Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions

National Orchestras

Niamh Smyth


1. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the progress that has been made in respect of the transfer of the National Symphony Orchestra from RTÉ to the National Concert Hall; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47504/18]

Will the Minister provide an overview of the progress made on the transfer of the National Symphony Orchestra from RTÉ to the National Concert Hall?

Following the publication of the report, RTÉ Orchestras: Ensuring a Sustainable Future, that the station commissioned from independent consultants Helen Boaden and Mediatique, the Government agreed in principle that the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra should come within the remit of the National Concert Hall. The Government also authorised the initiation of discussions on the implementation of the recommendations in the report. The overall aim of the Government decision regarding the proposed transfer of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra is to enable it to be established as a world-class orchestra which would, with the National Concert Hall, provide a creative and imaginative programme strategy that would greatly enhance the offering of the combined organisation to the public. The process now offers a welcome opportunity to plan a way forward for both orchestras and ensures that they can fully contribute to Ireland's rich cultural heritage.

In addition, the Government's Creative Ireland programme commits to a range of important initiatives to support culture and creativity in Ireland. The Department's ten-year national development plan envisages major capital investment in our national cultural institutions, including a major redevelopment of the National Concert Hall. Since it opened its doors in 1981, the National Concert Hall has been the home of the National Symphony Orchestra. The latter provides the backbone to orchestral music programme of the National Concert Hall. There is now an opportunity for the National Symphony Orchestra to play an even stronger role as part of these wider developments and this should greatly enhance the offerings of both organisations to the public.

An oversight group has been established, with formal terms of reference, with a view to identifying and addressing the relevant issues to enable the successful transfer of the National Symphony Orchestra from the remit of RTÉ to that of the National Concert Hall. The group has already met twice. In addition, a working group, as a subset of the oversight group, has been tasked to exam the detailed issues involved in the proposed transfer of the orchestra. At this point, it is considered that 2020 would be the earliest date for the completion of the proposed transfer. My Department welcomes the opportunity to work with all stakeholders including the members of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra to ensure that it can contribute to Ireland's rich cultural heritage to the fullest extent possible.

That statement sounds positive. I am delighted that the oversight group has met on two occasions to see that transfer happens as seamlessly as possible. As the Minister correctly stated, the Boaden review carried out an in-depth analysis. The options facing the RTÉ orchestras ranged from outright closure to a merger to retention with full funding restored. The review concluded neither of the two orchestras should be closed. That was the most important and positive outcome of this report. The report instead suggested that both orchestras should be brought back to full strength. The authors of the review consulted widely and it became clear to them that there was widespread support for the retention of both orchestras in the orchestra sector, in all political sectors and within Government. They recommended that the National Symphony Orchestra be either established as a cultural institution in its own right or move and become part of the National Concert Hall. Flexibility will be required from orchestra members but the recommended approach provides a sustainable means of restoring the orchestra to its former strength on the basis of a new and creative vision. I am sure the oversight group will be heavily involved in this process.

In July, as the Minister stated, the Cabinet considered the review and its recommendations. The Government has decided that the National Symphony Orchestra is to come within the remit of the National Concert Hall. Will the Minister give us some more insight as to where those negotiations are at and assurances that the orchestras' provision will be protected and maintained in the interim?

I note the Deputy's points on the outcomes and the recommendations of the Boaden report. These have been taken into account in the terms of reference of the steering group, which will identify the relevant issues to enable the successful transfer of the National Symphony Orchestra from the remit of RTÉ to that of the National Concert Hall, including a timeline for implementation, funding arrangements, including any interim arrangements prior to the full transfer, and any legislative changes to broadcasting Acts or the national cultural institutions.

On the issue of progress, the terms of reference of both the oversight and working groups have been agreed. It was agreed that an independent expert adviser with relevant orchestral and concert hall experience should be identified as a means of providing independent expertise to the working group. It was agreed that there was a necessity to maintain and communicate at all times the shared vision of the project, ensuring the provision in Ireland of world-class symphonic music.

The transfer of the National Symphony Orchestra to the National Concert Hall brings into the spotlight the redevelopment, and the possible extension, of the National Concert Hall. We need to focus on this and we cannot lose sight of it.

The Boaden report recommends that funding for both orchestras be brought back to full strength. I appreciate that this cannot be done overnight but we need to be supportive of this view for the sake of our orchestral sector. I hope that the Minister will bear this in mind as we approach 2020.

