Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 1989: Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Beartaítear leis an mBille seo an dlí a leasú i dtreo is go mbeidh sé ar ár gcumas na toghcháin d'Údarás na Gaeltachta a chur ar siúl ar an lá atá socruithe cheana féin le haghaidh na dtoghchán do Phárlaimint na hEorpa. Mar is eol do Sheanadóirí, déanfar an vótaíocht sna toghcháin Eorpacha ar an 15 lá de mhí Mheithimh. Faoi réir forálacha an Acht Um Údarás na Gaeltachta, 1979, ní foláir na toghcháin don Údarás a chur ar siúl roimh lár mí Dheireadh Fómhair seo chughainn. Meastar go mba ciallmhar an rud é an vótaíocht san da thoghchán a thógaint ar an lá céanna.

The purpose of this short technical Bill, therefore, is to allow for the holding of the elections to Údarás na Gaeltachta on the same day as the European Parliament elections. The Bill will bring the elections to Údarás na Gaeltachta within the scope of section 91 of the Electoral Act, 1963 which provides for the taking of two or more polls on the same day.

Under section 91, as it now stands two or more polls in relation to Presidential, Dáil, European Parliament or local elections or referenda may be taken together but the provision does not extend to Údarás elections which are governed by a separate code. This Bill, when enacted, will bring Údarás elections into line with the other types of elections in this regard. It will be a permanent provision which may be used to combine any future Údarás elections with any other national or local poll.

Two or more polls have been taken together on a number of occasions in recent years. Combining polls in this way can result in cost savings, obviate the necessity for repeated closing of schools for election purposes and make for greater convenience for the electors.

The European election date has already been set for 15 June and, in accordance with the law, Údarás elections must be held not later than 17 October of this year. I think the Seanad will agree that the sensible course is to have the two elections run concurrently. Given the strong local interest generated in relation to Údarás elections, the selection of strong candidates and the keenness of the contest, I am satisfied that there is no danger that the Údarás elections will be overshadowed by the European campaign.

Section 91 of the Electoral Act, 1963 provides for detailed matters in relation to the holding of two or more polls together, such as the use of the same official mark on ballot papers for each poll, the use of different coloured ballot papers, and the possibility of using the same, or different, ballot boxes for each poll.

The section also gives the Minister power to provide, by direction, order or regulation, for such matters as he considers necessary to facilitate the holding of the polls together. A direction, order, or regulation made under section 91 may define the powers and duties of returning officers and of any person employed in connection with the polls, and may make such modifications in Acts, orders or regulations relating to the taking of the polls or the counting of votes as may be necessary to facilitate the taking of the polls on the same day.

Section 91 also provides for the apportionment of costs where these fall to be borne by different agencies. As we know, the costs of Presidential, Dáil and European elections are met by the Central Fund; local election costs are defrayed by the local authorities concerned and the cost of Údarás elections by Aire na Gaeltachta.

Mar is eol do Sheanadóirí bunaíodh Údarás na Gaeltachta d'fhonn caomhnú agus leathadh na Gaeilge mar phríomhmheán cumarsáide sa Ghaeltacht a spreagadh agus chun forbairt na Gaeltachta a chur chun cinn. Trí chomhalta dhéag atá ar an Údarás. Toghann pobal na Gaeltachta seachtar agus ceapann Aire na Gaeltachta seisear eile ar a n-áirítear an Cathaoirleach. Is mar seo a leanas a bhíonn na hionadaithe do na limistéir Ghaeltachta sna contaetha éagsúla: beirt do Dhún na nGall; triúr do Ghaillimh, do Mhaigh Eo agus don Mhí le chéile; agus beirt do Chiarraí, do Chorcaigh agus do Phort Láirge le chéile.

Is ar 17 Deireadh Fómhair, 1984, a bhí an toghchán is déanaí ann don Údarás agus faoin Acht um Udarás na Gaeltachta, 1979, ní foláir toghcháin a chur ar siúl i gceann tréimhsí nach giorra ná ceithre bliana ná nach faide ná cúig bliana. Mar sin ní mór an chéad toghchán eile a chur ar siúl idir seo agus lár mí Dheireadh Fómhair seo chugainn. Faoi mar dúradh is é atá beartaithe ná an toghchán don Údarás a chur ar siúl ar an lá céanna le Toghcháin na hEorpa, sé sin ar 15 Meitheamh seo chugainn. Ach an Bille seo a bheith rite déanfaidh Aire na Gaeltachta ordú a shocróidh an lá sin mar an lá vótaíochta le haghaidh toghchán Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Is toghchán tabhachtach é seo do mhuintir na Gaeltachta, go mór mhór do mhuintir na Gaeltachta i gConnamara, Contae na Gaillimhe. The reason for this Bill is to facilitate the holding of the Údarás election on the same day as the Euro-election. Senator Ryan asked the Minister if this was a possibility. It is important that this be clarified. Perhaps we could agree to hold the Údarás election on the same day as the Euro election, even though I have reservations about that which I will deal with in a moment. Since this amended Bill was passed in the Dáil certain events, rumours, facts and statements by the Taoiseach seem to indicate that we might have a third election on 15 June.

We will let the Taoiseach decide when other elections might come. We will try to clear this one here today. Let us stay with what is in front of us.

I am not a bit concerned about a general election. I am looking forward very much to it.

A lot of other people are. I do not want to know the reasons. We will deal with the election we have before us, not a general election.

It is relevant that the people of the Gaeltacht be asked to vote in the Údarás election, the Euro election and the general election if they were to be held on the same day. Perhaps the Minister of State could clarify this. It could have very serious repercussions for the people of the Gaeltacht area, particularly for the Gaeltacht area of Galway. It would be bad enough to have two elections on the same day without having a third. Since the Bill was passed in the Dáil events seem to have changed. Therefore, I would like clarification from the Minister.

The Údarás na Gaeltachta elections can be held any time between four and five years of the previous elections, so 15 June would fit into that time scale. From that point of view we cannot object to it. The Minister in his speech stated — and I would like clarification of this also — that there seems to be provision in law for the holding of any other election or dual elections on the same day, but there seems to be no provision in law for the Údarás election. If we give permission on this occasion, would such permission be confined only to the Údarás election for this year or would it include all future Údarás elections?

If we are to concede to have the Údarás election on the same day as the European elections this year it is important to know whether it is only for this election. If it is only for this election, I would have fewer reservations about it than if — as the Minister's speech seems to suggest — it ties us into future Údarás elections. Could we cater this time for the Údarás election together with the European election? God knows what this Administration or some future Administration might wish to tie the Údarás elections in with. This might not be beneficial to the people of the Gaeltacht areas and to the voters in the Údarás election.

The people of the genuine Gaeltacht areas take this election more seriously than they take the European election and more seriously than they take any other election. For the people of the Gaeltacht areas the Údarás election will be the most important election they will be voting in, irrespective of whether it is linked with the European election or not.

According to the 1986 census figures there is a total population of 83,430 in the Gaeltacht areas. Of course, that is a fairly scattered area. To bring it into perspective, it is equivalent to a four seater Dáil constituency. We are not talking about a small, minor election. We are talking about a widespread election dealing with the rights of over 83,000 people. I note that the population of the Galway Gaeltacht is 29,614 according to the 1986 census figures. I know that when the Cathaoirleach hears the relevance of the two points I made she will excuse my earlier mention of the dreaded general election.

Again, according to the 1986 census figures, roughly 8,000 of the 29,614 people in the Galway Gaeltacht reside in the built—up area of Galway Borough, in Ballinfoyle Park, Tirellan Heights, Monaleen Heights, part of Castlelawn Heights and other urban areas that have now been built up and are now part of Galway City Borough. The relevance of this is that at the last Údarás election there was a lesser population in those areas and, secondly, the people in those areas had no great interest in the Údarás election. There are very few people living in those areas who came from Gaeltacht areas. Those who either planned to live there or are accidentally living there would be only one out of every 200 or 300 houses.

There is to be a European election and the possibility of a general election, and some of those people, whether they like it or not, will be going to the polling booths and getting an Údarás ballot paper for the first time ever. The electorate of the Galway Gaeltacht area is roughly 20,000, and of the urban city area is roughly 6,000. Therefore, over one-quarter of the people eligible to vote in the Údarás elections are now living in the built-up areas of Galway city, which was never intended to be the case. It was never intended that those people would have an undue influence on the result of the Údarás election. The Galway-Mayo-Meath electoral area is only a three-seater. Therefore, having those people voting on the day of the Údarás election could have an undue influence on who will be elected to represent the Gaeltacht areas on the Údarás. We must guard against this. I would have no fears about it if the Údarás election was taking place on a day by itself. It would have no influence then because only those people genuinely interested in Gaeltacht affairs would vote. I know that from past experience.

We must also take into account that since the 1986 census figures were taken wholesale emigration has taken place from Gaeltacht areas and this distorts the picture even more. Entire families, as well as young members of families, have emigrated from Gaeltacht areas whereas emigration to that extent, or practically to any extent, has not taken place from the newly built-up areas of Galway city. Therefore, the picture is more out of proportion than even the figures — and I can only go by the census figures of 1986 — suggest because I would estimate that out of the real Gaeltacht anything up to 2,000 or 3,000 people may have emigrated since, and possibly more. I have no means of putting a figure on this since I am using the 1986 census. That is now three years ago and there has been a serious drain on the Gaeltacht areas over that period with regard to emigration. That drain has not taken place in the urban built-up areas where, by an accident now, the people find themselves with the same voting rights as the genuine persons living in the real Gaeltacht. It is an anomaly that must be put right. I know it cannot be put right before the Údarás election, but I am at least entitled to point out the danger of having a national election on the same day as the Údarás election from the point of view that it could distort the result.

I would like to ask the Minister of State what is the situation regarding the present Údarás na Gaeltachta board? The appointed members of that board, I understand, have anything up to two years to serve. Is it the intention of the Minister, as soon as the election is over, to abolish the old appointed board and reappoint a new board or, is it the policy of the Minister to let the people on the old board serve out their duly allotted time which is 18 months or two years away? Again, this may have an influence on the election from the point of view that at least the people in that position would, I feel, be entitled to know where they stand. In other words, are they going to be left on the board to serve out their unexpired time? If not, I think they should be told, because those people, of course, would have the option of standing for election in the Údarás election. It is an option some of them may wish to take up and others may not wish to take up because some of them are non-political people. At least they should be in the position to know where they stand as regards whether the board is to be abolished immediately after the election and a complete new board set up or whether they will serve out their time.

I just want clarification on this point: does the fact that those people or anybody appointed to a State board would be standing for election automatically disqualify them from continuing membership of the board? I know this happens in the case of Oireachtas elections because I was in a similar position myself when I stood for the Seanad. I happened to be just previously appointed to a State board and in order to contest the Seanad election, I had to resign my directorship of the board, irrespective of the result of the election. Does the same thing apply in the case of Údarás na Gaeltachta?

