At the outset, I apologise for being late. When I was entering the Chamber a question was being answered by the Minister, Deputy Ross. I understood the question to be about whether I attended a meeting with him. I did not but a meeting was requested of my office in regard to the promoters of a scheme at Dublin Airport, which I facilitated in the context of tourism. I do that all the time. However, I want to apologise again for being late.
My Department's primary role in regard to tourism lies in the area of national tourism policy. It is not directly involved in the management or development of individual tourism projects, which are operational matters for the board and management of Fáilte Ireland. The provision of funding for festivals, including St Patrick's Day parades, falls to be met from the resources available to Fáilte Ireland from its national and regional festivals and participative events programmes. I am informed that in recent years the only application received by Fáilte Ireland in regard to St Patrick's Day has been made by Féilte Dhuibh Linne Teoranta which organises the St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin.
This year, St Patrick's Festival took place between Thursday, 16 March and Sunday, 19 March and featured events including street theatre, walking tours, literary, historical, music and sporting events. To this end, a festival grant of approximately €1 million was allocated by Fáilte Ireland towards the cost of the festival in 2017. This allocation is based on an assessment of an application which Féilte Dhuibh Linne Teoranta submitted under the national festivals and participative events programme and is subject to key performance indicators and a review of the benefits delivered by the festival.
It is open to any festival organiser to apply for funding under the national or regional festivals programmes, which open for applications on an annual basis. It is expected that these programmes will reopen for applications in August and December 2017, respectively.
Both the Minister, Deputy Ross, and myself have met with representatives of the St. Patrick's Day Festival committee in Dublin. It is my view that the St. Patrick's Day festivities should be celebrated across the country, but they also need to be supported. If the Deputy wishes to ask a supplementary question, I can provide further details.