Priority Questions

National Orchestras

Niamh Smyth


19. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her views on the findings of the independent review of orchestral services in RTÉ; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20289/18]

Since the foundation of Radio Éireann, long before RTÉ existed, the national broadcaster has had responsibility for both the symphony and concert orchestras. There seems to be some doubt about their future. What are the Minister's views on the findings of the independent review and its proposals? The proposals relate directly to her Department and would have very significant financial consequences for it if they were to be implemented.

RTÉ recently published the report it commissioned from independent consultants Helen Boaden and Mediatique on the RTÉ Orchestras, entitled "RTÉ Orchestras: Ensuring a Sustainable Future". The report has recommended, inter alia, that the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra should be a national cultural institution in its own right or within the National Concert Hall and that the RTÉ Concert Orchestra should continue to be part of RTÉ, functioning as a classic radio orchestra. This is based on researching the model of symphonic music provision around Europe and the changing environment in which public sector broadcasting now exists.

Both the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and I have welcomed the recommendations of the report and in particular that recommendation dealing with the status of the National Symphony Orchestra. The report offers the opportunity now to plan a way forward for both orchestras while ensuring that they can contribute fully to Ireland’s rich cultural heritage.

We have asked officials in our Departments to advance the recommendations of the report as a matter of priority. This will require intense engagement between both our Departments, RTÉ and the National Concert Hall. The concerns of employees of the orchestras will also be to the forefront of considerations and there will need to be significant engagement with them in this regard. I expect to bring an early report to Government to chart a way forward which will include the steps needed to address the recommendations.

This is an exciting time for orchestral music in Ireland with the proposed redevelopment of the National Concert Hall and the Government’s ambition under the Creative Ireland programme. Since it opened, the National Concert Hall has been the home of the National Symphony Orchestra and there is now an opportunity for it to play an even stronger role as part of these wider developments. The proposals in this report should be of long-term benefit to the musicians in both orchestras and should help address long-standing concerns about orchestral provision in Ireland.

I would not say that it is an exciting time. I would say that it is a scary time for those involved in the orchestras. They have seen the orchestras starved of cash by RTÉ. Has the Minister discussed with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the failure of RTÉ to fulfil its statutory obligations to establish and maintain orchestras, choirs and other cultural performing groups as laid down in the Broadcasting Act 2009 in recent years? Is she concerned that RTÉ has been starving the orchestras with the hope that the people would have to double-fund them? We will have to fund them through the Minister's Department while already having funded them through the licence fee. Is she concerned that RTÉ is doing this as a trick in order to increase its funding rather than for any other reason?

Aodán Ó Dubhghaill, who is the head of the RTÉ orchestras, has stated that they "have a singular place in Irish musical heritage and have nurtured, through performance and education, generations of world-class musicians." The report confirms this view while also recognising RTÉ's overall funding position as it plans for the future. These recommendations offer a solution which protects and supports both orchestras while also recognising the balance between RTÉ's financial constraints and its public service role in promoting music, arts and culture. RTÉ is going to give the recommendations full consideration.

As the Deputy is aware, RTÉ is funded by the licence fee in addition to commercial income. Licence fee payers are members of the public, as are taxpayers, and therefore it is the public that pays for orchestral provision and our public service broadcasting. It is now proposed that the Government would fund part of the cost of the National Symphony Orchestra totalling €4 million, with RTÉ continuing to fund the balance.

It is also recommended that the National Symphony Orchestra become a stand-alone entity or become part of the National Concert Hall. I am already on record as supporting these recommendations, which will ensure that orchestral music is allowed to grow and flourish once again in Ireland.

Does the Minister not believe it is totally disingenuous of the Government and RTÉ to allow a flagrant breaking of the law when they have a statutory obligation regarding the money that we, as taxpayers, give through the licence fee to maintain the orchestras? They have allowed them to become run down. Their funding has been decreased dramatically in recent years. It seems to me that the Government does not exercise any control over agencies that have statutory obligations laid down by this House.

Is the Minister telling me that, as well as paying our licence fees to fund the two orchestras, we will actually have to pay more taxes, amounting to €4 million in general taxation, to pay for them again? If RTÉ cuts its funding to the orchestra in the future, will we then have to pay again? Is this just a mechanism by RTÉ to get more funding? The Minister should remember that RTÉ will get a bonanza of cash in the next ten years when we start to provide houses for the people. Every house virtually means a television licence, and every commercial property means a television licence. We know we are very short of houses. When we eventually get around to building the houses the people need, RTÉ will see a massive increase in its income. The Minister is still letting it off the hook. Can she tell me that if she does what she is doing, she will not be asked time and again to get us to double-fund these orchestras? Is it her intention to ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment to rescind the Broadcasting Act 2009?

