Other Questions

Fostaíocht Gaeltachta

Michael McGrath

Question:

6Deputy Michael McGrath den an Aire Ealaíon; Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cén polasaí atá aige chun an teanga Ghaeilge a choinneáil beo, cén polasaí atá aige chun fostaíocht a chaomhnú sna ceantair Ghaeltachta [35400/12]

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

13Deputy Mary Lou McDonald den an Aire Ealaíon; Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an féidir leis an Aire a dheimhniú go mbeidh an maoiniú a íoctar le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta ar an leibhéal céanna an bhliain seo chugainn nó níos airde i bhfianaise an ualaigh breise oibre a bheidh orthu ó thaobh pleanáil teanga de. [35027/12]

Sandra McLellan

Question:

38Deputy Sandra McLellan den an Aire Ealaíon; Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cé mhéid post atá cruthaithe agus caillte sa Ghaeltacht sa chéad leath den bhliain; an bhfuil na figiúirí seo de réir na spriocanna atá leagtha síos ag a Roinn. [35028/12]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

39Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh den an Aire Ealaíon; Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cad iad na spriocanna atá ag an Aire maidir leis an méid post a chruthófar sa Ghaeltacht sa dara leath den bhliain. [35029/12]

Tógfaidh mé Ceisteanna Uimh. 6, 13, 38 agus 39 le chéile.

Is sa straitéis 20 bliain don Ghaeilge 2010-30 atá polasaí an Rialtais maidir le caomhnú agus cur chun cinn na Gaeilge leagtha amach. Tá sé ráite i gclár an Rialtais 2011-16 go dtabharfaidh an Rialtas tacaíocht don straitéis agus go ndéanfaidh sé na spriocanna indéanta atá luaite inti a sheachadadh. Tá lárfhreagracht ar mo Roinn maidir le cur i bhfeidhm na straitéise, a bhfuil sé mar aidhm aige an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn i ngach réimse den saol. Cuimsíonn an cur chuige atá idir lámha ag mo Roinn faoin straitéis 20 bliain cláir theangalárnaithe, faoina dtugtar cúnamh reatha d'eagraíochtaí agus do thograí teangalárnaithe, agus cúnamh caipitil do thograí teangalárnaithe. Tá tuilleadh eolais faoi na gníomhaíochtaí seo ar shuíomh gréasáin mo Roinne, www.ahg.gov.ie. Mar thoradh ar shaineolas Údarás na Gaeltachta sa Ghaeltacht ón uair gur bunaíodh é in 1980, thóg an Rialtas cinneadh polasaí in 2011 go leanfadh an túdarás ag plé le forbairt fiontraíochta sa Ghaeltacht agus go dtabharfaí cúram breise dó maidir le cur i bhfeidhm na straitéise 20 bliain sa Ghaeltacht. Tabharfar feidhm reachtúil do na forálacha seo faoi Bhille na Gaeltachta 2012, atá ag dul tríd an Teach seo faoi láthair.

Tá suim iomlán de €19.082 milliún curtha ar fáil i Vóta mo Roinne d'Údarás na Gaeltachta don bhliain reatha chun cuidiú leis a chuid spriocanna a bhaint amach. Anuas air sin, tá cead ag an údarás an fáltas a fhaightear ó dhíol maoine a athinfheistiú ina chláir chaipitil. Tuigim go mbeidh fáil ag Údarás na Gaeltachta ar thuairim is €5 mhilliún eile i mbliana chun na críche sin. Is i gcomhthéacs phróiseas na Meastachán a dhéanfar cinntí sonracha maidir leis an mbealach is fearr le freastal ar na héilimh éagsúla atá ar mo Roinn, lena n-áirítear na héilimh a eascróidh as cur i bhfeidhm an phróisis pleanála teanga sa Ghaeltacht in 2013. Ar ndóigh, baineann an t-údarás lán-tairbhe as polasaithe fiontraíochta an Rialtais chun cuidiú leis cláir agus scéimeanna atá iomaíoch, éifeachtach agus oiriúnach a chur ar fáil chun leas eacnamaíoch, sóisialta agus cultúrtha phobal na Gaeltachta a threisiú. Tá dhá phríomhaidhm le straitéis fiontraíochta an údaráis: comhlachtaí seirbhísí idirnáisiúnta eolasbhunaithe a mhealladh chun na Gaeltachta agus an cumas fiontraíochta a bhaineann le hearnálacha dúchasacha a spreagadh, lena n-áirítear acmhainní mara, an turasóireacht, na healaíona agus an teanga. Is ar bhonn suirbhé bliantúil a dhéanann Údarás na Gaeltachta tuairisciú ar phoist a cruthaíodh agus a cailleadh. Foilseofar na figiúirí don bhliain 2012 ag tús 2013 nuair atá an suirbhé bliantúil curtha i gcrích. Is í an sprioc fostaíochta atá ag an údarás do 2012 ná 400 post nua a chruthú sa Ghaeltacht.

