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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 9 Dec 2014

Vol. 861 No. 1

Priority Questions

National Cultural Institutions

Seán Ó Fearghaíl


87. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if it is still Government policy that all members of boards of national cultural institutions would serve on a pro bono basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47043/14]

This is like the start of the graveyard shift. The question simply seeks the Government to elucidate whether it and the Minister remain committed to the position as set out by her predecessor that members of the boards of the cultural institutions will serve on a pro bono basis.

I thank the Deputy for raising this matter. In the context of the Government's public service reform plan published in November 2011, the Department conducted a critical examination of the structure and operation of a range of cultural institutions and bodies, including the National Gallery of Ireland, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, the National Library, the National Museum, the National Archives, the Irish Manuscripts Commission and the National Concert Hall. The Government subsequently approved a number of key reforms arising from the review, including on governance, the reinforcement of curatorial independence and identity, shared supports and statutory underpinning.

The new arrangements envisage that, henceforth, the boards or equivalent structures at the institutions and bodies reviewed under the public service reform plan will operate on a pro bono basis. In advance of giving legal effect to these arrangements, the relevant bodies were requested to implement this policy on an administrative basis and all have done so.

The Department has drafted general schemes of Bills for a number of national cultural institutions, which have been approved by Government and submitted to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel for drafting. They have also been submitted to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht for pre-legislative scrutiny. A provision that the boards of the relevant institutions will operate on a pro bono basis is included in these general schemes.

I thank the Minister for her response and I acknowledge that when she recently made a detailed presentation to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht we dealt with this issue, particularly as it relates to the Arts Council. I remain somewhat uncertain as to what is the position. In 2013, the then Minister, Deputy Deenihan, advertised vacancies with regard to the chair and five members of the Arts Council. It was indicated quite clearly at that stage that these members would serve on a pro bono basis. One assumes people looking at this advertisement and thinking about the possibility of providing the service could have been influenced by the fact there was no remuneration to be had, but subsequently it appeared the chair and members appointed had been remunerated. If the Minister is now saying this was done because there is a legal requirement to do so, will she please set out what is the legal requirement and whether there is a difficulty with the advertisement as initially published by the then Minister, Deputy Deenihan?

The Department is in the process of updating legislation on the cultural institutions, which will include a provision that members of the boards will operate on a pro bono basis.

In the meantime the cultural institutions are implementing this on an administrative basis. My predecessor sought to move the Arts Council to a pro bono model on a voluntary basis and the advertisement issued on that basis. I understand that my predecessor and the chair of the Arts Council subsequently agreed that while all members would be asked to waive their fees, it would be a matter for decision by each individual member as to whether to do so. Over the past number of years some council members have opted to waive their fees and I understand that full details on fees and expenses are published every year on the council's website. It is not intended to amend the Arts Act 2003 regarding fees.

The Deputy referred to people who might have chosen not to apply to serve on the basis on the basis that no fee was payable. That is speculative. I fully accept that what was done was done in good faith. It was done in the context of moving to a broad pro bono model in the arts and cultural area.

If moving to a pro bono basis was the objective, sadly it would appear that the objective has not been achieved. Are the chair and the five new members being remunerated or not? If they are, how many are being remunerated and how many have opted to serve in accordance with the original advertisement which suggested it would be done on a pro bono basis?

The Minister has said that she does not intend to legislate. However, she has suggested - if not here then at the Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht - that an amendment of the legislation was necessary in order to achieve pro bono service from all the members of the board. Why is she not proposing to legislate?

Full details of the remuneration and expenses paid to the Arts Council in 2011 and 2012 are set out in the report. Details of the 2013 payments will be included in the 2013 annual report which will be published shortly and will appear on the website. Some have obviously decided to waive the fees and some are taking their payment.

That is not satisfactory.

However, that is the way it is. As I said, my predecessor and the chair of the Arts Council subsequently agreed that while all members would be asked to waive their fees, it would be a matter for decision by each member whether to do so. The Arts Council was not included in the public service reform plan. The public service reform plan covered a number of cultural institutions, including the gallery, IMMA, the Crawford Art Gallery, the National Library, the National Museum, the National Archives, the Irish Manuscripts Commission and the National Concert Hall. We are in the process of updating that legislation. That is currently with the committee.