The report envisages that RTÉ will continue to contribute substantially towards the costs of the orchestra in order to secure broadcasting rights, but €4 million from the Exchequer will be required. This issue will also be considered by officials. I do not want to prejudge, however, what proposals might be generated in this regard.

It is important that the Deputy notes that the valuation will cover the optimum model for the National Symphony Orchestra, either as a stand-alone agency or as part of the National Concert Hall. It will also examine opportunities for growth and development within any new governance structures. It will also examine legal requirements for any new governance structure, including any changes to legislation, any issues in respect of the transfer of employment rights of employees, short and medium-term funding arrangements and governance arrangements. Following consideration of these proposals, I plan to bring a memo to the Government with a view to implementing a programme of action in this regard.

National Monuments

Peadar Tóibín


20. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if preservation orders will be issued for 1916 buildings (details supplied). [20438/18]

According to the national monuments legislation, a national monument is a national monument regardless of whether a Minister states it to be so. Therefore, the GPO is a national monument. It has never been officially declared one but, if it came under threat, it would be the moral and legal duty of the Minister to issue a preservation order to protect it. Her Department has stated clearly and officially that the Moore Street battlefield site is a national monument, yet she has refused to date to identify a large number of buildings in that space as comprising a national monument and to issue a preservation order. Is the Minister not derelict in her duty regarding these buildings, given that they are under pressure owing to a very large planning permission application, if she does not issue a preservation order?

I thank the Deputy for his question. Under section 8 of the National Monuments Act 1930, as amended, a preservation order may be made where it appears to the Minister that a monument, which in the Minister's opinion is a national monument, "is in danger of being or is actually being destroyed, injured or removed or is falling into decay through neglect". Apart from any question of whether each and every building referred to by the Deputy would appropriately be regarded as a national monument, I am not advised that they are subject to any immediate threat. On the contrary, as the Deputy is aware from his membership of the Moore Street advisory forum, the owner is advancing plans to preserve and conserve many of these buildings, and in particular those with a direct connection to the events of Easter Week 1916. Consequently, the conditions do not exist in which the making of a preservation order would be warranted in any event.

As the Deputy knows, Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street comprise a national monument owned by the State. It forms a unique and coherent streetscape of substantially intact mid-18th-century structures. Collectively, Nos. 14 to 17 represent the most significant, original, complete, discrete and continuous section of substantially intact pre-1916 buildings on the street, most of the remainder being post-1916 buildings. Today all of these houses retain significant 18th-century elements, including staircases, partitions, plasterwork, doors, floors, fittings and fixtures.

The 18th-century building form and profiles also survive. More important, so too does the physical evidence of the presence of the insurgents in the form of the openings broken through party walls as they made their way up the street. The Deputy has been privileged to see these at first hand.

By contrast, I note that No. 25 Moore Street, in respect of which the Deputy's question is seeking to have a preservation order made on grounds that it is a 1916 building, was actually constructed entirely anew from the ground up in the mid-1990s as a dedicated facility for Dublin City Council's street-cleansing operations.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

As a member of the Moore Street advisory group, and as noted earlier, the Deputy is aware of the meeting some weeks ago where agreement was reached on the modalities of engagement between the owners of the Moore Street development site and the advisory group to secure a way forward for the revitalisation of the area in a manner that will recognise the views of all stakeholders and reflect its historical and cultural significance and its employment and economic value to the north inner city - and all in a manner consonant with the recommendations of the previous Moore Street consultative group's work "The Moore Street Report - Securing History".

The Deputy will recall that the key recommendation of this report was the establishment of the Moore Street advisory group, of which he is a member and which has the task of devising an agreed plan among the key stakeholders that will take account of the needs of the area in a way that also respects and acknowledges its importance in the context of the 1916 Rising and ultimately the foundation of the State. Fundamental to this objective is the dialogue that is now taking place with the owners of the site that extends from Moore Street to the Carlton cinema on O'Connell Street.