An gceapann an tAire Stáit go gcabhróidh Bille na Gaeltachta 2012 linn an Ghaeilge a choinneáil beo agus fostaíocht a chaomhnú sna Gaeltachtaí? Tá na heagrais Ghaeilge ag rá nach gcabhróidh sé. B'fhéidir go mbeidh treoracha nua againn i dtaobh an údaráis, ach ní bheidh an t-údarás daonlathach. Ní bheidh ionadaithe sealadacha ag na Gaeltachtaí i gCorcaigh, i bPort Láirge agus i gContae na Mí. An féidir leis an Aire Stáit níos mó béime a chur ar an teanga a choinneáil beo agus ar fhostaíocht a chaomhnú sa Ghaeltacht?

Mar is eol don Teachta agus na Teachtaí ar fad, tá ábhair machnaimh sna tuairiscí atá curtha ar fáil maidir le labhairt na Gaeilge sna Gaeltachtaí. Tá 97,000 duine ina gcónaí sna Gaeltachtaí i láthair na huaire. Sa daonáireamh is déanaí, dúirt 23,000 dóibh go labhraíonn siad an Ghaeilge go laethúil. Mar sin, tá fadhb ann. Cuireadh an fhadhb céanna, a bhí soiléir i dtorthaí an daonáirimh, in iúl dúinn arís nuair a rinneadh an suirbhé teangeolaíochta. Is é sin an fáth go bhfuil an Rialtas ag díriú isteach ar Bille na Gaeltachta 2012 agus an straitéis 20 bliain don Ghaeltacht. Is é sin an fáth go bhfuilimid ag iarraidh ar na ceantair Gaeltachta, atá roinnte suas i 19 limistéir teanga, pleananna teanga a chruthú agus a thabhairt chun tosaigh le tacaíocht ón údarás, ón acadamh, ón Roinn agus ó shaineolaithe eile. Is é an cuspóir an Bhille ná an taoide a chasadh ar ais, sa dóigh is go dtiocfaidh ardú de 25% ar líon na gcainteoirí dúchais sa Ghaeltacht amach anseo, de réir mar atá luaite sa straitéis. Ba mhaith linn an rud céanna a dhéanamh sa chuid eile den tír. Deireann 1.77 milliún duine ar fud na tíre, idir Gaeltacht agus Galltacht, go bhfuil eolas de chineál éigin acu ar an teanga agus labhraíonn 77,000 dóibh an Ghaeilge gach lá. Nuair a fheicim an dea-mhéin agus an dea-thoil atá don teanga ar fud na tíre, sílim go bhfuil féidearthachtaí móra againn. Thug mé cuairt ar go leor gaelscoileanna, gaelcholáistí agus eagraíochtaí eile a dhéanann a gcuid oibre trí Ghaeilge. Ba cheart dúinn dul i bhfeidhm orthu siúd atá dea-mhéin, dea-thoil agus tacaíocht acu don Ghaeilge. Is é an cuspóir uaillmhianach na straitéise agus na reachtaíochta ná go mbeidh 250,000 duine ag labhairt an Ghaeilge go laethúil i gceann 20 bliain. Má oibríonn gach éinne le chéile agus má úsáideann muid an dea-thoil, an dea-mhéin agus an tacaíocht atá léirithe agam, tá dóchas agam go n-éireóidh linn an cuspóir sin a bhaint amach.

