HALF OF THE current budget of Údarás na Gaeltachta is being spent on former employees’ pensions, it emerged yesterday.
The information came to light at an Oireachtas Joint Committee where Minister’s Jimmy Deenihan and Dinny McGuinley were answering questions about expenditure in the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltachts.
McGuinley confirmed that from a current budget of €9.8 million in 2012, some €4.3 million was spent on pension payments to former employees of the agency which is responsible for the economic, social and cultural development of the Gaeltacht.
Commenting on the budget spending, Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh said this raises “serious concerns” regarding the levels of monies being paid, who is receiving them and how many other State organisations are in a similar situation. He said he will be looking for a more detailed breakdown of expenditure.
“I nearly fell off the chair when I heard that almost half the current expenditure goes on pension payments to 136 people who are no longer employed by the organisation,” he said.
“Small wonder that the Údarás is not able to function more effectively.”
This news comes on foot of other disclosures at the committee that cutbacks of 68 per cent have been made to the Gaeltacht and Islands budgets in the department between 2008 and 2012.
“We cannot accept any further cuts in these areas in light of this information”, saidthe Sinn Féin Senator, “because Irish speakers and Gaeltacht residents have already shouldered their fair share of the burden for the sins of the bankers.”
“This government is doing untold damage to the life and future of the Gaeltacht with the cutbacks they are imposing.”