Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions

Urban Development

Joan Burton

Question:

24. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she has held discussions with Dublin City Council regarding the renovation of a number of historic markets in Dublin such as the Iveagh Market on Francis Street; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45454/19]

This question relates to the historic markets in Dublin city. I am asking specifically about the Iveagh Market and the Moore Street market. The Minister has indicated previously that she has had some discussions on Moore Street with Dublin City Council. It would be a gross understatement to say that both Moore Street and the Iveagh Market are in a sorry state. They are in a vicious circle of decline. The buildings are dilapidated. Like other Deputies, I have been a member of the Moore Street advisory committee. I would like to know what level of progress is being made to give life back to Moore Street and to the Iveagh Market.

My role with regard to the protection and management of our architectural heritage is set out in the provisions of relevant legislation, as are the roles of local authorities and the responsibilities of owners.

Part IV of the Planning and Development Act gives the planning authorities primary responsibility for identifying and protecting architectural heritage by including particular structures on their records of protected structures. Inclusion on a record of protected structures places a duty of care on the owners and occupiers of protected structures and gives planning authorities the power to deal with development proposals affecting such structures and to seek to safeguard their future.

The Iveagh Market is a protected structure in the ownership of Dublin City Council. It is currently on lease from the council to a private developer. Therefore, the matter is primarily one between those two parties. As the owner of the Iveagh Market, the local authority has a duty under legislation to ensure the structure does not become endangered. My role with regard to protected structures is mainly advisory. However, officials from my Department have contacted Dublin City Council to ascertain its plans. They remain available to advise in any manner as required. Dublin City Council has informed the Department that it is actively pursuing the most efficient means available to it to ensure the Iveagh Market building is refurbished and returned to beneficial use. My Department has not discussed the renovation of any other historic market building with Dublin City Council.

The Department also provides financial support for the protection of heritage buildings and historic structures through the historic structures fund and the built heritage investment scheme, which are administered by local authorities. I announced funding of €4.3 million for 478 projects under these schemes in March but I understand, however, that the scale of investment needed for the structure mentioned would mean that the levels of grant funding available under those schemes would not be sufficient.

My officials will remain in contact with Dublin City Council about the Iveagh Market.

I asked if the Minister has held discussions about renovating a number of historic markets in Dublin such as the Iveagh Market. The Iveagh Market was just a particular example because its dilapidation is extreme.

The Minister is from Dublin and has responsibility for culture. There is an enormous opportunity for her to step in and play a vital role in saving the Iveagh Market which is in serious danger of permanent destruction given its dilapidation. I do not know if she has taken the opportunity to visit the market on Francis Street. That area is heavily patronised by tourists although, unfortunately, the theatre opposite the market was recently knocked down to make way for a hotel. I ask the Minister, given that she is from Dublin and has a knowledge of the city, to step in. She should use the great power that she has for a period of years to do something to save two really important features of Dublin.

What progress has been made on Moore Street? I thought the Minister was to take some additional initiatives.

I thank the Deputy for her comments. The Iveagh Market is not a matter for our Department, plain and simple. That is a matter for Dublin City Council and it is through the council that the Deputy or her colleagues should pursue the matter.

The cost of refurbishment, renovation and restoration is exacerbated, as the Deputy said, through the years of inaction from the council and the lessee. It is not fair to shift the burden of that neglect onto the taxpayer. Dublin City Council commissioned a report on the condition of the building earlier this year that estimated the cost of restoration at €30 million. That cost was what the report commissioned by the city council came up with. We did not commission the report because it is not our business to do so. It is a matter, in the first instance, for the council. The cost is in the public realm and is equivalent to the entire annual budget for the National Parks and Wildlife Service and three times our annual built heritage budget. This needs to be put into perspective because the solution is not to drop every poorly kept building in public ownership at the door of the Department. The city council has to step up because it is the owner.

