Connemara marine innovation park central to Gaeltacht development plan

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The state of the art Páirc na Mara marine innovation park is one of the central pillars of Údarás na Gaeltachta’s Strategic Plan 2018 – 2020.

The low carbon footprint marine innovation park will be built on greenfield site at Cill Chiaráin in Connemara, with the goal of conducting research and development to drive the marine sector in the area.

One area of research that it will focus on is how best to further develop the seaweed industry within Connemara.

However, local activist group Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages appealed the county council’s decision to grant planning permission for developments at the site in April.

The matter is currently before An Bord Pleanála and awaiting a decision.

Gaeltacht development plan

The Strategic Plan 2018 – 2020 for the Gaeltacht is putting innovation and enterprise at the heart of developing communities in the Gaeltacht.

It sets a goal of creating 1,500 new jobs over the next three years, and seeing a further 8,000 jobs at client companies either retained or created.

Chairperson of Údarás na Gealtachta  Anna Ní Ghallachair, stated, “The newly appointed Board of Údarás na Gaeltachta is satisfied that we have a challenging and comprehensive strategic plan for implementation in the three years ahead.”

“This strategy must promote and strengthen the Irish language and the Gaeltacht community in order to foster stronger Irish-speaking communities.”

“Significant challenges lie ahead of the organisation, which we will meet with enthusiasm and determination in order to ensure a Gaeltacht that is stronger both linguistically and as a community.”

One of the other large projects that Údarás will undertake as part of the plan is the creation of a Gaeltacht Digital Network.

The Network will involve 30 digital hubs with high speed broadband throughout the gaeltacht, as well as on the six gaeltacht islands and 7 other offshore islands.

This will allow gaeltacht residents to take part in modern industries and develop their own enterprises without having to leave the region.

Beyond infrastructure projects, the Plan wants to heavily curate the image of the gaeltacht by creating a Gaeltacht Brand for products and services originating in the gaeltacht, and pushing that brand internationally.

Central to building that relationship with the international community, and even just other parts of Ireland, are the Gaeltacht Diaspora.

Údarás hopes to encourage people who have emigrated from the gaeltacht to return home, both bolstering the Irish language within those communities, and letting people know about the economic and cultural opportunities available there.

Chief Executive of Údarás Mícheál Ó hÉanaigh states, “Údarás na Gaeltachta will have a specific focus on promoting innovation and enterprise in order to nourish the vibrant language communities throughout the Gaeltacht.”

“We are targeting the approval of 1500 jobs during the plan period and the consolidation and development of the enterprise base.”

“Particular attention will be placed on the development of human, natural, cultural and linguistic resources of the Gaeltacht and it is hope to encourage the Gaeltacht Diaspora and the skill they have to return to support and enhance Gaeltacht Communities.”

29 separate Language Plans are being implemented under the three year plan to make sure that Irish thrives within the gaeltacht areas that have kept it a living language.

Funding is also being granted for 31 community organisations withing the region