Proposals to cut funding to Derry’s Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin could result in the building being forced to close, it has been claimed.
Staff have warned that the new proposals from the Great James Street Irish language and cultural organisation’s main funder, Foras na Gaeilge, could impact thousands of local people.
Two of four options currently out for public consultation involves slashing the annual funding for An Cultúrlann in Derry from £123,000 to £50,000 by next year, or gradually over three years.
The money taken from the Derry centre and a second in Belfast would be used to advance other Cultúrlanna across the north. The two other options involve maintaining the current funding, and finding the money from elsewhere within Foras na Gaeilge towards the new projects.
Bainisteoir at Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, Ciarán McCarron said that if either of the former two options was selected, there was a “very strong possibility” the centre would have to close, affecting six staff directly, and a further 50 other indirectly.
Mr McCarron said they have now asked to meet the board of Foras na Gaeilge. While welcoming the plans for more culturlanna, he has urged Foras to seek additional funding for this from both governments.
“This would be an economic, cultural and linguistic blow,” he said. “The Irish language could disappear here and it is well known that no society with one language is as rich as one with two or more.
“There are 400 people registered who come into Irish language classes during the day and at night-time, and we also run some GCSE classes. We employ 12 tutors to facilitate these classes and they would be indirectly affected.”
An Culturlann also works with 1,600 students across Derry & Strabane through its Leargas programme, runs a youth centre project and conducts cross-community projects as well as working with 15 primary schools.
Foras na Gaeilge has urged anyone with views on the proposals to feed them into the public consultation, which runs until June 22, via www.forasnagaeilge.ie
Seán Ó Coinn, Chief Executive Officer of Foras na Gaeilge, has said the organisation “would like to hear the public’s views” on the best way forward.