I was very pleased to hear from the chairperson of the advisory group of the constructive engagement between group, including the Deputy, and the owners. I believe that this is the appropriate way in which to address the issues relating to the site and its wider environs. I am pleased that a foundation and framework has now been laid for positive and fruitful co-operation, dialogue and interaction between all the key interests in Moore Street under the aegis of the Moore Street advisory group. I encourage the Deputy again to continue to engage and contribute to that process through his membership of the group, which I believe is best placed to deliver a satisfactory outcome for all stakeholders.

The O'Brien's Mineral Water Works building, Henry Place, was occupied and held by the Volunteers evacuating the GPO. The White Cottage, Henry Place, was occupied and held under fire by Michael Collins. The Bottling Stores, Moore Street, were occupied and held by Captain Frank Henderson, and were the location of the killing of Michael Mulvihill and Henry Coyle. No. 10 Moore Street was the point of entry to the terrace, the leaders' refuge, the location of the field hospital set up by Nurse Elizabeth O'Farrell and Julia Grenan, and the location of the killing of Paddy Shortis. Nos. 20 and 21 were the location of the acceptance by the Volunteers of the surrender order after consultation with Clarke, Plunkett, Collins and Mac Diarmada. No. 25 Moore Street was the location of the killing of The O'Rahilly, Charles Corrigan and Francis Macken.

Does a live planning application that details the destruction of buildings and streets not constitute a danger? It is a planning application that could be proceeded with at any time. The buildings I note here are of major heritage importance. The recent court cases have made it abundantly clear that it is not up to the Judiciary to issue protective notices. The Judiciary has actually kicked the ball back into the court of the Minister and said it is her responsibility to do so.

The Deputy is correct in that, in February 2018, the Court of Appeal overturned all aspects of a High Court judgment and restored the previous understanding of what the statutory rights, powers and entitlements of the Minister – now me - were in regard to national monuments. It clarified that it is the Minister, and not the courts, who is charged with determining what constitutes a national monument. The Minister does not require planning permission for works to a national monument provided there is consent in place under section 14 of the National Monuments Act.

I mentioned why there is no necessity for a preservation order in the cases the Deputy mentions. It would only be a distraction from the more important objective, which is to secure a viable future for the Moore Street area. A far better approach is for all concerned to engage in meaningful discussions under the aegis of Moore Street advisory group, come up with a solution for the street that everyone can support, and do so as soon as possible.

As the Deputy knows, the main property owner on Moore Street is Hammerson, whose portfolio extends as far as the former Carlton cinema on O'Connell Street. I am pleased with the new vision Hammerson has presented, which now recognises the need to reflect history, community and culture in the way this area is to be revitalised.

I welcome the meeting between Hammerson and the ministerial forum but the forum will never agree to anything that is in any way incongruent to a national monument. The ministerial forum, therefore, is in no way negatively disposed towards the idea of the Minister issuing a preservation order.

Anyone who goes to Moore Street will see it is frozen in dereliction. It is frozen because of the hiatus the Government has created in the area. I am asking the Minister to break that hiatus with a simple decision, namely, to turn Moore Street into the vibrant cultural and historic quarter it could be. The traders on the street are prisoners of the Minister's policy. The inertia of the Government is putting them into a sterile area where it is really difficult to earn a living. I will introduce in the Oireachtas next week a Bill seeking that the Oireachtas identify Moore Street as a national monument.

The responsibility is the Minister's. The planning application is live. Nothing is stopping that planning application from proceeding. I urge the Minister to do the right thing and issue a preservation order.

As I said, I believe it would be a distraction not to try to engage with the group of which the Deputy is a member. He mentioned the trade affair. I believe that the advisory group met with Dublin City Council and discussed a range of issues. A submission was made by the group on behalf of the traders to the review currently taking place with regard to the casual trading by-laws. I believe that Dublin City Council is currently examining all submissions in this regard.

It cannot need submissions.

There is a key position where Hammersons is the main landowner. Its input is most critical to the rejuvenation of this area. I set up and support Moore Street advisory group. Its role is to bring all relevant interests together so they can agree a suitable vision and plan for the area. I am delighted that this is happening and that key players are talking to each other. I will do everything I can to support and encourage that process. I have also given a grant of €10,000 to the school of architecture in Dublin Institute of Technology, DIT, to work with local stakeholders on the street.

Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge

Éamon Ó Cuív


21. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cé mhéad airgead atá caite ar an bpleanáil teanga sa Ghaeltacht gach bliain ó 2011; cé mhéad atá caite go dáta i mbliana; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [20205/18]

In ainneoin go ndúirt an tAire liom ar an 24 Aibreán seo caite go raibh rud éigin ar nós €2.7 milliún ceadaithe don phleanáil teanga, is léir ó eolas atá curtha amach ag Údarás na Gaeltachta nár chaitheadh ach €644,000 ar an bpleanáil teanga idir 2011 agus 2017, agus go raibh an caiteachas ar fad eile ag baint le rudaí eile a bhí ann ariamh. An féidir leis an Aire Stáit a dheimhniú gurb é €644,000 a bhí i gceist sa bhliain 2017? Cé mhéad a chaithfear ar phleanáil teanga in 2018?

Ar mhaithe le cabhrú tuilleadh le feidhmiú na Straitéise 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge 2010-2030, a bhfuil an próiseas pleanála teanga mar chuid lárnach de, bunaíodh ciste faoi leith in 2014. Baineadh leas as an gciste seo ó 2014 i leith chun cúram a dhéanamh d'fheidhmiú an phróisis pleanála teanga - ar cuireadh tús lena fheidhmiú ar an talamh an bhliain sin, chomh maith le maoiniú a dhéanamh ar raon de thograí, bearta agus tionscnaimh faoi leith mar thaca breise d’fheidhmiú na straitéise agus don phróiseas pleanála teanga, dá réir. Ós rud é go bhfuil an próiseas pleanála teanga mar chuid lárnach d'fheidhmiú na straitéise, ba ghá féachadh chuige, i gcomhthéacs an chúraim atá sannta dóibh faoin bpróiseas, gur cuireadh maoiniú a dhóthain ar fáil d’Údarás na Gaeltachta agus d'Fhoras na Gaeilge araon chun a chinntiú go mbeadh sé curtha ar a gcumas tacú mar ba ghá le hullmhúchán pleananna sna limistéir pleanála teanga Gaeltachta, sna bailte seirbhíse Gaeltachta agus sna líonraí Gaeilge de réir mar a bhain sé leo faoi seach thar an tréimhse. Leagtar amach sa tábla a leanas an cionnroinnt den chiste iomlán a caitheadh go sonrach ar an bpróiseas thar an tréimhse 2014 go 2017:

Déanfaidh mé iarracht déanamh suas don am atá caillte. Tá ceist an-simplí agam don Aire Stáit. An ndeimhneoidh sé dom gur caitheadh €644,153 ar ullmhú pleananna teanga suas go deireadh na bliana 2017? Tuigim nár caitheadh oiread is cent rua amháin ar feidhmiú na bpleananna teanga sa tréimhse sin.

Ní raibh dóthain ama agam níos luaithe chun an gceist a fhreagairt ina iomláine. Tuigim an cheist atá curtha ag an Teachta. Baineann sé leis an airgead a bhí ag teacht isteach le haghaidh pleanáil teanga. Bhí ceist eile aige ag an tús maidir leis an airgead atá á chaitheamh i mbliana.

Tiocfaidh mé ar ais go dtí ceist na bliana 2018 mar cheist fhorlíontach. Iarraim ar an Aire Stáit an cheist shimplí atá curtha agam a fhreagairt.

Go dtí 2017-----

Níl na ceisteanna á fhreagairt, a Cheann Comhairle. Tá cumhacht agat freagraí a lorg.

Tá. Tabharfaimid deis don Aire Stáit ar dtús.

Tá freagra tugtha agam maidir leis an mhéid airgid a cuireadh ar fáil idir 2014 agus 2017 agus an leibhéal éilimh a bhí ann idir Údarás na Gaeltachta agus Foras na Gaeilge.

Níor fhreagair an tAire Stáit an cheist.

Tá soiléireacht ann anois i dtaobh an airgid ar fad - achan pingin - a théann isteach sna ceantair Ghaeltachta. Tá reachtaíocht na bliana 2012 i gceist. I gceantar an Teachta, mar shampla-----

A Cheann Comhairle, níl an cheist á fhreagairt.

Tá na hionaid clúdaithe sa phleanáil teanga fosta.

A Cheann Comhairle-----

Beidh seans agat, a Theachta.

Beidh an t-am úsáidte.

Dá mbeadh an t-éileamh i gceist, bheadh airgead ann le haghaidh achan iarratas.

