Foras na Gaeilge, the government body charged with overseeing the state’s Irish language policies (such as they are), has unexpectedly announced that it is terminating its contract with Torann na dTonn Teo. the enterprise that publishes Gaelscéal, the weekly Irish language newspaper.
In a letter to the directors of Torann na dTonn Teo. the board of Foras na Gaeilge indicated that their decision reflected the shifting trends in the reading habits of the Irish-speaking public and that new plans were being drawn up to meet those needs. When initially contacted by the Irish language radio station Raidió na Gaeltachta for a statement Foras claimed that they had no spokesperson available until next Monday. However the anglophone Irish Independent newspaper has run a media release from Foras claiming that the €400,000 funding for Gaelscéal represented a €7 subsidy for each copy of the weekly newspaper sold and that this amounted to less than 1500 copies per week.
However the Gaelscéal editorial team have responded by disputing the weekly sales figures adding that 1000 copies of the newspaper are distributed free to Irish schools each week, with 400 downloads of the digital edition and 1000 visitors weekly to their website. They have also pointed out that since its launch Gaelscéal has risen to become the second most popular Irish language media site on the internet.
The announcement of the withdrawal of funding by the government and Foras na Gaeilge came a few days after Gaelscéal broke a front-page news story describing the fear felt by many Irish-speaking employees of state-funded bodies when it comes to voicing public criticism of the state and its controversial policies towards its Irish-speaking citizens and communities.
The excellent Nuacht24 has more.
UPDATE: Irish journalist and former newspaper editor Concubhar Ó Liatháin has established a petition opposing the closing of Gaelscéal at Change.org. You can show your support here. Please share with as many of your friends as you can.
Tweet at #gaelscéal
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