Other Questions

Arts Funding

Dara Calleary

Question:

6. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his plans for the future of the percentage for arts scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19251/13]

As the Deputy will be aware, a Government decision of 1997 approved the inclusion in the budgets for all Exchequer-funded capital construction projects of up 1% as funding for an art project, subject to an overall cap of €64,000. The current guidelines on the per cent for art scheme were drawn up in 2004 to set out how project managers are to operate the scheme and to provide a common national approach to its implementation. My Department has responsibility for the promotion of the per cent for art scheme but does not provide funding or a budget for it.

The scheme does not operate on the basis of there being a specific public art fund from which moneys are drawn down to undertake or to commission works of an artistic nature. Rather, under the terms of the scheme, such works are factored into and funded from the budgets of the capital projects in question by the relevant Department or public body undertaking the project. It is a matter for each project promoter or commissioning body to maintain details of such expenditure.

When the per cent for art scheme was launched it was accompanied by guidelines to assist with its implementation. It is now well-known and embedded in all public infrastructure works. The public has become familiar with the works of art on our roads, but there are also art works resulting from the scheme in place in schools, hospitals and arts and culture buildings. Public art is not confined to sculptures; it has also resulted in performances, new writings and compositions. There is no doubt that the visual impact of this scheme has been overwhelmingly positive. I consider that the scheme should continue.

I thank the Minister for his encouragement for the scheme. I wish to avail of this opportunity to ask the Minister in these difficult times to request his Department to engage more actively with other Departments to ensure that this scheme is taken up.

While the Minister is correct to mention art works by our roads and in schools, it has become a feature of life recently that the NRA and local authorities supervising water and sewerage works and schools development projects do not always ensure the percent-for-art scheme has been used. In some cases, developers of the initiatives in question were not even conscious that the percent-for-art scheme was still available.

The scheme encourages collaboration between artists and local communities. Public art must be developed and created with local ownership in mind. It is only by the Minister's Department ensuring that sponsoring Departments are active in promoting the scheme as an ideal that maximum use will be made of it.

As the Deputy acknowledged, my responsibility is for the capital works carried out by my Department. I will ask the Secretary General to write to other Departments to ensure that they operate the scheme as they are obliged to do. Irrespective of the Department involved, it is obliged in respect of its capital projects to put aside 1% of the total cost of a project to provide for a painting, sculpture or performance.

I welcome the Minister's positive response. Does he have any plans to review the 2004 guidelines, which were the last such guidelines on public art projects issued to sponsoring bodies?

Nobody has requested that to date. Now that the Deputy has mentioned it, I will raise the matter also. Generally speaking, the guidelines have operated successfully. As a result, we have seen a proliferation of art nationally, some of which one might be impressed with while questioning others. A great many artists have benefited considerably from the percent-for-art scheme. Artists are going through a very difficult period currently and a commission represents two to three years' worth of wages for many. The scheme is very important to artists and they value it highly. I will take both Deputy Ó Fearghaíl's requests on board.

Merger of Cultural Institutions

John Browne

Question:

7. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the progress he has made in achieving shared services and board structures between the National Library and National Museum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19247/13]

Engagement with the national cultural institutions on the reform agenda is ongoing and intensive. Work is ongoing bilaterally with the boards of directors of the National Library and the National Museum and regular meetings of my Department's reform committee have taken place to further the implementation of the Government's reform plan. I intend to seek Government approval in the coming weeks for draft heads of a Bill to give effect to the reform measures in respect of the boards which is being undertaken by my Department.

As part of a range of reforms agreed by Government under the public service reform plan, it was decided that the existing National Archives of Ireland governance model would be applied to the National Library of Ireland and the National Museum of Ireland. The proposed advisory council will operate pro bono in place of the existing boards. Board membership will be reduced significantly. The advisory council will have no role in relation to the day-to-day management of the bodies and will specialise in fundraising, fostering philanthropic relations and donations, and advice to the Minister on library and museum policy matters. The day-to-day management of the institutions will be a matter for their respective independent statutory directors. The proposed model is similar to that already in place at the National Archives, the success of which has been widely recognised in the House and further afield.