The Deputy mentioned the National Concert Hall. There will be world-class facilities under the redevelopment, with a newly refurbished and extended main auditorium, an increased capacity of 1,350 seats and improved musicians' facilities. There will be a reorganisation of public facilities such as a newly designed and enlarged main foyer with new access to the historic marble stairs, and a relocation of the restaurant, a new winter garden cafe, new guest facilities, new reception and booking offices, new lift access and upgraded mechanical and electrical services. There will be a refurbishment and restoration of the historic, and currently redundant, 1865 block which is adjacent to the main auditorium for musicians' facilities and there will be an extension of the John Field room. The refurbishment of the former medical library is also being looked at to serve as a RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra rehearsal studio.

Creative Ireland Programme

Niamh Smyth


2. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of children that have access to tuition in music, drama, coding and art; if she is satisfied that the target of ensuring that, by 2022, each child will have such access will be met; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47505/18]

This question is about the number of children who have access to tuition in music, drama, coding and art. Can the Minister give us some guidance as to where we are at with the Creative Ireland plan? It had certain targets relating to ensuring access for children in the various art forms.

The Creative Youth plan, which I launched in December 2017, seeks to ensure that every child in Ireland has practical access to tuition, experience and participation in music, drama, art and coding by 2022. Nearly one year on, we can now show some real progress towards meeting this ambitious objective. The Creative Schools pilot project for 149 schools is now up and running, reaching over 38,000 children and young people. The pilot will cover a wide range of creative activities for children and young people which could potentially include drama, visual arts, literature, poetry, film, coding and other activities.

Music Generation is moving into phase 2 of its expansion and it is planned that nationwide expansion will take place during the lifetime of the Creative Ireland programme. The Department of Education and Skills is continuing to progress the availability of coding at both primary and post-primary levels. At post-primary level, a short course has been developed in coding for junior cycle and is available for all schools to offer. The first phase of the leaving certificate in computer science is under way, with 40 schools offering the subject. Plans are being examined with key stakeholders for the expansion of the youth theatre provision across the country and other important initiatives are being developed and piloted, such as the pilot Creative Youth partnership initiative which was launched during the summer, with the outcome to be announced shortly.

There are 73 schools participating in creative clusters and they have been grouped into 23 clusters. There are approximately 17,000 students participating, from a diverse range of school types. We are continuing to invest in continued professional development, CPD, for teachers and for artists working in partnership with teachers, which is crucial to the long-term success and sustainability of the overall plan.

Cruinniú na nÓg, the first national day of creativity for children and young people, took place on 23 June and saw over 500 free events right across the country to involve children and young people in creative activity in their own communities. I am also pleased that a number of innovative projects covering a range of activities for children and young people have come through the national creativity fund process and I am looking forward to seeing the outcome of these projects. The Creative Youth plan is ambitious and ever-developing. I hope that, by 2022, it will have touched the lives of every child and young person in Ireland.

The Creative Ireland programme was launched under much fanfare and we have already had the debate on the amounts spent on advertising in the first year. The Creative Youth plan was launched in December 2017 under the Creative Ireland banner. Its ambition is to provide access to programmes for children and this is a measurable deliverable. Can the Minister give specific detail of the number of children who have access to music, drama, coding and art and what percentage of the child population this represents?

A number of pilot projects have been launched under the Creative Youth plan. The Creative Schools pilot project will serve over 150 schools but there are 4,000 schools around the country. Music Generation is not expected to be provided nationally until 2022 and only 40 secondary schools, out of 700, offer coding at leaving certificate, while the Creative Clusters initiative is only on a pilot basis. It all sounds very impressive in terms of the type of programmes on offer but how is it being measured, monitored and reviewed?

I am glad that Fine Gael was in a position to help this sector. It had to be cut during the recession but it was not done by our Government. It is a core principle of the plan that the voice of children and young people be heard, in both the development and delivery of programmes. Every cent has to be accounted for and is accounted for, and I gave some of the figures for the number of children who are involved, particularly in the Creative Youth programme for schools. There are 149 schools in this and it is an open process, which was launched on 12 February 2018.

