McCarthy: recommendations

The Department of Finance has raised "fundamental questions" about the ability of Údarás na Gaeltachta to prove that it is value for money. The Údarás will receive more than €35m in funding this year.

In confidential documents on the performance of the country's 15 enterprise agencies, which were prepared for Colm McCarthy's An Bord Snip Nua and released under the Freedom of Information Act, the department says Údarás was "unable" to provide figures on the cost per job created.

Details of staff employed, pay costs and total exchequer grants paid in the years 2003 to 2008 was also "not available from Údarás", it noted, while measurements of how effective they are in creating jobs was also missing.

"This raises fundamental governance questions about their capacity to account for the value delivered from the exchequer resources provided," the department warns of the Galway based agency, which operates under Minister Éamon Ó Cuív's Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht affairs.

An average cost of over €10,800 per job created by Údarás last year – almost twice the €6,100 cost for the IDA – was included in the department review, but this was gleaned from the agency's published annual report and not from Údarás.

The resulting An Bord Snip Nua report recommended that Údarás enterprise functions be transferred to a new agency under Enterprise Ireland. But it was not clear until now how deep concerns about the operations of the agency were.

In a separate deparment document released under FOI, and which proposed stringent cutbacks, the only section left blank relates to what will be done about Údarás. This raises questions about the future of the agency which was established in 1980 to fund industrial development and jobs in the Gaeltacht and promote the Irish language.