I have previously advised the House of the shared-services model that will be deployed across the three institutions through my Department. The model will include corporate support services and, by formal inter-institutional agreement, operational services. Regular meetings have been taking place between my Department and senior management in the National Library, National Museum and National Archives to implement a human resources shared support services function. This function will be carried out by the human resources unit of my Department and will cover all human resources matters arising in the relevant bodies. Progress has been made on identifying the work that will be undertaken by the unit and it is envisaged that the shared service will be in place shortly. The intention is that shared human resources support services will be implemented on an administrative basis pending enactment of enabling legislation. The institutions are also developing the requisite agreements in relation to shared operational services.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

The Deputy will be aware that overall savings of €20 million in enhanced service efficiencies and value-for-money were targeted in the public service reform plan. In that context, it is expected that savings in the region of approximately €1 million will be made initially across the institutions involved in the reform programme and funded from my Department's Vote. Further savings will be identified as the various cost saving measures are implemented. A further benefit from the rationalisation of support and operational services will be a less crowded administrative landscape, resulting in greater democratic accountability, less duplication of effort and clearer lines of responsibility for the citizen. It will also allow the institutions to focus on their core objectives of service to the public.

I welcome the fact that the legislation that is required in this context is pending. It is good news. Once again, I emphasise Fianna Fáil's party political view that the arms-length principle has been abandoned by the Minister and express our considerable regret at that. As the Minister has heard these points before, I move to ask him whether a cost-benefit analysis been completed or even undertaken by the Department. When will the new director of the National Museum who will oversee the implementation of the significant changes outlined be appointed?

The arms-length principle will be enshrined in the legislation I bring forward.

That is not possible.

The Deputy will have an opportunity to comment on the Bill. The curatorial independence of the directors will be enshrined and, in fact, strengthened in the forthcoming legislation. Regarding the cost-benefit analysis, the intention is to save approximately €20 million in the reform plan overall. We hope that over time there will be a considerable saving through shared human resources, IT and security services etc. There will definitely be a savings factor.

The appointment process for a director of the National Museum is ongoing. I understand that a large number of applicants have applied and the interview board has selected a number of candidates of very high calibre to interview, which will happen immediately. It is a matter for the board, but I hope an appointment will be made very shortly.

It is generally recognised that the advisory council of the National Archives is working extremely well. Can the Minister indicate the timeframe in which an advisory council will be put in place for the National Museum and National Library? While the reforms the Minister has introduced are excellent, we need a structure and a timeframe.

The legislation to provide for the proposed reforms is at a very advanced stage and we hope it can be introduced, if not before the summer, in the autumn. I have seen the proposals and hope to take them to Government shortly to obtain approval to draft the legislation.

Notwithstanding what the Minister has said, am I to understand that no cost-benefit analysis at all has been carried out?

I mentioned already that there would be an immediate saving of €240,000 in directors' and board members' fees. It is a considerable sum when one considers the small budgets within which the bodies have to operate.

Cultural Policy

Gerry Adams

Question:

8. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he has any plans to appoint a person with the specific remit to develop Dublin city as an integrated cultural hub; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19372/13]

The question relates to a matter for which I have no statutory remit. Urban planning and the appointment referred to by the Deputy is a matter for the appropriate local authority, which in this instance is Dublin City Council.

However, I note that I provide funding to Dublin City Council towards part of the costs of the imaginative UNESCO Dublin city of literature programme. In July 2010, Dublin became the world's fourth UNESCO city of literature and part of the UNESCO creative cities network, which was launched in 2004 and includes Edinburgh, Iowa city and Melbourne. The award is a permanent designation and its realisation has been led by the city library service of Dublin City Council.

Since then, Dublin City Council, through the city library service, has led and directed the work of the Dublin UNESCO City of Literature office supported by an expanded management group and a representative steering group. Funding has been provided directly and in kind by Dublin City Council, by my Department, by Fáilte Ireland and Foras na Gaeilge. I am providing €50,000 in funding to Dublin City Council for this year's UNESCO activities.

I ask this question in the context of the recent announcement by Dublin City Council of plans for a new cultural quarter around Parnell Square. I welcome the initiative but I am concerned that it does not go far enough. Dublin has a number of things going for it. It is the capital city and it houses all the major national cultural institutions of theatre, music, museums and galleries. The city has a unique culture and heritage in its built environment and in the arts. However, there are two entirely separate streams - the national one running through the city and the local one specifically tailored to the city. Does the Minister accept there is a disjunction between the two identities and that the divisions are reproduced in the lack of joined up thinking to see the bigger picture? Does the Minister accept this has a negative affect on development, in terms of tourism and in terms of the city's overall urban aesthetic? As a result, the city's huge potential as a cultural artistic centre remains untapped.