There are also a lot of early years CPD projects for teachers, such as one for primary schools and one for post-primary schools, and a Creative Schools cluster scheme for the out-of-school sector, as well as a once-off early year bursary. In order to measure outcomes and deliver best practice, there is a research programme and digital mapping will establish baseline data. There is also support for the national repository for arts and education research. All of these things will give us measurable results for how we are delivering on the projects.

The delivery of the Creative Youth plan is dependent on creative principals, deputy principals and teachers in our schools. Our schools are overloaded with initiatives in the arts and physical education. While they are all very well intentioned, these initiatives are very much dependent on an enthusiastic teacher or deputy principal within a school to take it on board. They have to apply for funding in the first place and then have to deliver on it.

As the Minister said, it is important any schemes and initiatives delivered are also monitored and reviewed and that there is a measurable outcome from them. Are we measuring the enthusiasm of teachers in schools? Could the Minister comment on the link between the Creative Youth plan with the Arts in Education charter in terms of the relationship with the higher implementation group? Is there a connection or relationship between them?

I agree with Deputy Smyth that evaluation is important. We need to know that the initiatives being rolled out in the pilot programme are doing what they are supposed to do, and that children and young people are enjoying them as well as there being longer term benefits for children and young people, and also for teachers and creative practitioners. The Arts Council is working on a formal process of evaluation of the Creative Schools initiative with assistance from the various Departments. The Department of Education and Skills has also built in formal education processes into the other initiatives. We will examine the outcomes of the evaluations in order to help us ascertain what works and what needs to be changed as we move forward with the programme.

Deputy Smyth also mentioned the Arts in Education charter. Creative Youth builds on the education charter. The actions in the Creative Youth plan extend to both the formal and non-formal education sectors that are being delivered by my Department, the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Arts Council. This plan builds on the Arts in Education charter and aims to resource, fast-track and implement the objectives of the charter, as well as roll out a range of other initiatives.

Arts Funding

Michael Lowry


3. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the funding allocated to organisations in County Tipperary and in other counties by her Department and agencies under her aegis between 2014 and 2017 by headings (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47563/18]

Could the Minister outline the funding allocated to organisations in County Tipperary and in other counties by her Department and agencies under her aegis between 2014 and 2017?

My Department operates a wide range of funding schemes in support of cultural development across Ireland and details of the various schemes are published on my Department’s website. One of the schemes to which the Deputy refers is funded by the Arts Council, which is independent in its funding decisions. Details of funding by this agency are also published on its website, and in its annual report and accounts, which are published and available in the Oireachtas Library for all the years sought, including 2017. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that total funding of €1.54 million has been provided to County Tipperary in the period 2014 to 2017, under the various schemes to which he refers. This includes funding of €1.3 million from the Arts Council, and funding of €233,855 from my Department under two of the three schemes listed by the Deputy in the question he tabled.

For the Deputy's convenience, I have arranged to have the breakdown of funding allocated to organisations in County Tipperary by my Department and the Arts Council sent directly to him. I am pleased to note that in relation to schemes run by my Department, funding has been allocated to Tipperary County Museum for regional exhibitions, co-operation with Northern Ireland and mobility of collections. Funding has also been provided to Tipperary County Council for Culture Night. Under capital developments, my Department has funded the Black Castle Theatre Company, the Source Arts Centre, the Tipperary Excel Heritage Company Limited, the South Tipperary Arts Centre, Cloughjordan Arts, the Nenagh Arts Centre and COSAOS Limited.

While organisations in Tipperary have not received funding to date in one of the schemes to which the Deputy referred in his question, this particular scheme has only been in operation since 2017. I look forward to seeing future applications from Tipperary under this scheme. In budget 2019, I announced total expenditure of €339 million towards culture, language and heritage in 2019. This funding includes additional funding of more than €36 million for my Department in 2019, an increase of 12% on 2018 allocations.

The fact that Tipperary and similar counties have been deprioritised in terms of economic development places a greater focus on the resources we have to hand. One of those resources, of which we are proud in Tipperary, is our heritage and environment as they underpin the tourism industry in the county. While the organisations and companies working in the cultural sector might not be as recognisable as others, they provide important sustainable employment in the catchment areas in which they operate, as well as attract tourists, both national and international. The quality of life and viability of many of our small towns is dependent on the heritage and arts sector that is in place. For that reason the Department's support for an investment directly through the local authorities is vital to us. Unfortunately, funding in recent years has been limited and inadequate but I am pleased to see that we have an increase in the capital budget for 2019. Could the Minister outline the additional supports that will be made available in the context of the forthcoming centenary celebrations, and how her Department intends to promote those celebrations in an inclusive way to a wider audience?

