Priority Questions

National Cultural Institutions

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

1. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the measures he is taking to audit and secure valuable artefacts and materials held by the State following recent high profile robberies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19540/13]

The national cultural institutions under the aegis of my Department manage important collections of art and other artefacts on behalf of the State. While my Department provides funding to these institutions, the board of each institution is responsible for all operational matters including security arrangements and procedures. I do not have a statutory function in respect of such matters. Notwithstanding this, I am aware that the security of the collections is routinely kept under review by all of the institutions. My Department maintains appropriate contact with them on their security measures and the arrangements in place to ensure the protection of the collections in their care. My Department has written to all national cultural institutions twice so far in 2013 regarding security matters.

I am happy to give an update in respect of items in the ownership of my Department. As the Deputy will know, the Garda Síochána has been investigating the loss of a number of items held in private storage on behalf of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Earlier today, gardaí assisted by members from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation made an arrest on foot of the theft of paintings and other items from a storage facility in Limerick. A man has been taken to Shannon Garda station, where he is being detained under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984. The Garda has confirmed today that further planned searches are being carried out in the Limerick area following this arrest. Deputies will appreciate that as this is an active investigation, I cannot comment on operational matters which are fully within the remit of the Garda. They will further appreciate that when an active investigation is under way, we must all be careful and judicious in our comments and actions. Nothing that is said or done should frustrate the ongoing investigation in any way. This is an extremely serious matter. I have instructed my Department to continue to give every possible assistance to the Garda to help to return these items to the State.

I commend the Minister on his response. I note that the gardaí have made an arrest in respect of one of these thefts. Two things arise. First, there is general concern among the public and the Members of this House that twice in the last 12 months, artefacts have been stolen from what we believed to be secure locations that had been acquired by the State. I suppose it is understandable that we would require assurances from the Minister that steps have been taken to ensure these valuable artefacts are safe.

The second point relates to the fact that so many of our artefacts are in storage. When we recently discussed material handed over from a house in County Kerry that was under refurbishment, the Minister gave us some very good and plausible explanations. When one considers the number of locations throughout the State where these artefacts could be made available to the public in a safe manner in which people could have confidence, one wonders why so many of our artefacts remain in storage rather than being put on public display so that they may be enjoyed by the public, which is the purpose for which they were supplied to the State in the first instance. I would be grateful if the Minister could have regard to these two points in his response.

The reference I made to Limerick and Shannon related to artefacts that were taken some time ago. I understand the theft in question took place long before I took up this office. We are dealing with items that were taken more recently - on Wednesday, 17 April last - from the collections resource centre in Swords. The Garda is investigating the matter. We have issued two communiqués to the national cultural institutions, calling on them to review their security arrangements, already this year. This is ongoing. A review of the National Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Collins Barracks museum has been carried out in conjunction with the Garda Síochána. A review of the Swords facility was due to be carried out next month. I am confident that the arrangements which are in place at the moment will protect the artefacts we have. We have to be vigilant, obviously, because we are dealing with a new and more sophisticated type of criminal. The eight rhinoceros horns stolen in Swords last week were probably taken to supply the illegal trade in powdered horn used in traditional medicines in the Far East, for example. Apparently, there is huge demand in the Far East for powdered horn. I understand the horns stolen last week could achieve a street price of up to €500,000. It is obvious that they were specifically targeted. The authorities at the Natural History Museum removed them from display because they were conscious of the security issues involved. The security arrangements are kept under review. I acknowledge again the work of the Garda Síochána in the case of the artefacts and objects that were stolen from Killarney House. The Garda is making considerable progress.

I wish I could share the Minister's optimism about the security that is in place. When I read about what happened on Balheary Road, I learned that the sole security man on the premises was tied up and that the thieves spent an hour on the premises before making off with the rhinoceros horns. Thank God nobody in this House needs the particular aphrodisiacs that are apparently produced from these horns.

Is the Deputy sure?

Nonetheless, it is frightful to think they could be stolen in such a manner. The Minister omitted to deal with the point I raised about artefacts that are out of sight. Why are we not attempting to maximise the number of artefacts that can be made available to the public, not just in the Dublin cultural institutions but throughout the country?

