Subsidies to the Gaeltacht

The idea that Irish-speaking communities are heavily subsidised is a myth. In 1999 the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands spent just under 43 million punts on the Irish language and the Gaeltacht. This was approximately 54.5 US dollars [1]. In the same year, the Danish government subsidy to the 46,000 Faeroe Islanders was 135 million US dollars [2]. In addition to its annual subsidy, between October 1992 and February 1998, the Danish government spent 140 million US dollars [3] bailing out the Faeroe Islands' second largest bank. Clearly Ireland spends much less on its national language and on the Gaeltacht than Denmark does on one of its dependent territories.

However, the situation is even more scandalous when one looks at how much is being spent on genuinely Irish-speaking communities. As Hindley has pointed out, the overwhelming bulk of the money spent on the Gaeltacht goes to English-speaking communities which have been classified as part of the Gaeltacht. (This misclassification was done by politicians in order to buy votes). For instance, grants and capital expenditure by Údarás na Gaeltachta together amounted to 25 million punts in 1999. This was 58% of the total supposedly being spend to support the language. Yet on his visits to Údarás supported businesses, Hindley found no evidence of Irish being spoken.

The money which is spent on Irish-speakers mostly goes to those outside the Gaeltacht, who don't form a viable speech community.

The following figures are taken from the 1999 Annual Report of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands.

Government expenditure on the Irish language & the Gaeltacht, 1999
Category Figures in millions of punts
Gaeltacht Housing 1.55
Improvement schemes in the Gaeltacht 5.48
Cultural & social schemes 2.91
European Office for Minority Languages 0.004
Údarás na Gaeltachta (grants to industry) 11.6
Údarás na Gaeltachta (capital expenditure) 13.4
Údarás na Gaeltachta (elections) 0.002
Bord na Gaeilge 3.25
Ciste na Gaeilge 3.25
Foras Teanga 0.947
Grant for Telifís na Gaeilge. (This was listed under Broadcasting & Film rather than Irish language and Gaeltacht). 0.53

1. On 1 January 1999 the rate of conversion between the euro and the punt was irrevocably fixed at 1 Euro = 0.78756 punt. By the end of 1999, 1 Euro was worth around 1US dollar.

2. Source: CIA World Fact Book web site (year 2002)

3. Source: soc.culture.nordic FAQ (year 2002)