I confirm that the increase in funding comprises €21 million in capital expenditure, an increase of 39% on 2018 funding and €15 million in current expenditure, which is a 6% increase.

Deputy Lowry mentioned heritage in Tipperary. He might wish to note that the Heritage Council, which is under the aegis of my Department, supports a wide range of heritage projects throughout the country through its annual grants programme. In 2017 County Tipperary received significant moneys under the structures at risk fund and the built heritage investment scheme. The Corner House in McDonagh Square received €17,000. The Thatch in Cloneen, Clonmel received €15,000 and under the structures at risk fund in 2017 a total of €17,000 was provided. The structures at risk fund for 2018 was €32,000. Some of the grants from that fund went to the Black Castle in Templemore, St. Cronan's Church in Church Street, Roscrea and Ardfinnan Castle in Clonmel.

We have an all-party committee working on commemorative events. We are moving into a very sensitive period and we must make sure that we are inclusive and respectful of all views in order that we can properly and adequately commemorate the events that are coming up in a respectful way. I am very mindful of that.

An example of the type of work funded by the Tipperary arts office is a local group called Phoenix Productions in Thurles. Each year the group produces a cabaret performance and a full musical theatre production. The age of the cast generally ranges from 14 to 20 years of age. To date, some 400 young people from the locality have benefitted from the overall life experience of the project. Participation affords the cast members a unique opportunity to gain self-confidence in a public forum by being on stage and they have positive interaction with people of different age groups, backgrounds, schools and ability. The cultural lessons of teamwork, mutual respect, application and discipline are learned and no one is excluded. Anybody who wishes to participate is allowed to do so. This group has produced some fantastic performances in recent years and is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary. I would like the arts office in Tipperary to fund the group, through the Department, because it is finding it difficult to survive financially. There is significant voluntary effort and commitment involved and the group deserves support.

I did not catch the name of the group at the start of Deputy Lowry's contribution. The Arts Council is independent in how it funds artists but it does fund artists at a grassroots level. I increased the budget this year from €68 million to €75 million. There is a scheme to support small-scale local festivals and summer schools. It is reserved for appropriate festivals and groups. The maximum funding provided is €5,000. That may well be a scheme the theatre group would fit into. I note that Tipperary has received no funding under the scheme since its inception in 2017 and that is regrettable. Only one application was made in 2018 for the Tipperary Peace Convention but it was assessed as having insufficient cultural content demonstrated on the application to merit funding.

There will always be other opportunities for this group to apply and I hope it will be supported and nurtured in its development.

Special Areas of Conservation Management

Eamon Ryan


4. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to support the rewetting of peatlands which have been degraded by drainage and peat extraction in line with the National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017-2021; if such rewetting, planned or under consideration, will be incentivised and or supported by funding mechanisms in view of the restored biodiversity value, restored carbon storage and sequestration value and restored water management value; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47566/18]

In the National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017-2021, we have a plan to restore our degraded peatlands. What are the Department's plans in that regard, given the benefits we get from restoration of wildlife, storage of carbon, management of floodwaters, filtering water and creating amenities? What plans does the Minister have for her Department to engage in this hugely beneficial activity for our whole country?

I thank the Deputy for his question. The National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017-2021 includes action 6.1.5, which is to implement the national peatland strategy, and action 6.1.6, which is to implement the National Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation Management Plan 2017-2022. That plan was published in December 2017 and sets out how the raised bog special areas of conservation are to be managed, conserved and restored and how the needs of turf cutters are to be addressed. The national restoration programme for Ireland's raised bog special areas of conservation and natural heritage areas is contained within this plan. It is intended to restore all designated raised bogs within three cycles, with the first cycle operating for the duration of this management plan. Site specific conservation objectives have been published for the 53 raised bog special areas of conservation and restoration plans have been drafted for all sites to be developed further in partnership with stakeholders, including landowners and local communities. Site-specific restoration plans for the raised bog natural heritage areas are also being developed by my Department.