It comes back to the issue of security. We do not have enough secure spaces in this country to guarantee that the artefacts would be secure if they were put on display. That is the reason.

Líomhaintí Drochúsáide

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

2. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Peadar Tóibín den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta maidir le líomhaintí atá déanta le déanaí i gcoinne duine (sonraí tugtha), an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas maidir le cén déileáil a bhí ag a Roinn, nó ag a réamhtheachtaí, leis an duine sin, an míneoidh sé cén saghas déileála a bhí ann, an raibh aon teagmháil ag an duine le daoine óga uair ar bith le linn na déileála seo, an raibh aon eolas ag an Roinn nó ag a cuid oifigeach faoi aon líomhain i gcoinne an duine agus má bhí, cén gníomh a tógadh mar thoradh air sin agus an bhfuil an Roinn tar éis athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar a cuid polasaithe um chosaint leanaí de bharr na líomhaintí seo. [19566/13]

Ba mhaith liom a rá ag an tús go bhfuil mé iontach buartha faoi na scéalta ar fad atá tagtha chun cinn sna meáin maidir leis na líomhaintí atá luaite ag an Teachta. Is cinnte go ngoilleann na líomhaintí seo faoi mhí-úsáid ar pháistí san am atá caite ar gach duine. Tá mé cinnte go dtuigfidh an Teachta go bhfuil teorainn leis an méid gur féidir liom a rá ag an bpointe seo. Ní mór dúinn, ar ndóigh, a bheith airdeallach ach go háirithe ar chás na ndaoine sin a tháinig amach go poiblí faoi na cúrsaí seo le roinnt seachtainí anuas. Is féidir liom a rá go léiríonn na taifid atá ar fáil i mo Roinnse gur tugadh líomhaintí faoin duine atá luaite ag an Teachta chun aird an Ard-Rúnaí sa Roinn Ealaíon, Oidhreachta, Gaeltachta agus Oileán, mar a bhí, i mí Feabhra 1998. Ghlac an tArd-Rúnaí céimeanna gan mhoill chun comhairle a glacadh leis an Roinn Sláinte agus Leanaí agus chun a chinntiú go gcuirfí an cheist i lámha an Gharda Síochána. Mar is eol don Teachta, ar ndóigh, thug na Gardaí ina dhiaidh sin faoi na líomhaintí a fhiosrú.

Bhí an té a bhí luaite sna líomhaintí bainteach thar blianta fada le heagraíochtaí Gaeilge éagsúla a raibh baint acu le himeachtaí teanga-lárnaithe, cúrsaí samhraidh agus clubanna óige ina measc. Nuair a cuireadh ar an eolas é faoi na líomhaintí, d'iarr agus fuair an tArd-Rúnaí ag an am deimhnithe nach raibh an duine a bhí i gceist ag plé a thuilleadh le coláistí Gaeilge ná le foghlaimeoirí Gaeilge laistigh de réimse feidhme na Roinne.

Is féidir liom a rá freisin, i bhfianaise na dtuairiscí sna meáin le déanaí, go bhfuil teagmháil déanta ag Ard-Rúnaí mo Roinne le stiúrthóir náisiúnta na seirbhísí do pháistí agus teaghlaigh i bhFeidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte, HSE, le gur féidir le haon duine gur mhaith leis nó léi teacht ar an tseirbhís chomhairleoireachta atá ar fáil ón HSE sin a dhéanamh.

Maidir leis na Coláistí Gaeilge féin, ba mhaith liom a rá go bhfuil gach iarracht á déanamh ag mo Roinnse lena chinntiú nach féidir lena leithéid tarlú anois. Mar shampla: bíonn ar ghach ball os cionn 16 bliain d’aois de na teaghlaigh lena mbíonn na foghlaimeoirí Gaeilge ar iostas leo scagtha le láraonad grinnfhiosrúcháin an Gharda Síochána roimh ré;

Eolas breise nár tugadh ar urlár an Tí

bíonn na múinteoirí agus gach duine eile sna Coláistí a d’fhéadfadh bheith i dteagmháil le foghlaimeoirí scagtha mar an gcéanna i gcomhar le CONCOS - scátheagraíocht na gColáistí Samhraidh; agus bíonn ar údaráis gach coláistí polasaí scríofa a bheith acu faoi na nithe seo, mar aon le ráiteas sláinte agus sábháilteachta agus duine ainmnithe go hoifigiúil mar Oifigeach Sláinte agus Sábháilteachta.

