Priority Questions

Beidh ceist Uimhir 104 níos déanaí.

National Monuments

Sandra McLellan

Question:

105Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Arts; Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will honour his undertaking under the Preservation Order No.1 of 2007 to protect and preserve the National Monument at 14-17 Moore Street, Dublin, in its entirety as designated and in compliance with the principles in the Venice Charter for conservation and restoration of monuments and sites. [21696/12]

As the Deputy is aware, in January 2007 the then Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government placed a preservation order on Nos. 14-17 Moore Street under the National Monuments Acts. The order was made on the grounds that No. 16 was a monument, the preservation of which was of national importance by reason of its historical significance as the site of the final council of war and final headquarters of the Provisional Government. The effect of the order is that works affecting these properties, including any excavation or ground disturbance within, around or in proximity to them, will require my consent, as Minister, under section 14 of the National Monuments Act 1930, as amended.

The proposed development of the Carlton Cinema site, of which Nos. 14-17 Moore Street form part and for which approval has been granted by An Bord Pleanála, envisages the retention of these buildings and the provision of a commemorative centre to the 1916 Rising in No. 16. The developer's application to my Department for consent to these proposals under section 14 of the National Monuments Acts is being examined. As Minister, my role in relation to the national monument site is to examine and make a determination on the consent application under the National Monuments Acts. A decision will be made on the application as soon as possible.

I welcome the comments made recently by the Minister's colleague, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Leo Varadkar.

In the run-up to 2016 we are presented with a unique opportunity to protect and preserve this site. This issue has come up time and again in questions to the Minister since my election to the House. It is very important, not only to people in this country but also all over the world. Does the Minister agree that the proposed development would effectively destroy the national monument and the potential to turn Moore Street into an historic quarter of international significance, with huge economic and tourism benefits? Does he also agree that the single most appropriate proposal for the site, in terms of our history, heritage, culture, tourism and the economy involves the creation of a landmark historical quarter, as proposed by the families of the 1916 leaders, one which incorporates the GPO and the surrounding lanes which acted as the battleground in Easter week 1916, a defining period in the country's history? Does he agree with the proposal and will he commit, with the help of others, including my party, Sinn Féin, to making it a reality?

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Leo Varadkar, said he would ask Tourism Ireland to examine the matter. Will the Minister, Deputy Jimmy Deenihan, confirm that will happen?

I thank the Deputy for raising this matter and allowing me the chance to clarify the position. It is important to note that my Department does not have a function in respect of the wider development site, of which the national monument forms part. As Minister, my remit strictly covers the national monument site, encompassing Nos. 14-17 Moore Street, and the consent application relating to these buildings. The development project as a whole has been through the planning system, from Dublin City Council to An Bord Pleanála. There are no other statutory processes to be gone through. My Department is considering further observations on the consent application received from the National Museum of Ireland in the past few days. The museum's submission raises a number of issues that may warrant further discussion and consultation between my Department, the developer and the museum. These will be dealt with as speedily as possible. I have undertaken to keep the all-party Oireachtas consultation group on commemorative matters informed of developments in respect of the Moore Street monument in the context of its role in the 1916 Rising centenary preparations. I do not envisage these proceedings being protracted and intend to make my decision on the consent application as speedily as possible.

To be clear, my function only concerns the national monument. Outside this, what has been determined by An Bord Pleanála and Dublin City Council is another issue. I will take the matter very seriously. Obviously, I will receive legal advice from the Attorney General's office and ensure the concerns expressed by the National Museum of Ireland, the response to which I have not yet seen, are fully examined. All of the various aspects of the proposal in respect of the national monument will be considered fully and I will then determine what should happen, whether the project should go ahead. If I reject the proposal for the site, the likelihood is that nothing will happen before 1916. It is important to clarify that the State does not own the site which is in private ownership. Obviously, it is under State protection as a national monument. There are a number of matters that I must consider seriously before I make my final determination.

As a matter of interest, does the Minister have a time line for when a decision will be made? The clock is ticking and before we know it, it will be 2016.

I totally agree with the Deputy. I am chairman of the 1916 commemoration committee and we are trying to do our best to ensure the events of 1916 which will be the focal point will be commemorated properly. This, obviously, would be very much part of the commemorations. I will reach a determination speedily in consultation with all of the interested groups involved, including my colleagues in the Oireachtas.