I agree Dublin has a huge amount to offer. It is ranked among the most exciting cities in the world. I also agree it has further potential. My involvement is with the national cultural institutions, such as the museums, libraries, the Chester Beatty library, the Abbey Theatre and the other institutions. Despite the fact that we are challenged with funding the cultural institutions, including the concert hall, are performing very well. They are making the most of their resources.

The proposed development of Parnell Square is very much a Dublin City Council development project. Dublin City Council has a major role to play in the co-ordination of what is available. One of the great examples of the State and the corporation coming together was in Temple Bar. It was an outstanding success in the early 1990s. I have always advocated people working together. In this instance, Dublin City Council has a critical role to play.

As a former Dublin city councillor, I welcome the question tabled to the Minister. The development of Parnell Square is an outstanding proposal and will leave a fine legacy to the former city manager, Mr. John Tierney, to whom I pay tribute. Something that is very close to the Minister's heart, and a counterbalance to the Parnell Square proposal, is College Green and its connection to Trinity College. The Minister has done some great work in that respect. He mentioned a gateway and there could easily be a gateway to College Green through the bank. I ask the Minister to examine this point. It should not be a short-term proposal but one over ten or 15 years, where we can return the bank in College Green from the Bank of Ireland to the citizens. We could develop a strong cultural hub in the heart of the city connecting Temple Bar, College Green and Trinity College. I ask the Minister to re-energise himself in his effort. He will receive every support from me if we can press this home.

The Cabinet is examining various proposals for 1916, including major landmark developments for the country. The issue of College Green is under consideration and I take the Deputy's points on board. I know Deputy Kevin Humphreys has a passionate commitment to this topic. I have discussed it with him over the past two years. Perhaps something will develop from our aspirations.

Irish Language

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

9. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will provide an update as to the progress that has been made in relation to the commitment in the 20 year strategy to provide a new definition for the Gaeltacht based on linguistic criteria. [19283/13]

As the question was tabled in English, I will abide by the tradition of the House and reply in English if that is acceptable.

Is botún é, i ndáiríre. Ba cheart go mbeadh an cheist i nGaeilge. Níl a fhios agam cén fáth a bhfuil sí i mBéarla.

Cibé is mian leis an Teachta. Tá an freagra anseo i mBéarla. B'fhéidir gur féidir linn na supplementaries a thógáil i nGaeilge.

Tá cur chuige dátheangach ag an Aire Stáit.

With the recent enactment of the Gaeltacht Act 2012, the Gaeltacht is being given a new definition based on language criteria as opposed to geographical areas, as has been the case. Draft orders and regulations associated with the language planning criteria prescribed in section 12 of the Act have been prepared and circulated to the relevant Departments, in accordance with the legal requirement to do so, with a view to completing this process by June 2013. The Act also gives a statutory basis to the language planning process in the Gaeltacht, under which language plans will be prepared at community level for specific language planning areas. This approach puts the communities at the heart of the language planning process since it gives them the opportunity to take ownership of their own plan in their own community.

Caithfidh mé a rá ar dtús gur fear deas é an tAire Stáit ar leibhéal pearsanta. Ceapaim go bhfuil fadhb ollmhór ann ar leibhéal na Roinne, áfach. Ní cheapaim go bhfuil smacht iontach ag an Aire Stáit ar an Roinn. B'fhéidir go bhfuil sé faoi smacht na Roinne. Is dóigh liom go bhfuil an Roinn ag tiomáint an rud seo. Tá an-eolas ag an Aire Stáit mar fhear Gaeltachta. Tá an-chuid taithí aige i dtaobh dul chun cinn na Gaeilge sa Ghaeltacht. Tá a fhios aige go bhfuil sé uafásach práinneach tacaíocht a thabhairt don Ghaeilge, do na bailte Gaeltachta agus do na limistéir pleanála teanga. Bhrúigh sé Bille na Gaeltachta 2012 tríd an Oireachtas an bhliain seo caite in ainneoin na míshástachta i measc gluaiseacht na Gaeilge. Bhí gach páirtí ar an taobh seo in aghaidh na reachtaíochta sin. Beagnach bliain níos déanaí, tá ionstraim reachtúla fós le síniú ag an Aire Stáit. Tá sé dochreidte. Cén fáth nach bhfuil na hionstraim tábhachtacha seo sínithe ag an Aire Stáit go fóill?