Níl aon éileamh-----

Bheadh an t-airgead ar fáil ó Údarás na Gaeltachta agus ó Fhoras na Gaeilge.

Sa tír seo-----

Sa bhliain 2018, beidh an t-airgead ar fáil - achan pingin - le haghaidh achan iarratas a thiocfaidh isteach ó Fhoras na Gaeilge agus ó Údarás na Gaeltachta maidir le cur i bhfeidhm na bpleananna teanga.

Tá deis ag an Teachta Ó Cuív a cheist a shoiléiriú.

Ní hea. Is í an fhadhb atá ann ná go mbíonn an tAire Stáit ag meilt ama gach uair a bhíonn ceisteanna againn. Freagraíonn sé gach ceist ach amháin an cheist a cuirtear air. Chuir mé ceist an-simplí. Cuirfidh mé dhá cheist an-simplí anois. Tá freagraí á lorg agam. Cé mhéad a caitheadh ag ullmhú na bpleananna teanga ó 2011 go 2017?

Thug mé freagra ar an gceist sin.

An féidir leis an Aire Stáit a dheimhniú gurb é €644,153 an figiúr ceart?

Thug mé freagra don Teachta.

Mar dara chuid den cheist sin, cé mhéad a chaitheadh ar fheidhmiú na bpleananna? De réir mar a thuigim, agus tá mé ag iarraidh deimhniú a fháil ar seo, níor caitheadh aon airgead ar na pleananna a chur i bhfeidhm sa tréimhse sin. Níl le déanamh ag an Aire Stáit ach a rá go bhfuil an ceart agam nó nach bhfuil. Mar cheist fhorlíontach, cé mhéad atá leagtha amach le caitheamh ar ullmhú na bpleananna teanga sa bhliain 2018? Cé mhéad atá leagtha amach, nó curtha ar fáil, le haghaidh feidhmiú na bpleananna teanga sa bhliain 2018? Ní thógfadh sé leath-nóiméad an dá cheist an-simplí sin a fhreagairt.

Tá an cheist soiléir.

Tá sé soiléir. Tosóidh mé leis an dara cheist. Beidh €2.65 milliún ar fáil in 2018 fá choinne plean a ullmhú agus a chur i bhfeidhm. Tá an dá rud - ullmhú agus cur i bhfeidhm - i gceist anseo.

No, tá rudaí eile i gceist anseo.

Tá airgead ar fáil ó 2014 le haghaidh pleananna a ullmhú fá choinne na bailte seirbhíse Gaeltachta, na líonraí agus na limistéir pleanála Gaeltachta. Tá Údarás na Gaeltachta agus Foras na Gaeilge freagrach as na pleananna teanga. Fuair Údarás na Gaeltachta €200,000 in 2014, €259,000 in 2015, €340,000 in 2016 agus €735,000 in 2017. Fuair Foras na Gaeilge €81 milliún in 2017.

Tá sé sin go breá, a Aire. Nóiméad amháin. Is í an cheist, cé mhéad a caitheadh ar ullmhúchán na bpleananna agus cé mhéad, cén ollfhigiúr a caitheadh-----

Tuigim an cheist, mar tá an méid fite fuaite idir na pleananna ullmmhúcháin agus na pleananna a chur i bhfeidhm agus in 2018, na dreamanna a bheidh i gceist, mar shampla, Cois Farraige, na ceantair Ghaoth Dobhair, Rann na Feirste nó Gort an Choirce nó Cloich Chionnaola, beidh suas le €2.65 milliún i gceist fa choinne na rudaí ullmhúcháin agus chur i bhfeidhm. Dá mbeadh sonraí de dhíth idir an dá fhigiúr, bheinn sásta iad sin a chur ar aghaidh, tiocfaifdh mé ar ais leis sin, beidh mé sásta é sin a dhéanamh.

Tá rudaí eile i gceist, tá €2.65 milliún seachas ullmhú na bpleananna agus feidhmiú na bpleananna. Cuidíodh go maith agus thug Udarás na Gaeltachta an briseadh síos a bhí ag teastáil le gairid d'iriseoir, ach níl an tAire in ann iad a thabhairt domsa sa Dáil inniu. Is é sin mar a dúirt mé, dúirt siadsan -mar a dúirt an tAire atá ag láimhseail an t-airgead - nár caitheadh ach €644,000 agus nár caitheadh-----

Gabh mo leithscéal, a Theachta tá an cheist pléite. Ma tá éinne anseo míshásta, scríobh chugam agus déanfaidh mé iarracht iniúchadh a dhéaamh ar an scéal agus rachaidh mé ar ais i dteagmháil leis an Aire. An chéad cheist eile, tagann an chéad cheist eile ón Teachta Paul Murphy, Question 22, Deputy Paul Murphy.