Commemorative Events

Finian McGrath

Question:

106Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Arts; Heritage and the Gaeltacht his plans to commemorate in 2014 the Battle of Clontarf in order to boost arts and tourism and build further links with the Nordic countries. [21697/12]

The millennium of the Battle of Clontarf will be commemorated in 2014. This signal anniversary presents a special opportunity to enhance the appreciation and understanding of the Vikings in our national history, their settlement in centres throughout Ireland and contribution to economic and cultural life in Ireland. Officials from my Department have had discussions with various groups, including historians, archaeologists and the ambassador of Denmark, with a view to developing a commemorative programme that reflects the influence of the Vikings in Ireland and the Battle of Clontarf as a defining event in our history.

Operating under the aegis of my Department and within the confines of available resources, I envisage that the national cultural institutions will play an important role in any commemorative arrangement, especially the National Museum of Ireland. In that context, I understand the National Museum of Ireland intends to hold a major exhibition on Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf in 2014. It is expected that the exhibition will have an international focus, with loans from institutions across Europe. The exhibition will not only present Ireland and Europe in the later Viking age but also examine the continuing significance of Brian Boru and Clontarf in Irish folklore and popular imagination right up to modern times. In addition to possible initiatives by the national cultural institutions, my Department will be consulting local authorities and other interested parties with a view to the development of a co-ordinated programme. I will convene a meeting in early course of the key parties, including the Danish and Norwegian ambassadors, to progress these plans further. I expect to receive a report on planned activities in the autumn.

I welcome the Minister's indication he is planning ahead and linking up with organisations, statutory bodies and voluntary groups with a view to commemorating the Battle of Clontarf in 2014. I hope it will be remembered in a respectful way, with an acknowledgement that on Good Friday, 23 April 1014, almost 10,000 people lost their lives at Clontarf. Brian Boru lost more than 4,000 men and himself died in the battle, while the King of Leinster and his Viking army suffered 6,000 losses. Does the Minister agree this is a significant part of our history which deserves to be commemorated properly? Will the Minister support the people of Clontarf and the north side of Dublin, as well as the Clontarf Business Association, in their endeavours to have a millennium commemoration that is a major national and international event? Does he agree there is potential in this occasion for job creation, arts, tourism and economic development? Will he, together with the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, promote this event internationally, especially with colleagues in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, with a view to enhancing tourism links with those countries?

I agree the 1,000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf is a very important event. It is worth noting that the 4,900 soldiers on Brian Boru's side, mostly Munster and Connacht men, were faced in battle with 4,000 Leinster men and 3,000 Vikings. In other words, it was not a case of Ireland against the Vikings but, essentially, Munster against Leinster aided by the Vikings. That scenario has since been repeated on the rugby field on many occasions. In fact, the great Irish rugby star Keith Wood is planning a major event at Killaloe, from whence Brian Boru made his departure for Clontarf. Mr. Wood is very far advanced in his preparations in that regard and I will give him every possible support in his endeavours.

All the other aspects of this commemoration, including arts, music, our marine heritage and so on, will be examined. It is an exciting opportunity as part of the broader programme of commemorations taking place in the coming years. The year 2014 is also the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. The millennium commemoration of the Battle of Clontarf will afford us an opportunity to examine the contribution the Vikings made to this country, of which the young people in the Visitors Gallery are undoubtedly aware. As a history teacher I was always careful to portray the Vikings as more than mere raiders. They were very much involved in trade, craft, art and so on. Apart from the plundering of our monasteries at Lambay and elsewhere, we should not forget their contribution to our cultural heritage and to the development of our major towns and settlements.

I welcome the Minister's reference to planned exhibitions and the potential for developing the arts. There is also potential for the development of sports and tourism initiatives. There is an opportunity to invite people to come to the country at a time when we are encouraging members of the Diaspora to visit. We should do this at an international and local level. The people of Clontarf are up for this game and want to get involved. A lovely event has been planned for 9 June, the Clontarf Viking Festival, to be held in the Clontarf yacht and boat club beside the wooden bridge at the Bull Wall. There are ideas to be developed, but the Minister did not answer the question. Will he meet the people on the ground who want to develop them? He says he is looking for ideas for an economic stimulus and job creation in arts and tourism; this is a great one.