I would further ask the Minister of State to convey to the Taoiseach or the relevant Minister my feelings on the situation as regards the appointment of members to the Údarás na Gaeltachta board, whether it be at the end of the term of the people appointed at present or whether at an earlier time. I think there would be a very strong case to be made for somebody from the Gaeltacht islands off our coast to be appointed, because electorally those people have practically no chance of being elected. In other words, I have in mind particularly the Aran Islands off the Galway coast which is part of the Gaeltacht. It would be very difficult, indeed practically impossible, for a person from there to get elected. Yet I think it is something the Minister should bear in mind when he is reappointing his ministerial nominees to the board, that somebody from the islands should be appointed. If I am not able to make a recommendation, perhaps my good colleague Senator Ó Conchubhair would be well able to make a suitable recommendation in that regard. He knows those people slightly better than I.

I will conclude with that remark. I view very seriously the difficulty that is going to arise. I know Galway is only one of the constituencies concerned. We have the Donegal constituency and the Kerry-Waterford constituency as well; Galway, Mayo and Meath being part of the one constituency in this election. The matter is going to arise seriously in the Galway, Mayo, Meath electoral areas from that point of view. I know the Minister appreciates the point I am making that a vast majority of those people who will have the same vote as anybody else really have no interest or nothing in common with the people. Most of them came in the Headford or Oranmore roads from outside Galway city and county. They are very welcome in Galway. One third of the population — I learned in the final details of the census — of Galway city is now made up of people who came from outside Galway city and county. It is a relevant point and I will reserve my position on this Bill until the Minister is able to give me some assurances.

I would tolerate the European elections because they are not taking the European elections that seriously but if it comes to a third election, I would find it very hard to accept the three being held on the one day, not from the point of view of the European or general elections but solely from the point of view of the Údarás election.

Ba mhaith liom fáiltiú roimh an mBille seo. Fáiltím freisin roimh an Aire Stáit go dtí an Teach. Tá ciall leis an mBille seo, mar bhí sé i gceist i mbliana toghcháin na hEorpa a bheith againn ar dtús agus ansin toghchán do Údarás na Gaeltachta amach ag deireadh na bliana. Mar atá a fhios ag Seanadóirí bhí toghchán an Údaráis againn na blianta siar, agus toghcháin na hEorpa, agus bhí sé sách deacair daoine a mhealladh amach go dtí toghcháin na hEorpa. I mo thuairim féin, an t-am seo tabharfaidh toghchán Údarás na Gaeltachta aghaidh níos fear ar thoghcháin na hEorpa, agus chomh maith céanna músclóidh sé níos mó suime i muintir na Gaeltachta san Údarás féin.

Ó bunaíodh Údarás na Gaeltachta roinnt blianta siar, caithfidh mé a rá go bhfuil go leor obair iontach déanta acu ar son mhuintir na Gaeltachta, agus is iontach an rud é le rá go bhfuil muintir na Gaeltachta in ann seasamh mar iarrthóirí le haghaidh an bhoird seo. Tá siad in ann a rogha féin a dhéanamh, daoine a thoghadh as na Gaeltachtaí éagsúla trasna na tíre. B'fhéidir gur féidir a rá go bhfuil Gaeltachtaí ann atá lag ó thaobh vótála agus nach bhfuil aon ionadaí acu. Ach fad is a fheicim, ionadaithe a toghadh ó na ceantair atá ceangailte leo, tugann siad cúnamh do mhuintir na gceantar sin, ní amháin in gContae na Mí ach i bPort Láirge chomh maith céanna.

San Údarás deiridh bhí go leor trioblóidí ann, bhí go leor raiceanna ann, agus ag an am bhí imní ar mhuintir na Gaeltachta go gcuirfí deireadh leis. Ach caithfidh mé a rá gur shocraigh an bord síos, agus an bord atá anois acu, rinne siad a ndícheall ar son mhuintir na Gaeltachta, agus chomh fada is a fheicim féin tháinig feabhas ar chúrsaí tionsclaíochta sa Ghaeltacht. Má thógaimid feilméireacht éisc, mheall Údarás na Gaeltachta isteach Carrolls Industries, agus tá beagnach fiche milliún punt infheistithe ag Carrolls in gConamara, agus tá gar do chéad go leith jab in áit nach raibh jab ar bith. Is é Údarás na Gaeltachta an chéad dream a lean ar aghaidh le feilméireacht éisc. Agus murach iad tá mé ag ceapadh nach mbeadh mórán cainte ar fheilméireacht éisc, mórán áiteacha eile sa tír. Ar an mbealach sin tá an buíochas ag dul dóibh, mar lean siad ar aghaidh leis nuair nach raibh an faisean sin ann. Ní raibh an faisean ann airgead a chur isteach ann, agus rinne an tÚdarás infheistíocht ann. Rinne siad go leor trialacha ann agus, cinnte, fuair siad go leor cúnaimh ó Carrolls agus a leithéid. Ní amháin sin ach tá neart cúnaimh le fáil ag muintir na háite féin, agus tá roinnt fheilméireacht éisc ann ag daoine as an áit, cé go bhuil sé an-chostasach na feilméireachtaí éisc seo a bhunú, mar tógann sé an t-uafás airgid.

Mar sin, ag leanacht ar aghaidh leis sin, an t-aon rud amháin a d'iarrfainn ar an Aire ná go gcinnteodh Údarás na Gaeltachta go ndéanfaidh Carrolls agus na comhlachtaí eile go bhfuil feilméirachtaí eisc acu an phróiseáil sa Ghaeltacht féin, ar thaobh na farraige a dtugtar an t-iasc amach aisti. Mar i ndeireadh na dála is ansin atá na jabanna. Tá jabanna próiseála ann agus jabanna eile, agus ba cheart an tionscal a bhrú ar aghaidh. Tá rud amháin a ba mhaith liom a iarraidh ar an Aire dá bhféadfadh sé: tá go leor cainte faoi thurasóireacht i gceantair Ghaeltachta le roinnt blianta anuas. I mo thuairim phearsanta féin, agus anseo i gContae na Gaillimhe go mórmhór, mar níl mise ag trácht ar na Gaeltachtaí eile, níl Bord Fáilte ag déanamh a gcion ar son na nGaeltachtaí. Má thógann tú Conamara, tá Conamara ina dhá leath. Tá an Ghaeltacht ann agus tá an Ghalltacht ann. Mar sin, d'iarrfainn go gcuirfí brú ar Bord Fáilte nó ar a laghad, b'fhéidir, an chumhacht sin a thabhairt do Roinn na Gaeltachta féin. Mar tá feidhmeannaigh ansin ag Roinn na Gaeltachta atá ag plé le comharchumainn, atá ag plé leis na daoine áitiúla agus cleachtadh maith acu air sin.

Maidir le cúrsaí oideachais chomh maith céanna, tugadh cúnamh mór le roinnt blianta anuas, go mórmhór do mhuintir an oileáin, agus lean an tAire ar aghaidh leis sin. Le gairid cuireadh os cionn céad míle punt isteach do mhuintir an oileáin chun cead a thabhairt do ghasúir óga timpeall an oileáin oideachas a fháil ó trí bliana amach, rud nach raibh ar fáil cheana. Cuireadh go leor naiscoileanna ar bun ar fud Ghaeltacht Chonamara, go mórmhór i gceantar an oileáin, agus tá an rud seo á leathnú amach ag muintir an oileáin, ní amháin i gceantar an oileáin ach i gceantar Chonamara frína chéile. Agus sa mhéid sin tá an buíochas arís ag dul do Údarás na Gaeltachta, mar is iad a mheall isteach Van Leer le hinfheistíocht mhór le roinnt blianta anuas, agus tá an infheistíocht sin ag leanacht ar aghaidh bliain i ndiaidh bliana.

Luaigh an Seanadóir McCormack daoine ag imeacht as an tír le dhá bhliain. Nuair a chloiseann tú daoine ag caint shílfeá gur imigh gach uile dhuine as an tír seo le dhá bhliain. Tá an deacracht seo againne lena seacht nó ocht mbliana. Tá daoine ag imeacht as an tír seo le deich mbliana. Ó tháinig an Rialtas seo isteach, ar a laghad tá dóchas ag na daoine. Tá dóchas ag muintir na Gaeltachta go bhfuil rud éigin ag tarlú. Go dtí seo bhí an dóchas agus an croí imithe as na daoine agus trí chúnamh ó Údarás na Gaeltachta tá an croí ag teacht ar ais sna daoine arís. Tá sé ag teacht ar ais sna tionscail. Mar a chonaic tú le gairid, tá Telemara ar an gCeathrú Rua. Tá beagnach dhá chéad daoine ag obair ann, daoine a rugadh agus a tógadh sa cheantar. Is tionscal é sin den chéad scoth, tionscal a bhfuil baint ag an oiread sin i nGaillimh leis, agus is tionscal é a sheasfaidh agus is tionscal é nach rachfaidh isteach i dtrualliú ná a leithéidí. Bíonn go leor cainte agus a leithéid de sin maidir leis an bhfeilméireacht éisc. mar sin, ba mhaith an tAire a mholadh as an méid atá déanta ag Údarás na Gaeltachta le roinnt blianta, agus an cúnamh sin freisin ó Roinn na Gaeltachta. Tá mé ag ceapadh go n-oibríonn an dá dhream chomh maith agus is féidir ar son mhuintir na Gaeltachta, agus táimid buíoch díobh.

Táimse i gcoinne an Bhille seo, in ainneoin na gcúiseanna atá tugtha dúinn ag an Aire. Tuigim go bhfuil rudaí le rá ar thaobh an Bhille, go mbeidh níos mó daoine ag teacht amach, deirtear, má bhíonn an dá thoghchán ar an lá céanna, agus is maith an rud é sin. Faoi mar a thuigim, ní raibh ach thart timpeall ar chaoga faoin gcéad ag vótáil an t-am deireanach. Glacaim leis sin mar phointe.

Táim níos amhrasaí maidir leis an bpointe ar chostais. Ní thuigim cad iad na costais atá i gceist. An bhfuil aon chuntas fíor déanta ar na costais? An bhféadfadh an tAire figiúir a thabhairt dúinn? Agus in aon chás, faoi mar a aontóidh an tAire, ní féidir praghas a chur ar an daonlathas. I mo thuairimse, dá mhinice a vótálann daoine is ea is fearr. Dá mhinice a tharlaíonn toghchán is ea is fearr. Mar is iad na toghcháin fuil agus croí an daonlathais.

Tá pointe eile luaite ansin ag an Aire maidir le scoileanna. Dá mbeadh an dá thoghchán ar an lá céanna b'ionann sin agus a rá nach mbeadh aon ghá leis na scoileanna a dhúnadh do lá faoi leith. Ach nach mbeadh laethanta saoire an tsamhraidh ag teacht isteach go luath in aon chás, agus nach mbeadh go leor ama idir mí Meithimh agus mí Meán Fómhair, abraimis, chun úsáid a bhaint as na scoileanna agus iad a bheith folamh ag an am sin?

