FORMER Sinn Féin arts minister, Carál Ní Chuilín, has described as “disgraceful” and “a hatred of Irish” a decision by a government department to withdraw funding for an Irish language bursary scheme.
Around 100 people a year received bursaries from the Líofa Gaeltacht scheme to improve their Irish language skills at classes in the Donegal Gaeltacht.
First piloted in 2012, it is understood that the bursaries were worth around £50,000 annually and enabled those on lower incomes to avail of the Gaeltacht experience.
However, the Department for Communities has now decided to withdraw funding, in an email sent from the Líofa office to the boards of the gaeltacht colleges just before Xmas.
Sent in Irish, its English translation reads: “Because of efficiency savings, the department will not be providing the Líofa bursary scheme in 2017. Happy Christmas and Happy New Year.”
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Today another Sinn Fein colleague has echoed her concerns:
West Tyrone representative and gaeilgeoir Barry McElduff said the decision by Communities Minister Paul Givan to end the £50,000 Líofa Gaeltacht scheme reflected the DUP’s “active disrespect” of Irish culture and identity.
He said the decision was indicative of a “deteriorating relationship” between Stormont’s two biggest parties.
The axed bursary scheme is aimed at disadvantaged young people from both sides of the community in the North.
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Image: The Líofa bursary scheme was set up by former Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, pictured here with former Assistant Chief Constable Judith Gillespie.
pp Celtic League.