Sílim go bhfuil an Teachta thar a bheith diúltach. Tá dul chun cinn suntasach déanta. Nuair a tógadh isteach an reachtaíocht a luaigh an Teachta anuraidh, ba é an chéad Acht na Gaeltachta le breis agus 50 bliain. Tá na hionstraim reachtúla dáilithe ar na Ranna eile. Beidh cinneadh déanta gan mhoill - an mhí seo chugainn nó an mhí ina dhiaidh - ar conas a rachfaidh an tÚdarás agus an Roinn ar aghaidh leis na ceantair phleanála teanga. Agus é sin ráite, tá go leor teagmhála cheana féin. Tá go leor oibre ar siúl ar an talamh ag an Údarás, fiú amháin gan na hionstraimí glactha leo, chun dul i dteagmháil leis na heagrais, na chumainn agus na chomarchumainn sna ceantair Ghaeltachta. Tá go leor den réamhobair déanta. Tá an-chuid eolais sa Roinn. Is fear Gaeltachta mé féin. Caithfidh mé a rá go bhfuil an-chomhoibriú idir mé féin agus oifigigh na Roinne. Is muidne atá ag tabhairt tiomantas do seo. Is muidne a thóg isteach an tAcht. Tá polasaithe an Rialtais agus polasaithe an Aire Stáit - go mbeadh an túdarás ann, go dtógfar Acht na Gaeltachta isteach agus go ndéanfar athbhreithniú ar Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 - á chur i bhfeidhm ag an Roinn. Is muidne atá á dhéanamh.

An dtig liom ceist eile a chur?

Aidhm amháin sa straitéis ná go mbeidh níos mó daoine ag labhairt na Gaeilge, suas go 250,000. Cad iad na pleananna atá ag an Aire Stáit chun é sin a bhaint amach?

Sin an rud atá i gceist, sin mar a bheidh cúrsaí nuair a bheidh an 20 bliain thart. Tugaim aitheantas don obair atá ar siúl ag Foras na Gaeilge ag brú na teanga ar aghaidh taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht. Nuair a bhím ag taisteal ar fud na tíre, tugann sé misneach, dóchas agus uchtach nuair a fheicim an meid atá ar siúl ag na pobail ar fud na tíre sa Ghaeltacht agus sa Ghalltacht ag cur na teanga chun cinn. Oíche Shathairn seo caite, bhí mé i gCluain Tarbh agus bhí 500 duine ó na Gaeltacthaí agus ón tír ar fad, agus iad ag ceiliúradh an obair atá á déanamh acu ag cur ar aghaidh labhairt na teanga ar fud na tíre.

Tá an tAire Stáit go maith ag labhairt faoi rudaí ginearálta ach nuair a chuirim ceist a bhaineann le sonraí, ní bhíonn sé sásta freagra a thabhairt. Cén fáth go bhfuil moill ann síniú a chur ar na hionstraimí reachtúla? Cad iad na hionstraimí reachtúla atá fágtha le síniú? Cad iad na critéir do bhailte Gaeltachta agus líonraí Gaeilge agus cad é an slat tomhais a bheidh ann le dul chun cinn? Impím ar an Aire Stáit greim a bhreith ar an Roinn.

Is féidir liom cur in iúl don Teachta ach ní thabharfaidh sé am dom chun freagra a thabhairt. Is féidir liom na critéir atá anseo agam a chur in iúl don Teachta. Síneofar iad taobh istigh d'achar an-ghearr ar fad. Tá siad go léir anseo agus cuirfimid in iúl don Teachta iad. Níl an t-am agam iad a léamh amach ach tabharfaidh mé dó iad. Tá na critéir ansin, agus tá an obair déanta, tá siad réidh le síniú agus síneofar iad gan mhoill. Rachaimid ar aghaidh ansin. Ní hionann sin agus a rá nach bhfuilimid ag dul ar aghaidh.

Maidir leis an straitéis 20 bliain don Ghaeilge, d'fhéadfainn Tráth na gCeist a chaitheamh ar gach ceann acu - oideachas, an Ghaeltacht, meáin agus teicneolaíocht, foclóirí agus an saol eacnamaíoch, an dul chun cinn atá déanta i ngach ceann acu siúd le bliain nó dhó anuas - dá mbeadh am agam. Beidh deis agam é an dhéanamh am éigin.

EU Funding

Bernard Durkan

Question:

10. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which he has encouraged and availed of European grant aid for the promotion of all forms of the arts here with particular reference to events or festivals throughout the country; the extent to which such funding has been available in the past; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19240/13]

Bernard Durkan

Question:

129. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which local community-based festivals have benefited from EU grant aid directly or indirectly, with particular reference to the specific grant aid for festivals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19702/13]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 10 and 129 together.