National Monuments

Sandra McLellan


88. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if, following Dublin City Council's rejection of the proposed Moore Street land swap with a private developer, she plans to initiate a full and independent battlefield site survey of the Moore Street area; and if she will bring together all relevant parties with the intention of developing a new plan to protect, preserve and develop this historic quarter of our city. [47012/14]

Following Dublin City Council's rejection of the proposed Moore Street land swap will the Minister initiate a full independent battlefield site survey of the Moore Street area? Will she now bring together all relevant parties with the intention of developing a new plan to protect, preserve and develop the historic quarter?

A comprehensive assessment has already been carried out as part of the application for consent under the National Monuments Acts for the proposed restoration of the buildings and the provision of a 1916 commemorative centre on the Moore Street national monument site. The methodology for the assessment was drawn up and agreed in advance by my Department's national monuments service and by the director of the National Museum of Ireland. The assessment was carried out by an eminent archaeologist and historian. I am satisfied with the quality and results of the research. I do not propose to seek any further assessment of the area.

I am disappointed that Dublin City Council decided not to support the proposal that recently went before it, whereby the council would exchange two modern 1990s buildings at Nos. 24 and 25 Moore Street, currently used as a cleansing depot, in return for full ownership of the national monument at Nos. 14 to 17 being transferred to the city council. The transfer would have been accompanied by NAMA funding to cover the full cost of the restoration project and the proposed commemorative centre for which consent was given under the National Monuments Acts in April 2014. I believe the proposal provided a real opportunity to have the project completed and the commemorative centre open in time for the centenary of the Rising in 2016.

Following the decision to reject the proposal, it is now a matter for the city council and the monument owners to consider the implications for the national monument buildings, for the NAMA funding for the restoration project and for the centenary commemorations in 2016. The granting of the consent under the National Monuments Acts in April 2014 essentially completed my Department’s functions in this case. I will, however, continue to support all appropriate initiatives to secure the restoration of the national monument, consistent with my statutory function under the National Monuments Acts and with the roles and responsibilities of the other interested parties. In that context, tomorrow morning I will meet the members of Dublin City Council’s Moore Street advisory committee to go through the process with them and to encourage them to try to advance a solution that would see the restoration project proceeding.

Responsibility for planning and development of the area outside the bounds of the national monument at Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street rests with the planning authority, Dublin City Council.

There are many people who will not only be disappointed in the Minister's position that the land-swap deal rejected by Dublin City Council was appropriate, but will be astonished to learn that she deemed the plan to demolish most of the Moore Street terrace as an opportunity. The Government consistently lacks ambition. It is beyond disappointing that the Minister's response to Dublin City Council's decision to respect and preserve the historic site in its entirety in preparation for the 1916 centenary celebrations has been so churlish.

The Minister said that following the council's vote to reject the land-swap deal, progression of the Moore Street project is now a matter solely for the council. I note she said that she has a meeting tomorrow. However, she needs to clarify the statement. If the Government is dropping the Moore Street project ahead of the 1916 centenary celebrations, the Minister needs to be straight about it. She has already managed to raise the ire of the 1916 signatory families in her meeting with them.

To use the Minister's words, it was a heated exchange. The families presented evidence of the historic significance of the buildings that the council is seeking to preserve. I find it surprising that the Minister would so readily have washed her hands of it.

The Deputy will get to ask another supplementary question later.

I wish to correct the record. I never used the words "heated exchange" because I did not have a heated exchange with anybody. My door has been open and I have met a number of the relatives - I will speak about that later.

I have indicated that a detailed assessment has already been carried out and I am entirely satisfied with the quality and findings of the research done. In January 2012, my Department asked the consent applicant, Chartered Land, which owns the national monument, to commission an assessment of the wider battlefield context of the national monument as part of the Minister's consideration of the consent application. The work included a battlefield assessment, inspections and fabric investigations of an area incorporating the block formed by Moore Street, O'Rahilly Parade, Moore Lane and Henry Place and some of the area south of Henry Place extending back towards Henry Street. The report, research, inspections and investigations reinforce the primary status of Nos. 14 to 17, most notably due to the degree to which the pre-1916 physical fabric survives and continues to convey an authentic and legible historical sense of the place within which the final critical hours of the Rising took place and how these buildings stand in marked contrast to the degree to which historical fabric within the wider urban landscape no longer survives.