Ní mór na forálacha cuí ó na treoirlínte Tús Áite do Leanaí, Children First, a bheith i bhfeidhm i ngníomhaíochtaí uile gach coláiste agus sna tithe lóistín sa Ghaeltacht. Ní miste a lua gur eagraigh CONCOS cúrsaí do na coláistí gaeilge le déanaí chun breis eolais a thabhairt dóibh faoi Tús Áite do Leanaí agus an fhreagracht atá ar na coláistí maidir le slánchoimeád páistí. Ar ndóigh, leanfaidh mo Roinnse ag tabhairt tacaíochta do ghníomhaíochtaí den chineál seo.

Maidir le nósanna imeachta mo Roinnse i ndáil le cosaint leanaí, is féidir liom a rá leis an Teachta go bhfuil oifigigh de chuid mo Roinne ag feidhmiú mar ionadaithe ar an ngrúpa idir-rannach ar Tús Áite do Leanaí agus bíonn teagmháil ar bhonn rialta idir iad féin agus an Roinn Leanaí agus Gnóthaí Óige maidir le ceisteanna a bhaineann le cosaint leanaí. Tá polasaí cosaint leanaí agus plean forfheidhmithe rannach ag mo Roinnse a bhfuil feidhm aige, de réir mar is cuí, ar fud ghníomhaíochtaí uile mo Roinne agus tá sé seo curtha ar fáil don fhoireann uile agus tá sé bunaithe ar Tús Áite do Leanaí: Treoir Náisiúnta um Chosaint agus Leas Leanaí, 2011. Leanfaidh coiste maoirseachta Tús Áite do Leanaí mo Roinnse ag déanamh monatóireachta agus athbhreithnithe air ar bhonn rialta.

D'fhreastal mé ar Choláiste na bhFiann mé féin nuair a bhí mé i mo mhac léinn sna 1980dí agus 1990dí. Bhain mé an-taitneamh as an am a chaith mé sa choláiste sin, d'fhoghlaim mé a lán agus ní fhaca mé ariamh aon droch chleachtadh ar siúl ann.

Chualamar go léir na liamhaintí uafásacha gránna faoi Dhomhnall Ó Lubhlaí agus chuir na liamhaintí sin déistin orainn go léir. Déanaim comhbhrón leis na híospartaigh go léir agus molaim a gcrógacht as teacht amach leis na líomhaintí seo. Tá athbhreithniú ag dul ar aghaidh leis An Garda Síochána, an HSE agus an Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna. Tá a fhios againn go raibh caidreamh idir an fear seo agus Roinn na Gaeltachta. Mhaoinigh an Roinn Coláiste na bhFiann agus Gael Linn ar feadh blianta agus mar sin, osclaíonn sin a lán ceisteanna.

An bhfuil an tAire Stáit chun athbhreithniú nó imscrúdú a chur ar bun sa Roinn maidir leis an caidreamh a bhí idir an fear sin agus an Roinn ag an am? Chualamar gur shocraigh Gael Linn cás a bhain leis an fear sin taobh amuigh den chúirt. Ar úsáideadh airgead na Roinne chun airgead a thabhairt don íospartach sin ag an am? Is ceist iontach thábhachtach í sin. Tuairiscítear freisin go ndúirt an Teachta Éamon Ó Cuív, iar-Aire Roinn na Gaeltachta, go bhfuair sé faisnéis faoi chás mí-úsáide agus gur thug sé an faisnéis sin do rúnaí sa Roinn. An bhfuil aon taifead den fhaisnéis sin sa Roinn?