There are two programmes operated by the European Union in the areas for which I have responsibility. These are the media programme and the culture programme and both run from 2007 to 2013, inclusive.

The media programme is the EU support programme for the European audio-visual industry and details in this regard, including in regard to the operation of the programme and the funding provided, are available www.mediadeskireland.ie. The culture programme is the EU support programme for organisations working in the field of culture. Assistance and information is available to arts and culture practitioners who wish to apply for grants under the culture programme from the European Cultural Contact Point Ireland. The CCP provides information, advice and technical assistance to anyone in Ireland interested in applying to the European Commission for such funding. It also provides additional information and assistance which might help to establish links and partnerships with colleagues in Europe and beyond. All details are available from a dedicated website at www.ccp.ie.

The way the programmes operate is that periodically there are calls for proposals from the European Commission seeking applications for support under the two programmes. The applications are then assessed by an independent body, the Executive Agency for Education, Audiovisual and Culture. Decisions on what support is provided are based on the merits of the applications. There is no quota for each country or no amount allocated to each country. There is further comprehensive information available on all projects which received funding across the Union at the website http://ec.europa.eu/culture/index_en.htm.

Discussions are under way between the member states, the European Commission and the European Parliament on a new framework programme for the cultural and creative sectors. This will run from 2014 to 2020 and be called the creative Europe programme. It includes a proposal to amalgamate the current culture and media programmes under a common framework and create an entirely new facility to improve access to finance. Once the new programme is finalised, details of how to seek funding from the programme will be made available through appropriate information outlets.

No one wishes to respond, so we will move on to Question No. 11.

Arts Centres

Willie O'Dea

Question:

11. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the steps he has taken to address financial planning and oversight difficulties in arts centres across the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19265/13]

My Department has no role in the management or the operation of any art centre or in providing current funding to arts centres. Many such centres are owned by, and some are managed by, the relevant local authority. Most receive some or all of their operational funding from the local authorities. The Arts Council also has a role in that it provides programming funding in respect of many arts centres.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Arts Council is the principal agency through which State funding is channelled to the arts. Government policy on the arts is set out in the programme for Government. While the Arts Council receives its overall funding allocation from my Department, decisions on the expenditure of those funds are a matter for the Arts Council itself. Under the Arts Act 2003, the Arts Council is statutorily independent in its day-to-day operations and I am precluded by law from intervening in the council's decisions on funding. The allocation to the Arts Council in 2013 is €60.7 million.

In any case, arts centres are independent organisations and matters to which the Deputy refers, such as financial planning and-or oversight difficulties, are first and foremost a matter for the board of the relevant arts centre.

To a certain extent, I understand the Minister's response but he responded to me last month on the issue of the Belltable Arts Centre in Limerick. We all recognised the very valuable contribution that centre had made and all of us expressed concern that, for the sake of €300,000, it went into liquidation. I put this question to the Minister in the context of the overarching role the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has in this regard. What sort of communication has taken place in the last month or so between the Minister, his Department, the Arts Council and the local authorities? What has been done by the Department, if anything, to ensure the financial model being followed by arts centres, which have really brought the visual arts and the arts in their broadest sense to people throughout the country, does not lead them into the predicament the Belltable Arts Centre was led?

As I pointed out to the Deputy, responsibility for most arts centres lies with the local authorities. This evening I will address the local authorities' arts officers and I might mention the challenges they face in regard to the running of arts centres. The Arts Council would have direct contact with the various arts centres because it provides the funding. As the Deputy stressed, the arm's length approach certainly prevails when it comes to the Arts Council.

I am prohibited by law from advising arts centres on what to do. If some of the arts centres are funded by my Department through the ACCESS scheme or other schemes, then we would have some lean on those centres. We would have regular contact with centres to which we have provided funding because we have an obligation to ensure the taxpayers' investment is protected as much as possible.

The Deputy makes many good proposals at Question Time. I take his point because I am connected with a number of arts centres and know the challenges they face. There could be an overall focus on how arts centres structure their businesses in order to survive.