I find the Minister's attitude quite extraordinary. I do not know if she has ever been to Francis Street, the Liberties or the Coombe, but the Iveagh Market is an extraordinary feature of the area. It is a famous and historical building. Not only is the word "culture" in the Minister's title but "heritage" is too. This is sad to hear from a Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. This Government can spend millions and millions of euro on messaging and yet can allow an amazing building such as the Iveagh Market, which in other cities would be a vibrant market area drawing tourists and providing jobs for artisan producers, artists and the local community, fall into ruin. The Minister is missing an enormous opportunity, maybe through a lack of imagination.

I would like to know what are the next steps for Moore Street. Is Moore Street just being handed over to Dublin City Council? I would be sad if that was the case because the Government of which I was a member bought and secured the purchase of the houses in Moore Street where the ceasefire was signed in 1916 and the Minister knows there has been considerable discussion and significant work done by people across the House on this issue.

The Iveagh Market is in my constituency, is part of the built heritage and is housed in a gorgeous building that has been allowed to go into a state of severe dilapidation and dereliction over the years. The years of inaction is not because of Dublin City Council but because the council, foolishly in some ways, gave a lease to a developer who has sat on it and caused the dilapidation in recent years.

The Minister received a progress report from the Moore Street advisory group at the end of July or early August and there were a number of recommendations in that. I hope she will let us know what progress has been made in acting on those proposals.

We all admire the English Market in Cork. I disagree with my colleague because I think Dublin City Council has a huge responsibility for not developing the Iveagh Market. It has been another failure of responsibility from the management of Dublin City Council over the years, along with the Government.

We have received the recommendations about Moore Street and I know the Moore Street advisory group is of the view that there is an urgency to securing the national monuments at Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street. The advisory group has confirmed its support for the Office of Public Works in carrying out this process as soon as possible and opening up the houses to limited tours not later than summer 2021. We are looking at the recommendations and will be doing everything to support the expert advisory group on that.

I know the area around the Iveagh Market well. I know the Coombe because both my sons work in the Coombe Hospital. I have made it clear that my role is only advisory on this matter and, ultimately, I know that there are discussions and telephone contact, at least, occurring between the Department and Dublin City Council in order to try and assist the council with the Iveagh Market. The council is looking at its options and has committed to keeping the Department informed of its discussions with the developer who holds the lease whom Deputy Ó Snodaigh mentioned. I agree with Deputy Broughan that it is a matter for the council. The developer was advised by Dublin City Council that the estimated cost would be in the region of €30 million, as I mentioned already, and the entire project has been estimated at approximately €30 million. The council is awaiting the developer's comments on the projected financial cost of the project before it takes final action.

National Biodiversity Plan

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

25. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the measures she is taking to protect the Dublin Bay biosphere in the coastline of Fingal County Council, Dublin City Council and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. [45358/19]

It is nearly 40 years since the North Bull Island was designated as a UNESCO biosphere and, in the past five years, the whole of Dublin Bay from Dalkey through Booterstown Marsh and to Howth and Baldoyle Bay has been designated as a UNESCO biosphere. I previously asked the Minister about the resources that our National Parks and Wildlife Service has to protect the bay and coastline of Dublin through the three local authorities. The area is more threatened than ever, so what is she going to do to protect it?

The Dublin Bay biosphere encompasses over 300 km2 of marine and terrestrial habitat and is managed by the Dublin Bay biosphere partnership, which is led by the three relevant local authorities, Dublin City Council, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and Fingal County Council. The partnership also involves other key stakeholders such as the Dublin Port Company and representatives from Fáilte Ireland and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The partnership works with community groups, non-governmental organisations, NGOs, businesses, universities and schools. Over 300,000 people live within the newly enlarged biosphere area.

Biospheres are internationally recognised for their natural resources and biodiversity, where nature and human activities connect. They are actively managed to promote a balanced relationship between people and nature through conservation on the one hand and sustainable economic development and human activity on the other hand.

Another important goal of biospheres is promoting research and learning. Biosphere status is a designation granted by UNESCO, as part of its man and biosphere programme, launched in 1971, where it has been established that there is a co-ordinated approach to the conservation of habitats, species and landscapes through monitoring change and supporting research which fosters the potential for human activity and development.