Is é an taifead atá sa Roinn ná an méid a cuireadh in iúl don iar rúnaí i 1998. Mar a dúirt mé, chuaigh an t-iar rúnaí chuig an tseirbhís leanaí, An Roinn Leanaí agus Gnóthaí Óige mar atá anois, agus ó sin chuig na gardaí leis na liamhaintí sin a leanúint ar aghaidh. Maidir le híocaíocht, ardaíodh an cheist sin sna meáin. Ba mhaith liom a rá go soiléir nár íoc mo Roinn aon chúiteamh le haon duine a d'fhulaing mí-úsáid i gcoláiste Gaeilge agus níor íocadh aon chúnamh thar cheann na Roinne le haon eagraíocht eile ar chúis den chineál seo.

Maidir le nósanna imeachta mo Roinne i ndáil le cosaint leanaí, is féidir liom a rá go bhfuil oifigigh de chuid mo Roinne ag feidhmiú mar ionadaithe ar an ngrúpa idir-rannach ar Tús Áite do Leanaí agus bíonn teagmháil ar bhonn rialta idir iad féin agus an Roinn Leanaí agus Gnóthaí Óige maidir le ceisteanna a bhaineann le cosaint leanaí. Tá polasaí cosaint leanaí agus plean forfheidhmithe rannach ag mo Roinnse a bhfuil feidhm aige, de réir mar is cuí, ar fud ghníomhaíochtaí uile mo Roinne agus tá sé seo curtha ar fáil don fhoireann uile.

Tá an-obair á déanamh freisin ag CONCOS, eagras na gcoláistí samhraidh, ag cur cúrsaí ar fáil dos na daoine a bhíonn baint acu le daoine óga. Coicís ó shin, bhí mé i gConamara agus d'fhéach mé isteach ar cheann acu.

An bhfuil an tAire Stáit sásta nár íoc aon eagraíocht cosúil le Gael Linn nó Coláiste na bhFiann aon airgead a fuair siad ón Roinn do íospáirtigh? An bhfuil sé lán-sásta gur chomhlíon an Roinn na treoracha maidir le cúram páistí ag an am? An ndeachaigh na gardaí i dteagmháil leis an Roinn ar chor ar bith chun cás ar bith a fhiosrú, seachas an ceann i 1998? An bhfuil an tAire Stáit chun athbhreithniú nó imscrúdú a dhéanamh sa Roinn faoi seo?

Arís, ba mhaith liom a rá nár íoc an Roinn aon chúiteamh le haon eagraíocht nó níor íoc aon eagraíocht aon chúiteamh thar cheann na Roinne do na híospartaigh atá i gceist ag an Teachta. Nílim ag séanadh freagrachta ar aon bhealach. Tá na liamhaintí atá déanta ag trácht ar rud a tharla tamall fada ó shin, agus mar a dúirt mé, nuair a chuireadh é seo in iúl don rúnaí a bhí ann, chuaigh sé chuig an Roinn ar a raibh an fhreagracht, chuig an bord sláinte agus chuig na gardaí.

An mbeidh athbhreithniú á dhéanamh ar seo sa Roinn?

National Monuments

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

3. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in view of fact that the State undertook the preservation of the National Monument 14-17 Moore Street, if his attention has been drawn to the deteriorating condition of the monument; his plans to prevent further dereliction and dilapidation; and if he will support an immediate independent assessment of the condition of these historic buildings. [19567/13]

Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street are the subject of a preservation order under the National Monuments Acts. The effect of the preservation order is that any works affecting these properties require the consent of the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, under section 14 of the National Monuments Act 1930, as amended. The landowner’s application to my Department for consent to proposals that include the provision of a commemorative centre to the 1916 Rising and its leaders on the national monument site is being examined.

As part of the consent process, the applicant was asked by my Department to provide an environmental impact statement in regard to the proposals for the national monument site. The public consultation period in regard to the environmental impact statement was extended because of the requirement for the applicant to publish a fresh public notice when the original notice was found to be deficient. The extended period ended yesterday. Following completion of the consultation procedures, I now intend to proceed as quickly as possible to undertake a formal environmental impact assessment, including consideration of the submissions received, and then to make a decision on the consent application itself.