I do not believe the Minister's response is good enough. Those who went before us and secured the future of the State deserve much better. I suspect the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation, if they are looking down on us, would care little for the Minister's sense of disappointment and are bewildered by her abandonment of such an important project that they would not only celebrate our past but play an important role in articulating the vision we have as a nation for our future.

It is unhelpful to state that the granting of the consent under the National Monuments Acts completes the Department's involvement in the project.

I ask the Minister to reconsider her position and instead pledge a full and independent battlefield sites survey of the Moore Street area bringing together all relevant parties with the intention of developing a new plan to protect, preserve and develop this historic quarter of our city.

If it is the case that the Minister is intent, on behalf of the Government, on abandoning the Moore Street project - as envisaged by the majority of Dublin City Council who represent the citizens of our capital city - will she state this clearly?

I want to be clear that I am not abandoning the Moore Street project. As I said, I was disappointed when the decision was arrived at by the city council. I have met both groups of relatives, one of which is entirely supportive of the proposals for the national monument. They are keen that it should progress.

I have also met Dublin City Council's Moore Street advisory committee and am meeting them again tomorrow morning to discuss the matter further in light of the vote on the land swap. The land swap would have put the national monument and the fully restored 1916 commemorative centre into the city council's ownership and under its management.

I have also visited the national monument myself and have been through the entire site. During the visit, I spoke to a number of traders on the street who are supportive of the plans for the monument itself and the proposals to redevelop the wider area. The matter is now fundamentally in the hands of Dublin City Council and the monument owners but I will do everything I can to encourage progress with the project.

Commemorative Events

Ruth Coppinger


89. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she will report on funding for the 1916 commemorations; the percentage of her Department's budget that was devoted to this; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47010/14]

I wish to ask the Minister what percentage or proportion of funding for the arts budget is being devoted to the 1916 commemorations, compared with the rest of her departmental budget, and if she will make a statement on that.

Capital provision of €22 million will be allocated in 2015 to a number of flagship projects, including the development of a permanent exhibition space and interpretative centre at the GPO; the restoration of Kilmainham Courthouse to enhance the visitor experience at Kilmainham Gaol; the provision of a permanent visitor facility at Cathal Brugha Barracks for the military service pensions archive; the development of visitor facilities at Teach an Phiarsaigh, Ros Muc; refurbishment works at Richmond Barracks; the development of a tenement museum in Dublin; and the commencement of refurbishment and development works at the National Archives and the National Concert Hall's Kevin Barry rooms. I have also secured an allocation of €4 million in current funding, which will complement the capital programme through the development of an integrated national plan focused on the commemoration of the centenary of the 1916 Rising. This allocation will support a wide range of activities and events, including local community activities and arts and cultural initiatives. There will also be a special emphasis on education projects, as recommended by the expert advisory group on commemorations.

A widespread public consultation process is now underway in order to encourage and facilitate the involvement of ground-up initiatives in the wider commemorative programme. I look forward to working with the Oireachtas all-party consultation group on commemorations, the expert advisory group, and a wide range of stakeholders over the coming 18 months to make the events of Easter 2016 a very special and poignant tribute to all those involved.

The information seems to be that all of the increase in the arts budget is being devoted to the commemoration of the 1916 Rising. Artists throughout this country are really struggling. Most people working in the arts are earning less than €8,000 per annum. It is believed that an artist's average wage is about €14,676 per annum. It was hoped that austerity would have ended for people in the arts sector, but it seems to be continuing. I have received emails from artists in my own constituency who have no heat for their studios and cannot afford paint or other materials to hone their craft. They are very disappointed that the 1916 commemorations are getting all the attention and all the budget.

I believe that the 1916 centenary is an important historical event whose pros and cons should be debated and discussed throughout the country. Its impact should be assessed on many different levels, but I do not believe it is the only thing worthy of Government funding. It would seem, however, to be where the lion's share of funding is going despite the best wishes of artists. For example, the budget for 2016 and 2017 is standstill funding and when one takes inflation into account, it is actually a cut in arts funding for the next two years.

Just to clarify, I think the Deputy is referring to the Arts Council budget, which has remained the same as last year. The €4 million allocated for commemorations is additional funding. I want to ensure that the arts are involved in our commemorations and for that reason, while the finer detail has yet to be ironed out, the four main headings will broadly focus on local communities, arts, culture and education.