We will have to agree to disagree on the issue of operating at arm's length. That said, I am not expecting the Minister to micro-manage arts centres, as he knows, but it is reasonable for the public to expect the Minister responsible for the arts to have a discussion with the local authorities and the Arts Council to ensure there are proper models of financial management in place. The taxpayer has invested substantially in arts centres. We depend on them to bring the arts alive for so many citizens. They play a vital role in that regard. I encourage the Minister, while adopting an arm's length approach, to stimulate both the Arts Council and local authorities to fulfil the role they should be playing in this regard.

I will certainly convey the Deputy's suggestions to the Arts Council and the local authorities. A good example of where the Department really got involved in the past two years was in respect of the Light House Cinema, which was closed. It is now up and running again and doing very well. I am delighted to say I was there on a few occasions recently, including for the opening of a film festival and to see a film made in County Kerry on rural isolation. I was delighted to see the level of activity in the cinema. This is an example of where there was intervention. Perhaps this type of intervention might be useful in other cases. I will certainly take the Deputy's point on board. Perhaps there is merit in staff from the Arts Council sitting around a table with us and representatives of the local authorities. This occurred recently with regard to three projects that were being challenged in certain ways. We could work in this manner on a more extensive basis. I thank the Deputy for his suggestion.

Ministerial Travel

Jerry Buttimer

Question:

12. Deputy Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will report on his visit to Canada; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19158/13]

A total of 19 Ministers visited 21 countries across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia for a series of trade, investment and tourism focused programmes during March as part of the Government's St. Patrick's Day programme, Promote Ireland. I travelled to Toronto in Canada in March as part of that programme. The focus of my visit was on enhancing the cultural and trade links between Ireland and Canada. My engagements included an Ireland-Canada Chamber of Commerce business event with Enterprise Ireland, a promotional event with the Irish Dairy Board, several meetings with Irish centres in Canada focusing on Irish heritage, Irish community projects and the Irish language, and an appearance on Canadian national television. My visit also encompassed the St. Patrick's Day parade and a visit to the Irish Canadian Club of Hamilton. I also inaugurated the greening of Niagara Falls, where I was accompanied by Mr. Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland. In addition, I had the opportunity to visit the Irish Park, Éireann Quay, and mass graves of victims of the Great Irish Famine.

The value of exports from Ireland to Canada increased by 24% in 2012. The Government is committed to promoting further growth in trade and cultural links between Ireland and Canada, as this is clearly of immense importance to the economy.

Irish Language

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

13. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will provide an update as to the progress that has been made on the commitment in the 20-year strategy to provide targeted language learning opportunities to be put in place to assist families where only one parent speaks Irish; if he will outline the nature of such targeted language opportunities; and the way these opportunities will be further developed. [19286/13]

My Department's family language support programme - clár tacaíochta teaghlaigh - has as its key objective the further strengthening of Irish as a household and community language in the Gaeltacht in accordance with the 20-year strategy. It seeks to achieve this objective by way of a range of practical measures which will better support Gaeltacht families who are raising their children through Irish or wish to raise their children through the medium of Irish. Under the family language support programme, the Department has undertaken 12 specific measures to support such Gaeltacht families. These measures focus primarily on the following groups: Gaeltacht families who are expecting a child and wish to raise the child through Irish, in addition to Gaeltacht families who are raising pre-school children through Irish or wish to raise their pre-school children through Irish; Gaeltacht families who are raising primary school children through Irish, in addition to Gaeltacht families who wish to raise their primary school children through Irish; Gaeltacht teenagers; and certain communities outside the Gaeltacht, namely, parents raising their children through Irish or wish to raise their children through Irish.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House.

In addition to fostering new initiatives, the family support programme also encompasses improvements to existing measures and schemes administered by my Department, the systematic implementation of which will further underpin the programme and its effectiveness.

I should also highlight the role of other bodies and organisations in these matters. Foras na Gaeilge is part of the North-South implementation body, An Foras Teanga, and has the principal responsibility for promoting the Irish language in every aspect of everyday life throughout the island of Ireland.

Údarás na Gaeltachta provides financial assistance for organisations and co-operatives in Gaeltacht areas for the provision of Irish classes. These organisations provide an agreed schedule for Irish classes based on demand and the budget allocated to them. There are 34 language centres operating in various Gaeltacht areas and information on the classes can be sourced from these centres. A list of these organisations is available through the Údarás na Gaeltachta website at www.udaras.ie. Comhluadar supports households that use Irish or are trying to use Irish in the home. It provides a range of services for these households from advice to formal and social events.

Written Answers follow Adjournment.

The Dáil adjourned at 5.45 p.m. until 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 30 April 2013.