shlí-bheatha mhuintir na Gaeltachta. Labhair an Rúnaí Parlaiminte faoi mhonarcha sa Spidéal agus dúirt sé go bhfuil ceann ceapaithe don Cheathrú Rua. Cuirim fáilte roimh an méid a dúirt sé futhu.

Cuirim an-fháilte roimh an socrú atá déanta oifigí Ghaeltarra Éireann a aistriú ó Bhaile Átha Cliath go dtí Gaeltacht na Gaillimhe. Caithfidh mé a rá gurab í sin an áit cheart chun an obair sin a dhéanamh ann. Tá chuile dhuine sásta gurab í Gaeltacht na Gaillimhe an Ghaeltacht is mó. B'fhéidir nach n-aontóidh muintir Tír Chonaill nó muintir Chiarraí liom ach deirim gurab í Gaeltacht na Gaillimhe an Ghaeltacht is mó agus go bhfuil na daoine atá ann dílis don teangan agus don tír.

Níl aon cheist mar gheall ar sin.

Tá scrúdú á dhéanamh ag foirne maidir le feabhsúcháin na bpiara ar mhaithe le cúrsaí cumarsáide agus cúrsaí iascaigh. Tá mé ag ceapadh go molfaidh an dream seo ná céanna ba cheart feabhas a chur orthu. Tá súil agam nach ndéanfaidh an Rúnaí Parlaiminte dearmad ar na céanna beaga freisin. Ba cheart smaoineamh ar na h-áiteacha a bhfuil slua corrachaí nó báid iontu i rith an gheimhridh. Uaireanta tá sé deachair báid a thabhairt isteach san oíche. Dá dtágadh stoirm i rith na h-oíche béidis briste.

Do scríobh mé le goirid chuig an Rúnaí Parlaiminte faoi shoillsí a shólathar in Árainn chun eolas na slí a theasbáint do na h-iascairí amuigh san oíche. Mhol mé ceann in Inis Meán agus ceann eile in Inis Thiar. Tá scrúdú ar bun faoi láthair idir é agus Irish Lights agus tá súil agam nach mbeidh sí i bhfad to gcuirfear na soillsí seo ar fáil.

Tá rud amháin á chur isteach ormsa le cuig nó sé bliana siar agus tá mé ag ceapadh go bhfuil an rud céanna ag cur isteach ar gach uile Theachta a chuireann suim sa Ghaeltacht, is é sin ceist chaighdeán maidir leis an deontas £10 a fháil. Tá clainn i gConamara agus gheibheann páiste amháin nó b'fhéidir beirt acu an deontas agus ní fhaigheann na páistí eile é. Is aisteach an rud é sin. Chuir mé litir faoin rud sin chuig an Roinn agus dob é freagra a fuair mé nárbh í an Ghaeilge teanga an teaghlaigh. Ní maith liom freagra a fáil ag iarraidh orm dul go dtí an dream seo agus a rá leo feabhas a chur ar a gcuid Gaeilge. B'fhearr liom gan freagra ar bith a fháil seachas, freagra den sórt sin. Is mór an náire é rud mar sin a dhéanamh i gcás clainne ar bith sa Ghaeltacht. Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil dreamanna ann agus b'fhéidir go bhfuil seachtar nó ochtar sa chlann amháin ag freastal ar an scoil chéanna agus b'fhéidir go bhfaigheadh duine nó beirt acu an deontas £10 agus gearrtar amach na daoine eile sa chlann chéanna. Níl ciall ná réasún leis sin. Tá súil agam go ngearrfaidh an Rúnaí Parlaiminte an rud sin amach.

Tá mé sásta go bhfuil an Rúnaí Parlaiminte ag iarraidh a dhícheall a dhéanamh agus chomh fada is atá monarchain, idir bheag agus mór á gcur ar bun sa Ghaeltacht, tá sé ar an mbóthar ceart.

Ba mhaith liom i dtús ama buíochas a ghabháil leis na Teachtaí a labhair ar an Meastachán. Taispeánann sé go bhfuilimid uilig i bhfách le caomhnú na Gaeltachta. B'fhéidir nach bhfuilimid ar fad ar aon aigne faoin mbealach is fearr leis sin a dhéanamh ach fad a labhraíonn Teachtaí as gach páirtí sa Teach ar mhaithe leis an nGaeltacht, tá a fhios ag muintir na hÉireann go bhfuilimid uilig báúil leis an nGaeltacht agus go mba cheart í a chaomhnú agus, bíodh nach n-aontaímid faoin dóigh is fearr chun é sin a dhéanamh, is maith an rud é.

Dúirt an Teachta Lindsay gur ceist eacnamaíochta a bhí sa cheist seo agus an ceart aige. Ní inniu ná inné a dúirt mé féin an rud céanna. Dúirt mé é sarar tháinig mé isteach sa phost seo. Dúirt mé go minic go mba cheart aire chóir a thabhairt do chúrsaí eacnamaíochta na Gaeltachta agus gurb é sin an dóigh a b'fhearr chun an Ghaeltacht a choimeád beo.