My function in regard to the upkeep or maintenance of the monument, which is privately owned, is confined to considering any related proposals by the owners for which my consent must be sought under the National Monuments Acts. The monument buildings are included in the record of protected structures, maintained by Dublin City Council under the Planning Acts, which gives the city council specific powers of intervention that are not available to me. However, from time to time, my consent has been sought and given under the National Monuments Acts for necessary maintenance and repairs. This includes, most recently, essential stabilisation work on the building facades.

Nos. 14 to 17 are the national monument and they are only still standing by the skin of their teeth. The Minister knows that what the Save Moore Street group, the relatives and I would like is to see that area as an historic quarter. If we look at the Venice Charter and apply that to Nos. 14 to 17, Moore Street, we can see that the monument there is more than a stand-alone entity. It has to be and is linked to the surrounding environment, and part of that environment is the historic laneways and terrace of Moore Street, which is also linked with the street trading tradition that is synonymous with Dublin and with the businesses there. It is interesting that there is a new and expanding restaurant business on Moore Street, the Paris Bakery, which is doing extremely well.

It is also linked to what could be the potential for housing while maintaining the facade of the terrace. The remit of an organisation like Habitat for Humanity is to go in and take over derelict buildings, so there is huge potential for the whole area to be preserved as a historic quarter in a way that is fitting and acknowledges the heroism and contribution of the men and women of 1916.

The point is that, at the moment, Nos. 14 to 17 are in a dilapidated state and that state is worsening all the time. The developer is failing in its duty to maintain the monument.

There is an onus on the Minister to take Nos. 14-17 into State care under the auspices of the National Museum. There are calls for an independent assessment of the site. This has been going on for a while. An archaeological report has been produced by the National Museum which we are still waiting to see.

The developer wants to develop the site. Nos 14-17 are included in that but the developer is in NAMA. Has the Minister had any discussions or is he planning to hold any discussions with the Minister for Finance? How can we find out about the NAMA accounts? I have been trying to discover what they are applied for. If they are in NAMA, how will they do this work? There are many dots that must be joined up but they seem to be getting further and further apart as time goes by.

I am sure the Deputy is very much aware that it is Dublin City Council that has responsibility for the structure and stabilisation of the buildings. All I am asked for is my consent. In this case, the developer asked me for my consent in respect of seeing whether the works are suitable for that site. The Deputy should direct her request to Dublin City Council with regard to the fabric and structure of the buildings. It is very important to point that out. I repeat that I have been asked to adjudicate on whether the proposal for Nos. 14 to 17 is suitable for the national monuments site. All of the consultation has taken place and I will be making an assessment of the statement submitted by the landowner and observations by Dublin City Council and others. I will be making that assessment and I assure the Deputy that I want to reach that determination as soon as possible. I hope that this will be before we end this Dáil term in July.

I acknowledge the role of Dublin City Council with regard to this and still cannot believe how it managed to sell that area to a developer. I have said so more than once. Can the Minister refuse consent to buildings in the vicinity of the national monument? Can the developer build over, under and around it in a way that is totally inappropriate to the monument?

The environmental impact statement is not available online. I am conscious of Fr. Joe Mallin who I understand is the only surviving direct relative of someone who fought in the Easter Rising. He is in his nineties and is a priest in Hong Kong so how could he and others outside the country possibly have an input into the environmental impact statement if it is not online?

This was made available at Dublin City Council and my Department so it was available to people and I am sure it could have been delivered to Fr. Mallin by post or express mail. The fact is that the consultations are now over, it is time to make a decision and I am prepared to do that as soon as possible.

Seirbhís Farantóireachta

Michael P. Kitt

Question:

4. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Michael P. Kitt den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil sé sásta leis an tseirbhís farantóireachta agus an aersheirbhís chuig Oileáin Árann; cé na pleananna atá aige chun na seirbhísí sin a fheabhsú; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [19541/13]