Pé scéal é, na cúiseanna go léir á gcur le chéile ní théann siad go mór i bhfeidhm ormsa mar chúiseanna i gcomparáid leis na cúiseanna atá le ríomh i gcoinne an Bhille, dar liom. Mar is é an rud is mó a chuireann isteach ormsa ná go bhfuil gach seans, má bhíonn an dá thoghchán ann ar an lá céanna, go gcaillfear ar fad cúrsaí na Gaeltachta i gcomhthéacs na díospóireachta níos leithne ar thoghcháin na hEorpa. In ainneoin na lochtanna atá ar an Údarás, agus is cuimhin liom go maith nuair a bunaíodh an tÚdarás agus nuair a bhí an Bille ag dul tríd an Teach seo idir an dá linn, go raibh díomá orainn maidir le hoibriú an Údaráis, agus nílimid róshásta le ballraíocht an Údaráis agus mar sin de, ach é sin go léir a bheith ráite, tá an tÚdarás tábhachtach; tá na toghcháin seo an-tábhachtach. i mo thuairimse tá na toghcháin seo i bhfad Éireann níos tábhachtaí ná na toghcháin a bheidh ar siúl do Pharlaimint na hEorpa, nó sin a deir Bunreacht na hÉireann ach go háirithe, go bhfuil an Ghaeilge agus cúrsaí na Gaeltachta níos tábhachtaí ná cúrsaí Pharlaimint na hEorpa.

Ní bheidh seans dá laghad ag muintir na Gaeltachta féin na ceisteanna seo a phlé i gceart má bhíonn siad gafa ag an am céanna leis na ceisteanna Eorpacha. Tá a fhios againn féin agus tá a fhios ag an saol Fodhla gur chóir fadhbanna na Gaeltachta a phlé díreach ag an am seo, mar is am práinneach é don Ghaeltacht. Tá an Ghaeltacht in am an ghátair. Tá géarchéim sa Ghaeltacht, agus ní aon áibhéil a rá go bhfuil an Ghaeltacht i mbaol báis. Tá an Ghaeltacht cráite ag an imirce, ag an dífhostaíocht, agus tá labhairt na teanga féin ag imeacht go tapa, faoi mar is eol do gach éinne. Tá deacrachtaí eile ann chomh maith, deacrachtaí eile a bhaineann le drochbhóithre agus fadhbanna tionsclaíochta.

Ceist mhór na laethanta seo ná ceist Theilfís na Gaeltachta, ceist a d'ardaigh an Taoiseach féin agus ceist a bhaineann go dlúth le todhchaí na Gaeltachta. Ansin, faoi mar atá ráite ag an mbeirt Seanadóirí a chuaigh romham, tá ceisteanna faoi leith ag baint leis na hoileáin, oileáin na Gaeltachta. Mar sin, tríd is tríd is é atá i gceist anseo, sa bhliain seo 1989, ná todhchaí na Gaeltachta ar fad. Cad tá i ndán don Ghaeltacht? Sin í an cheist mhór. Ní bheidh seans dá laghad ag muintir na Gaeltachta na ceisteanna práinneacha sin a phlé, mar a deirim, má tá ualach mór poiblíochta na toghcháin Eorpacha ag brú orthu ag an am céanna. Ní hé amháin gurb iad muintir na Gaeltachta a bheidh thíos leis an socrú seo, má chuirtear an Bille seo i bhfeidhm, ach muintir na hÉireann trí chéile. Mar baineann an Ghaeltacht, cúrsaí na Gaeltachta agus leas na Gaeltachta leis an bpobal chomh maith. Arís, ní bheidh seans ag muintir na hÉireann éisteacht leis an díospóireacht, mar ní bheidh spás sna nuachtáin, ní bheidh am ar an raidió nó ar an teilifís, chun na cúrsaí seo a phlé. Mar sin, a Chathaoirligh, deirim gur céim síos don Ghaeltacht, céim síos don Ghaeilge, agus buille don daonlathas áitiúil an Bille seo, agus táim go láidir ar fad ina choinne.

A Chathaoirligh, ba mhaith liom cúpla focal a rá ar an ábhar seo. Cuirim fáilte roimh an mBille gearr seo atá againn ach Bille tábhachtach chomh maith.

My contribution will be a very brief one. I am prompted to speak for two reasons. First of all, I come from County Meath and even if Meath is only part of a constitutency comprising also Galway and Mayo, nevertheless I think it is an important one and I am glad and proud also that we have in the Gaeltacht area in Rathcarn, County Meath, and also in Baile Gib a considerable number of people for whom the Irish language is the daily spoken language. I have said before in this House that in colloquial terms the Irish language is a dead duck. On reflection I think perhaps I exaggerated slightly. The Irish language may not be a corpse but it is only saved from being a corpse by virtue of the fact that over a long period and on many occasions artificial respiration has been applied. I have no doubt — and it pains me to say this — that the life support machine will not be disconnected at any time. Unfortunately, we do not have the kind of language we would want; it is not widespread; it is not spoken; we have a considerable number of enthusiastic people who work hard and make sacrifices for it but beyond that the best anyone can hope for is a bilingual situation where Irish will be spoken in conjunction with English. I doubt if we will ever reach that stage.

By and large, all this has arisen because of mistakes in the past. There was enthusiasm; there was the foundation to build on and I think it was abused. Unfortunately, it is impossible to make up for lost time. I am not a prophet and I hope I am wrong. I have a great love for the Irish language and the Irish culture.

There are many areas on which we could speak on this Bill. It is sensible to combine the polls in the way that it is being done under this Bill. Regarding the question Senator McCormack asked, I think the Minister has stated that this will apply to future Údarás elections also, not just to this particular one.

In his contribution the Minister stated that in section 91 of the principal Act there is a saving of costs. This is important. It is not and should not be the primary consideration. In this regard there are many people who would point out and have pointed out over the years that if it were simply a question of keeping down costs the unemployed should be brought more into play at election times. It is unfortuante that this has not been done.

The Gaeltacht Industries Act was passed in 1957 and Gaeltarra Éireann came into being on 1 April 1958. The Gaeltacht (Amendment) Bill was passed in 1971. The Údarás na Gaeltachta Act was passed in 1979 and Údarás was established on 1 January 1980. Its primary objective was to give employment in Gaeltacht areas, to build on the culture and crafts of the indigenous Gaeltacht areas and to some extent this has been a success. Like Senator McCormack and Senator O'Connor, the people of Connemara would be in a better position to deal with that than I would be.

An tÚdarás includes 13 members and the chairman and five others are appointed by the Minister, so that seven members are elected. In reality it seems to me that we are talking here about the election of seven members, seven important members, I agree. Considerable funds have been advanced to Gaeltarra Éireann and to an Údarás. They own a considerable area of land and also industrial floor space. They have given employment over the years to many thousands of people.

Regarding the Irish language, my primary concern in this situation is that the direct costs associated with the Irish language development in the period 1980-84 were £377,814, inclusive, or £4.3 for every £1,000 of total funds received in that period. This is an appropriate time for someone to say that perhaps more funds should be allocated to the Irish language because while I feel it is important that the culture would be preserved with the indigenous industries and crafts of those areas, this can only be done in conjunction with the preservation of the Irish language. As I have said, the Irish language is dying. Until recently I had been optimistic that because of the interest of so many people and because of the importance of the Irish language we would make progress, but I have no doubt that we are going backwards. I feel that more money could be allocated to it. I would make a plea that, in conjunction with anything that is done for the Gaeltacht areas, funds would be allocated to help dedicated people to save the Irish language.

In conclusion, I wish to say that while I am most pessimistic with regard to the Irish language I hope that the future will prove me wrong. I welcome this short but important Bill.

Ní chuirim fáilte roimh an mBille seo. Caithfidh mé cúpla rud a rá. Alt amháin as Béarla i dtús báire.

I will speak only in Irish on this Bill fully aware of the fact that that guarantees that not a word of what I say will pass beyond this Chamber to the public. I will do it as a protest against the absence of simultaneous translation services in this House, an absence which underlines the extraordinary ambivalence — and I use ambivalence so as not to use the word hypocrisy — about the Irish language, that it is impossible to speak in this House in the first official language without excluding the vast majority of those who listen.

(Cur isteach.)

Ní hionann Raidió na Gaeltachta agus lucht éisteachta Raidió na Gaeltachta agus lucht éisteachta na tíre seo. Níl aon chóras aistriúcháin comhaimseartha ar fáil sa Teach seo.

I accept your point but I hope to have that matter corrected in the Seanad proper before the autumn.

Glacaim leis sin. Tá mé ocht mbliana anois sa Seanad agus cuirfidh mé fáilte roimhe sin má tharlaíonn sé, agus déanfaidh mé comhghairdeas leatsa más tusa atá freagrach as. Ach níl mé sásta Béarla a úsáid faoi cheist Ghaeilge agus Ghaeltachta chun cabhrú leis an gcóras atá i bhfeidhm faoi láthair. Caithfidh mé rud a rá ar dtús faoinar dhúirt an Seanadóir Ó Conchubhair.

Bhí sé ag caint faoi fheirmeoireacht éisc sa Ghaeltacht agus cé chomh tábhachtach is atá sí, agus tá an ceart aige. Nach aisteach go leor anois go bhfuilimid ag brath ar fheirmeoireacht éisc, más rud é go bhfuil éisc nádúrtha a bhíodh againn caite siar againn toisc sinn a bheith imithe isteach sa Chómhargadh? Agus bhíodh na "fisheries systems" agus na "fisheries markets" is mó san Eoraip againn. Tá siad tugtha againn do dhaoine eile mar phraghas dúinn dul isteach sa Chómhargadh.

Sin ceann de na fáthanna go bhfuil orainn anois brath ar fheirmeoireacht éisc chun déanamh suas a dhéanamh ara bhfuil caillte againn agus a bhfuil caite siar againn agus a bhfuil caite uainn. Tá a leithéid agus a mhéad sin seafóide ar siúl faoi Ghaeltacht agus faoi Ghaeilge sa tír seo agus nach gcuirfeadh an Bille seo mórán de ionadh orm. Ní chuireann sé ionadh orm go bhféadfadh le hAire Rialtais a bhaineann le páirtí a dhéanann a mhéad sin cainte faoi Ghaeilge agus faoi Ghaeltacht Bille a chur isteach mar seo agus gan tuiscint dá laghad a bheith aige faoin damáiste a d'fhéadfadh an Bille seo a dhéanamh do fhéin-aitheantas mhuintir na Gaeltachta. Nach mbeidh an píosta beag dá chuid féin sa saol atá bainte amach acu le blianta beaga anuas tríd an Údarás, nach mbeidh sé sin ar fáil acu, ach go bpléascfaí é ar fad agus go gcailfí é ar fad faoi lasta mór cainte, lasta mór focal, toghchán amháin eile agus b'fhéidir dhá thogchán eile. Seans go mbeidh toghchán ginearálta, toghchán na hEorpa agus toghchán do Údarás na Gaeltachta ar siúl ag an am céanna. Nach náireach an rud é gur mar sin a chaillfí todhchaí na Gaeltachta, deacrachtaí na Gaeltachta, muintir na Gaeltachta.

Ní hé sin le rá go bhfuil gach rud faoi Údarás na Gaeltachta i gceart. Ach ní chabhraítear le todhchaí na Gaeltachta, le bród agus dínit mhuintir na Gaeltachta, ós rud é nach bhfuil Aire na Gaeltachta, an tAire Rialtais atá freagrach as an nGaeltacht, sin é an Taoiseach féin, sásta fiú ceist amháin as Gaeilge a fhreagairt sa Dáil ó thosaigh an Dáil seo. Sin masla mór do mhuintir na Gaeltachta ó dhuine a bhíonn ag rá agus ag ligean air cé chomh mór is atá spéis aige i gceist na Gaeilge agus na Gaeltachta. Is mór an trua é nach mbeidh an seans ag muintir na Gaeltachta na ceisteanna seo a phlé ina n-aonar gan iad a bheith ceangailte suas le ceistenna eile faoi impiriúlachas na hEorpa sa tír seo.

