Galway will have three guaranteed seats on the board of Údarás na Gaeltachta under new plans being brought forward.
The government has approved legislation to revamp the governance of Údarás, replacing the election/selection process for the board which has been in place for the last ten years.
Under the new approach, the board will be expanded in size from 12 members to 16 when the current terms end in 2025.
Of those 16 members, 10 will be elected on behalf of Gaeltacht counties based on their population in Gaeltacht areas, of which three will be from Galway.
A further six members of the board will be appointed on foot of a public competition, and the Chairperson will be appointed by the Minister.
Minister Catherine Martin said, “Given that the work carried out by the Board and the executive of Údarás na Gaeltachta is for the benefit of the Gaeltacht communities, it is particularly important to ensure that there is as strong a link as possible between the board of Údarás na Gaeltachta and those communities”.
“I expect that the link between the board and the Gaeltacht communities across the seven Gaeltacht counties will be further strengthened and that the new method governing the appointment of the board will serve the best interests of both the Údarás and the Gaeltacht regions.”
“I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage women to seek appointment to State boards in general, and to the board Údarás na Gaeltachta in this instance.”
Another change to the board’s structure will see the two year tenure for members nominated from the three smallest Gaeltacht counties, Gaeltacht Mhúscraí, Gaeltacht na Mí and Gaeltacht na nDéise, removed.
These areas will have permanent representation under the new arrangement, similar to the other Gaeltacht counties.
Candidates for the board must also now have minimum standard of B2 in Irish in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
Candidates seeking election must also show that they permanently reside in a Gaeltacht area within the county they are standing for.
Future board members will also only be allowed to serve a total of two terms, whether they are consecutive or not.
In order to strengthen the link between the board and Gaeltacht communities including language planning groups, two regional committees will be established from board members.
One committee will serve the Gaeltacht areas of Donegal, Mayo, Galway and Meath and the other will serve the Gaeltacht areas of Kerry, Cork and Waterford.
The Minister will also be asking the Oireachtas Committee scrutinising the legislation to look at measures to achieve an appropriate gender balance.