asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether he is aware of the great contribution which Irish fashion design has made to export markets in recent years; and that unlike industry at large no grants are available to couturiers engaged in such work; and whether in view of the prestige value of such business he will undertake special measures to encourage exports.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Incentives for Fashion Industry.
I am fully aware of the great and growing contribution which the Irish fashion industry is making towards the expansion of exports. Córas Tráchtála, as the body established by the Government to promote exports, has always recognised the prestige value of the couture side of the industry and provides special couture grants towards the expenses of public showings at home and abroad. Córas Tráchtála's other incentive grants, for example, travel incentive grants, are available to couturiers on the same basis as to other exporters.
Is the Minister aware of a feeling in the fashion industry that they do not get treatment similar to that given to other branches of industry and that this view was expressed recently? Furthermore, is he aware that people prominent in this activity have been forced, because of economic circumstances, to withdraw and they make the point that more Government aid is forthcoming in countries with whom they compete?
I am not aware of the last point made by the Deputy but I am aware that some views have been expressed on this matter recently; indeed, I think I can say that I have been speaking personally to the person concerned. I know what the situation is but I would repeat that there are special grants available for these people in addition to the ordinary grants. I am aware that they have a special problem. We tried to meet them by these special grants. I think there are other complicating factors besides the availability of grants from Córas Tráchtála in this regard.
Would the Minister agree that——
Question No. 36.
——the prestige of the fashion business abroad sheds, shall we say, a lustre over our other exports and as the future of our expansion must depend to a certain extent on good design, the couture business is in a special category and its success is very important even as far as other industries are concerned?
I would certainly agree that it is important for other branches of the garment industry, which are very substantial. I would regard these people as the spearhead in the campaign to sell our garments abroad. If there seems to be any problem which could be cured by way of additional grants I would be prepared to consider it but I do not think this is quite what the whole problem is.