Thursday 18 December 2014

Udaras needs a helping hand

Published 22/01/2013 | 05:00

FOR a country desperately in need of creating jobs, we sometimes have a funny way of going about it. Udaras na Gaeltachta, the agency responsible for bringing business into Irish-speaking areas, said its client companies cut more jobs than they created once again last year, but that was really not the problem.

The problems were two issues the agency raised: a lack of broadband access in parts of Donegal and rural Galway, and budget cuts.

One company that employs close to 150 people in Connemara has to pay €24,000 a year to maintain a paltry 2MB broadband connection.

Another in Donegal has to fork out €20,000 a year for a broadband service that would cost closer to €200 in London or Dublin. This is 2013. The internet is no longer a "nice thing to have". It is essential to nearly every business on the planet. How can Udaras attract investment when there is no infrastructure in place?

The second issue, Udaras said, was its budget. All state bodies will complain about their budget, but Udaras seems a special case.

The likes of the IDA and Enterprise Ireland have their capital expansion budgets ringfenced and rightfully so.

Since 2008, Udaras na Gaeltachta claims its budget for capital expansion has been cut by 75pc. While money is tight, cutting budgets by three-quarters and not providing adequate business infrastructure is not the way to go about it.

Irish Independent

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