Labhair an Teachta Dunne faoin rud céanna agus dúirt sé go mba cheart tionscail a bhunú sa Ghaeltacht. Is dócha nach fearr rud a dhéanfainn ná achoimre a dhéanamh ar an méid a dúirt mé i mo ráiteas faoi chúrsaí monarchan sa Ghaeltacht.

Tamall gairid ó shin d'oscail mé monarcha fíodóireachta i Ros Muc; tá monarcha phróiseála marmair Chonamara le togáil agus tuigim go dtosófar é an tseachtain seo; dúirt mé sa dréacht a léigh mé ó chianaibh go raibh súil agam monarcha nua a fhógairt do Thír Chonaill faoi cheann achair bhig; agus tá socraithe againn réamh-mhonarcha a bhunú i nGaoth Dobhair agus ceann eile a chur ar fáil sa Cheathrú Rua. Sílim gur tús anmhaith é sin. Tá súil agam nuair a bheidh na monarchana sin ag obair go gcoinneoidh siad na daoine sa Ghaeltacht. Sin í an aidhm atá againn uilig.

Dúirt an Teachta Lindsay gur chaill Gaeltarra Éireann cuid mhaith airgid anuraidh agus le blianta anuas. Tuigeann sé an chúis. Is é an dearcadh atá agam faoi láthair go mba cheart dúinn iarracht a dhéanamh leis an gcaillteanas a laghdú agus le brabach gnó a bheith againn. Bíodh is nach ndéanfaidh Gaeltarra Éireann brabach go fóill, má tá an dearcadh sin acu beidh an eagraíocht níos foirfe. Tá a fhios agam go n-aontaíonn Bord nua Ghaeltarra Éireann liom sa dearcadh sin.

Maidir le ceist na mbunscoileanna labhróidh mé leis an Aire Oideachais fá dtaobh de.

Labhair an Teachta Dunne fá dtaobh de pháiste sa Ghaeltacht a tháinig ó Bhaile Atha Cliath agus nár cuireadh cóir cheart air. D'fhéadfadh sé sin a bheith amhlaidh. Tá corr-dhuine ann nach ndéanann an rud ceart. Tá súil agam go dtabharfaidh sé an t-eolas dom agus féacfaidh mé isteach sa scéal.

Labhair an Teachta Dunne fosta faoi aistriú ardoifig Ghaeltarra Éireann go dtí an t-iarthar. Sílim go bhfuilimid go léir i bhfábhar é sin a dhéanamh. Tá a fhios agam go mbeidh corr-chás achrannach ann. Ach beidh Gaeltarra Éireann cóngarach do chathair na Gaillimhe mar a bhfuil ollscoil, íocfar costais aistrithe leis na daoine a bheidh i gceist agus ní shílim go gcuirfidh an t-aistriú isteach orthu mórán. Ní bheidh sé deacair ar dhuine a bhfuil cónaí air i mBaile Átha Cliath aistriú, go háirithe ó thaobh scoileanna agus ollscoile de. Go deimhin, ní bheidh aon chúis gearáin aige ón taobh sin.

Labhair an Teachta Geoghegan fá dtaobh de na céanna beaga. Faoi mar a dúirt mé sa dréacht a léigh mé, táimid ag féachaint isteach sna ceisteanna sin.

Maidir leis an Deontas £10, níl sé chomh simplí agus a dúirt an Teachta. Dúirt sé go dtarlaíonn sé go bhfaigheann duine nó beirt as clann an deontas £10 ach nach bhfaigheann triúr nó ceathar eile as an gclann chéanna é. Seans maith nach ceart an deontas a thabhairt d'aon duine díobh ach socraíonn an Roinn an deontas a thabhairt do pháistí áirithe chun misneach a thabhairt don chlann i dtreo gur féidir leo go léir an deontas a fháil an bhliain atá chugainn. Faoi mar a dúirt mé go minic tá sé an-deacair ceist an deontais a réiteach i gcásanna den saghas sin—bíonn siad "an-chóngarach don líne" mar a déarfá. Tugaimid an deontas chun an chlann a mhisniú agus chun go ndéanfaidh siad iarracht leis an nGaeilge a thabhairt ar ais sa teaghlach.

Dúirt an Teachta fosta go dtarlaíonn sé anois agus arís nach bhfaigheann corr-dhuine an deontas i gceantar áirithe nuair a fhaigheann na daoine eile é. Séard a tharlaíonn, sílim, nuair a théann an cigire go dtí an scoil go mbíonn an páiste as láthair. Sa chás sin bíonn ar an gcigire dul ar ais go dtí an scoil tar éis míosa chun an páiste a fheiceáil agus scrúdú a chur air. Thiocfadh a fhoirm isteach níos déanaí. Ní dóigh liom go mbeadh sé ceart don Roinn na díolacháin a chur siar toisc go raibh páiste amháin as láthair. Ach faigheann an chlann an deontas ar deireadh thiar nuair a fhaightear na foirmeacha.