Tá sé iontach soiléir ón méid atá ráite ag an Aire Stáit nach bhfuil an foinse airgid cuí curtha ar fáil d'Údarás na Gaeltachta ionas go mbeidh an t-údarás in ann na dualgaisí breise a bheidh aige ó thaobh Bille na Gaeltachta 2012 a chomhlíonadh. Tá a fhios againn go maith nach bhfuil eagraíocht Gaeltachta ar bith sásta leis an mBille. Más léir don Aire Stáit go bhfuil eagraíocht éigin sásta leis an dóigh ina bhfuil an Rialtas ag caitheamh leis an reachtaíocht, b'fhéidir go dtig leis an Dáil a chur ar an eolas ina thaobh. Cuirfidh Bille na Gaeltachta dualgaisí faoi leith ar ghrúpaí pobail atá ag obair go deonach. Ba mhaith liom rud a tharla sa tseachtain atá thart a luadh. Téann an dóigh a caitheadh le Dónal Ó Cnáimhsí, garraíodóir atá ag obair don Roinn Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta, tar éis dó labhairt faoin mBille seo ar Raidió na Gaeltachta, go dtí croí na ceiste seo. Is masla millteanach é gur scríobh an Roinn chuige i mBéarla ag bagairt a phost air siocair gur ghlac sé páirt sa phróiseas daonlathach. Is masla millteanach é gur scríobh oifigigh na Ranna i mBéarla chuig Dónall Ó Cnáimhsí agus go bhfuil siad fós ag bhagairt a phoist air siocair go bhfuil sé ag glacadh páirt sa phróiseas daonlathach.

Tá ceist eile agam ar an Aire Stáit. Arbh é féin a chur in iúil do dhuine ar bith ina Roinn go raibh Dónall Ó Cnáimhsí ag obair mar gharraíodóir don Roinn? An ndúirt sé a dheamhan le duine ar bith de oifigigh na Ranna go raibh Dónall Ó Cnáimhsí, urlabhraí Ghuth na Gaeltachta, ag obair mar gharraíodóir ina Roinn? An seasann sé leis an litir seo a chuir an Roinn amach, i mBéarla, chuig urlabhraí Ghuth na Gaeltachta, an dara litir atá curtha chuige anois, ag bagairt a phoist air siocair go bhfuil sé ag labhairt amach agus ag déanamh obair dheonach ar son na Gaeltachta agus ar son phobal na Gaeilge?

Is cinnte nach bhfuil aon cheist thíos faoin ábhar seo, faoi phearsa ar bith. Ach mar sin féin, ba mhaith liom an oiread seo a rá. Tá aithne agam ar Dhónall Ó Cnáimhsí. Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil sé ag obair agus gur garraíodóir éifeachtach é. Ní raibh a fhios agam gur cuireadh aon litir amach chuige go dtí gur tháinig sé agus gur labhair sé liom. Rinne mé fiosrúchán ansin agus fuair mé amach go ndeachaigh litir amach chuige. Sin an scéal. Ní Roinn an-mhór muid. Tá a fhios ag muintir na Ranna cé tá ag obair ins gach áit. Déantar monatóireacht i ngach Roinn ar cad atá á rá ag na meáin maidir leis an Roinn agus le polasaithe na Ranna, agus tarlaíonn an monatóireacht céanna i Roinn seo againne.

Caithfidh mé a rá arís nach bhfuil aon ionchur ag an Aire mar a caitear leis na daoine atá ag obair sa Roinn ins an Stát Seirbhís. Tá córas anseo ó bunaíodh an Stát i 1922. Éinne a théann isteach ins an Stát Seirbhís síníonn sé conradh, tá rialacha agus cód ansin agus caithfidh sé coinneáil leo. Má déantar aon trasnú air sin baineann sé le bainistíocht na Ranna agus níl aon bhaint ag an Aire leis. Níl mise i mo Aire Stáit ach le bliain agus fuair mé sin amach. Aon duine eile a bhí ina Aire, tuigeann sé an rud céanna. Tá an líne ansin, ní thrasnaíonn Airí an líne agus níl mise chun an líne a thrasnú ach an oiread.

Anois, rachaidh mé ar ais go dtí an cheist a cuireadh maidir le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta agus le cur chun cinn na teanga. Rinne mé iarracht freagra a thabhairt. Tá an Bille ag dul tríd. Táthar ag rá go bhfuilimid ag iarraidh an daonlathas a chur chun siúil ins an Ghaeltacht. Táimid ag tabhairt seans do mhuintir na Gaeltachta, don ghnáth dhuine sa Ghaeltacht. Tá aithne ag an Teachta Ó Dochartaigh ar an ghnáth dhuine ins an Ghaeltacht. Tá siad ina gcónaí thart ins na tairsigh agus amach ar an chlochar. Ní bhíonn siad ar Raidió na Gaeltacht darna achan lá ag inseacht caidé le déanamh. Tá na mílte acu ó Dhún na nGall síos go Corcaí agus táimidne ag iarraidh ar na pobail sin cuidiú linn. Tá mise ag fáil glaochanna as gach aird den Ghaeltacht ag iarraidh orm coinneáil leis an rud atá mé ag déanamh mar go bhfuil mé ag tabhairt róil do mhuintir na Gaeltachta don chéad uair ariamh. Níl mé ag teacht anuas ón sliabh leis na deich n-aitheanta maidir leis an Ghaeilge, mar a dhein Maoise. Ní Maoise mise. Níl ionamsa ach Aire Stáit ins an Roinn Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta. Táimid ag tabhairt deis dos na pobail seo a theacht amach, comhoibriú linn agus a rá linn cad ba mhaith leo a bheith ag dul ar aghaidh agus cad é a thig linn a dhéanamh fá choinne an teanga a choinneáil beo. Tá sí ag fáil bháis thart orainn agus tá mé cinnte go bhfuil a fhios sin ag an Teachta Ó Dochartaigh ó dhul thart. Tá mise á fháil amach, tá mé cinnte go bhfuil an Teachta Ó Dochartaigh á fáil amach agus tá na figiúirí ansin.

