TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY rebutted criticism of the appointment of Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Joe McHugh by Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams during this afternoon’s Dáil session.
Adams was hitting out at the decision by the Taoiseach to appoint a Minister with a poor grasp of the Irish language to the position. Adams was also critical of the appointment of Jimmy Deenihan to the role of Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
Speaking during Leaders’ Questions, Adams said: ”The appointment of the two ministers is a backwards step, because they do not speak Irish. The manner in which the department has been organised is a further mark of the downgrading of the Irish language.
It is evidence of the disregard that the government has for the Irish language.
Adams spoke mostly in Irish whilst making his criticism of the recent appointments.
In his initial response, Kenny said: “I shall speak in English so everyone can understand me.
What you have just said, is typical of the reasons why we are not as bilingual as we should be…. because you have suggested we are not capable of learning the language.
Forgetting his commitment to speaking English, Kenny then responded as gaeilge to Adams.
On McHugh’s Irish, Kenny said: “He has the Irish inside of him, but it is rusty, and isn’t a good thing to say Deputy Adams, ‘I am as Irish as anyone else, and I am going to learn the language’.”
Earlier in the session, leader of Fianna Fáil Mícheál Martin again raised the issue of cuts to disability-focused organisations. Martin was again hitting out at the axing of funds to 26 organisations including the Neurological Alliance of Ireland, the Irish Deaf Society, and Chronic Pain Ireland.
On the loss of funding by the Huntington’s Disease Association, Martin said:
The impact of this has been devastating on behalf of the organisations included… for €26,000 a year that organisation is in a position to provide a service… someone made a decision on that and they didn’t tell the Minister for Health… It is a mess Taoiseach.
The Fine Gael leader responded to this criticism by outlining the appeals process available to organisations who had their requests turned down by Pobal. He went on to criticism Martin’s record as Health Minister by saying:
You have a basic philosophy, that is to have enough money to give to everybody. It is the same philosophy you had in health for years. Have enough money to fork out to all areas.
Leaders’ Questions concluded with the the Taoiseach and leaders of the opposition parties paying tribute to long time administrator of the Dáil restaurant, Nora White, who is retiring after forty years of running the restaurant. On her retirement the Taoiseach said:
“If an army marches on its belly, the I am sure on behalf on the members of the house, we wish he well in her well deserved retirement next week.