Tá rudaí eile a chaithfear a rá. Níor mhaith liom go mbeimis ag ligean orainn go bhfuil Udarás na Gaeltachta rómhaith nó ró-thábhachtach. Is é atá ag teastáil sa Ghaeltacht ná féinrialú, feinrialú taobh istigh den tír seo. Ní píosa beag de fhéinrialtas faoi fhorbairt thionsclaíochta agus cúpla rud eile, ach féinrialú ar fad ina scriosfaí Roinn na Gaeltachta agus go ndéanfaí as Rialtas na Gaeltachta státseirbhís do fhéinrialtas na Gaeltachta. Níl cead ag muintir na Gaeltachta smacht a bheith acu ar cheisteanna pleanála, mar shampla. Cuid de na Gaeltachtaí go speisialta, i gCiarraí, mar a bhfuil muintir na Gaeltachta ina mionlach beag sa chontae, is beag tionchar atá ag muintir na Gaeltachta ar cheisteanna pleanála an chontae. Tá siad caite amach, beagnach, ar imeall an chontae, gan mórán tionchair acu, gan ach trí nó ceithre cinn de bhaill ar Chomhairle Chontae Chiarraí, agus na rudaí is tábhachtaí, na rudaí is mó a thugann "identity" do Ghaeltacht Chiarraí, ní fhéadfadh comhairle chontae chomh mór le Comhairle Chontae Chiarraí aird agus aire agus tábhacht, agus an tábhacht atá ag teastáil uathu siúd, a thabhairt do mhuintir na Gaeltachta ansin.

Mar sin, ó thaobh cheisteanna pleanála, pleanáil ó thaobh thógáil tithe, pleanáil ó thaobh thithe ósta agus na ceisteanna pleanála a thagann trí na hAchtanna Pleanála, ba chóir gur faoi stiúradh mhuintir na Gaeltachta amháin a bheadh na rudaí siúd, agus go mbeadh ar an mBord Pleanála fealsúnacht agus dearcadh mhuintir na Gaeltachta a thabhairt chun cinn dá mba rud é go raibh siad ag éisteacht le hachainí agus gearáin faoi shocruithe pleanála. Níl sé acu faoi láthair. Níl féinrialtas ag muintir na Gaeltachta faoin gceist sin. Mar an gcéanna, níl aon smacht acu ar chaighdeán na mbóithre sna Gaeltachtaí. Níl éinne dáiríre ag éisteacht le gearán mhuintir na Gaeltachta le beagnach fiche bliain anuas faoi cheisteanna chaighdeán na mbóithre sna Gaeltachtaí ar fad. Tá an "bumpersticker" le feiceáil ar fud Chonamara: "Scriosadh an carr seo ar bhóithre Chonamara", agus níl ansin ach an fhírinne ar fad. Scriosadh na mílte carranna ar bhóithre Chonamara, agus scriosfar a thuilleadh carranna ar bhóithre Chonamara, os rud é go bhfuil na poill sna bóithre ag dul i méid i gcónaí agus na bóithre beagnach imithe ar fad, agus gan ach amháin líontan poll ón nGaillimh go dtí an Cheathrú Rua, meascán ar fad de phoill sna bóithre agus gan mórán bóithre fágtha ann. Agus tá sé mar an gcéanna i gCiarraí, agus dá mba rud é gur faoi mhuintir na Gaeltachta a bhí an cheist sin, ní ghlacfaí leis.

Dá mba rud é gur tugadh an deontas airgid do fhéinrialtas na Gaeltachta, chomh mór leis an méid airgid a thugtar do Údarás na Gaeltachta agus an chuid sin de chaiteachas airgid na gcomhairlí contae a bheadh oiriúnach do na Gaeltachtaí, agus féinrialtas do na Gaeltachtaí a thabhairt faoi, bheadh i bhfad níos mó ar siúl acu. Tá sé náireach gurb as Baile Átha Cliath atá córas oideachais na Gaeilge sna Gaeltachtaí á stiuradh. Ba chóir gur faoi mhuintir na Gaeltachta amháin a bheadh na socruithe siúd faoi oideachas dá bpáistí féin. Is iad muintir na Gaeltachta a thuigeann fadhbanna na Gaeltachta, a thuigeann a bhfuil ag teastáil i gcomhair fhorbairt na Gaeltachta, a thuigeann cén saghas caighdeán múinte Béarla a bheadh ag teastáil do leanaí Gaeltachta agus cén saghas caighdeán múinte Gaeilge a bheadh ag teastáil ó leanaí Gaeltachta chomh maith. An dearcadh i mBaile Átha Cliath gurbh ionann leanbh Gaeltachta agus leanbh Galltachta ó thaobh an churaclam Gaeilge agus Béarla, is dearcadh é atá ag déanamh an t-uafás damáiste do oideachas sna Gaeltachtaí agus sa Ghalltacht. Ba chóir go mbeadh an córas oideachais sna Gaeltachtaí faoi smacht agus faoi chumhacht mhuintir na Gaeltachta. Ba chóir, mar a dúras, go mbeadh féinrialú ag muintir na Gaeltachta. Ba chóir go mbeadh sé mar an gcéanna ó thaobh chúrsaí sláinte, go mbeadh siad siúd faoi smacht mhuintir na Gaeltachta, go mbeadh rialtas dá gcuid féin acu a bheadh freagrach do mhuintir na Gaeltachta as todhchaí na nGaeltachtaí.

Tá forbairt thionsclaíochta faoi smacht ag Údarás na Gaeltachta, agus tá sé ráite ag cuid mhaith daoine go bhfuil jab réasúnta maith ar siúl ag an Údarás sa bhealach sin. Ach tá na rudaí eile tábhachtach chomh maith, mar ní eacnamaíocht atá sa Ghaeltacht ach pobal, pobal faoi leith atá ina mhionlach sa tír seo agus nach bhfuil aon chearta dá gcuid féin dáiríre acu. Ba chóir go mbeadh cúrsaí craolacháin do na Gaeltachtaí faoi smacht ag muintir na Gaeltachta agus ní faoi stiúradh ag Radió Teilifís Bhaile Átha Cliath a thugann Radió Telefís Éireann orthu féin. Ní ceart é sin, agus ní cóir é sin do mhuintir na Gaeltachta. Níl aon fhianaise sa tír seo gur féidir le rialtas lárnach, rialtas tofa nó rialtas "bureaucracy", cearta atá ag teastáil ó mhionlaigh imeallacha i dtír ar bith a thabhairt dóibh.

Tá dílárnú ag teastáil sa tír seo, agus b'é an áit ab fhearr tosú le dílárnú, mar sin, ná sna Gaeltachtaí, an mionlach is éascaí a aithint ná muintir na Gaeltachta sna Gaeltachtaí siúd a labhraíonn Gaeilge, agus, mar a dúras féin, bheadh sé thar a bheith simplí státseirbhís a thabhairt nó seirbhís riaracháin a thabhairt do fhéinrialtas mar sin, trí Roinn na Gaeltachta a dhúnadh agus na státseirbhísigh atá i Roinn na Gaeltachta a chur ar fáil do Rialtas na Gaeltachta mar chóras riaracháin is córas státseirbhíse. Ach ina ionad sin, is é atá ar siúl sa Bhille seo ná an smacht lárnach ar Údarás na Gaeltachta agus ar mhuintir na Gaeltachta a leathnú ar fad. Ní bheidh cead, agus níl cead ag muintir na Gaeltachta nó ag Údarás na Gaeltachta ceisteanna faoi thoghcháin sna Gaeltachtaí a shocrú dóibh féin.

Is é an tAire Comhshaoil anseo i mBaile Átha Cliath — agus níl mé ag caint faoin Aire Comhshaoil faoi láthair, ach cuid mhaith de na hAirí Comhshaoil a bhíodh ann, ní raibh siad riamh sna Gaeltachtaí—a bheidh ag stiúradh toghchán do mhuintir na Gaeltachta. Beidh an tAire ag éisteacht, b'fhéidir, le státseirbhíseach, am nó dhó, a thuigeann ceist na Gaeilge agus na Gaeltachta, ach is Aire Rialtais nach dtuigeann ceisteanna na Gaeltachta is mó a bheidh freagrach as toghchán don Údarás lag atá ag muintir na Gaeltachta faoi láthair. Is é atá ann ná ceisteanna Gaeilge agus ceisteanna Gaeltachta a bhrú anuas sa chaoi is go gcaillfí ceisteanna Gaeilge agus ceisteanna Gaeltachta agus ceisteanna agus príomhachtaí phobal na Gaeltachta a chur á mbrú anuas agus iad a chailliúint faoi lasta mór cainte faoin Eoraip agus, b'fhéidir, faoin Dáil chomh maith.

Más rud é nach dtuigeann an Rialtas nó, mar a bhí sé sa Dáil, Fine Gael chomh maith, cad tá ar siúl do mhuintir na Gaeltachta, caithfear a thuiscint nach d'aon ghnó a tharla sé gur mar sin atá sé. Caithfimid a thuiscint go bhfuil an Ghaeltacht briste suas i dtrí pháirt anois. Tá an FhíorGhaeltacht ann, agus tá sí beag go leor anois. Tá an Bhreac-Ghaeltacht ann. Tá, chomh maith leis sin, tá an BhréagGhaeltacht ann, tá sí ann i mbailte beaga a thugann Gaeltachtaí orthu féin, nach labhraítear Gaeilge iontu in aon chor. Ceann amhain, cóngarach go leor do Chorcaigh, a thugann Gaeltacht air féin, agus mar atá a fhios agam, chuaigh ball tofa de Údarás na Gaeltachta chun cainte ann. Labhair sé as Gaeilge agus iarradh air labhairt as Béarla, os rud é go raibh daoine i láthair i gceartlár na Gaeltachta nár thuig Gaeilge, agus tugann na daoine siúd muintir agus pobal Gaeltachta orthu féin. Is iad pobal na Bréag-Ghaeltachta siúd a bheidh ag dul amach ag vótáil i dtoghcháin na hEorpa nó i dtoghchán ginearálta má tá an dá thoghchán ar siúl le chéile, agus beidh siad ag caitheamh vótaí ar son páirtithe. Ina measc siúd beidh an toghchán taibhseach seo do Údarás na Gaeltachta caillte ar fad, dofheicthe ar fad, gan ceist na mbóithre, droch-bhóithre, gnáthchúraimí ghnáthmhuintir na Gaeltachta, caillte ar fad sa tuile mhór focal a chloisfear nuair atá an dá thoghchán, más dhá thoghchán atá le bheith ann, ar siúl. Caillfear muintir na Gaeltachta agus caillfear tábhacht na Gaeltachta ina measc sin.