Níl mise a dhul a bheith anseo i rith mo shaoil. Níl a fhios agam cén fhad a bheidh mé anseo. Ach, ar a laghad nuair a fhágfaidh mé an Roinn tá súil as Dé agam go mbeidh mé ábalta a rá gur chuir mé stop leis an trádhadh agus, má tharlaíonn aon rud, go dtiocfaidh an taoide isteach do lucht na Gaeltachta arís. Is fada an lá ó dúirt Seosamh Mac Grianna i 1932, "Tabhair lámh do mhuintir na Gaeltachta ina ngnóithe féin". Sin an rud atá mé a dhéanamh, an rud adúirt Seosamh Mac Grianna i 1932. Tá mé ag tabhairt deis do mhuintir na Gaeltacht lámh a bheith acu i dtodhchaí a dteanga féin don chéad uair. An rud a bhí againn go dtí seo, níor éirigh leis. Dá n-éireofaí leis ní bhéinn anseo inniu ag casaoid an rud atá mé a dhéanamh.

Is dul chun cinn úr é seo. Is dea-uair é seo. Táimid ag iarraidh an pobal a mhealladh linn. Tá acmhainní teoranta againn. Níl dabht fá dtaobh de sin. Nílimid chun dul isteach ins an argóint sin anois. Ta €60 milliún á chur ar fáil do mo Roinn agus €19 milliún a chur ar fáil do Údarás na Gaeltachta, agus caithfimid an úsáid is fearr a bhaint as na hacmhainní sin. Níl a fhios agam caidé an méid a bheidh againn an bhliain seo chugainn. Beimid ag troid fá choinne gach pingin agus gach euro. Tá súil agam go mbeidh go leor againn.

Ach tá mise iontach dóchasach, nuair a bhéas an Bille tríd agus nuair a bhéas oifigigh na Ranna agus Údarás na Gaeltachta agus daoine eile amuigh imeasc an phobail ag iarraidh orthu teacht linn, go rachaimid go léir ag siúl le chéile agus go dtiocfaimid i dtír ar an dea-thoil agus ar an dea-mhéin sin atá imeasc cosmhuintir na hÉireann agus ghnáth mhuintir na Gaeltachta, nach bhfuair deis go dtí seo. Tá siad ag fáil na deise anois. Beidh na cruinnithe againn. Tá cuid acu tosaithe cheana féin. Nuair a bhéas an Bille tríd agus an struchtúr ansin againn rachaimid ar aghaidh ó sin.

Tá mise iontach dóchasach ón taithi atá agam anseo. Fear Gaeltachta mé féin, cosúil leis an Teachta Ó Dochartaigh. Chaith mé mo shaol sa Ghaeltacht. Labhraim an teanga. Tá mo dhílseacht i ngach rud ins an Stát seo. Is cinnte go bhfuil mo chroí ins an Ghaeilge. Níor mhaith liom go mbéadh sé scríofa ar mo thuama nár shábháil mé an Ghaeilge. Is é an rud ab fhearr a thiocfadh liom a bheith scríofa air, "Suaimhneas síorai dá anam agus shábháil sé an Ghaeilge".

Beidh sé deacair é sin a leanúint. Ach tá ceist agam ar an Aire Stáit faoin údarás. Bhí sé ag caint mar gheall ar theoracha agus ar dhualgais nua. Tá an t-údarás ag cabhrú le postanna a chur ar fáil. Tá 1,700 post i gcomhlachtaí de chuid an údaráis sa Ghaeltacht faoi láthair. Ach cad mar gheall ar an uimhir a luaitear sa straitéis, is é sin go gcuirfear 8,500 post ar fáil i gcionn trí bliana? Cé chaoi ar féidir leis an Aire Stáit é sin a dhéanamh? Sin an uimhir atá sa straitéis.

