Gaeltacht spokesman 'only has cupla focal'
FINE Gael's Gaeltacht affairs spokesman vowed last night to continue with his Irish lessons -- after coming under fire for only having a "cupla focal".
Roscommon-South Leitrim TD Frank Feighan was criticised by a group of Irish language enthusiasts -- including poet Gabriel Rosenstock -- for having "very limited Irish".
The group collected signatures for an open letter to his party leader Enda Kenny, which also said that Mr Feighan could not communicate effectively with children in the Gaelscoileanna or articulate Fine Gael's policy on Raidio na Gaeltachta and TG4.
But last night Mr Feighan said he was trying to improve his command of the language by getting lessons from a teacher in Spiddal, Co Galway, over the past 10 weeks.
"I am trying to pick up the cupla focal. I'm starting to get a bit more confidence," he said.
Mr Feighan said there were a lot of people like him who had studied Irish in school but were "a bit intimidated" about speaking it.
"Maybe I can bring a different view to people who are trying to preserve and enhance the Irish language," he said.
Mr Feighan said he had met with organisations like Conradh na Gaeilge and Udaras na Gaeltachta and had found them to be very encouraging.
Fine Gael's previous Gaeltacht affairs spokesman Michael Ring also spoke limited Irish but the party has pointed out that former Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Sile de Valera was in a similar position.
Mr Feighan said he was working closely with Fine Gael Donegal South-West TD Dinny McGinley, a fluent Irish speaker. He puts questions 'as Gaeilge' on Mr Feighan's behalf to Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Pat Carey.
Meanwhile, Mr Carey insisted again yesterday that the Gaeltacht's job creation agency should be left intact.
The Bord Snip group recommended that Udaras na Gaeltachta's job creation function should be given to Enterprise Ireland and the revised capital spending plan published this week also implicitly backed this up. An Bord Snip said this would save €6.9m.