Areas are awarded biosphere reserve status by UNESCO and are managed in partnership by communities, NGOs and local and national governments. It should be noted, however, that there are no specific additional planning burdens or conservation requirements associated with biosphere status. In most cases, as with Ireland's two biospheres, in Kerry and Dublin Bay, the areas are designated as special areas of conservation, SACs, or special protection areas, SPAs, and, accordingly, are already afforded statutory protections. Development within biospheres is subject to the existing comprehensive legislative and policy planning framework implemented by all levels of government.

The management of the Dublin Bay biosphere is led by the three local authorities. While my Department is not the anchor component of the biosphere, it has nevertheless provided significant additional and expert support through the auspices of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, NPWS, and it also provides small amounts of project funding from time to time. Approximately €30,000 has been provided in the past two years.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

The biosphere is part of the European Union's Natura 2000 network of protected sites in accordance with the birds and habitats directives. As such, Dublin Bay biosphere is protected under the national legislation implementing these directives - the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 and the wildlife Acts. The NPWS investigates on an ongoing basis breaches of the regulations and the wildlife Acts and undertakes visits to Natura 2000 sites, as required.

The EuroMAB 2019 conference was hosted by Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership, with assistance from my Department, between Tuesday, 2 April and Friday, 5 April. This four-day biennial conference for stakeholders from 302 UNESCO biospheres in 36 countries across Europe and North America welcomed practitioners, managers, policymakers, researchers, educators, ecologists, scientists, social entrepreneurs, creatives and community leaders. Ireland sits on the steering group of the man and the biosphere programme and is represented by Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership.

Through its ten-year capital plan for investment, Investing in Our Culture, Language and Heritage 2018—2027, my Department has committed to safeguarding our unique natural heritage and biodiversity and ensuring a sustainable future. We intend to celebrate and highlight Ireland's remarkable heritage on the international stage through investment in the management of our UNESCO biosphere reserves.

The Minister identified the weaknesses of the biosphere structure in that she said there is no protective legislation in place. There is almost no funding. She said on the previous occasion I questioned her about this that something like €30,000 was available to protect the Dublin Bay biosphere. We have only two biospheres, in Kerry and Dublin, but there is a tiny amount of money. As the Minister admitted, her Department is not an anchor organisation for the management of the biosphere, which is extraordinary.

Dublin Bay biosphere was never more threatened. There have been overspills from the Ringsend plant time and again. Wastewater has been released into the biosphere. There have been cases of raw sewage being released into the biosphere up and down the coast. In a few days, we expect a decision from An Bord Pleanála on a second major wastewater treatment plant in the Dublin region. Incredibly, Irish Water proposes that the wastewater should go out through Baldoyle Bay, affecting Velvet Strand in Portmarnock. There is intense opposition to this in my constituency. Surely the Department has to get more involved. It is not acceptable to have funding of only €30,000 and no legislation.

As I said, the biospheres already have statutory protection but I understand the Deputy's concerns, particularly regarding the Ringsend waste treatment facility. The latter is operated by Irish Water, as the Deputy knows. The discharge into Dublin Bay is regulated by licence from the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA. Any matters related to the regulated discharge, therefore, should be directed to the agency.

The NPWS does, and will continue to, investigate breaches of EU regulations and the wildlife Acts and, therefore, there is statutory protection. The NPWS undertakes to visit Natura 2000 sites as required and within the resources available to it. It is important to note, however, that biosphere is not an environmental designation. The environmental protections afforded to biospheres are determined by their status as Natura sites. I mentioned that many of them are designated as SACs or SPAs in the first instance. They are internationally recognised for their natural resources and biodiversity and are therefore important but no specific additional planning burdens or conservation requirements are associated with biosphere status.

The biosphere partnerships have the biosphere conservation research strategy, which I believe was headed by UCD. A project called Acclimatize was funded by INTERREG to assess the environmental pressures on the bay. When will the report be available? There was to be a meeting just last month between Irish Water, the EPA, HSE and the three local authorities to discuss the pressures on the bay. Is the Minister aware of the outcome of that?