The Deputy knows my door is always open. I have met 2,500 groups and individuals and if people wish to meet me to discuss this issue, I will be delighted to meet them, with the Deputy. No doubt, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Richard Bruton, would be interested in this issue too.

Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation

Robert Troy

Question:

107Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Arts; Heritage and the Gaeltacht when he will publish the plan on the conservation of protected bogs; if he will consider the proposals in order that limited cutting may take place in a small number of bogs when alternative sites have been identified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21699/12]

The report on the Peatlands Forum from Mr. Justice John Quirke recommended that a national plan be prepared to examine how Ireland's 53 raised bog special areas of conservation are to be protected. It was considered that, in the context of such a plan, it might be possible to bring some flexibility within the terms of the EU habitats directive that could allow limited cutting within a small number of sites. The Government accepted the recommendation of Mr. Justice Quirke at its meeting on 7 March. On 8 March Dáil Éireann unanimously supported a motion which called on the Government to "engage actively with the European Commission to seek a resolution within the terms of the Habitats Directive, and to prepare and submit a National Raised Bog Restoration Plan". On 3 April, together with the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Phil Hogan, I met EU Environment Commissioner Potočnik in Brussels, where we secured the support of the European Commission for developing a national raised bog SAC management plan. The Commission also agreed to assist and provide support for Ireland in preparing this plan, within the framework of the habitats directive. The Government agreed to maintain close and intensive engagement with the Commission on the preparation of the plan.

My Department will now accelerate the process of putting the plan in place, giving specific priority to identifying the issues around the most difficult bogs, with the intention that it be developed in the coming 12 months. The Plan will be wide-ranging, looking at the practical aspects of conserving and managing the affected bogs, and allow solutions for turf cutters to be explored in detail.

While the Plan is being prepared, no turf cutting can take place on the protected bogs. However, as the House is aware, a flexible package of compensation for turf cutters has been put in place. Those who want to cease cutting turf completely can apply for compensation of €1,500 per annum in the next 15 years. Eligible cutters are also entitled to a one-off payment of €500 for this year. This means the total compensation package is worth €23,000, index linked and tax free. For those who wish to continue cutting, my Department is working to relocate turf cutters to alternative bogs. The first of these relocation bogs will be ready this year, but, where they are not available, turf cutters can choose, in the interim, between the financial compensation or the delivery of 15 tonnes of turf annually. They will also be entitled to the one-off €500 payment. To date, more than 1,700 applications for compensation have been received by my Department.

I acknowledge the work the Minister has done in this regard and the work done by Mr. Justice Quirke in the consultative process. It is fair to say that for successful conservation, we need a positive spirit of partnership. That is why there is grave concern when major stakeholders such as the TCCA walk away from the talks. On 14 March the Minister raised everyone's expectations and gave people on all sides reasons for hope. It was great headline-grabbing stuff, but to date, it has not been followed through.

What action did the Government take to preserve the priority habitats within its control before beginning its pursuit of small domestic turf-cutters? Has it received support from the EU Commission in respect of formulating a national plan? Why are Department of Defence personnel ferrying staff from the National Parks and Wildlife Service about the place in order that they might monitor the activities of domestic turf-cutters? What is the cost of this to the Department of Defence, which is closing down Army barracks in the interests of cutting costs? When will it be realistically possible for the Minister to bring this matter to a successful conclusion? Does he have any hope with regard to whether it will be possible to bring the TCCA back on board? A number of people signed up for compensation but they have been waiting a damn long time for it. This is creating a disincentive for others who may be considering signing up for it.

I certainly accepted the motion to which Deputy Troy refers and which stated that the Government should "engage actively with the European Commission to seek a resolution within the terms of the Habitats Directive, and to prepare and submit a National Raised Bog Restoration Plan to the Commission as a matter of urgency". That was the intention behind the motion, that is what I accepted and that is what I have done. The Commission has engaged with us and is going to provide us with services. This is both a major development and a major departure.

As the Deputy is aware, his party did absolutely nothing in respect of this matter for ten or 12 years.