Is ar Údarás na Gaeltachta atá feidhmeanna fiontraíochta sa Ghaeltacht. Nuair a bhéas an Bille reachtaithe leanfaidh Údarás na Gaeltachta ag comhlíonadh na ndualgas sin. Chomh maith leis sin, beidh ról lárnach ag an údarás ins an straitéis 20 bliain agus i bpleanáil na limistéirí pleanála Gaeltachta.

Maidir leis na teorainneacha, an uair dheireannach a leagadh síos teorainneacha na Gaeltachta sa tír ba é1956, nó 56 bliana ón am seo. Is mó an t-athrú a tháinig ar an Ghaeltacht ó shin. Tá a fhios againn go léir go bhfuil ceantair ins an Ghaeltacht nach bhfuil an Ghaeilge láidir iontu agus tá ceantair eile agus, buíochas le Dia, tá an Ghaeilge measartha láidir iontu go fóill, ach faoi bhrú. Níl mise, mar Aire Stáit, chun a rá go gcaithfear ceantar sin amach agus go gcoinneofar an ceantar seo istigh. Táimid chun seans a thabhairt dóibh na pleananna forbartha teanga a chur ar aghaidh. Beidh bliain nó dhó acu chun é sin a dhéanamh. Má táimid sásta gur plean réadúil é agus go bhfuil spriocanna leagtha síos, déanfar monatóireacht air sin ar feadh cupla bliain. Má tá pobal adeir nach bhfuil aon fonn air a bheith sa Ghaeltacht nó plean teanga a dhéanamh amach, is cinnte go mbeidh impleachtaí do theorainneacha na Gaeltachta.

Tá daoine i gcoinne an Bhille. Bhí mé ag éisteacht leo agus phléigh mé leo é ar na meáin Béarla agus Gaeilge. Is é an fáth go bhfuil siad ina choinne ná nach bhfuilimid ag tarraingt teorainneacha na Gaeltachta láithreach. Ní bhéadh sé sin ceart. Tá rud ar a dtugtar próis chuí, due process. Beidh cead ag gach duine dul isteach agus má thagann siad aníos leis na pleananna déanfaimid ár ndícheall. Má dhiúltaíonn siad teacht aníos leis na pleananna beidh impleachtaí ansin do theorainneacha na Gaeltachta. Ach ag an phointe seo, ní bhéadh sé ceart nó cóir é a dhéanamh gan seans a thabhairt dóibh.

Bhí an t-Aire Stáit ag caint ar ghnáth dhaoine sa Ghaeltacht. Is mór an náire do Aire Stáit a bhfuil cúram na Gaeltachta air a bheith sásta seasamh suas agus a rá nach bhfuil Dónall Ó Cnáimhsí ar dhuine de ghnáth dhaoine na Gaeltachta. Tá an t-Aire Stáit ag caint ar ghnáth dhaoine na Gaeltachta nach bhfuil ag caint ar Raidió na Gaeltachta darna achan lá, ag iarraidh cur in iúil nach ghnáth daoine Gaeltachta Dónall Ó Cnáimhsí, lucht Ghuth na Gaeltachta agus daoine mar iad. Níl a dhath ag cur stop leis an Aire Stáit seasamh suas inniu agus ag rá go molann sé Dónall Mac Cnáimhsí agus gach duine eile atá ag obair go deonach ag cur chun tosaigh na Gaeltachta. Lig do oifig na n-acmhainní daonna sa Roinn cibé rud a dhéanamh. Ach mar Aire Stáit, ba chóir dó cosaint a thabhairt do dhaoine atá ag obair go deonach ag iarraidh an Ghaeilge a chur chun tosaigh agus a bheith mar pháirt den phróiseas dhaonlathach ag moladh leasaithe ar an mBille. B'fhéidir nach bhfuil siad sásta leis an méid atá an t-Aire Stáit ag rá ach nach bhféadfaí é sin a ligint ar leataobh. Ba cheart go mbéadh an t-Aire Stáit a bhfuil cúram na Gaeltachta air ag seasamh suas ar son gach duine sa Ghaeltacht agus ní hamháin ar son ghnáth dhaoine na Gaeltachta, nach n-áiritear Dónáll Ó Cnáimhsí nó iadsan atá ag caint ar Údarás na Gaeltachta ina measc.