Arts Funding

Paul Murphy


22. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her views on the ability of arts and culture projects to question social and political matters without a risk to funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20207/18]

Is the Minister concerned about the significant restriction on artistic expression which, in my opinion, amounted to censorship in two recent cases? The cases in question relate to the removal of the Maser mural from the Project Arts Centre under threat of the centre losing charitable status from the Charities Regulator and the withdrawal of an event entitled "The Question of the Eighth" from the International Literature Festival in Dublin under threat of the withdrawal of funding by Dublin City Council.

Through their work, artists, writers and musicians address social and political issues and shape the way that we view a particular topic. They challenge us to think outside of our comfort zone and to understand the rationale for debate or change by engaging us interactively.

By their very nature, arts and culture organisations lead and reflect societal change. As we work together to ensure that people are heard and listened to, we will see that the stories we tell, the work we make and the society we share begin to change shape for the better. The voices of the excluded, the less powerful and the marginalised, are amplified and broadcast. This change is inherently powerful. Artistic freedom must be recognised and valued.

Historically, artists and writers around the world have played a major part in effecting societal and political change. I think particularly of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Mexico, the work of a particular favourite of mine, Maya Angelou, during the civil rights struggle in 1960s America and that of our own Seamus Heaney during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Their writings prompted debate, which ultimately brought about change.

In Ireland, the Arts Council is the primary body that allocates funding to artists and arts organisations. Although funded by my Department, the council is statutorily independent in its funding allocations and I, as Minister, cannot influence this funding.

I presume the Deputy is raising the matter in the context of the current referendum. In this instance, public bodies are also obliged to act with impartiality and are all subject to the clear guidance from the Referendum Commission that any information disseminated by Government or its agencies or bodies involving the use of public funds must be equal, fair, impartial and neutral. That is a separate obligation which falls on public bodies.

I thank the Deputy for the opportunity to demonstrate the importance of arts and culture to societal well-being. It is an opportunity to prompt debate.

I welcome the Minister's agreement about the political role of art. Toni Morrison famously said, "All of that art-for-art's-sake stuff is BS. What are these people talking about?" She also stated:

All good art is political! There is none that isn't. And the ones that try hard not to be political are political by saying, "We love the status quo."

I am not sure whether there is any good art that is not political but I certainly think that attempting to rule out or censor art on the basis of it being political is extremely troublesome. Does the Minister agree with the Charities Regulator's move to say that unless the Maser mural was removed from the Project Arts Centre, the centre could lose its charitable status? Does the Minister agree with Dublin City Council's decision to threaten the withdrawal of funding from the International Literature Festival in Dublin unless a particular event, which was about the eighth amendment and which was not a campaigning or repeal event, was removed? Does the Minister agree with the decision to threaten to withdraw funding with the result that a particular event was cancelled?

The event referred to by the Deputy was organised by Una Mullaly from The Irish Times for the International Literature Festival. Dublin City Council cited the guidance from the Referendum Commission, which, in turn, restates the guidance from the Attorney General that public funds, as I said earlier, should not be used to promote either side of the debate during a referendum. The mural referred to by the Deputy included the words "Repeal the Eighth" with a heart around them and was on the outside wall of the Project Arts Centre. The mural was created by Maser, an artist originally from Ireland who now lives in the US. Unfortunately, the mural ran contrary to the Charities Regulator's views on this. I know the Taoiseach made comments in the Dáil about it previously in response to a question from Deputy Coppinger. He said:

I understand this decision was made by the Charities Regulator, not the Government, and I assume the Charities Regulator would have taken the same approach or attitude had it been a pro-life or anti-abortion mural. I have no doubt but that the mural will appear elsewhere. Someone who owns a private building may wish to make the space available for the mural to be reinstated. Perhaps even the fact that it has been removed means more people saw it than might have otherwise seen it had it not been removed. While one can paint over a mural, one certainly cannot paint over an issue. The issue is that nine women every day in Ireland are forced to travel overseas to end their pregnancies and three women in Ireland every day - the number will only rise into the future - import pills online and take them without medical supervision and guidance, often in their own homes.