Caithfidh mé a rá go gceapaim nach éascaíocht riaracháin atá taobh thiar de seo, nó ceist an airgid. Is é atá taobh thiar de ná go bhfuil na páirtithe móra, idir Fhianna Fáil agus Fhine Gael, scanraithe roimh mhuintir na Gaeltachta, os rud é go bhfuil a thuilleadh eolais i gcónaí ag teacht chugainn nach bhfuil muintir na Gaeltachta sásta vótáil, de ghnáth, ar son na bpáirtithe móra. Tá muintir Chonamara tar éis fear mór láidir a thoghadh nach bhfuil baint aige le páirtí ar bith. Dhein muintir na Mumhan iarracht an rud céanna a dhéanamh, agus cé nár lean mo sheanchara mar a cheapas féin bá chóir dó leanúint, toghadh é mar ionadaí neamhspleách. Is é mo thuairim go bhfuil duine mar an gcéanna i dTír Chonaill chomh maith.

Ní thaitníonn sin leis na páirtithe móra, go meadh gnáthmhuintir na Gaeltachta ag éirí beagáinín, mar a déarfá as Béarla, "stroppy" faoin todhchaí atá ann do mhuintir na Gaeltachta agus ag rá go bhfuil sé níos tábhachtaí go mbeadh daoine ann atá sásta seasamh ar son mhuintir na Gaeltachta, ná daoine atá sásta seasamh ar son páirtí amháin nó páirtí eile. Agus nílim ag lochtú nó ag maslú na ndaoine eile atá ar Údarás na Gaeltachta. Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil daoine ar Údarás na Gaeltachta ó na páirtithe, atá sásta obair, agus obair go dian, ar son na Gaeltachta, ach tá sé soiléir go bhfuil muintir na Gaeltachta ag smaoineamh faoi dhaoine neamhspleácha, daoine atá bunaithe sna Gaeltachtaí, gurb é an t-aon suim atá acu ná forbairt na Gaeltachta mar ionadaithe at Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Is í an tslí is fusa chun daoine mar siúd a choimeád amach ná an toghchán do Údarás na Gaeltachta a mheascadh le toghchán eile ina mbeidh ceisteanna páirtithe chomh fada chun cinn agus go gcaillfear gnáthcheisteanna forbartha Gaeltachta agus Gaeilge as sin. Sin an fáth go bhfuil an Bille seo náireach. Tá sé náireach os rud é go dtaispeánann sé cé chomh caillte is atá fealsúnacht an Rialtais seo faoi fhéinrialtas do phobal ar bith, faoi dhaonlathas áitiúil go speisialta. Cén fáth, mar sin, nach dtógaimid na toghcháin go léir le chéile agus go mbíonn toghcháin na h-Eorpa, toghchán ginearálta agus tochchán Údarás na Gaeltachta agus toghchán don rialtas áitiúil ar siúl ag an am céanna? Bheadh sé i bhfad níos éascaí, bheadh sé i bhfad níos éifeachtaí, ach ní bheadh sé ró-dhaonlathach, mar go gcaillfí ceisteanna áitiúla idir ceisteanna tíre agus ceisteanna Eorpacha. Sin an fáth go ndéantar iarracht, de ghnáth, toghcháin a scaradh óna chéile sa chaoi is go mbeidh daoine ábalta smaoineamh faoi cheisteanna faoi leith gan a bheith ceangailte suas lena lán ceisteanna eile.

Is é atá ar siúl anseo na gach rud a tharraingt le chéile agus gach rud a mheascadh suas. Is é a tharlóidh as ná truailliú an Údaráis féin leis an mbealach is measa agus an taobh is measa de pholaitíocht pháirtí. Níl aon rud agam i mo fhealsúnacht pholaitíochta atá i gcoinne pháirtithe polaitíochta, ach tá áiteacha agus tá áiteacha ann nach n-oireann do ghnáth-pholaitíocht pháirtithe. Is ceann amháin díobh siúd Údarás na Gaeltachta agus de ghnáth, i mo thuairimse, cuid mhaith de ghnáth-rialtais áitiúla.

Is náiriú an phobail a rá le muintir na Gaeltachta nach bhfuil siad sách tábhachtach chun toghchán dá gcuid féin a bheith acu, a phléifí sa tír ar fad i gcaoi is go mbeadh ceist na Gaeilge agus ceist na Gaeltachta á bplé ar na meáin chumarsáide agus sna meáin chumarsáide. Ina ionad sin, caillfear ceist na Gaeilge agus ceist na Gaeltachta sna toghcháin eile. Taispeánann sé neamhshuim an Rialtais agus Fhine Gael mar a sheas siad agus gur ghlac siad leis an mBille seo sa Dáil faoi cheist na Gaeilge agus faoi cheist na Gaeltachta. Ag an deireadh is é atá taobh thiar de ná go bhfuil siad scanraithe roimh mhuintir na Gaeltachta, agus iad ag taispeáint go bhfuil siad ag éirí neamhspleách ó shean-smacht na bpáirtithe móra agus go bhfuil siad ag iarraidh deireadh a chur leis. Tá mé i gcoinne an Bhille seo, agus beidh mé ag vótáil ina choinne.

A Leas-Chathaoirleach, I am sad to say that my six months in the Ballymoney Technical College studying the Irish language does not qualify me to speak on this Bill with the same eloquence in the idiom which would be appropriate to it, as does Senator Brendan Ryan. Nevertheless, I feel it is important to say a few brief words from the standpoint that I would represent in this House with regard to what I see as the value of the Gaeltacht and the value of treasuring the very precious things that are preserved in our heritage through the medium of the Gaelic or Irish language.

A year ago I was travelling the road beyond Cashla in Connemara and I picked up two very delightful young people who lived on a nearby island. I was saddened when they told me, not so very many years ago when they visited Galway speaking the only language which they knew at that time, their own ancient Gaelic language they felt people looked down on them as primitive. Rather the same way as recently in my own hospital when I tried to get some well water to replace the stuff that comes out of the taps in our town, a nurse told me that not so many years ago when she was a child she would not have dared mention at school that she got water from a well because they would have thought she was living in a primitive way.

We have moved beyond that, and have moved very rapidly, because we realise there is something precious in preserving what has been marginalised by the forces of centralism and gigantism. It is particularly for that reason that I see marginal and minority languages and cultures are of vital importance in a world where, because of our new technology, there is a great tendency to trample on the feelings and endeavours of those who are different, and to try to create a uniformity of expression, of concept and of people. That spells disaster because, as anyone knows, the essence and one of the great central features of a healthy society is the preservation of difference. It is in that context, therefore, that I feel the preservation and the development of the Gaelic language as something that relates us not only to our local roots but also to our remote past and is, in fact, the link with that very remote past that we need to treasure, to respect and to understand its significance.

One of the problems of course is that we have tried to politicise the language and have tried to ram it down people's throats for all sorts of different reasons. It is natural that there has been a reaction to what has happened to the Irish language in the early part of the last century. At this juncture one should at least acknowledge that Daniel O'Connell who has often been blamed for what has happened was, in effect, trying to do the Irish people a service in trying to better them by ensuring that they would at least have a language with which they could relate to a wider world and be able to advance themselves in that world. The mistake was the failure to make a distinction between the need to have a local language as well as a global language — a local language to ensure that we are confident in our own culture and a global language to ensure that we can enrich our own culture by interaction with that of others.

The Gaeltacht is a very precious part of the Irish inheritance. The tragedy of it is that it is, in fact, a certificate in many ways of what was hoped for it. That has been largely due to the very strong cultural penetration from without and also the inability to make the language live as something that is enjoyed for its own sake by the people. Fortunately, there is a revival of an approach to the language which, hopefully, spells out some hope for the future.

No more is that true than in Northern Ireland today where people, because of strife, struggle and conflict and because of the need to look back to roots and to establish a new sense of security and a new understanding of where we come from, how we could relate to and what we have in common, not only in the minority community but even in the majority community, are seeking a knowledge of the ancient language and trying to see how that relates us to our roots, and they are not all in Ireland. As everyone knows, the Celtic language that came from Ireland crossed the Irish sea both to the Isle of Man and the west coast of Scotland.

We have a right to be different, particularly as we move into the new Europe. The new Europe will be a disaster if it is at best a confederation of nation state capitals and at worst a new form of centralism where all is controlled through the Commission in Brussels. The new Europe offers an exciting prospect if we see it as a federation of autonomous regions and the way in whch we can recognise those regions most clearly is in their history, customs, culture and, above all, in what is preserved in all of these through their ancient languages.

I am delighted to see a Bill concerned with the Gaeltacht. I would just question, in the context of what is happening in regard to the steamroller effect of centralism and gigantism, if we have all these elections on the one day, are we in any way diminishing the importance and the impact of an election in the Gaeltacht itself? With that question I will leave the Minister to respond.

Ag éisteacht leis an méid a bhí le rá ag an Seanadóir Robb. Caithfidh mé a rá nach n-aontaím in aon chor leis. Even though I understand very clearly the very point that he might make he, is not from the Gaeltacht, and I do not say that in a patronising way. The Minister, like myself, being from that area of the country knows better. I would have to say to the Minister that the statement "I am satisfied that there is no danger that the Údarás elections will be overshadowed by the European campaign" is the greatest understatement I have heard since I came into this House. It is the greatest cynical misuse of language that I have dealt with. May I assure my colleague, Senator Robb, there is not the slightest danger that the Údarás election will be overshadowed by the European election; the whole reasoning behind this Bill is just a cynical exercise to get the people of the Gaeltacht out to vote on that day because they are interested in the Údarás election and in the local elections and they will come out and vote.

Of course, Fianna Fáil are hoping that people who will be coming to the ballot boxes anyway will also cast their votes in the European election. It is reverse logic. this is an attempt to build a European campaign on the back of local politics and that is disgraceful.

However, ceapaim go bhfuil taithí agus tuiscint mhaith ag an Aire agus ag an rialtas ar an méid atá ar siúl sna Gaeltachtaí. Ag an am céanna, nuair a bhíonn muintir na nGaeltachtaí ag iarraidh acmhainní ón Stát, go bhfuil an-ghanntanas tacaíochta ón Rialtas dóibh, agus nach bhfuil mé sásta go bhfuil aon rójab déanta ag an Taoiseach mar Aire Gaeltachta le cúpla bliain anuas.

Táimse féin chun féachaint ar chúpla gné de shaol na Gaeltachta agus de ghnáthshaol na ndaoine, agus tá cúpla rud ráite agam le cúpla bliain anuas sa Teach seo, agus ba mhaith liom cúpla ceann díobh seo a athlua anois. Mar shampla, anuraidh bhí an tAcht Craolacháin, an Wireless and Telegraphy Bill, againn sa Teach seo, agus ag an bpointe sin séard a bhí ar siúl againn agus séard a bhí a phlé againn ná an ceart ag an Rialtas chun ceadúnas a chur ar fáil dóibh siúd a bheadh sásta craolachán teilifíse agus raidió a chur ar fáil do mhuintir na tíre. Ag an bpointe sin mhol mé leasú don Bhille, agus ba é an leasú a chuir mé os comhair an Tí an uair sin ná gur chóir don authority or whatever, that they should take into account, agus iad ag tabhairt amach ceadúnas, céatadán nó an codán sin den daonra a bhí sna Gaeltachtaí. Is é an rud a bhí i gceist agam ná gur chóir go mbeadh rogha ag muintir na nGaeltachtaí chomh maith agus a bheadh ag aon dream eile sa tír. Nílim sásta go ndearnadh sin. Táim sásta nach ndearnadh sin, agus tá an seanscéal arís againn, an scéal nach bhfuil a rogha ag muintir na Gaeltachta.