Is mór an náire é don Teachta McGinley. Tá a fhios aige go bhfuil pobal na Gaeltachta feargach leis nach bhfuil sé ag cosaint an fhir seo, agus an Roinn ag bagairt a phoist mar go bhfuil sé ag seasamh suas agus ag déanamh an rud a ba chóir do go leor daoine eile a dhéanamh, seasamh suas ar son na Gaeltachta. Sin an dóigh a thabharfaimís tarrtháil ar an Ghaeilge, ní leis an cineál Bille seo, an raiméis seo atá an tAire Stáit ag cur tríd an Dáil taobh istigh de thrí uair an chloig amárach. Is mór an náire é don Aire Stáit. Tá fearg orm agus ar ghnáth dhaoine na Gaeltachta as an rud atá déanta ag an Aire Stáit.

Tá an daonlathas ann ar fud na tíre. Níl mise mar Aire Stáit ach ar feadh bliana agus tuigim nach bhfuil aon ról agamsa nó ag aon Aire sa tír seo cur isteach ar imeachtaí fhoireann na Roinne. Baineann sé sin go huile agus go hiomlán le bainistíocht na Roinne. Nuair a bhéas an Teachta Ó Dochartaigh mar Bhall den Teach chomh fada agus atá mise agus má bhíonn sé d'ábhar a bheith ina Aire choíche, is cinnte go dtuigfidh sé an difear agus an demarcation line idir an tAire agus an Roinn. Tig leis teacht isteach anseo agus a bheith ag caint faoi mo chomharsa agus a chomharsa. Tá oiread measa agam ar ghach uile duine atá ag obair ar son na Gaeilge. Má tá an Teachta Ó Dochartaigh sásta oibriú ar son na Gaeilge, measaim gur maith an rud é sin. Níl an oiread sin daoine againn go dtig linn neamhíontas a dhéanamh díobh. Ach tá sé ag déanamh léaráide polaitíochta de gnó a bhaineann leis an Roinn agus nach bhfuil baint ar bith agamsa leis. Leagadh síos nuair a bunaíodh an Stát nach bhfuil cead ag Aire cur isteach ar oibrithe. B'fhéidir go bhfuil an dearcadh ag an Teachta Ó Dochartaigh that the Minister can hire and fire. Ní thig liomsa é sin a dhéanamh agus ná bí ag rá gur féidir liom.

Is féidir leat é a mholadh.

Tá an Teachta lán le hypocrisy-----

Níor mhol tú é.

(Interruptions).
(Interruptions).

Níl meas dá laghad ag an Teachta ar mhuintir na Gaeltachta seachas teacht isteach anseo agus caoineadh ar a son. Rinneamar níos mó ar son na Gaeltachta le 30 bliain anuas ná a dhearna Sinn Féin le 100 bliain. Loit siad agus scrios siad an Ghaeltacht agus chuir siad deireadh le turasóireacht sa Ghaeltacht, agus anois tagann an Teachta Ó Dochartaigh isteach anseo ag caoineadh ar son mhuintir na Gaeltachta. Mharaigh siad rompu agus ina ndiaidh agus chuir siad deireadh le turasóireacht inár gcontae. Sular tháinig an Teachta ar an saol, bhí an paróiste lán le turasóirí. Chuir siad deireadh le sin.

Níor mhol tú é.

Ná bí ag teacht isteach anseo ag caoineadh.

(Interruptions).

Hypocrite den chéad scoth é an Teachta, an hypocrite is mó a tháinig isteach anseo riamh - the biggest hypocrite that ever came down those steps, Piaras Ó Dochartaigh, agus do mhuintir atá i do chuideachta.

Cultural Development

Sandra McLellan

Question:

7Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Arts; Heritage and the Gaeltacht in view of the fact that the European Commission will be investing over seventy billion euro in developing the creative economy across Europe his plans to develop/build Ireland’s creative economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35423/12]

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

29Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Arts; Heritage and the Gaeltacht in view of the fact that the European Commission has launched a new call for a proposal (details supplied), his plans to develop the specific area of culture; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35428/12]

Michael Colreavy

Question:

30Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Arts; Heritage and the Gaeltacht his plans to foster links between Ireland and the rest of Europe in order to develop the growth potential in Ireland’s creative economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35425/12]

Gerry Adams

Question:

31Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Arts; Heritage and the Gaeltacht the intergovernmental strategies he has planned to position culture, heritage, and the creative industries as the foundation of a new economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35424/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 7 and 29 to 31, inclusive, together.

My officials and I are not aware of a European Commission source of funding which contains €70 billion for investment in projects or actions specific to the creative economy. There are two European Union programmes operating in the areas for which I have responsibility. The MEDIA programme is the support programme for the European audiovisual industry, details of which are available at www.mediadeskireland.ie. The Culture programme is the EU support programme for organisations working in the field of culture, with details available at www.ccp.ie.