Sílim go bhfuil dul chun cinn déanta sa Ghaeltacht agus go bhfuil sé le feiceáil. Aithníonn muintir na Gaeltachta féin é sin. Sna cuairteanna a thug mé ar an nGaeltacht i mbliana mhothaigh mé go raibh níos mó misnigh agus dóchais ag na daoine ná mar a bhí acu le tamall toisc go bhfeiceann siad na monarchana agus go dtuigeann siad go bhfuilimid dáiríre ag iarraidh obair a chur ar fáil dóibh chun iad a choimeád sa bhaile. Caithfimid ár ndícheall a dhéanamh le saibhreas aiceanta na Gaeltachta a fheabhsú ach, mar a dúirt duine de na Teachtaí, ní leor é sin do mhuintir na Gaeltachta. Sin ceann de na fáthanna ar chinn mé ar thionscal a fhorbairt sa Ghaeltacht mar go bhfacthas dom nach bhféadfaí dóthain oibre a chur ar fáil gan é sin a dhéanamh. Sin é an fáth a bhfuil an Roinn agus Gaeltarra Éireann ag brú ar aghaidh go gasta leis an bhforbairt sin sa Ghaeltacht. Tá ag éirí linn.

Tá contúirt áirithe ann. Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil daoine ann a deir go dtiocfaidh teicneoirí le Béarla isteach sa Ghaeltacht ag obair sna monarchana seo agus go dtabharfaidh siad an Béarla isteach leo. Nuair a d'fhéach mé ar an sort rogha a bhí againn—na monarchana a thógáil nó ligean do na daoine imeacht—ní thiocfadh leat a rá gur rogha é sin ar chor ar bith. Cionn is go dtuigim go bhfuil baol seo an Bhéarla ann, tá scéimeanna ar siúl ag an Roinn, ag Gaeltarra Éireann agus ag na Coistí Gairm-Oideachais do dhaoine óga as an Ghaeltacht. Tá súil againn, nuair a bheidh na monarchana seo faoi lán-tseol, go mbeidh daoine óga againn a bheidh oilte sa cheardaíocht agus a mbeidh postanna acu mar theicneoirí sna monarchana sin. Tá súil agam go dtiocfaidh an lá sin.

Táimid ag brú ar aghaidh fosta le forbairt na cuartaíochta. Faoi mar a luaigh mé i mo ráiteas, tá an-chuid deontas curtha ar fáil do mhuintir na Gaeltachta chun a gcuid tithe a fheabhsú, chun tithe nua a thógáil agus seallaí saoire a thógáil do na cuairteoirí. Níl áit ar bith sa tír seo nó ar fud an domhain is áille ná na ceantair Ghaeltachta agus níl daoine níos cineálta le fáil áit ar bith. Ba mhaith liom féin dá gcuireadh lucht na Gaeilge eagar orthu féin agus tithe sa Ghaeltacht a chur in áirithe dóibh féin don bhliain seo chugainn. B'fhearr liomsa dá rachadh na Gaeilgeoirí go dtí an Ghaeltacht. Dá ndéanfaidís amhlaidh ní dhéanfadh sé dochar ar bith don teanga agus bheadh cabhair acu ó mhuintir na Gaeltachta le feabhas a chur ar a gcuid Gaeilge. Muna dtéann lucht labhartha na Gaeilge go dtí an Ghaeltacht, rachaidh na Béarlóirí ann. Siúd is go gcaithfidh muintir na Gaeltachta teacht i dtír ar an gcuartaíocht, tá sé so-fheicthe, faoi mar a dúirt mé, nach Gaeilgeoirí ar fad a rachaidh go dtí an Ghaeltacht mura gcuirfidh lucht na Gaeilge eagar orthu féin.

Tá cur síos ar na deontais atá ar fáil do mhuintir na Gaeltachta i Leabhrán Eolais na Roinne. Tá na deontais nua agus na deontais fheabhsaithe sa bhfillteán a chuireamar leis an leabhrán le déanaí. Teachta ar bith a bhfuil cóip den leabhrán agus den fhillteán ag teastáil uaidh beidh sé le fáil aige agus fáilte. Ba mhaith liom dá mbainfeadh muintir na Gaeltachta an tairbhe is mó is féidir as na deontais agus tá mé sásta go leor leis an dul chun cinn atá déanta sna cúrsaí seo. Ó thárla gur caitheadh an t-airgead a cuireadh ar fáil dúinn anuraidh, is léir go bhfuil na daoine ag baint úsáide as na scéimeanna.

Ba mhaith liom arís buíochas a ghabháil leis na Teachtaí a labhair agus tá súil agus dúil agam go n-éireoidh linn ní amháin an Ghaeltacht a chaomhnú ach í a leathnú chomh maith.

Vote put and agreed to.
The Dáil adjourned at 9.30 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 26th October, 1967.