I want to revert to English at this point, to deal also with the point raised by my colleague, Senator Robb, for the best of reasons. I do not know if people in this House understand what it is like to be raised in the Irish language and then to find oneself in a milieu where Irish is not the spoken language, and to be made to feel inferior. I went to school in such an area, in a breac Gaeltacht where half of my classmates were raised completely in Irish and the others in a mixture of English and Irish. I know people from the Gaeltachtaí, who feel that they got a very raw deal from the State. One friend of mine claims he never read an English novel until he went to third level education, because one was never put in front of him. He bitterly resents that that part of his development was ignored. I see the Senator from Galway finds this amusing. Senators from Galway should well understand that it is directed at people from big cities on the edges of Gaeltachtaí.

I am from Longford and I spoke——

The Senator may be from Longford, but he will not be telling the country that when he is looking for votes.

I am not a bit ashamed of it. I spoke on that subject before the Senator came in; he did not hear my contribution on it.

In dealing with the type of problems that muintir na nGaeltachtaí have, caithfidh mé a rá anois gur bhuail mé leis an dearcadh sin dhá uair i mo shaol, nuair a chuaigh mé den chéad uair go dtí Valentia i mo chontae féin i gCiarraí, agus ar mo chéad turas go dtí Clifden i gConamara. Ní dóigh liom gur bhuail mé riamh le dhá áit sa tír a bhí chomh gallda. Cén fáth go bhfuil siad chomh gallda sin? Tá siad chomh gallda sin, mar nuair a bhí an Ghaeilge mar ghnáth-theanga ag muintir na n-áiteacha sin they spoke English on a day-to-day basis, but the people who had money in Valentia and the people who were looked up to in the local community, were those English speakers in charge of bringing in the transatlantic cable and the telegraphy system there. The same applies to Clifden. Mar sin, tá sé de shean-nós againn sa tír seo gurb iad lucht an airgeadais is mó a mbíonn tionchar acu ar ghnáthdhaoine. An rud atá i gceist agam agus an rud atá á phlé anseo agam ná gurb é sin an tábhacht a bhaineann le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta agus gurb é sin an tábhacht a bhaineann leis an obair atá ar siúl ag baill Údarás na Gaeltachta. Táim anois chun píosa a thógáil as an Tuarascáil agus Cuntas do Údarás na Gaeltachta 1986:

Tá contúirt áirithe don Ghaeilge, áfach, mar thoradh ar fhorbairt tionscail sa Ghaeltacht. Aithnítear sin go soiléir agus tá céimeanna a nglacadh chun úsáid na teanga a láidriú sa tionscal agus spreagadh a thabhairt do na rudaí éagsúla a mbeidh tionchar dearfach acu ar thoil an phobail ina leith.

Those are fine words. I ndáiríre, if we look at the position of muintir na Gaeltachta; if we look at the whole milieu and background from which they come, cúrsaí tithíochta, mar shampla, tá feabhas ag teacht ar chúrsaí tithíochta sa Ghaeltacht le blianta beaga anuas anois, go mórmhór leis na deontais atá ar fáil do mhuintir na Gaeltachta. Ach ní thuigeann muintir na tíre go hiomlan, nó níor thuig siad, an gá a bhí i gcónaí ann le deontais mar sin a bheith ar fáil do mhuintir na Gaeltachta, agus nuair a scríobhann daoine ar nós Frank McDonald agus daoine mar sin ar an gcóras tithíochta agus ar an nganntanas pleanála i gConamara agus in áiteacha mar sin ní thuigeann siad, go minic, an sórt rogha a bhí ag na daoine an uair sin. Bhí an rogha acu fanacht sa chaoi ina rabhadar nó teach éigin nua a chur ar fáil dóibh féin. Is fíor, b'fhéidir, do Frank agus daoine mar sin nach bhfuil na tithe is áille sa tír sna Gaeltachtaí, agus níl siad sna Gaeltachtaí mar nach bhfuil airgead ag na daoine chun iad a thógáil. Sin an fáth gur chóir dúinn gach tacaíocht a thabhairt do mhuintir na nGaeltachtaí.

D'fhéadfainn an argóint sin faoi thithe do mhuintir na Gaeltachta a fhorbairt, ach tá i bhfad níos mó ná sin ann. Tá gnéithe eile de shaol na Gaeltachta, cúrsaí oideachais, mar shampla. Chuaigh mé féin ar scoil sa Bhreac-Ghaeltacht is dócha. Chuaigh mé le daoine, mar a dúirt mé cheana, a tháining ón nGaeltacht. Ach sa dara leibhéal nó an tríú leibhéal, ní dóigh liom go raibh riamh agam téacsleabhar as Gaeilge.

I learned Latin through Irish from an English textbook. That is what we are asking people from the Gaeltacht to do. The public perception is that people living in the Gaeltacht get all sorts of grants and support but people from the Gaeltacht cannot even be educated through Irish. They have difficulty finding some place where they can carry on their normal educative process through Irish. It is just not available. Certainly, at third level, I did not have any Irish textbook, except for the Irish language. Certainly the first part of my third level education was through Irish. Physics, chemistry, Latin, or whatever it happened to be, was all done through Irish, working on English, Latin or English chemistry textbooks. That is still the case and it should be noted that that is still the case. Agus ag tagairt do mhuintir na Gaeltachta agus don ghá go mbeadh tacaíocht ann dóibh, níl tacaíocht acu do rudaí mar sin.

Béarfaidh mé sampla eile don Aire. Tá an-fhorbairt timpeall na tíre faoi láthair do scoileanna lán-Ghaeilge. Tá sé de riail ag an Roinn Oideachais múinteoir thar an ngnáth a thabhairt do na scoileanna sin tríd an tír i ngach áit ach sna Gaeltachtaí. Na Gaeltachtaí atá ag iarraidh Gaeilge a fhorbairt agus a chur ar aghaidh, níl an seans céanna ag na scoileanna ansin is atá ag na scoileanna lán-Ghaeilge sa Ghalltacht. An sórt tuisceana nó an sórt loighce a thugtar chun é sin a mhíniú ná go bhfuil Gaeilge ag muintir na Gaeltachta and that children from the Gaeltacht, coming to the local national school go bhfuil leor Gaeilge acu. I make it my business to visit Gaeltacht schools quite regularly, and what I hear time and time again from teachers there, is how few of the four or five year olds coming to school nowadays have Gaeilge. In other words, the school in the Gaeltacht atá ag iarraidh Gaeilge a chur ar fáil agus a chur ar aghaidh tá an jab céanna acu is atá ag na múinteoirí sa Ghalltacht. What happens when the child comes home from school in the evening and turns on television? An bhfuilimid dáiríre mar gheall ar chúrsaí Gaeilge? An bhfuilimid dáiríre nuair atá sé á rá againn gur féidir leo filleadh abhaile agus go mbeadh sórt chomharsancht Ghaeilge nó Ghaeltachta nó Gaelach, ní fheadar cé acu sórt focail is fearr a úsáid ansin, nuair nach bhfuil, mar shampla, Teilifís na Gaeltachta ann. Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil an argóint déanta agam ar son Teilifís na Gaeltachta cúpla uair cheana féin sa Teach, agus nílim ag dur tríd arís.

It is important to underline yet again the way in which the people of the Gaeltacht have been betrayed by the Government on this issue. I propose that when the local broadcasting licences are being given out if they are servicing a Gaeltacht area at least there should be a requirement that if there was a third of the population in the broadcasting area of the Gaeltacht a third of the broadcasting being done by that station should be in Irish or else allow for an alternative radio na Gaeltachta also. That is not to say that I am not happy with the service provided by Radio na Gaeltachta. Tá mé thar a bheith sásta leis. Tá sé go hiontach ar fad an méid atá curtha ar fáil acu. Ach an argóint atá á cur i láthair agam ná gur chóir go mbeadh an rogha ag muintir na Gaeltachta mar atá ag gach duine eile. We have denied them that right. Caithfidh mé a rá nach pribhléid é ach ceart. Is mór an trua é, ach gach tacaíocht a thugtar do mhuintir na Gaeltachta, breathnaítear i gcónaí, agus tá an dearcadh ag muintir na Gaeltachta, go bhfuil sort pribhléide acu nach bhfuil ag daoine eile. It is not a privilege: it is a right. It is a right for them if we want them to develop in a cultúr Gaeltachta nó cultúr Gaeilge go mbeadh teilifís agus raidio Gaeltachta acu, oideachas trí Ghaeilge acu agus ar uile.

Gan amhras, níos mó ná aon rud eile, is tábhachtach go mbeadh, féinmhuinín ag muintir na Gaeltachta, féinmhuinín acu chun for bairt, chun dul ar aghaidh, nach mbeadh an saol atá acu mar bhac orthu, agus nach mbeadh siad faoi aon mhíbhuntáiste toisc go raibh cónaí orthu sa Ghaeltacht. Sin an deacracht atá ann agus a bhí ann i gcónaí. D'fhéadfainn argóint den saghas céanna a chur ar aghaidh mar gheall ar chúrsaí sláinte, cúrsaí fostaíochta agus cúrsaí chaitheamh aimsire. Bhí mé sa Daingean le déanaí, i gContae Chiarraí, agus, gan amhras, ag caint le daoine ansin chuala mé an seanscéal. Níl daoine óga fágtha san áit. Tá siad imithe as an áit. Sin an fáth go bhfuil antábhacht ar fad ag baint le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta, chun jabanna a chur ar fáil sna Gaeltachtaí.

Bhí mé, trí seachtainí ó shin, i gcontae an Aire féin, ar an bhFál Carrah, ag labhairt ar an imirce, agus an fad is a bhí mé ann chonaic mé na busanna ag fágáil an bhaile sin agus iad ar a mbealach go Londain, go Manchúin agus áiteacha eile mar sin. Bhí mé ar Leitir Móir le déanaí, mar a bhfuil col ceathrar liom féin, Peadar Ó Tuathail, ina bhall de Údarás na Gaeltachta. Dúirt Peadar liom, "Tá níos mó ná dhá Jumbos de dhaoine imithe ón áit seo le cúpla bliain ar imirce." Agus sin mar atá. Tá slad déanta ar na Gaeltachtaí, agus sin an fáth nach maith liom go mbeadh an Rialtas anois ag iarraidh sásamh éigin a bhaint as toghcháin an Údaráis and to try to build up the European elections on the backs of the Údarás elections. It is not good enough and does not appeal to me.

In the European elections, táimid ag baint le tíortha eile nach bhfuil in aon slí cosúil linn féin, go mórmhór ó thaobh an tslí a bhfuil an daonra roinnte tríd an tír. The distribution of the population in this country is different from that of any other country in Europe. We know that to our cost when it comes to providing health, education, transport and other services. It is the only country where one can drive through the country side and see houses dotted all over the place, on top of hills, on the sides of mountains, down valleys etc. It is the way our country developed because of our history. It is different from any other European country in that way. That is costly to us. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the Gaeltacht areas. Therefore, nowhere is it more necessary to put money into the infrastructural services than in the Gaeltachtaí, and those services are just not there.