To help allay concerns relating to the potential impacts of restoration on areas of land adjacent to the designated bogs, my Department is in the process of developing drainage management plans for the special area of conservation sites as part of the national restoration programme. Work on this programme has already begun with a €5.4 million project called The Living Bog which is funded under the EU L’Instrument Financier pour l’Environnement, LIFE, programme. My Department manages this project and contributes €1.352 million with the European Commission providing €4.56 million. The Living Bog project commenced in 2016 and will conclude at the end of 2020. It aims to restore favourable conservation conditions and increase the area for active raised bog by 277 ha, approximately 58%, on the 12 raised bog special area of conservation project sites. This will contribute to the national objective of achieving favourable conservation status for the active raised bog. Contracts are in place for drain-blocking works on six out of the 12 sites with the remainder of the contracts due to issue in early 2019.

We had an interesting presentation from Bord na Móna recently in the Joint Committee on Climate Action. The clear consensus among the scientific and climate action community is that the restoration of bogs is one of the biggest potentials for us with regard to storing carbon and has co-benefits in protecting wildlife and so on. Bord na Móna made the case that it is only responsible for 80,000 ha and the large volume of private bogs also had this potential to provide a real return to the State. I welcome the details set out of The Living Bog scheme. As much as those 12 projects are welcome, the scale of opportunity we have here to restore habitats and store carbon must receive many multiples of the €1.352 million allocated. The Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform acknowledged in our committee yesterday that there needs to be a radical increase in the ambition and level of activity by the State in the area of storing carbon. Could the Minister use that to get her Department to see an increase of a multiple of the funding currently available for local, private landowners outside Bord na Móna to ramp up our activity in this regard given the critical loss of habitat, the critical state of our natural habitats and the urgency to restore bogs to store carbon. Is the Minister looking at ramping up that level of activity to learn the lessons from the pilot schemes that are in place?

Bord na Móna is a commercial State body which I understand is transitioning from its original remit to develop the peat resource in parts of Ireland to more renewable and sustainable businesses. It is under the remit of the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, so I have no direct role in this regard but my Department will continue to liaise with representatives from Bord na Móna with regard to the implementation of the national peatlands strategy and the National Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation Management Plan 2017-2022. The carbon emissions avoided by the 3,000 cutters in receipt of compensation for that would be much more significant than the domestic emissions from the 67 cutters who have been relocated to date. There is something duplicitous about the suggestion that our Government's position on this is preposterous. On this watch, the Government has changed what we are doing. The enhanced carbon sequestration in the ten bogs being rehabilitated under the live programme and the 53 that will ultimately be saved will dwarf any limited, negligible emissions from the domestic fires of relocated turf cutters.

I am not sure where the words "duplicitous" or "preposterous" came from. I did not use those words in my contribution. I am not sure what the Minister is referring to. I fully accept and made the same point that Bord na Móna is a separate issue and has a huge task. I wish it well as it sets about it. In the areas where the Minister has responsibility and the ability to scale up supports given to private landowners to engage in the sort of activity that is starting under The Living Bog programme, could she not use the opportunity we have with the renewed focus on climate change and the need to engage in carbon abatement and storage to get a more significant contribution from the State to support those private landowners to do what needs to be done to rewet the bogs? We have to be careful about how we do it, blocking drains and such. Will the Minister scale up the ambition or supports that her Department gives for that kind of activity because of the increased understanding of the benefits it would bring?

We are scaling up what we are doing with the bogs. The Living Bog project provides for restoration incentives, including compensation, voluntary land purchase and management land agreements under the protected raised bog incentive scheme, which is operating on a pilot basis this year. It would also provide for sensitively designated amenities at a small number of project sites, such as walking trails and signage. There is also a review of the raised bog natural heritage area network, which was published in January 2014 and concluded that Ireland could more effectively achieve conservation of threatened raised bog habitat through focus protection and restoration of a reconfigured network. This entails the cessation from 1 January 2017 of turf-cutting on 36 existing natural heritage areas which will remain designated. This includes seven sites to be divided, with part to be conserved and part designated. I appreciate the Deputy's points. We have to do all we can to ensure that we look after this area.

Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla

Catherine Connolly


5. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Catherine Connolly den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cén dáta a fhoilseofar Bille na dTeangacha Oifigiúla; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [47426/18]

Éamon Ó Cuív


9. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cén uair a bhfuil i gceist an Bille nua Teangacha Oifigiúla a fhoilsiú; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [47219/18]

Is oth liom a rá go bhfuil orm an cheist seo a chur arís agus arís. Is ceist shimplí í. Cén dáta a fhoilseofar Bille na dteangacha oifigiúla? Mar is eol don Aire Stáit, seo Bliain na Gaeilge. Tá sé geallta ag an Rialtas seo agus an Rialtas roimhe go mbeidh Bille nua ann. Cén fáth a bhfuil moill air? Go díreach, cén dáta a fhoilseofar an Bille?