Tá thart ar 60% den soláthar atá ar fáil do mo Roinn do sheirbhísí iompair á chaitheamh ar Oileáin Árann, áit a bhfuil 43% de dhaonra na n-oileán ag maireachtáil. Anuraidh, d’aontaigh mo Roinn conradh nua farantóireachta paisinéirí d’Inis Meáin agus Inis Oírr don tréimhse cúig bliana suas go dtí Deireadh Fómhair 2017, mar aon le conradh nua lastas don trí oileán a chlúdóidh an tréimhse cúig bliana suas go dtí 31 Nollaig 2017. Tá mo Roinn, i láthair na huaire, ag lorg tairiscintí ar son seirbhís aeir d’Oileáin Árann don tréimhse Deireadh Fómhair 2013 go dtí Meán Fómhair 2014. Tá thart ar 60% den soláthar atá ar fáil do mo Roinn do sheirbhísí iompair á chaitheamh ar Oileáin Árann, áit a bhfuil 43% de dhaonra na n-oileán ag maireachtáil. Anuraidh, d’aontaigh mo Roinn conradh nua farantóireachta paisinéirí d’Inis Meáin agus Inis Oírr don tréimhse cúig bliana suas go dtí Deireadh Fómhair 2017, mar aon le conradh nua lastas don trí oileán a chlúdóidh an tréimhse cúig bliana suas go dtí 31 Nollaig 2017. Tá mo Roinn, i láthair na huaire, ag lorg tairiscintí ar son seirbhís aeir d’Oileáin Árann don tréimhse Deireadh Fómhair 2013 go dtí Meán Fómhair 2014. Ar an drochuair, ní bhfuair mo Roinn aon tairiscint le haghaidh seirbhís farantóireachta paisinéirí idir Inis Mór agus an mórthír. Bhí plé ag mo Roinn leis an bhfarantóir a bhí ag cur na seirbhíse ar fáil ach theip uirthi teacht ar chomhaontú leis de bharr an méadú ollmhór a bhí á lorg aige sa bhfóirdheontas ar sheirbhís a thuigtear a bheith brabúsach cheana féin. Tuigtear go bhfuil an farantóir ag leanúint leis an seirbhís céanna gan chúnamh Stáit mar go bhfuil inmharthanacht tráchtála ann agus go bhfuil i gceist aige é sin a dhéanamh go leanúnach.

Cad é an costas a bhaineann le síniú conartha? Níl conradh ann faoi láthair. Cad é an costas do na hoileánaigh a úsáideann an tseirbhís seo? Tá airgead ar fáil don aersheirbhís go dtí na hoileáin go dtí mí Lúnasa seo chugainn. Cé mhéad airgead atá i gceist? Nach fearr go mbeidh aersheirbhís cinnte, dearfach ann do na hoileáin sna blianta amach romhainn seachas go ceann bliana?

Maidir leis an chostas, cosnaíonn seirbhís farantóireachta páisinéirí chuig Inis Meáin agus Inis Oírr ar a lú €800,000 in aghaidh na bliana, cosnaíonn an tseirbhís lastais chuig na trí oileán €735,234 in aghaidh na bliana, cosnaíonn seirbhís aeir chuig na trí oileán €1.61 milliún in aghaidh na bliana agus cosnaíonn an tseirbhís bainistíochta do na trí aeradróm €372,690 in aghaidh na bliana.

Bhí deireadh ag teacht leis an chonradh reatha don tseirbhís aeir agus do bhainistíocht na n-aerdróm ar an 31 Lúnasa i mbliana. Bhí an togra chun athnuachan a dhéanamh ar an seirbhís aeir san Official Journal of the European Union ar an 22 mí an Mhárta. Tá na doiciméid tairsiceana curtha ar shuíomh Idirlín etenders.gov.ie leis an dáta 27 mí na Bealtaine 2013. D'iarr muid síneadh bliana agus an rogha ann le haghaidh bliana ina dhiaidh sin don tseirbhís aeir. Idir an dá linn, déanfar scrúdú arís ar riachtanais na seirbhíse sin. Tá áthas orm go bhfuil seirbhísí den scoth ag na trí oileán - seirbhísí farantóireachta, lastais agus aeir. Tá seacht seirbhís aeir in aghaidh an lae, trí cinn go hInis Mór, dhá cheann go hInis Oírr agus dhá cheann go hInis Mheáin.

