Anger over Líofa funding cut

Local activists at the weekend  protesting over scrapping of L�ofa bursary scheme.
Local activists at the weekend protesting over scrapping of L�ofa bursary scheme.

Young Gaelige speakers from Derry have expressed anger and frustration over the withdrawal of key Líofa bursary funding.

The group met in Derry at the weekend amid outrage at the decision of by the Minister for Communities Paul Givan to scrap the Líofa Bursary Scheme.

Following the meeting, Caolán McGinley, chairperson of Sinn Féin Youth in Derry, said: “Sinn Féin Republican Youth in Derry reject the decision by the Minister for Communities. This clearly shows the lack of respect that the DUP have for Irish language speakers.

“The minister should listen to public outcry and restore the bursaries immediately.

“The scheme provides vital financial help for everyone in the community, particularly for disadvantaged families and young people who wish to spend time at the colleges in the Gaeltacht in Donegal to improve their skills in the Irish language.”

The Department for Communities has issued notifications stating that due to “efficiency savings” they will not be offering the bursaries in 2017. The decision to block the £50,000 funding has been widely condemned.

The means-tested bursaries helped Irish language learners fund the costs involved in visiting the Gaeltacht region of Donegal. Caolán McGinley said that from the outset, Líofa has been very successful in encouraging people from all political, religious and social backgrounds to learn the Irish language.

He said: “This is an attack on those people from all communities who have availed of the scheme and it is also an attack on the Irish language, culture and identity.

“It is not surprising that minister would make this decision, the party consistently oppose Acht Na Gaeilge.

“This move further adds to the disregard for the Irish language and Irish speakers.

“The minister should listen to public outcry and restore the bursaries immediately.

“Ba cheart don Aire a chinneadh a fhreaschur gan mhoill agus sparántachtaí Líofa a thabhairt ar ais.”

Derry Sinn Féin councillor and Irish language spokesperson Kevin Campbell has also condemned the move.

He said: “The DUP Minister’s decided to cut £50,000 from the Gaeltacht bursary scheme in the midst of the Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) scheme crisis, presided over by other DUP ministers, which will now result in an actual loss to the Northern Executive’s total budget of approximately £500 million.”