Éamon Ó Cuív: 'Craggy Island' is safe

TAOISEACH Brian Cowen has given a strong hint that the government will choose to ignore a recommendation in the Bord Snip Nua report that the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs should be closed.

In an interview with Nuacht TG4, during a visit to Galway on Friday, Cowen stated there were no plans at this stage to close éamon Ó Cuív's department, which is known colloquially as 'Craggy Island'.

He also reiterated the government's commitment to the Irish language and the Gaeltacht region, saying it needed to be supported.

Cowen's comments will come as welcome relief to the Irish-language community since the McCarthy report was published in July.

The report stated, "The group accordingly recommends that the department itself should be closed and its various functions either redistributed to other government departments, or discontinued as app- ropriate."

The department cost the state €521m to run last year, and it is estimated that McCarthy's swingeing cuts would save the exchequer €151.1m in a full year.

In a translation of the interview, obtained by the Sunday Tribune, Cowen said, "We have a department at the moment and in my opinion there will be a department in the future."

He said that a connection was necessary with the Gaeltacht and that it was important the Gaeltacht communities had a department and specific people to listen to their problems.

When pushed on the proposal of An Bord Snip to abolish the department, he said, "I don't intend to do that. A political decision will have to be made on how we solve our economic problems but I don't intend to change that [abolish the department] at this stage."