'Lá Nua', the only Irish language daily newspaper, to close down

After 25 years in production, the newspaper have ceased publication due to official funding being withdrawn by Foras na Gaeilge, the body responsible for the promotion of the Irish language throughout the whole island of Ireland · Lá Nua’s managing director says the decision is “counterintuitive and unwise” · Foras na Gaeilge mantains sales figures are not high enough.

'Death'. This is the word Irish people are to read in the front page of the only Irish language daily newspaper. The last paper of Lá Nua, first published 25 years ago, will come out today. The closing down came after Foras na Gaeilge, the official body responsible for the protection of Irish in the Republic and Northern Ireland, decided to withdraw the funding. Eight people have been working for the newspaper, which had a daily circulation of 4.000 copies.

Foras na Gaeilge believes there were not enough readers for the newspaper, but has announced it will instead provide funding amounting to 400.000 € a year for a new weekly newspaper and an online news service. During negotiations between Lá Nua and Foras na Gaeilge, representatives of the newspaper had proposed to provide a service online at reduced cost, but the official body refused the proposal arguing that the economic contract runs out in December 2008.

Lá Nua's managing director, Mairtin O Muilleoir, reported to Belfast Telegraph that "at a time when a Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) Quarter is taking shape in west Belfast, the decision to stop publishing a daily newspaper is counterintuitive and unwise."

In 2007, Lá Nua ('New Day' in English) took over Lá newspaper, which was established in Belfast in1984 to cater for the growing interest in the Irish language. For two decades, the newspaper has been an indispensable instrument for the social promotion of the language.

According to RTÉ News, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams expressed his "sadness" at the final edition of Lá Nua and said that republicans are lobbying for the provision of a daily printed and electronic news service in Irish. However, Vieros, the online news service in Galician, informs that complaints have been reported from Lá Nua's editorial staff alleging that Sinn Féin could be responsible for the closure, since the newspaper had criticized the party for its weak stance on language policy.

Picture: The word Bás (Death) in the front page of a December 19 copy of La Nua's paper edition.

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