The arts budget, which is separate, has gone to the Arts Council and was maintained at last year's figure. We did get additional funding of €4 million for the commemorations.

I was referring to the Department's budget. The Arts Council and the national cultural institutions have had their budgets cut by 40% to 50% between 2008 and 2015. The Department's budget is, as I said, the same but when one takes inflation into account all the increase is going on one event - the 1916 commemoration. I do not think 1916 is unimportant but there are questions over why the Government is only devoting an increase to that, while not assisting artists and community arts throughout the country.

I hope there will be a real involvement by communities and ordinary people in the 1916 celebrations. I hope it will not be a grand style event, with military and heads of state tripping over each other coming into the country. The way the Minister is devoting money to 1916 with high profile events for the country is full of rhetoric. She is not giving any assistance to the arts, however, despite heralding a recovery and the end of austerity.

As the economy improves, it is my job to get additional funding for the arts and I will certainly be doing so. The Deputy mentioned the end of austerity and I will be seeking additional funding for the arts in particular. I was glad that we obtained an additional €2 million for cultural institutions which was only announced on Friday in the context of the upcoming revised Estimates. I will continue to fight for additional funding for the arts, as well as for the Arts Council.

Seirbhísí Oileán

Michael P. Kitt


90. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Michael P. Kitt den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cad iad na tairiscintí agus cén plean atá aici chun seirbhís aeir a choinneáil d’Oileáin Árann; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [47044/14]

Ba mhaith liom freagra cinnte a fháil ón Aire Stáit maidir leis an tseirbhís aeir d’Oileáin Árann agus, go háirithe, maidir leis an scrúdú atá á dhéanamh ag an Aire agus ag an Roinn ar an tseirbhís seo faoi láthair. An mbeidh an tseirbhís seo ar fáil i rith na bliana atá le teacht agus bliain i ndiaidh bliana as sin amach? Níl mórán dóchais ag daoine ó thaobh na seirbhíse de. Tá imní ar a lán daoine nach mbeidh an tseirbhís seo ar fáil go dti mí Mhéan Fómhair an bliain seo chugainn.

Tá conradh faoi oibleagáid seirbhíse poiblí i bhfeidhm idir mo Roinn agus Aer Arann Islands chun seirbhís aeir a chur ar fáil d’Oileáin Árann suas go dtí 30 Meán Fómhair 2015. Mar is eol don Teachta, d’fhostaigh mo Roinn an comhlacht EY chun athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar riachtanas na seirbhíse aeir, i gcomhréir le Rialacháin an Aontais Eorpaigh. Foilsíodh an tuarascáil athbhreithnithe ar shuíomh gréasáin mo Roinne ar 28 Bealtaine agus cuireadh í faoi bhráid an Choimisiúin Eorpaigh. Is tuarascáil chuimsitheach atá inti a chlúdaíonn an tréimhse ó 2003 go dtí 2013. Aithníonn an tuarascáil na tionchair éagsúla atá ag an tseirbhís aeir ar shaol na n-oileánach. Pléitear costais éagsúla na seirbhíse agus treocht na gcostas le linn na tréimhse sin. Tabharfaidh an síneadh bliana atá curtha leis an gconradh aersheirbhíse go dtí 30 Meán Fómhair 2015 deis do mo Roinn an tuarascáil seo a mheas.

Maidir leis an gcéad chéim eile, tá sé ag dul do na páirtithe leasmhara go léir go scrúdófar gach a bhfuil sa tuarascáil chun go mbeidh mo Roinn ábalta tacú le riachtanais na n-oileán taobh istigh de na hacmhainní atá ar fáil. Nuair atá an scrúdú críochnaithe ag mo Roinn ar na moltaí atá sa tuarascáil, tógfar cinneadh maidir le cúnamh mo Roinne don tseirbhís aeir amach anseo.

