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Varadkar leaves Galway and the Gaeltacht in the ha’penny place

Thursday, 15th June, 2017 10:47am

Newly elected Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has taken “retrograde steps” in relation to the Irish language and the Gaeltacht, according to Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh.

Speaking today from Leinster House, the Galway West – South Mayo Senator criticised Taoiseach Varadkar for leaving Galway with no representation at the Cabinet table.

“Leo Varadkar’ s decision to shift Seán Kyne out of the Gaeltacht brief and to reinstate Joe McHugh there shows his complete lack of understanding of the progress that has been made in the last year. Seán Kyne made a number of u-turns in policy, with the recent publication of the Heads of Bill for the Official Languages (Amendment) Act, consultations on transport arrangements for the Aran Islands and other policy issues as well,” the Sinn Féin’s spokesperson for the Irish Language and the Gaeltacht said.

“The Irish Language and Gaeltacht communities are perplexed by the Taoiseach’s appointment because of the poor state in which Joe McHugh left the Department previously, in relation to an erosion of language rights, the lack of progress on the Twenty Year Strategy for the Irish Language and other matters and they are not confident that things will be markedly different this time around.”

He said it is “quite significant” no Minister has been appointed from Galway East or West.

“There will be no strong voice to speak up in relation to the housing, health and traffic crises we are experiencing in the capital and premier county in the West.  This is nothing new however. It does indicate to me though, that we have a new Taoiseach, but it does not appear that the new government have any new priorities,” Senator Ó Clochartaigh stated, before adding that he was “baffled” by the reappointment of Simon Harris to Health.

He concluded by saying, “The Fine Gael beauty contest is now over, but I have little confidence that the Varadkar era will be any better for the Irish language community and the people of Galway in particular, but Sinn Féin will continue to fight hard for parity of treatment and services for these communities in a progressive and forthright manner”. 

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