Deputy Mattie McGrath should listen to what I have to say. Fianna Fáil used a derogation in respect of which it did not even obtain permission from Europe and it allowed one third of the designated areas on which we signed off with Europe to be taken away over a ten-year period.

I inherited this problem and, as stated on previous occasions, the first thing presented to me when I entered my Department was a letter of formal notice that was sent to the current leader of Fianna Fáil, Deputy Martin, at the end of January 2011. In that letter, Deputy Martin was informed that as a result of the inaction of his Government - which was replaced shortly afterwards - the European Commission was taking Ireland to court. When I was appointed, I immediately established the Peatlands Council and I put in place a scheme of compensation for people who were affected. In the first instance, that scheme applied in respect of those who previously worked the 33 affected bogs. The amount of compensation available last year was €1,000 per individual and this has been increased to €2,000 in the current year. The Peatlands Council made a recommendation to the effect that we should deliver fuel to those people who are affected. The initial proposal in this regard was 10,000 tonnes but I increased this to 15,000.

I thank the Minister. I must call Deputy Troy.

This is an extremely important matter and I have something further to say in respect of it. The Air Corps is used by my Department and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The latter uses it to carry out monitoring with regard to the single farm payment. My Department has availed of the services of the Air Corps-----

Why can the Garda not use the Air Corps?

-----in the past. The Air Corps takes the opportunity presented by working with the Departments to train its personnel. The cost involved is quite small. In 2010, the total cost of relating to the Air Corps providing assistance to the National Parks and Wildlife Services was €13,320. This amount related to 72 hours of flight time. The cost of utilising private contractors has been approximately €12,000 to date.

My Department does not have enough manpower to supervise all of the various bogs. Deputy Mattie McGrath should note that fines of €25,000 per day are hanging over us at present. This amounts to €9 million per year.

The Minister should stand up to Europe.

Does Deputy Troy wish to pose a final question?

Deputy Mattie McGrath seems to be a serial law-breaker.

Please, Deputy, we have gone over time. These are Priority Questions. I call Deputy Troy to ask a brief supplementary question.

I acknowledge the work done by the Minister since taking office in establishing the Peatlands Council and commissioning the Quirke report. I do not disagree with any of these developments. In 1997 the habitats directive was signed by the last rainbow coalition Government. This issue has been ongoing since. There was a ten-year derogation period and it is a pity the former Minister, John Gormley, did not act more decisively on the issue.

He did not obtain a derogation.

I acknowledge that. If the European Union is so supportive of the national plan, why can it not allow domestic turf cutting to continue on these bogs for 12 more months while the plan is being put in operation? What has the Government done to preserve priority habitats in its own control? It seems it is quite willing and able to go after the small domestic turf cutter, while priority habitats in its control are not properly preserved.

The European Commission signed up to the national plan for the 53 SACs, special areas of conservation. I hope within this an accommodation may be found for turf to be cut on the designated bogs. The only condition it imposed in agreeing to the plan, a major departure, was that there be no turf cutting this year. The Commissioner was quite clear about this. I know the Deputy, on behalf of his party, is getting very exercised about this issue.

I have been exercised about it since I was elected.

It is unfortunate that the same interest was not shown in 1999 when the former Fianna Fáil environment Minister was in charge of the issue. Up to 1,700 turf cutters have applied for compensation. People are taking this matter seriously and do not want to break the law. I have been supportive of helping them in this regard. We signed up to the habitats directive which was transposed into Irish law and we were supposed to implement it. I am trying to help people to find alternative sources of fuel. That is all I can do, as I cannot change the law. All I can do is secure adequate compensation for turf cutters to ensure they will not be affected by these designations. That is the bottom line.

National Monuments

Mattie McGrath

Question:

108Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Arts; Heritage and the Gaeltacht the efforts being made to ensure the protection of our national monuments and listed buildings which are under threat because of their valuable metals; the measures if any, that have been taken to restore monuments and buildings which are important to our heritage that have already stripped of their valuable metals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21949/12]

I am concerned about the damage caused by the theft of metal in recent times. This relates not only to protected structures but also to valuable sculptures and other public art works. This is part of a broader increase in the theft of metals from both private and public spaces owing to increased metal prices worldwide. I am aware this is a matter of concern to the Garda Síochána generally. I understand it has established a metal theft stakeholder forum involving stakeholders affected by this type of crime. Staff of my Department have taken part in the Northern Ireland heritage crime summit organised by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland to share information and experience in dealing with the broader issues around heritage crime, including tackling metal theft.