For the 2007-13 period, the allocation to the MEDIA programme is €755 million, with €400 million being allocated to the Culture programme, giving a total of €1.155 billion over seven years. A further figure of €1.8 billion refers to discussions currently under way between member states and the European Commission on a new framework programme for the cultural and creative sectors. This is intended to run from 2014 to 2020 and to be called the Creative Europe programme. It includes a proposal to amalgamate the current Culture and MEDIA programmes under a common framework and to create an entirely new facility to improve access to finance. Once the new programme is finalised, details of how to seek funding from it will be made available through appropriate information outlets.

It is not possible to estimate how much any country will receive from any of these programmes as the funds are not distributed on a pro rata basis. Calls for proposals are made periodically by the European Commission. Applications are then assessed by an independent body, currently the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency. Decisions on what support is provided are based on the relative merits of applications. There is no quota for each country, nor is a specific amount allocated to each.

I understand the directorate general for enterprise and industry in the European Commission issued a call more than a year ago for proposals for transnational co-operation projects on European cultural routes , with up to €100,000 available per project. The entire fund available for the programme was €500,000 and the closing date for applications under this call was 7 October 2011. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald may be referring in her question to a European Commission call for co-operation projects to create transnational tourism products based on cultural and industrial heritage. The closing date for this programme is 28 September 2012 and up to €700,000 may be available in total for all 27 member states through the directorate general for enterprise and industry. The application form and details of the criteria are available on the Commission’s website, europa.eu.

The Government appreciates and values the contribution the wider arts sector makes to the reputation of this country. Given the prevailing economic constraints, investment in the arts, culture and creative sectors is more important than ever, having regard to the employment intensity of the sector. The Deputies will be aware that a report, Assessment of the Economic Impact of the Arts in Ireland, published by the Arts Council in 2011 indicated that the arts sector provides significant direct and indirect employment, supporting some 21,300 jobs and contributing €306.8 million in taxes. The arts also affect the wider creative industries, which contribute €4.7 billion to the economy and support 79,000 jobs.

The heritage area is also increasingly identified as a primary stimulus in the tourism sector. My Department is committed to promoting greater appreciation and understanding of Ireland's rich heritage as a valuable amenity for business, farming and tourism and as a means of presenting Ireland as an attractive destination for sustainable inward investment. A report published by the Heritage Council last month indicates that Ireland's historic environment supports more than 35,000 jobs and contributes in the order of €1.5 billion to the national economy. It also indicates that one fifth of total visitor expenditure in Ireland is attributable to our historic environment.

Progression of the negotiations surrounding the Creative Europe initiative will almost certainly fall to the Irish Presidency of the EU. In pursuit of advancing the initiative, I have already been involved in numerous meetings with Ministers of culture from other member states, Members of the European Parliament and other European officials.

I thank the Minister for his reply. Unfortunately, he did not respond to my question on how much the new European initiative might be worth to Ireland and how one might apply to it. Will he provide more detail on the measures he intends to introduce to safeguard jobs in the sector?

I do not know where the Deputy came upon the figure of €70 billion to which she referred in her question. As I indicated, the allocation under the MEDIA and Culture programmes for 2007 to 2013 was some €1.1 billion, with €1.8 billion earmarked for the period from 2014 to 2020. I am very much engaged in the discussions on this programme with fellow member states. A proposal has come from the Commission to which the European Parliament must respond, after which a compromise will have to be reached. I am hopeful that an agreement might be reached during Ireland's Presidency and that the proposed allocation of €1.8 billion will be forthcoming.

It has come to my attention that we have not drawn down as much funding under this programme as we have under, for example, the Common Agricultural Policy. One of the reasons Irish groups and organisations might not have applied for grant aid from Europe under the programme is that the application process is complex. Another factor is that in recent years, before the collapse of the economy, there was generally sufficient State funding, including increased funding for the Arts Council up to 2008. We have done much better in respect of the MEDIA programme, not least because of the efforts of a very effective organisation called MEDIA Desk Ireland. The organisation has been highly effective in encouraging the industry to apply for funding under this programme. In this regard, I acknowledge the work done by Siobhán O'Donoghue and others.