That is not really relevant to the question.

I am just quoting the comments the Taoiseach made in the Dáil.

Does the Minister not agree that there is a problem here? Censorship of art is happening under the banner that a referendum is due to take place. How far does it go? What will be censored next? Una Mullaly wrote about her event and stated:

My event was about a book. It was not a campaigning event. It was not a rally or a demonstration or a hustings. If I am said to be "taking a side", then what does shutting down an event about a book look like?

That one cannot hold an event that touches on an issue that is being discussed in a referendum seems to be an extremely over-zealous interpretation on the part of Dublin City Council around the question of the use of public funds. Again, with regard to the Charities Regulator, the interpretation is being used in such a way that the Catholic Church, which has charitable status, can campaign fully for retention of the eighth amendment, as is its right, with no threat to its charitable status because it is said to be linked to its core purpose. Yet an arts centre cannot have a piece of art that refers to and has a slogan about the repeal of the eighth amendment on it because it does not relate to its core purpose, but it is art. It is not campaigning; it is art. The Government can have an opinion on it. It can disagree with the Charities Regulator and have different regulations and a different interpretation of the law or, if necessary, there could be an amendment to the Charities Act.

The key points from the Referendum Commission, which takes in the Attorney General's advice, is that any information disseminated by Government or any agencies or bodies involving the use of public funds must be equal, fair, impartial and neutral and that the Government is not entitled to spend public money for the purpose of promoting a campaign for a particular outcome. The Taoiseach said in the Dáil that he did not find the mural in any way offensive but he did not think it would be murals or posters that would change people's minds or convince them regarding this issue.

What we need is proper independent information such as we are getting from the Referendum Commission, which just started its work in recent days, and those of us who wish to advocate change going out there and speaking to people one-to-one, not berating them or preaching to them, but listening to their concerns and answering their questions. I think the Deputy is aware of my views about wishing to have the eighth amendment repealed, but we still have to obey the law and the guidelines of the Referendum Commission on both sides of this debate. I also point out that the Project Arts Centre received €718,000 from my Department in 2018. Art has always had the potential to stimulate conversation and be a driver for social change. I hope it will continue to do so.

Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge

Catherine Connolly


23. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Catherine Connolly den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta soiléiriú a thabhairt maidir le feidhmiú na Straitéise 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge, 2010-2030, agus go háirithe maidir le stádas an phlean gníomhaíochta don tréimhse 2017-2022; cén dáta a fhoilseofar an plean; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [20206/18]

Go raibh míle maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle. Tá mé ag lorg soiléirithe maidir le feidhmiú na Straitéise 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge agus go háirithe stádas an Phlean Gníomhaíochta atá geallta le fada an lá. Cén uair go cruinn a fhoilseofar an plean sin?

Ba mhaith liom ar dtús m'aitheantas a ghabháil chuig an Teachta fa choinne an tiomantas agus an iarracht ar son an ábhair seo thar na blianta.

Mar is eol don Teachta, is é ar mo Roinnse atá an fhreagracht uileghabhálach chun cur i bhfeidhm na Straitéise 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge 2010-2030 a chomhordú agus a chur i bhfeidhm i gcomhar le réimse leathan páirtithe leasmhara. Sa chomhthéacs sin, tá cláir oibre á gcur i bhfeidhm ag mo Roinn féin agus ag Ranna agus forais ábhartha eile Stáit, lena n-áirítear Údarás na Gaeltachta agus Foras na Gaeilge, chomh maith le raon leathan eagraíochtaí Gaeilge, chun cúram a dhéanamh, i gcaitheamh an ama, ar fheidhmiú na straitéise.

Mar atá ráite agam roimhe seo, ainneoin na ndúshlán ina raibh gníomhaireachtaí na Gaeilge ag feidhmiú, idir mo Roinn féin, Foras na Gaeilge, Údarás na Gaeltachta agus na heagraíochtaí éagsúla atá á maoiniú acu, táim sásta go bhfuil dul chun cinn suntasach déanta agus á dhéanamh maidir le raon leathan gníomhaíochtaí faoin Straitéis a chur i bhfeidhm de réir a chéile ar bhealach córasach laistigh de na hacmhainní atá ar fáil.