Tá go leor ráite mar gheall ar bhóithre na nGaeltachtaí. Tá eolas againn ar an méid sin. Ach níamháin sin. Mar a dúras, cúrsaí sláinte, cúrsaí oideachais, cúrsaí craolacháin, i ngach sórt slí the people of the Gaeltacht are disadvantaged in regard to housing, education, health services, jobs, and they are the ones suffering most from emigration. For that reason the last thing we should be doing in this House or in either House is to demean in importance the elections to Údarás na Gaeltachta. For that reason I believe the Government are following a very cynical exercise here in trying to mount a European campaign on the backs of Údarás elections. I regret that the Government find it necessary to do this. Is it a reflection on their candidates or on their policies? I am not quite sure. I would prefer if the Government took a greater interest in developing the Údarás by giving them the support and resources to do the job they would want to do. Fágfaidh mé é mar sin faoin Aire.

Ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a ghabháil leis na Seanadóirí, iad siúd a tháinig isteach anseo agus iad siúd a labhair i nGaeilge nói mBéarla. Bhí an tsuim acu sa Ghaeltacht agus i dtoghchán Udarás na Gaeltachta chun teacht anseo agus a bheith páirteach sa díospóireacht seo. Gabhaim buíochas ó mo chroí leis na Seanadóirí go léir as ucht an chaoi in ar glacadh leis an mBille beag seo agus déanfaidh mé mo dhícheall freagra a thabhairt ar na ceisteanna a chuir siad maidir le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta.

Ní díospóireacht í seo ar Roinn na Gaeltachta nó an Roinn Oideachais. Mar a dúirt mé i dtosach, is é an cuspóir atá leis an mBille ná foráil a dhéanamh i dtreo is go mbeidh sé ar ár gcumas toghcháin do Pharlaimint na hEorpa agus toghchán do Údarás na Gaeltachta a chur ar siúl ar an lá céanna. Tá sé socraithe cheana féin go mbeidh an vótáil do thoghcháin na hEorpa ar siúl ar an gcúigiú lá déag de mhí an Mheithimh, agus, ag féachaint ar an dlí mar atá sé faoi láthair, caithfear an toghchán don Údarás a thionscnamh roimh lár mhí Dheireadh Fómhair. Mar sin, caithfear an toghchán seo a bheith againn idir é seo agus lár mí Dheireadh Fómhair.

Ceapaim féin go bhfuil sé anchiallmhar é a bheith againn ag an am seo, agus caithfidh mé a rá, mar fhear as an mBreac-Ghaeltacht, nó, mar a dúirt an Seanadóir Ryan as an nGaeltacht bhréige, b'fhéidir, duine ar bith a tháinig isteach anseo inniu agus a bhí i gcoinne toghchán ar an lá céanna, ní raibh siadsan ag caint thar ceann mhuintir na Gaeltachta. Ní dóigh liomsa go bhfuil an méid sin spéise acusan sa Ghaeltacht. Níor chaith siad mórán ama sa Ghaeltacht, cúpla seachtain nó cúpla mí, b'fhéidir. Níl duine ar bith sa Ghaeltacht atá i gcoinne an toghcháin seo ar an lá céanna. Tá a leath de mo Dháilcheantar sa Ghaeltacht, agus caithimse go leor deireadh seachtaine ag freastal ar mhuintir na Gaeltachta, agus caithfear a rá go fírinneach agus ó mo chroí nach raibh duine ar bith sa Ghaeltacht, cibé polaitíocht a bhí acu nó atá acu, a bhí i gcoinne é seo. Tá mé cinnte — ag deireadh an lae, gcaithfimid fanacht go dtí go bhfeicfimid — go n-aontaíonn an tromlach mór de na Seanadóirí gur ciallmhar an rud é an dá thoghchán a thabhairt le chéile. Mar a dúirt mé, má dhéantar amhlaidh sábhálfar airgead poiblí.

Chuir and Senadóir Ryan ceist, nó an Seanadóir Murphy — níl fhios agam cé acu — an féidir praghas a chur ar dhaonlathas. Níl muintir na Gaeltachta i gcoinne na dtoghchán ar an lá céanna. Tá a fhios ag muintir na Gaeltachta go bhfaighfidh siad an phoiblíocht chéanna is a bheadh ar fáil mura mbeadh toghchán na hEorpa ann an lá céanna. Tá a fhios ag an dá Sheanadóir atá i gcoinne é seo, is cuma an mbeidh an toghchán sin ann nó nach mbeidh, an t-aon phoiblíocht a gheobhaidh muintir na Gaeltachta, ná na páipéir áitiúla agus Raidió na Gaeltachta. Ba cheart dul ar ais go dtí toghchán Údarás na Gaeltachta i mí Dheireadh Fómhair 1984; cén phoiblíocht a fuair muidne? Cén phoiblíocht a fuair muid go náisiúnta, ó RTÉ ná ó Radio Telefís Eireann? Fuair muid an phoiblíocht a fuair muintir na Gaeltachta agus iad siúd a ghlac páirt sa toghchán sin ó Raidió na Gaeltachta agus ó na páipéir áitiúla. Sin an dóigh a mbeidh sé agus ní mar a dúirt an Seanadóir Ryan.

Bhí mé ag éisteacht nuair a bhí mé amuigh. Bhí an Seanadóir ag caint faoi aitheantas don Ghaeltacht. Tá mise cinnte de go bhfaighfidh sibh an phoiblíocht chéanna. Beidh muidne agus beidh mise ag obair go crua sa toghchán, agus geallaim go mbeidh gach uile dhuine a bhfuil suim acu sa Ghaeltacht, atá ina gcónaí gar don Ghaeltacht, nó fán Ghaeltacht, ag cur fadhbanna na Gaeltachta san aon áit ar féidir sin a dhéanamh, agus sin fo háitiúil.

Leabhair an Seanadóir O'Toole i mBéarla sular tháinig mé isteach. Dúirt sé "Caithfear labhairt i mBéarla mar nach bhfaighidh mé poiblíocht ar bith má labhraítear Gaeilge". Chuir sé áthas orm a bheith ag éisteacht taobh amuigh den Teach nuair a dúirt an Cathaoirleach, an Seanadóir Uí hÓnáin, go mbeidh córas aistriúcháin comhaimseartha sa Seanad istigh anseo roimh dheireadh na bliana. Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh an ráiteas sin ón Chathaoirleach. Ansin beidh gach duine ábalta, iad siúd, na tuairisceoirí, iad siúd nach bhfuil Gaeilge acu an díosporeacht a thuiscint. Mura bhfuil aistriúchán ann níl seans ar bith poiblíocht a thabhairt. Ach sa Ghaeltacht í féin, is iad na dreamanna a thugann poiblíocht don Ghaeltacht agus don Ghaeilge ná páipéir áitiúla agus Raidió na Gaeltachta. Braitheann sé ar rudaí eile. Má tá scannal ar bith ann beidh go leor poiblíochta le fáil sa Ghaeltacht, ach nuair atá ceist ar bith eile ann ní dóigh liom go bhfaigheann an Ghaeltacht mórán, ní amháin sa Teach seo, ní amháin sna páipéir, ach fiú amháin sa Teach eile. Caithfidh mise a rá nach aon rud nua é an dá thoghchán nó b'fhéidir trí thoghchán a bheith ann an lá céanna.

An bhfuil siad?

B'fhéidir trí cinn an lá céanna.

An bhfuil siad ann?

Tá. Tá toghchán na hEorpa ann. Tá toghchán Údarás na Gaeltachta ann, agus dóibh siúd a bhfuil suim acu ann, tá fo-thoghchán ShligeachLiatroma ann ar an lá céanna. Beidh trí thoghchán sa tír ag an am céanna. Táimid cinnte faoi sin. Níor mhothaigh mise mórán cainte faoi chúpla toghchán a bheith ar an lá céanna i 1979. Sular tháinig mise agus go leor daoine eile isteach sa Teach seo bhí toghchán na comhairle contae ann an t-am sin.

Bhí go leor daoine a bhí sa rás le haghaidh toghchán na Comhairle Contae, bhí siad sásta go raibh toghchán na hEorpa ann an lá céanna, agus ní raibh caint ná raic ar bith fá dtaobh de ag an am sin. Cuireann sé isteach go mór ormsa nuair a thagann daoine isteach anseo, daoine nach bhfuil suim acu sa Ghaeltacht, ag rá gur cheart deis a thabhairt don Ghaeltacht an rud céanna a bheith acu féin.

Sin an tríú hócáid nuair a d'úsáid an tAire na focail siúd, nach bhfuil suim ag daoine sa Ghaeltacht. Ní dóigh liom gur chóir dó a leithéid sin a rá.

Acting Chairman

The Minister is entitled to speak without interruption.

Agus caithfear é sin a rá arís eile, mar is gá é a rá.

Ní gá é.

Tá a fhios agamsa gur an fhírinne atá ann, agus mura bhfuil tusa sásta éisteacht leis an fhírinne is trua é. Ní féidir liomsa rud ar bith a dhéanamh fá dtaobh de. Bhí go leor Seanadóirí eile, agus labhair an Seanadóir Nioclás Ó Conchubhair agus dúirt sé, agus chun a bheith cothrom don Seanadóir McCormack, dúirt sé nach bhfuil a intinn déanta suas aige go fóill fá dtaobh de seo. Ach tá mise cinnte fá dtaobh de rud amháin, go gcuirfeadh sé isteach níos mó ar mhuintir na Gaeltachta mura mbeadh an toghchán seo ar an lá céanna. Fiú amháin i 1984 is cuimhin liom é go raibh toghchán an t-am a bhfuair an Teachta Dála bás i gContae Uíbh Fhailí, Ber Cowan, go ndéana Dia trócaire air, bhí fo-thoghchán ann an lá céanna. Bhí cupla reifreann againn ar an lá céanna, na blianta ó shin, agus, mar a dúirt mé, sa bhliain 1984 cuireadh reifreann agus fo-thoghchán agus na toghcháin do Pharlaimint na hEorpa ar siúl ar an lá céanna. Mar sin, ní haon rud nua é atá i gceist anois. Aontaím go hiomlán leis na Seanadóirí a dúirt go bhfuil tábhacht ar leith ag baint le toghchán do Údarás na Gaeltachta. Ócáid antábhachtach í do phobal na Gaeltachta, agus tá a fhios agam go bhfuil an-suim sa toghchán sin go dtí seo. Agus an chaint faoin daonlathas, nach iontach an rud é gurb é mo pháirtí féin é a thug an daonlathas sin do mhuintir na Gaeltachta. Bhí Gaeltarra Éireann ansin ar feadh tamaill fhada. Bhí Comhrialtas ann idir 1973 agus 1977 agus is é Donncha Ó Gallchobhair, mar Aire na Gaeltachta, a thug seans do mhuintir na Gaeltachta baill tofa a bheith acu, agus a thug seans do mhuintir na Gaeltachta daoine a chur ar an Údarás ionas go mbeadh guth mhuintir na Gaeltachta ar Bhord Udarás na Gaeltachta. Roimhe sin ní raibh an deis sin acu.