Maidir leis an fharantóireacht go hInis Mór, níor éirigh linn an conradh a shíniú mar níor chuir an duine a bhí á déanamh iarratas isteach. Mar sin, tá sé ag leanúint leis an seirbhís farantóireachta mar a bhí, ach is cinnte go bhfuil an costas níos airde - €15 in aghaidh turais fhillte.

Tá seo ag cur isteach ar na hoileánaigh agus orthu a úsáideann an bád mar, mar a dúirt an tAire Stáit féin, cosnaíonn an turas €15 don duine nuair nár chosnaigh sé €8 an duine. Tá méadú ar chostas an turais. Cén fáth nach bhfuil conradh sínithe don tseirbhís farantóireachta?

Níor thug an tAire Stáit freagra dom faoin aersheirhbís. Níl ann ach airgead do bhliain amháin. Cén fáth nach bhfuil buiséad ansin do na blianta atá amach romhainn?

Is féidir liom a rá go bhfuil an t-airgead céanna ar fáil do sheirbhísí farantóireachta agus aeir chuig na hoileáin i mbliana agus mar a bhí anuraidh: €5.95 milliún. Tá na hiarratais curtha ar aghaidh anois chuig an Eoraip ag iarraidh leanúint ar aghaidh leis an tseirbhís aeir ar feadh bliana eile ó mhí Lúnasa seo chugainn agus rogha bliana eile ina dhiaidh sin. Ní fíor go bhfuil deireadh curtha leis an tseirbhís. Tá na heitleáin ag eitilt agus mé ag caint.

Mar a dúirt mé faoin seirbhís go hInis Mór, níor síníodh conradh idir an Roinn agus an farantóir. Bhí méadú costais an-mhór i gceist agus is seirbhís í seo a bhfuil brabús ag baint leis agus atá inmharathana mar go bhfuil an oiread sin daoine ag taisteal. Tá an tseirhbís á cur ar fáil i rith an ama go rialta, gan deontas ón Roinn agus tá an táille níos airde, mar a dúirt an Teachta. Ní mór cuimhneamh, áfach, go bhfuil an táille anois chomh hard agus a bhí sé sa bhliain 2005.

Special Areas of Conservation Designation

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Question:

5. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht with regard to the cutting of turf on special area of conservation bogs, the number of SAC designated bogs that have now been resolved to the satisfaction of all stakeholders, including the turf cutters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19725/13]

Last April, I secured the agreement of the European Commission for the development of a national raised bog special area of conservation management plan, in keeping with the recommendations of Mr. Justice Quirke. My Department has now engaged a team of specialists who are undertaking the necessary scientific work to underpin the national plan and to inform the future restoration and management of each of the SACs. This work is being overseen by an independent steering group with input from the Peatlands Council. The detailed exploration of relocation sites is a key element in progressing the national plan.

In collaboration with the Peatlands Council and with the assistance of Bord na Móna, my Department is actively engaging with turf-cutting communities to consider how relocation can be progressed. The aim of my Department is to facilitate, as far as possible, those qualifying cutters who wish to continue to cut turf by putting in place relocation sites for as many cutters as possible in the shortest possible time. Given the complexities of the process it can take time to resolve all issues to finality even as new sites come on stream. The provision of financial payments or deliveries of turf is available to those awaiting relocation. My officials will continue to work with local groups on these issues within the principles of the relocation scheme.

Arrangements for the relocation of turf cutters to non-designated bogs have been made for groups from Clara bog in County Offaly and from Carrownagappul bog and Curraghlehanagh bog in County Galway. My Department also envisages that qualifying turf cutters from Ballynafagh bog will be able to commence cutting in the relocation site during this turf cutting season provided that final agreement is reached with relevant cutters.

Of the remaining 49 raised bog SACs, potential relocation sites have been identified for a further 32 bogs and work is ongoing on identifying and investigating sites. Relocation is unlikely to be required or is likely to be small scale for another 16 raised bog special areas of conservation.

I am determined that, in collaboration with the Peatlands Council and local turf-cutting communities, substantial progress will be made on the plan over the coming months.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

My Department has stepped up contact with turf-cutting groups to seek long-term solutions to the issues for their particular bogs, in compliance with EU and national law. I hope the plan can be completed by November, in time to submit an application to the European Commission under Article 6(4) of the habitats directive, if required, prior to the 2014 cutting season.