It is important to get a clear picture of the scale of this threat in respect of protected structures. My Department will be issuing a circular shortly to all planning authorities outlining specific advice on the approach to be taken to address instances of criminal damage to protected structures. The circular will also request that each authority maintain a record of details of any known acts of criminal damage and vandalism to historic buildings and, in particular, protected structures or proposed protected structures within each planning authority's remit.

My Department's architectural heritage protection guidelines include advice on the avoidance of theft of architectural features and vandalism to protected structures. However, the protection of the architectural heritage for both protected structures and architectural conservation areas is primarily the responsibility of the owner and for each planning authority to monitor and enforce. The Department, through its structures at risk scheme, provides limited grant funding for local authorities that can assist with the repair of roofs and other areas of buildings which suffered from criminal damage. In these cases my Department suggests metals stripped be replaced with an alternative material that would not be vulnerable to theft.

As regards national monuments, the great majority are earthworks or structures which do not contain valuable metals. Accordingly, the issue does not impact on monuments generally.

Before getting to the question, the Minister made an allegation that I was a serial law-breaker.

That did not happen when I was in the Chair.

It was in the context of objecting to septic tanks and now the law-----

The Minister stated I was a serial law-breaker. What laws pertain to septic tanks? I have not broken any law.

----pertaining to bog designation.

What law have I broken? The Minister stated I was a serial law-breaker. How dare he. I take umbrage at the remark that I am a serial law-breaker.

I said that in the context of septic tanks.

What law relating to septic tanks did I break? The Minister is a bluffer and I will not let this go. I will write to the Ceann Comhairle unless he withdraws that outrageous allegation.

The Deputy should address the question.

It is a slur on my character.

I ask the Deputy to continue with this question.

I will do so. The answer is a load of waffle. How could the Minister read that reply when the country is being stripped day and night? At the Hume Street hospital site, close to the cameras at the Department of Justice and Equality, raiders broke in over a two-week period and stripped the entire roof and contents of the hospital before exporting their gains abroad. Is the Minister saying the county councils and other bodies are supposed to mind these monuments? I cannot believe a man like the Minister would read a nonsensical answer like that when his Government voted down a Private Member's Bill that I tabled for discussion six weeks ago. Many of the speakers in Fine Gael, Labour, Fianna Fáil, Independents and other sides of the House were aware of the significant problem of theft of scrap metal, not only from private buildings but from public monuments as well. A further fallacy told by the officials is that most monuments are structures; all of these have a lead lightning conductor for protection, and they are being raped and plundered. It is time the Minister's officials, the Garda and everybody else woke up and faced facts. I would be delighted if the Air Corps supplied aeroplanes to help catch these robbers rather than catching the ordinary people of Ireland who are trying to keep themselves warm by cutting some turf.

The ICMSA, the Georgian Society, Muintir na Tíre and many other bodies have lobbied about this issue. Under our eyes our national structures are being plundered. We are putting up new structures with the 1% for arts schemes across the country in conjunction with road and other projects. They are being taken down every night. The Minister has come in with this answer but he should do more research rather than accept that waffle. The figures hold the proof. The Minister has made disgraceful allegations about another Deputy, which is unbecoming. He has not heard the last of it.

Deputy McGrath came to the House to interrupt and heckle me. I responded in-----

I did not interrupt.

The Deputy made a political charge.

-----that context. It was a political comment.

The Deputy's party has never made political comments. They got away with it.

It was made in the context of his attitude towards septic tanks-----

Those opposite will see political charges in the next few weeks.

-----and turf cutting.

They will get it up the yard.

They are sensitive issues. The comment concerned that alone.

Is the Minister withdrawing it?

I commented in that context.

Will he withdraw it?

No. It was in the context of septic tanks.

What law relating to septic tanks was broken?

We are dealing with the question and we are running out of time.

There is no law because the Minister has not published guidelines.