Chomh fada agus a bhaineann sé liomsa agus le mo pháirtí féin, beidh iarrthóirí fiúntacha sa choimhlint againn, agus beidh feachtas toghcháin éifeachtach neamhspleách á reachtáil againn. Geallaim dóibh agus dóibh siúd a bhfuil comhartha ceiste fá dtaobh de shuim atá againn-ne sa Ghaeltacht, agus i dtoghchán Udarás na Gaeltachta, geallaim daoibh, agus tugaim barúil phearsanta, go mbeidh níos mó suime i dtoghchán Údarás na Gaeltachta ná i dtoghchán na hEorpa. Agus ní dóigh liom, mar a dúirt an Seanadóir Ryan nó Seanadóir eile, go mbáithfidh toghchán na hEorpa toghchán Údarás na Gaeltachta. Ní dóigh liom go dtarlóidh sin, agus tá súil agam i leith gach páirtí eile agus gach duine neamhspleách a bheas ina sheasamh le haghaidh an toghcháin seo, go mbeidh toghchán éifeachtach á reachtáil acusan chomh maith.

Chuir an Seanadóir McCormack ceist fá dtaobh de olltoghchán. Ní gá domsa a chur i gcuimhne do dhuine ar bith anseo nach pribhléid an Rialtas é, ná pribhléid an Tí seo, ná an Tí eile é. Is é pribhléid an Taoisigh é sin, ach cad faoin toghchán eile?

Tá sé "relevant".

An toghchán faoin Teach seo, tá a fhios agam cén dóigh ina bhfuil gach duine ag smaoineamh. Tá a fhios agam agus ní gá do Sheanadóir ar bith a bheith ag cur ceist ghlic mar sin, tá a fhios acu nach bhfuil a fhios ag éinne ar bith ach an Taoiseach. Tá gach páirtí eile ag rith agus eagla orthu agus fearg orthu go mbeidh toghchán ar an lá céanna. Sin mo fhreagra ar an cheist sin. Is é pribhléid an Taoisigh é, agus is é and Taoiseach a ghlaofaidh olltoghchán. Mura raibh a fhios sin agat roimhe tá brón orm nach raibh a fhios sin agat. A Chathaoirligh, tá mise breá sásta fanacht anseo le haghaidh an tráthnóna agus iarracht mo dhíchill a dhéanamh chun freagra a thabhairt ar cheisteanna, gan daoine a bheith ag teacht isteach le "glic comments" mar sin. Mura bhfuil sibh sásta éisteacht, níl mise ábalta cuidiú.

Ceapaimse go bhfuil an díospóireacht seo tábhachtach don Ghaeltacht agus ní as an Ghaeltacht mé féin ach ceapaim gur cheart an rud é, chomh fada agus is féidir, díospóireacht a bheith againn in ár dteanga dhúchais. Chuir sé gliondar croí ormsa nuair a tháinig an Seanadóir John Robb isteach anseo, agus cé gur labhair sé i mBéarla, fear nach bhfuil mórán Gaeilge aige, thaispeáin sé sin an tsuim atá aige sa Ghaeltacht, fear a chaitheann a laethanta saoire sa Ghaeltacht agus an-suim aige sa Ghaeltacht. Tá sé sin cosúil le go leor daoine i dTuaisceart na hÉireann, agus, ar ndóigh, tá an Ghaeilge beo bríomhar sa taobh sin tíre, agus ní bhfaigheann siad an deis chéanna is a fhaigheann go leor daoine, agus déanaimse comhghairdeas leis an Seanadóir Robb. Beidh mé á mholadh, os rud é go gcaitheann sé oiread sin ama sa Ghaeltacht agus gur thóg sé páirt sa díospóireacht seo, fiú amháin má bhí sé i mBearla.

Chuir an Seanadóir McCormack ceist fá dtaobh den toghchán seo nó an toghchán amach anseo sa bhliain 1994 nó 1999. "Enabling legislation" is ea an Bille seo agus tugann sé deis don Aire amach anseo. Níl seo á rá go gcaithfear toghchán Údarás na Gaeltachta a bheith againn ar an lá céanna le toghcháin na hEorpa, ach tá an reachtaíocht seo ann anois ionas go mbeidh an tAire, nó cibé Aire a bheas ann, ábalta an toghchán do Údarás na Gaeltachta a bheith againn an lá céanna. Níl mise ag rá go mbeidh sé ar an lá céanna amach anseo sa bhliain 1994 nó 1999. Mhol mé an Cathaoirleach nuair a labhair an Seanadóir Ryan fá dtaobh den chóras aistriúcháin, agus tá súil agam go mbeidh an deis ag gach duine a theacht isteach agus díospóireacht mar seo ar siúl go mbeidh an córas aistriúcháin nua-aimseartha acu agus go mbeidh siad ábalta éisteacht leis nuair atá sé aistrithe go Béarla.

Ní cheapaim, os rud é go mbeidh an dá thoghchán ar an lá céanna, gur neamhshuim atá againn sa Ghaeltacht. Ceapaim féin nach éascaíocht riaracháin atá i gceist anseo, an toghchán eile a bheith againn, ach cuir ceist ar mhuintir na Gaeltachta, cuir ceist ar na hionadaithe poiblí atá ag obair sa Ghaeltacht, agus tabharfaidh said an freagra duit go bhfuil muintir na Gaeltachta agus iad siúd atá ag obair sa Ghaeltacht sásta é a bheith acu ar an lá céanna.

Chuir sé iontas orm, agus ceapaim féin gur masla é, nuair a dúirt an Seanadóir O'Toole nach bhfuil na tithe is áille sa Ghaeltacht. Bhí sé i nDún na nGall, agus tá aithne mhaith air sa Ghaeltacht. Ceapaimse nach raibh sé dáiríre nuair a dúirt sé nach raibh na tithe is áille sa Ghaeltacht. Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil baint ar bith aige seo leis an reachtaíocht seo nó leis an Bhille seo, ach caithfear a rá nach bhfuil sé sin fíor ar chor ar bith. Tá na tithe sa Ghaeltacht chomh maith le teach ar bith eile, ní amháin sa tír seo ach in áit ar bith sa domhan. B'fhéidir nach bhfuil go leor acu ann. Thóg muintir na Gaeltachta a dtithe. Níl mórán "housing schemes" sa Ghaeltacht. Tá níos lú de na tithe sin sa Ghaeltacht ná in áit ar bith eile sa tír.

Cuireadh ceist fá dtaobh de iad siúd atá ina mbaill ainmnithe agus iad siúd atá ar an Údarás faoi láthair. Tá an tAcht um Údarás na Gaeltachta, 1979, agam, agus deir an tAcht sin, "I gcás a ndéanfar comhalta (seachas comhalta tofa) den Údarás a ainmniú lena thoghadh chun ceachtar Tí den Oireachtas, nó mar chomhalta de Sheanad Éireann, scoirfidh sé air sin de bheith ina chomhalta den Údarás". Tá sé chomh simplí sin. Deir sé sin, duine ar bith atá ainmnithe, ní gá dó Bord an Údaráis a fhágáil. Mar a déarfá i mBéarla, "good sense must prevail". Ní dóigh liom féin go dtarlaíonn sé seo. Nuair a scrios an t-iar-Aire den Chomhrialtas daoine ionraice cosúil le Máire Mhic Niallais as mo dháilcheantar féin agus daoine eile, daoine ionraice a scrios an t-iar-Aire Gaeltachta as a bpost ag an am sin, sin an chéad uair a tharla sé. Scrios sé iad, ach ní dóigh liom go dtarlaíonn sé seo. Nuair a ainmníodh na daoine seo ag an iar-Aire, daoine "apolotical", mar a déarfá, a bhí iontu, agus cad chuige a mbeadh deacrachtaí ar bith againn nuair atá daoine atá "apolitical" ag iarraidh seasamh sa toghchán? Ní dóigh go dtarlaíonn sé seo, agus mar a dúirt mé, tá súil agam go mbeidh ciall ag daoine. Chomh maith leis sin, an mbeadh sé cothrom, cuir i gcás, dá mbeadh daoine sa Teach seo, a d'ainmneodh an Taoiseach agus chomh luath agus a bhí olltoghchán ann nó cúpla seachtain ina dhiaidh sin, go mbeadh daoine ábalta a theacht isteach go dtí an Dáil a bheadh ina dTeachtaí Dála nó ina Seanadóirí, agus daoine eile nach iad? Ceapaim féin gur ceist hypothetical atá ann agus nach mbeadh deacracht ar bith ansin. Tá súil agam, duine ar bith atá ina bhall ainmnithe ag an Rialtas agus má tásuim acu seasamh sa toghchán, ba cheart go mbeadh gach duine ag tosú ón phointe céanna. Beidh cuid acu a bheidh ábalta dul isteach chuig an Údarás agus freagraí a fháil ar cheisteanna, agus beidh daoine eile nach mbeidh ábalta dul isteach agus eolas a fháil.

Caithfear ceist a chur ansin, cad faoin daonlathas ansin? Cuir i gcás, ag deireadh an lae, mar a dúirt an Seanadóir McCormack, go bhfuil na baill ainmnithe atá ansin, ní gá do na daoine sin an tÚdarás a fhágáil go dtí 1991. Chuir sé ceist cad é a tharlóidh tar éis an toghcháin. Sin arís pribhléid Aire na Gaeltachta agus pribhléid an Rialtais, agus níl a fhios agam cad é an dóigh a bhfuil siadsan ag smaoineamh. Ceapaim féin gur ceart fanacht go dtí go mbíonn an toghchán thart. Tá súil agam, cibé rud a dhéanfar, go ndéanfar an rud ceart don Údarás, don Ghaeltacht agus do mhuintir na Gaeltachta.

Question put.
The Seanad divided: Tá, 27 7; Níl, 7.

  • Bohan, Edward Joseph.
  • Bromell, John A. (Tony)
  • Byrne, Seán.
  • Cassidy, Donie.
  • Cullimore, Séamus.
  • Doherty, Michael.
  • Fallon, Seán.
  • Farrell, Willie.
  • Fitzsimons, Jack.
  • Haughey, Seán F.
  • Hillery, Brian.
  • Hussey, Thomas.
  • Kiely, Dan.
  • Kiely, Rory.
  • Lanigan, Mick.
  • Lydon, Donal.
  • McEllistrim, Tom.
  • McGowan, Patrick.
  • Magnier, John.
  • Mooney, Paschal.
  • Mullooly, Brian.
  • Mulroy, Jimmy.
  • O'Connell, John.
  • Ó Conchubhair, Nioclás.
  • O'Toole, Martin J.
  • Ryan, William.
  • Wallace, Mary.

Níl

  • Ferris, Michael.
  • Murphy, John A.
  • O'Shea, Brian.
  • O'Toole, Joe.
  • Robb, John D.A.
  • Ross, Shane P.N.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
Tellers: Tá, Senators W. Ryan and S. Haughey; Níl, Senators B. Ryan and O'Shea.
Question declared carried.