AN IRISH-LANGUAGE magazine, which had been selling little more than 1,000 copies per edition, has been awarded a massive grant of €231,545.
The funding from Foras na Gaeilge – for 27 monthly editions of Comhar magazine – could effectively work out at close to €10 for every single copy published, according to figures made available to the Sunday Tribune. The new grant is the equivalent of a subvention of €9,000 per monthly edition.
Ironically, a daily Irish-language newspaper Lá Nua was forced to close last December after its funding was cut by Foras na Gaeilge.
However, Foras na Gaeilge has defended the spending and said Comhar magazine was the successful applicant in a standard tender process.
Their spokesman Seán Ó Cearnaigh said: "A tender process for the supply of a printed Irish-language magazine for the period from September 2008 to the end of the calendar year 2010 was publicly advertised by Foras na Gaeilge in May 2007.
"There were two applications: one from Comhar and one from another party [Y] … the application from party Y was disqualified because it did not reach a specific qualifying mark as set out in the documents, which outlined the assessment process.
"For third-party, commercially-sensitive reasons, I cannot comment on the sums – if any – which related to party Y's application."
Foras na Gaeilge said the application by Comhar magazine had met all criteria but that a deal had not been agreed until last summer.
Ó Cearnaigh said: "By mid-June of 2008, terms of a contract were proposed by Foras to Comhar who had in the meantime set up a new board and appointed a new editor.
"The contract referred to the sum… that is €231,545, but did so in the context of this being a maximum possible sum – 'a sum not greater than'."
Ó Cearnaigh said it was not possible to speculate on the "subvention per copy" rate until the contract was finished in 2010. He said: "The 'subvention per copy' is a function of the total subvention divided by the number of issues. As continued payments under the contract are subject to periodic progress reviews and the achievement of targets (among them circulation targets), the exact subvention per copy will not be known until the end of the contract period."