Holiday homes are one of the main threats to the Irish language, according to the Gaeltacht development agency.
Údarás na Gaeltachta (UNG) said young people are being forced to move away from Gaeltacht areas because they can’t afford to rent or buy homes there.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, UNG Chair Anna Ní Ghallachair many holiday homes “lie empty almost the entire year”, while locals have nowhere to live.
“We are at a point, economically and particularly post-COVID, where remote working has become a feature in most rural areas in the country,” she said.
“People are trying to return home and some have decided to return to areas from which they’ve come. Others have expressed a desire to stay at home but obviously, the prohibitive price of housing is preventing that from happening in many cases.”
Asked whether tourism is good for many rural areas she said: “These things are about a balance.”
She said residents of different Gaeltacht areas have warned that there is a “surprisingly high percentage of people who actually use their home one week in the year”.
“That has to be an issue,” she said. “They’re lying empty almost the entire year. That is an issue and that is obviously not contributing very much to the local economy.
“Tourism is obviously a very important part of the Gaeltacht economy but also, there are people earning very good salaries now working remotely.
“They would continue to do so and live in the Gaeltacht if the opportunity to buy a house was available to them but that, sadly, is becoming less and less the case.”
She said holiday homes are not the only threat to the resurgence of the language and noted that UNG is working to make lands available for the provision of affordable housing.
The new vacant homes tax could also raise some awareness of the issue, she said.
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