The Deputy was advocating it.

Advocating what? Was it breaking the law?

That people would not pay for septic tanks.

He was advocating that people would not-----

Why should they pay when the Government cannot get their house in order?

We are dealing with the question in hand.

The Minister is not withdrawing the comment. I will complain to the Ceann Comhairle.

With regard to the question, I agree with Deputy McGrath about the structures at risk.

The Government voted down my Bill.

I am glad the Deputy raised the issue as there are a number of instances where I have received direct observations. We know the lead was taken from the bandstand in the Phoenix Park.

It is happening in every parish in the country.

Sculpture by Sandra Bell was removed from her own property. Lead was taken from St. Michael's Church in Inchicore. Deputy Catherine Byrne brought that to my attention. Lead and copper was taken from the roof of that church and, as a result, the building was damaged. The 1% for arts scheme is a good scheme but a number of sculptures and ornamental works produced under it have been taken. It is difficult to prevent this. More vigilance is needed with more people watching out. I agree with Deputy Mattie McGrath this is a problem and we will have to address it.

Údarás na Gaeltachta

Question:

104Deputy Michael P. Kitt den an Aire Ealaíon; Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an ndéanfaidh sé aon athrú ar ról Údarás na Gaeltachta tar éis Príomh-Oifigeach Feidhmiúcháin a cheapadh; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [21698/12]

Ag an gcruinniú den 31 Bealtaine 2011, thóg an Rialtas na cinntí seo a leanas maidir le feidhmeanna Údarás na Gaeltachta: go mairfidh anstatus quo maidir le feidhmeanna reatha na heagraíochta go ginearálta, a chuid feidhmeanna fiontraíochta san áireamh, faoi réir foráil reachtúil a dhéanamh chun cumhacht a thabhairt don Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta treoir a thabhairt don Údarás a chuid acmhainní teoranta a dhíriú i dtreo earnálacha fiontraíochta ar leith, agus meicníocht a fhorbairt chun go mbeidh an t-údarás in ann comhoibriú le háisíneachtaí fiontraíochta eile, ach go háirithe i gcás tograí suntasacha Gaeltachta a bhfuil poitéinseal ard acu, agus go mbeidh an fhreagracht maidir le forfheidhmiú na straitéise 20 bliain don Ghaeilge laistigh den Ghaeltacht ar Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Tá an Bille Gaeltachta 2012 á dhréachtú faoi láthair, a thabharfaidh feidhm do na cinntí seo, de réir mar is cuí. Ní bheidh aon tionchar díreach ag ceapachán príomhfheidhmeannaigh don údarás ar an phróiseas seo, ach tá mé ag súil le bheith ag obair i gcomhar leis an phríomhfheidhmeannach úr agus na cinntí Rialtais seo á dtabhairt chun cinn.

Ba mhaith liom comhghairdeas a dhéanamh le Steve Ó Cúlain , an príomhfheidhmeannach nua, agus gabhaim buíochas le Seán Ó Labhraí a bhí mar phríomhfheidhmeannach gníomhach san interim. An ndéanfaidh an tAire Stáit athbhreithniú ar na toghcháin atá curtha ar ceal don údarás? An bhfuil pleananna ann chun turasóireacht a chur chun cinn sa Ghaeltacht?

Cuirim leis an méid a dúirt an Teachta agus déanaim comhghairdeas leis an bpríomhfheidhmeannach úr, a bhfuil an-eolas aige ar imeachtaí agus ar láimhseáil chúrsaí in Údarás na Gaeltachta le blianta fada. Gabhaimid buíochas ó chroí fosta don phríomhfheidhmeannnach gníomhach bhí ag an údarás le tamall agus atá ag éirí as tar éis seirbhís fhada a thabhairt don údarás agus don Ghaeltacht.

Maidir leis an mBille agus ceapadh na mball, tá cinneadh déanta ag an Rialtas go mbeidh údarás amháin ann le feidhmiúchán fiontraíochta ag an údarás agus dualgais air maidir le cur chun na straitéise 20 bliain sa Ghaeltacht féin. I measc an chinnidh sin a rinne an Rialtas i mí Bhealtaine seo caite, dúradh nach mbeadh toghchán díreach ann ach mar sin féin go mbeadh ionchur daonlathach ag cuid de na baill a thoghfaí ar an mbord úr. Ní bheidh an bord chomh mór agus atá sé anois. Beidh thart faoi deichniúr nó 12 air.