Muna bhfuil plean ag an Aire Stáit, críochnóidh an tseirbhís i Meán Fómhair 2015. Caithfidh an tseirbhís seo a bheith ar fáil i rith na bliana go léir agus bliain i ndiaidh bliana, mar a dúirt mé. Caithfimid bheith cinnte mar gheall ar an tseirbhís seo. Ba cheart go mbeadh plean ann ar a laghad ocht nó naoi mí roimh dheireadh an chonartha. Ba mhaith liom go gcuimhnóidh an tAire Stáit ar na daoine aosta a úsáideann an tseirbhís seo agus ar chúrsaí gnó ar an oileán. Ó thaobh spóirt de, bhuaigh foireann peile Oileán Árann craobh shóisearach na Gaillimhe i mbliana ach bhí orthu taisteal ar an mbád. B'fhéidir go mbeidh an aersheirbhís acu an bhliain seo chugainn ach cad a tharlóidh don tseirbhís amach anseo? Tá sé an-tábhachtach go mbeidh an tseirbhís leanúnach, bliain i ndiaidh bliana.

Ba mhaith liom comhghairdeas a dhéanamh leis an bhfoireann as ucht a bua ollmhór fosta. Tuigim an cheist seo agus an tábhacht atá ag baint leis an nasc idir an mhórthír agus na hoileáin agus cás na ndaoine aosta agus cúrsaí gnó ar na hoileáin, mar a luaigh an Teachta. Tá cosaint déanta agam ar an mbuiséad reatha do na hoileáin i 2015. Dá bhrí sin, tá súil agam an tseirbhís aeir a choinneáil ar siúl amach anseo. Sin é an rud is tábhachtaí. Níl mé in ann gealltanas a thabhairt an tseirbhís a choinneáil i ndiaidh 2015 ach is é an rud is tábhachtaí ná go bhfuilim i dteangmháil le m'oifigigh. Tá an tseirbhís iontach tábhachtach do na daoine atá ina gcónaí ar na hoileáin agus ba mhaith liom gealltanas a thabhairt go ndéanfaidh mo chomghleacaithe, m'oifigigh, na comharchumainn agus na páirtithe leasmhara éagsúla atá ag obair ar an gceist seo iarracht. Tuigim tábhacht na seirbhíse agus an naisc idir na hoileáin agus an mhórthír.

Tá a lán rudaí eile ag tarlú, ar ndóigh, mar gheall ar chúrsaí leighis agus daoine atá coinní acu sna hospideíl i nGaillimh. Ó thaobh oideachais de, tá sé tábhachtach go mbeadh seans ag scoláirí agus múinteoirí taisteal go dtí na hoileáin. I gcásanna éagsúla bíonn múinteoirí ag taisteal lá amháin nó cúpla lá sa tseachtain. Tá gach gairm i gceist anseo. Tá na hoileáin seo an-ghnóthach i rith an tsamhraidh agus tá cúrsaí turasóireachta an-tábhachtach dóibh. Caithfidh go mbeidh an tAire Stáit in ann níos mó eolais a thabhairt dúinn, faoi na moltaí atá sa tuarascáil seo, mar shampla. An mbeidh an tAire Stáit in ann an tseirbhís seo a choinneáil agus an mbeidh an Roinn in ann cúnamh a thabhairt chun an tseirbhís seo a choinneáil?

Mar atá a fhios ag an Teachta, bhí an bád farantóireachta an-tábhachtach fosta i rith an tsamhraidh ach táim ag súil go mbeidh sé ceart go leor. Mar shampla, bhí mé ar Oileán Thoraí den chéad uair i mo shaol coicís ó shin nó mar sin, agus ar Oileán Bhéara agus Inis Arcáin freisin. Tá a fhios agam faoi thábhacht saol na n-oileán agus na dúshláin atá ann. Mar shampla, déanann oibrithe pobail an-obair ar na hoileáin lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht agus tá díospóireacht ar siúl anois i measc m'oifigí sa Roinn Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta agus i measc oifigí na Roinne Comhshaoil, Pobail agus Rialtais Áitiúil fosta faoin infreastruchtúr seo, conas é a chosaint agus a choinneáil. Mar fhocal scoir, tá infreastruchtúr anois ar na hoileáin agus tá an t-infreastruchtúr seo, na haersheirbhísí, mar shampla, fíorthábhachtach. Tá suim mhór agam é a choinneáil agus a chosaint amach anseo.

Má théann an tAire Stáit go hÁrann, ba cheart dó cuireadh a thabhairt dom.

Tá an cheist seo críochnaithe.