An bhfuil an tAire Stáit ag glacadh Uimh. 9 chomh maith?

Tairgim Uimh. 5 agus Uimh. 9 a ghlacadh le chéile. Mar chúlra, is iarracht í an Bille seo, trí na ceannteidil éagsúla, timpeallacht a chruthú ina mbeidh ról níos lárnaí ag an teanga in obair an Stáit, ina mbeidh an teanga níos feiceálaí, agus ina mbeidh fáil níos leithne ar sheirbhísí trí Ghaeilge. Agus an Bille a thabhairt chun cinn, cuireadh tréimhse fhada chomhairliúcháin ar bun leis na páirtithe leasmhara. Próiseas an-fhiúntach a bhí ann.

Mar is eol don Teachta, leagadh na Ceannteidil faoi bhráid Chomhchoiste na Gaeilge na Gaeltachta agus na nOileáin agus foilsíodh tuarascáil ag eascairt as an bpróiseas seo roimh an tsamhradh. Tá an tuarascáil sin á scrúdú ag mo Roinn faoi láthair i gcomhthéacs dréachtú an Bhille.

Beidh sé mar chuspóir sa Bhille go mbeidh 20% de na daoine nua a earcaítear don tseirbhís phoiblí ina gcainteoirí Gaeilge, go mbeidh gach oifig phoiblí atá lonnaithe sa Ghaeltacht ag feidhmiú trí Ghaeilge agus go mbeidh comhlachtaí poiblí in ann freastal ar an éileamh ón bpobal ar sheirbhísí trí Ghaeilge. Is í an earcaíocht croílár na ceiste, agus táim dóchasach gur féidir tógáil, ar bhonn chéimiúil, ar líon na bhfostaithe le Gaeilge agus ag eascairt as sin, go mbeimid in ann feabhas a chur ar sholáthar seirbhísí trí Ghaeilge, mar is cóir.

Ó mo thaithí féin, ag déileáil le pobal na Gaeilge agus na Gaeltachta agus ón bhfianaise atá ar fáil ó thaighde ó Oifig an Choimisinéara Teanga, ó na heagrais Ghaeilge agus grúpaí eile, creidim go bhfuil éileamh ann i measc an phobal, ar sheirbhísí a bheith ar fáil i nGaeilge. Ní hamháin sin, ach tá an pobal ag súil go mbeidh na seirbhísí a bheidh ar fáil ar chomhchéim leis na seirbhísí a chuirtear ar fáil i mBéarla.

Tá mo chuid oifigigh ag obair faoi láthair i gcomhréir le hOifig an Ard-Aighne chun Bille na dTeangacha Oifigiúla (Leasú) a dhréachtá. Ag an am céanna, tá comhairliúcháin ar bun ag mo Roinn leis na Ranna Stáit ábhartha, leis an gCoimisinéir Teanga agus le páirtithe leasmhara eile le cinntiú go mbeidh an Bille is fearr agus is éifeachtaí againn le tabhairt os comhair an Oireachtais.

Tá an Bille seo san áireamh i gclár reachtaíochta an Rialtais le bheith foilsithe le linn sheisiún an fhómhair agus an gheimhridh de chuid na Dála.

Tá sé seo pléite agam le na hoifigigh i mo Roinn, leis an Ard-Aighne é féin agus leis na feidhmeannaigh in Oifig an Ard-Aighne. Tá ionadaí ón Roinn Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta ag obair ar an mBille seo agus táimid ag déanamh chuile iarracht go mbeidh sé foilsithe roimh dheireadh na bliana. Tá obair ar bun. Tá a fhios agam go raibh na feidhmeannaigh ón Roinn ag obair ar chuid de na Ceannteidil seo i rith an deireadh seachtaine. Tá an t-eolas sin curtha ar fáil do Oifig an Ard-Aighne agus tá siad ag brú ar aghaidh leis an obair.

Aontaím leis an Teachta go bhfuil moill air agus táimid ag déanamh chuile iarracht é a bhrú chun cinn.