However, the engagement and agreement of turf-cutting communities to its proposed approaches will be essential to meeting this timeline, and to unlocking the potential flexibility it offers. The clear majority of domestic turf-cutters on these sites are engaging with my Department. The door is still open for the Turf Cutters and Contractors Association to engage in this process with me and with other stakeholders to address the needs of turf-cutters and other interested parties.

I thank the Minister for his reply. My question was to find out the number of SAC-designated bogs that have now been resolved to the satisfaction of stakeholders, including turf-cutters. The answer is zero. Seventeen years later, none of this has been resolved.

I refer to a press release on Deputy Paul Connaughton's website last February which stated, "Mountbellew bog relocation can be replicated". I suggest the Minister does not replicate what happened there because he will never get it resolved. He cannot expect people to move out of their land and move to another area - to be good enough to do it - and then to be told that in 65 years' time, which will eventually come, that they will have to leave that place and they will have no more rights. I said it here before and I will repeat it. If anyone came to a person in Dublin or in any other county and told them, "We meant to tell you a few years ago that you were going to have to move out of your house. We forgot and we never bothered to tell you. However, now you have to move out and you have no choice, otherwise you will be a criminal. By the way, you will be run out of the new house in 65 years' time as well." That is not the way to solve this problem.

A plan and proposals were voted through this House. Everyone agreed with them. The Minister will say the Government went along with them but that has not happened. I am beginning to wonder whether it is the strategy to drive every single turf-cutter in this country through the courts and to sit them beside people who have robbed their neighbours' houses and others who have beaten up old people, and to drag them through that system. Is that the way the Minister plans to resolve it? It is a bit strange when my ten year old daughter knew that the Minister's neighbours in Kerry were being dragged through the courts before he did. How does the Minister plan to resolve this issue? His method is not working. There is one thing for sure; we will be vindicating our rights again this year. It is my understanding that turf has already been cut on one of these bogs that the Minister keeps trumpeting as a success.

This is a legal matter governed by European and Irish law. It is obvious Deputy Flanagan has no respect for that law; otherwise, he would not be promoting that people break that law. More has been achieved in the past two years than was achieved in the previous 17 years to which the Deputy referred. We must do what the European Commission and the European Union has told us to do otherwise we face being fined. Ireland will also suffer reputational damage and face a fine of €25,000 a day, amounting to €9 million every year. We accepted this law and it was transposed into Irish law. Deputy Flanagan wants to break that law. It is not acceptable that he is encouraging people to break that law. It is now in the hands of the Garda Síochána and the Director of Public Prosecutions. It is out of our hands. People will be prosecuted. That is the way the law operates in this country. Deputy Flanagan wants more people to break that law so that they, in turn, will be prosecuted. This is a complicated process. Progress has been made on four bogs.

Last year, this House agreed a motion. I went to the Commission with that proposal and it was accepted. We have appointed RPS consultants at immense cost to the State. I appeal to everyone concerned. It is obvious that Deputy Flanagan has no intention of co-operating with these people and to give this process a chance. That is all I ask everyone to do.

Deputy Flanagan has 20 seconds because we are over time on this question.

I am not advising anyone to break the law. What I am advising people to do is to vindicate their rights. There is no need for me to encourage the Minister's neighbours to vindicate their rights. Regardless of whether I went down to support them because their local Deputies had abandoned them, bar Deputies Tom Fleming and Michael Healy-Rae, they are going to vindicate their rights in any case. I remember the Minister's slogan in that election, "The People's Champion". People's champions do not jail their own people for keeping their houses warm.

I call the Minister for a very brief reply.

I thought there was only 20 seconds of time left.

Thanks to people like Deputy Feighan, Senator Kelly and others in Roscommon there has been a significant take-up of the compensation scheme in Roscommon.

One man lives in Australia. How can he cut turf?

More than €1.1 million has been paid to date in the Deputy's constituency. A total of 759 people have co-operated with the scheme.

He has €1,500 to buy fuel in Canberra.

I thank the Minister and also Deputy Flanagan.