Fuair mé cuireadh agus táim ag súil go mór le mo dara thuras go dtí na hoileáin sa bhliain úr.

Job Initiatives

Ruth Coppinger


91. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the percentage of staff at cultural organisations in receipt of Arts Council or other such State funding who are on the JobBridge scheme or any other unpaid internship; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46867/14]

I wish to ask the Minister about the percentage of staff at cultural institutions in receipt of Arts Council or other such State funding who are on JobBridge schemes or any other unpaid internships. My information is that unpaid internships and labour are now becoming predominant schemes in the arts and cultural sector.

Whereas the arts strand of JobBridge was designed and brokered by the Arts Council, it is run by the JobBridge section of the Department of Social Protection with local authorities across the country. The gathering of statistics for the arts strand would, therefore, be a matter for that Department and the relevant local authorities.

I understand that when an extension of the JobBridge national internship scheme to provide for new internships in the arts sector was announced in April 2013, it was estimated that the initiative would provide up to 300 new places for arts practitioners through placements with local authorities. It is considered that this arts strand will continue to provide opportunities for those interested in careers in the arts, allowing them to gain hands-on experience and enhance their skills. The extension of the scheme will foster emerging talent in the arts and also support local arts groups in theatre, film, visual arts, dance, music, literature and more. This as an important development because it will help people take the first step towards a career in the arts. In this sector, there is a long tradition of new entrants working alongside established artists, performers, practitioners and arts administrators.

On the wider issue, there is a long history of internships, formal and informal, paid and unpaid, in the arts, as well as a culture of volunteerism, especially for seasonal programmes. For example, a local festival might use interns in its busiest period, typically in the run-up to and during the festival. Done the right way, this can make the festival better, increase community support and give the intern valuable experience. Many artists and arts administrators got their start as interns.

It is a common myth that people interested in a career in the arts, such as young people fresh from college, are going on arts internships. That is no longer the case.

It is an open secret in the arts fraternity that free labour is being used to displace people in full-time labour. A quote in the Irish Journal of Arts Management and Cultural Policy states: "The reality is that the replacement and displacement of paid jobs by interns does happen". Another quote in Visual Artists Ireland states that "Unpaid internships are becoming more common for a new generation of arts workers". They prop up the sector and they falsify a situation that may or may not be sustainable in the face of reduced public spending.

The reality is that people are doing repeat internships. There are people in their 30s who have been on three JobBridge programmes or three internships in the arts sector. It is not that they are gaining experience. There are no jobs there for them.

We did a survey of three websites and we found 52 jobs advertised, 36 of which were internships, 19 were JobBridge, eight were CE schemes, seven were unpaid internships and two were unpaid JobBridge programmes. That seems to be proof that it is predominant.

I do not accept that free labour is being used to replace staff. My experience of JobBridge is that it has been very successful. I know many people who have been on this scheme and who have moved into full-time employment. In regard to internships, young people go to work in businesses and they end up getting full-time positions as a result of their work on JobBridge or as an intern.

I have spoken to business people who have found it invaluable in terms of training up somebody because when one goes into a workplace first, one does not have the skills set needed to do the job straightaway. This has allowed them to upskill and then get full-time employment.

It is important that the arts world avails of this type of programme so that young people, who come out of college and need a bit of experience on the job, are able to get it. I would not agree that free labour is being used to replace staff.

We are all in favour of interns and people getting experience in the arts but my problem is that they are doing so without getting any money whatsoever. The €50 would basically pay one's travel expenses to and from one's job.

If the Minister is that concerned, why does she not look at what they are doing in Britain, for example? The creative employment programme of the Arts Council of England is designed to support up to 6,500 paid internships to give people real training. What we found in the survey we did of three different websites advertising jobs was 36 internships, which I do not consider to be a small number out of 52 jobs. There were only 16 normal paid jobs. It is time to stop doing the arts and everything else in this country on the cheap. Many people are now being forced to do three internships and then emigrate without having an arts job at the end of it.

The eligibility criteria for JobBridge is based on the overall objective of labour market policy in ensuring a pathway to appropriate employment, training and education opportunities for those on the live register. There should be an arts strand to JobBridge. It is important that this continues to provide opportunities for those interested in careers in the arts, allowing them to gain hands-on experience and enhance their skills.