Cá mhéad ama atá againn?

Tá an cúlra go léir againn. Tá cur síos déanta ag an Aire Stáit ar an gcúlra arís ach tá a fhios againn cheana.

Is í an ceist ná cén dáta a fhoilseofar an Bille. Dúireadh linn go bhfoilseofaí an Bille roimh an samhradh, ansin go bhfoilseofaí é tar éis an tsamhraidh agus anois táimid ag cloisteáil go mbeidh sé le linn an seisiún seo. Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil an tAire Stáit ag déanamh a dhícheall ach ní féidir glacadh le tuilleadh moille. Tá cearta daonna i gceist leis an mBille seo.

Rinne na daoine a tháinig os ár gcomhair i gComhchoiste na Gaeilge na Gaeltachta agus na nOileáin an t-uafás oibre agus chuir siad in iúl dúinn go soiléir cad a bhí ag teastáil. Tá a fhios againn faoi sin agus tá an méid oibre sin uilig déanta ag na heagraíochtaí éagsúla a tháinig os comhair na coiste. D'fhoilisigh muid tuarascáil chuimsitheach agus ní thuigim cén fáth go bhfuil tuilleadh moille. An bhfuil easpa foirne sa Roinn i gceist? An bhfuil easpa daoine ann chun dul i ngleic leis an mBille a fhoilsiú? Tá dáta ag teastáil.

Beidh an Bille foilsithe nuair atá sé réidh. Tá siad ag brú ar aghaidh leis an obair. Tá daoine a bhí ag plé leis an mBille amach tinn faoi láthair agus tá le tamall. Tá stiúrthóir na Gaeilge é féin ag obair ar an mBille seo. Mar a dúirt mé, bhí sé ag obair i rith na deireadh seachtaine air agus tá sé ag déanamh chuile iarracht an t-eolas go léir a chur chuig Oifig an Ard-Aighne ionas go mbeidh sí in ann dul ar aghaidh leis an obair. Táimid ag cur chuile bhrú ar chuile dhuine mar tá an Bille seo tábhachtach agus beidh sé foilsithe comh luath agus is féidir. Níl mé in ann dáta díreach a thabhairt don Teachta ach mar a dúirt mé, táimid ag déanamh chuile iarracht go mbeidh sé foilsithe roimh an Nollaig.

Tuigim go bhfuil dhá chéim sa phróiseas anois, na Ceannteidil den mBille a chríochnú agus ansin obair na ndréachtóirí parlaiminte. An mbeidh an tAire Stáit in ann insint dúinn cathain a mbeidh na Ceannteidil réitithe agus an bhfuil sé i gceist iad a fhoilsiú? Beidh sé an-dúshlánach ar fad é a bheith déanta roimh an Nollaig mar níl an oiread sin smacht ag an Aire Stáit ar an ndréachtóir. Bheadh sé an-úsáideach fios a bheith againn cathain a bheidh na Ceannteidil foilsithe.

Tá obair déanta ar thrí cinn de na Ceannteidil le déanaí agus tá siad seolta chuig Oifig an Ard-Aighne so tá siad ag obair ar na Ceannteidil sin faoi láthair ó thaobh seirbhísí sa chúirt agus rudaí mar sin. Tá an obair sin ag dul ar aghaidh anois ag an dréachtóir. Níl mé in ann a rá go díreach cén uair go díreach a bheidh na Ceannteidil go léir críochnaithe nó cén uair a bheidh an céad dréacht den mBille ann ach má tá an t-eolas sin agam go luath, beidh mé in ann é a chur in iúl don Dáil.

Ó thaobh an sceidil atá san Acht faoi láthair ó thaobh na comhlachtaí poiblí a thagann faoi scáth an Achta, ní dhearnadh aon uasdátú ar an sceideal sin ó 2006 agus tá athrú mór tagtha ó shin ar ndóigh ar líon agus nádúr na gcomhlachtaí poiblí atá ag feidhmiú sa lá atá inniu ann. Caithfimid dul i ngleic leis seo. Tá oifigigh mo Roinne tar éis dul i gcomhairle le comhleacaithe sna Ranna Stáit eile ar mhaithe le sceideal nuashonraithe a dhréachtú. Tá dul chun cinn suntasach déanta leis an obair seo le cúpla mí anuas agus tá siad ag súil go mbeidh siad in ann an sceideal nua den Acht a fhoilsiú gan moill.

Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil an Roinn faoi bhrú ach níl i gceist anseo ach Bille a chur síos ar chearta atá thar a bheith bunúsach. Glacann an tAire Stáit leis sin agus nach bhfuilimid ag lorg an iomarca. Bhíomar thar a bheith cúramach agus an t-aon rud a bhí ag teastáil uainn ná go mbeadh an Bille soiléir agus go mbeadh spriocdátaí ann comh maith. Is é sin an t-easnamh is mó a chonaiceamar. Tá mé thar a bheith buartha anois go bhfuil na spriocdátaí ag sleamhnú tharainn an t-am uilig ón am roimh an samhradh, go dtí tar éis an tsamhraidh go roimh an Nollaig agus anois tá an Teachta Ó Cuív ag rá go bhfuil sé ró-uaillmhianach a bheith ag caint faoin mBille a bheith foilsithe roimh an Nollaig.

Ní féidir glacadh leis sin. Tá gá le Bille na dTeangacha Oifigiúla (Leasú) anois. Táimid ag fanacht leis na blianta. Tuigim go m'bfhéidir go bhfuil deacrachtaí ó thaobh fóirne de agus nílim ag iarraidh tuilleadh brú a chur ar aon duine ach tá gá leis an mBille agus ní féidir glacadh le tuilleadh moille, go háirithe nuair a táimid ag caint faoi chearta bhunúsacha.

Beidh ceist deireanach ón Teachta Aindrias Moynihan agus ansin bogfaimid ar aghaidh chuig an Teachta Clare Daly.

Teastaíonn uainn go mbeadh an Bille seo-----

I am sorry I have to go back to the committee-----

We are not moving on. Deputy Ó Cuív has given a supplementary question to Deputy Aindrias Moynihan under Standing Orders. We will be ready in one minute.

I am sorry but the witnesses are at the committee-----

We will facilitate the Deputy when she comes back.

That would be great.

I am sorry about that.

Teastaíonn uainn go mbeadh an Bille seo ag brú chun cinn chomh tapaidh agus is féidir. Mar atá ráite, tá an coiste tar éis é a phlé agus anois tá sé leis an Aire Stáit. Tuigim go bhfuil an foireann ag obair air faoi láthair. Nuair a cuireadh ceist ar an Aire Stáit mar gheall air an seachtain seo caite, bhí sé ag rá go mbeadh sé ag súil leis thart ar an Nollaig. An é anois go bhfuil an t-am sin ag sleamhnú? Cén fáth atá leis sin? Cad atá tar éis athrú ón tseachtain seo caite?

An bhfuil an tAire Stáit tar éis measúnú a dhéanamh ar cé chomh mór is atá an t-ualach atá le déanamh agus má tá, an bhfuil an t-am ann? Cad iad na constaicí atá roimh an Aire Stáit nó cad atá ag cur moill air? An é go bhfuil easpa foirne ann agus cad atá an tAire Stáit ag déanamh mar gheall air sin chun é a bhrostú ar aghaidh?

Mar a dúirt mé, tá daoine a bhí ag obair agus ag plé leis an gceist seo amach tinn le tamall. Tarlaíonn na rudaí sin. Tá an stiúrthóir Gaeilge ag obair air faoi láthair. Táimid fós dóchasach go mbeimid in ann é a fhoilsiú roimh an Nollaig.

Dá ndéanfadh sé aon difríocht, bheadh mé sásta cruinniú sciobtha a eagrú leis an Teachta agus le Sinn Féin agus páirtithe eile chun é seo a phlé an tseachtain seo chugainn. Bheadh Teachtaí in ann é a phlé le stiúrthóir na Gaeilge. Táimid ag déanamh chuile rud. Táimid fós dóchasach go mbeimid in ann é a fhoilsiú roimh dheireadh na bliana. Nílimid ag cur aon mhoill air. Cé go bhfuil na ceannteidil foilsithe le tamall, tá chuile Bhille casta. Táimid ag obair air. Nílimid ag cur aon mhoill ar an Bhille seo. Tá sé ráite agam ag an Oireachtas coicís ó shin go gcaithfimid brú a choimeád orainn féin laistigh den Roinn Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta agus laistigh d'Oifig an Ard-Aighne. Tá sé ar bharr mo liosta é a bhrú ar aghaidh agus a fhoilsiú.