Maidir leis an bPlean Gníomhaíochta don tréimhse 2018-2022 ina ndéanfar rianú ar cad atá beartaithe a dhéanamh, i gcomhar le páirtithe leasmhara, thar an tréimhse chun treisiú a dhéanamh ar fheidhmiú na straitéise, táim sásta a rá go bhfuil críoch á chur le dréachtú an Phlean faoi láthair agus foilseofar é sna seachtainí atá amach romhainn.

Go raibh míle maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle. Níl mé ag iarraidh deacrachtaí a chothú ach tá sé ráite ag an Aire go mion minic go bhfuil sé le foilsiú sna seachtainí amach romhainn. An é go bhfuil blianta amach romhainn i gceist, b’fhéidir, seachas seachtainí? Tá sé ráite go bhfuil an Rialtas ag cur críche leis an bplean. Cén dáta go cruinn a fhoilseofar an plean más féidir leis an Aire é sin a rá, go háirithe mar go bhfuilimid ag caint faoin straitéis? Tá a fhios agam go raibh an straitéis bunaithe ar go leor oibre roimhe sin, go háirithe an Ráiteas ó Thaobh na Gaeilge in 2006 agus a lán rudaí eile. In ainneoin chomh báúil is atá daoine i leith na Gaeilge agus in ainneoin an dul chun cinn atá déanta, ní mór dom a rá go bhfuil sé thar a bheith deacair do chosmhuintir na Gaeltachta agus daoine le Gaeilge seirbhísí a fháil. Tá gá práinneach le Plean Gníomhaíochta.

Aontaím leis an tábhacht a ghabhann leis seo. Bhí mise i m'Aire Stáit in 2014 nuair a tháinig an cheist suas maidir leis an Straitéis 20 Bliain agus bhí sé i gceist ag an am sin amharc go dtí plean cúig bliana. Tá mise sásta leis an bplean a chur i gcrích anois. Is é an chéad phróiseas eile ná é a bheith ar chlár an bhoird Rialtais agus tá dualgas orm dá réir. Beidh sé ar an gcloch is mó ar mo phaidrín thar na seachtainí atá amach romhainn agus beidh mé sásta leis an gcomhaontú a fháil ó mo chomhghleacaithe, ach is é an rud is mó ná an comhaontú idir na Ranna éagsúla. Tá dréachtphlean á chur i gcrích agus beidh mé sásta leis an gclár a chur ar an gclár Rialtais sna seachtainí amach romhainn.

Is é an port céanna é - sna seachtainí amach romhainn. Is rud dearfa é go bhfuil sé ar intinn ag an Aire é a chur ar chlár bhoird an Rialtais, ach cén uair a dtarlódh sé sin? An dtuigeann an tAire go bhfuil práinn ag teastáil? Tá daoine ag gearán chuile lá faoin Straitéis 20 Bliain, agus nach bhfuil sé curtha i bhfeidhm beag ná mór. Tá mise agus Teachtaí Dála eile ag iarraidh ar a laghad an Plean Gníomhaíochta a fheiceáil. Tá daoine ag iarraidh fáil réidh leis an bplean seo. Níl muinín beag ná mór acu sa straitéis seo. Is féidir leis an bplean gníomhaíochta muinín a thabhairt do dhaoine ar an talamh, ach níl sé le feiceáil. Agus anois arís cloisimid an sean-nath - sna seachtainí amach romhainn. An mbeidh sé ar bhord an Rialtais roimh dheireadh na míosa seo?

Déanfaidh mé mo sheacht ndícheall leis sin. Beidh bord Rialtais ag dul ar aghaidh Dé hAoine agus níl a fhios agam céard a bheidh ar an gclár, Dé hAoine, ná Dé Máirt na seachtaine amach anseo, ach déanfaidh mé mo sheacht ndícheall. Tá an dréachtphlean réidh agus tá sé comhaontaithe idir achan Roinn timpeall an Rialtais agus beidh mé sásta leis an mbrú a chur ar an gclár seo. Tá sé cóngarach do mo chroí maidir leis an gcomhaontú agus leis an gcomhordú agus leis an gceangal idir achan Roinn. Dá mbeadh an comhaontú socraithe - tá sé socraithe - beidh mé sásta leis an mbrú a ghabháil agus a leagan síos i measc mo chomhghleacaithe go gairid.