Tá an t-údarás lonnaithe i bpáirteanna den tír ina bhfuil an turasóireacht iontach tábhachtach. Tá baint ann i mo Roinn féin le forbairt na turasóireachta sa Ghaeltacht, na coláistí samhraidh ach go háirithe, agus an 25,000 dalta a théann go dtí an Ghaeltacht gach bliain.

Tá an reachtaíocht á hullmhú faoi láthair faoi choinne Bhille na Gaeltachta agus na feidhmeanna breise a bheidh ag an údarás, agus beidh na sonraithe sin sa Bhille, atá beagnach réidh. Níl a fhios agam an bhfuil an t-iarratas istigh, ach má tá nó má thagann a leithéid isteach, is cinnte go ndéanfar é a scrúdú go mion. Níl mé ag rá go nglacfar leis ach níl mé ag rá nach nglacfar leis. Ar ndóigh, is freagracht é sin, is cúis í sin, is cás é sin atá le déanamh ag an údarás féin ag an bpointe seo.

Níl mé sásta go bhfuil daonlathas ann muna bhfuil toghchán ann. Ó thaobh fostaíochta de, céard atá bainte amach ag an údarás le déanaí maidir le postanna a chur ar fáil?

I gcáinfhaisnéis na bliana seo cuireadh an t-airgead chaipitil chéanna ar fáil don údarás agus a cuireadh ar fáil anuraidh, is é sin, €6 mhilliún. Deirtear liom go bhfuil idir €4 mhilliún agus €5 in achmhainní ag an údarás féin. Fágann sé sin go bhfuil €11 mhilliún ar fad le fostaíocht a chruthú ins an Ghaeltacht. Tá obair mhaith á dhéanamh ag an údarás chomh fada agus a bhaineann sé le cruthú fostaíochta sa Ghaeltacht. Tá breis agus 7,000 duine ag obair i gclient chomhluchtaí an údaráis ins na Gaeltachtaí agus ní bheadh siad sin ann, i mo thuairim, agus is duine ón nGaeltacht mé, ach amháin go bhfuil an t-údarás ansin.

Caithfidh mé a rá go bhfuil an t-údarás ag dul ar aghaidh go maith i láthair na huaire. Coicís ó shin, bhí an-dea scéala ag an údarás do Indreabhán i gConamara nuair a d'fhógair sé 2,200 post úra i dtionscal na poitigéireachta, nó na sláinte, agus postanna den chéad scoth iad. Ba mhaith liom tréaslu leis an údarás as sin a dhéanamh. Rinne sé é agus é ag comhoibriú leis an Údaras Forbartha Tionsclaíochta. Is deas an rud é go bhfuil an chomhoibriú seo eatarthu. Postanna den ard-scoth a bhéas iontu sin. Táthar ag tosnú láithreach ar fhorbairt a dhéanamh ar an mhonarcan thíos ansin. Bhí mé féin thíos an tseachtain seo chaite agus chonaic mé cad é atá ar siúl ann. Beidh ard-phostanna ar fáil do dhaoine cháilithe agus an-thuarastal á shaothrú acu. Nuacht an-mhaith don Ghaeltacht is ea é.

Chomh maith leis sin ba mhaith liom tréaslu leis an gcomhlacht mhór idirnáisiúnta, Mylan, a bhfuil i ndiaidh an vóta maoine seo a thabhairt, ní hamháin do Údarás na Gaeltachta ach do mhuintir na Gaeltachta agus do mhuintir na hÉireann chomh maith. Léiríonn sé an meas atá ag an gcomhlacht ar na hoibrithe agus ar na fostaithe atá aige ins na ceantair Gaeltachta, ar a ndílseacht don chomhlacht agus ar chomh héifeachtach agus a oibríonn siad don chomhlacht, nuair atá sé sásta infheistíocht na milliún a dhéanamh, an infheistíocht is mó a rinneadh i bhfiontar tionsclaíochta ins an nGaeltacht ó bunaíodh Údarás na Gaeltachta.