While Irish organisations were not as successful in securing funding under the cultural programme, some organisations have secured funding and improvements have been made in the past year, with increases recorded in the number of applications submitted and the number of organisations receiving funds. One of the major challenges facing Irish organisations is the requirement to find partners in other countries. While it may be easy to find a partner in Northern Ireland, in cases where five or six partners are required organisations must find partners in countries on mainland Europe. It is easier for organisations located on the Continent, whether in the central and eastern European countries which acceded to the European Union in recent years or western European member states, to find partners because many of these countries share borders with other member states. This requirement places Irish organisations at a disadvantage.

I will seek to have a more accessible application form introduced for the new programme. I will also ensure the criteria are properly interpreted and assistance is provided to those applying under the programme. I have discussed this matter with the Arts Council and will certainly make it a priority. Given the likelihood that national funding for the arts will reduce in the coming three years, we must avail of every other source of funding. Organisations need to fully capitalise on this programme.

It is vital to draw down any grant aid that is available and I hope the Minister will take all necessary measures to ensure Irish organisations do so.

As I stated, one must apply for funding if one wishes to draw it down. More Irish organisations need to apply for funding. I have discussed this matter with my counterpart in Northern Ireland, Ms Carál Ní Chuilín, MLA. I have also encouraged the Arts Council to co-operate with its counterpart in Northern Ireland and look outwards to find like-minded partners in Europe. Perhaps they should focus on finding organisations in other Celtic countries and the Nordic states which share similar attitudes to us on culture and which may be applying for similar types of support. I will prioritise this programme with a view to increasing funding for Irish arts organisations.

The joint committee recently had protracted discussions with local authorities on arts funding. In advance of engaging with other member states before a new tranche of funding is announced - despite having sat through many committee hearings on the arts, this funding was new to me - will the Minister encourage local authorities, through their twinning arrangements with local authorities in other European Union member states, to produce initiatives in this area? As the Minister is aware, local arts officers in towns and counties are at the coalface of the arts. If they have developed relationships with organisations in other member states, they may be able to bring something to the table to assist the Minister in his efforts.

The Deputy makes a practical proposal. In the past year, I have met local authority arts and heritage officers who play a critical role in promoting the arts across the country. The Arts Council is a national organisation based in Dublin, whereas local authority arts officers do most of the work promoting the arts in small communities. I envisage an important role for arts officers in the new programme because they have already reached out and established a large number of twinning arrangements. Some towns are twinned with up to six partners around Europe. Given the connections that have been made under the twin towns arrangements, it may be possible to use them as a vehicle for capitalising on the programme. A great deal of work remains to be done.

As I stated, our approach to this programme in the past was not sufficiently serious, primarily because the process was complicated. Necessity means we must go through the process. I thank Deputy O'Donovan for his proposal. With Limerick set to become a city of culture in 2014, perhaps he will encourage arts organisations in the city and county to consider using the programme to maximise the amount of financial assistance available to Limerick for its 2014 programme.

I thank the Minister for the support his Department has provided for arts festivals and programmes in Galway, specifically the Galway Film Fleadh and Galway Arts Festival, the launch of which he attended last Monday. I also commend Galway county and city councils and the Western Development Commission on the support they have provided. I refer, in particular, to the Galway picture palace project, which I have discussed previously with the Minister. I hope the project will secure funding from the Department and the other bodies to which I referred because it would add to the cultural and artistic life of the city and county.

Galway has capitalised on culture to build a vibrant economy. Shortly after the recent Volvo Ocean Race festival, we had the opening of the Galway Film Fleadh, which has been followed by the Galway Arts Festival and in a couple of weeks the city will host the Galway Races. Galway is an example of a city that has used the arts and culture as a platform to rejuvenate itself and create a vibrant economy. This vibrancy was in evidence throughout the city and not only in the city centre when I visited Galway last week for the film fleadh.

As regards the Solas project to which the Deputy referred, my Department has committed a large sum of money to the initiative and its commitment will be honoured. Unfortunately, we do not have any further resources to allocate to the project. A shortfall of €1.1 million in funding must be provided before Solas can proceed. I appeal to the business sector and people in Galway to get behind the project. They will ultimately benefit from the proposed new facility as they will be able to watch films in the three cinemas that will make up the project. Moreover, the visitors who will be attracted to the city as a result will stay in hotels and guesthouses, which will benefit businesses. Given the absence of further funding for the project, I hope local people will take up the challenge and buy into the project to ensure it is completed, as I am certain it will be. Thus far, local businesses have not made any contribution to Solas, which is a large project worth more than €6 million, although I am aware that efforts are under way in this regard. Any town or city would be delighted to have a project that has received funding of more than €6 million. I appeal to people in Galway, especially in the city, to get behind the project.

Written Answers follow Adjournment.