Other major pressures will be exerted in the near future. There is a constant campaign by wind turbine manufacturers to promote the Dublin Array. We have heard about a project costing €1.5 billion whereby developers of wind energy facilities want to site more than 100 large turbines on the Kish and Bray banks. Those concerned have been pressurising the Government, including the Taoiseach, Deputy Varadkar, to bring forward the foreshore licensing so they may do this. The bay is, therefore, under enormous pressure. Surely, the Department should have a core role in protecting it.

We have a core role in terms of the protections in existence but Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership is the management group responsible for the Dublin Bay biosphere. Areas are rewarded biosphere reserve status by UNESCO and are managed in partnership by communities, NGOs and local and national governments. The partnership is led by the three relevant local authorities, namely, Dublin City Council, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and Fingal County Council. It also involves other key stakeholders, such as Dublin Port Company.

Ireland has two biospheres. The one in Dublin Bay is managed by Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership, which comprises the three local authorities. The NPWS does not own any part of the area making up the Dublin Bay biosphere. The Kerry biosphere is managed by Kerry County Council. In this case, the NPWS has an input because Killarney National Park forms a significant part of the core area. It is more than 300 sq. km. The main areas of the Dublin Bay biosphere are North Bull Island, Howth Head, Killiney Hill, the Tolka and Baldoyle estuaries, Booterstown Marsh and Dalkey Island.

Heritage Promotion

Martin Heydon

Question:

26. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the additional funding available for heritage measures under budget 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45568/19]

The funding of heritage is a key part of budget 2020. Can the Minister outline for us the additional funding available for heritage measures that came about in the budget? How might it have an impact on various heritage projects and schemes that fall under her remit in the coming year?

Over the past year, I have listened carefully to the extensive public debate on biodiversity loss and the threats to nature. The very first National Biodiversity Conference, which I hosted this year, the development of the Seeds for Nature initiative, the wide-ranging public debate on the Heritage Ireland 2030 plan and the extensive engagement across government on climate action were instrumental in my securing significant additional resources for this important part of my remit for 2020. I acknowledge this is a concern of the Deputy. In this context, I have secured total funding for our built and natural heritage sector in 2020 of €62.5 million, which is up from €54 million last year. This represents an increase for 2020 of more than €8 million, or 15.5% on 2019, comprising an additional capital provision of €6.75 million, representing an increase of 44%, and additional current funding of €1.46 million.

I have also secured an additional €1 million to accelerate key nature conservation biodiversity programmes under the NPWS to include the recruitment of front-line conservation specialists. I will also enhance the farm plan programme by doubling the fund available to €1 million to support measures to protect biodiversity and assist farmers with lands designated as SACs in their role as custodians of nature.

I thank the Minister for her response. Biodiversity is key. When we talk about just transition and the challenges we face regarding climate action, we realise peatlands restoration is a key component. What role, if any, will the Department play through the NPWS? The Minister mentioned 100 jobs. I deal regularly with workers in Bord na Móna, many of whom are from my constituency. Many want to be retrained and to have new opportunities. Will there be opportunities for just transition for existing Bord na Móna workers whose jobs will not exist in the long term?

Is there a possibility for them to be directly employed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service or for the latter to give that work directly to Bord na Móna? I presume there is a tendering process for that. If the Minister could provide any information on that, it would be helpful.

The Minister spoke about biodiversity measures. I wish to raise the issue of invasive species. Are steps being taken to address very serious issues such as those relating to Japanese knotweed? What progress has been made on the built heritage investment scheme and the historic structures fund? I presume there will be a new round of funding this year as a result of the budget allocation for the Department.

I thank the Deputy. Regarding bog rehabilitation and restoration, I will be working closely with Deputy Bruton on the issue of the Bord na Móna workers. Some 100 jobs will be created. This issue has prompted the biggest increase in funding that the heritage side of my Department has had for many years, an increase of 15.5%. Some €5 million of that will come from the carbon fund and will specifically tackle peatlands and bogs in the midlands. That will be significant.

We are putting significant funding towards the issue of invasive species, on which Deputy Burton has also tabled a question. Invasive species that originate in other countries are a scourge from both a national and an international perspective. We are doing our best to tackle each and every one of these species, some with management plans and some in other ways. I can discus that later when I reply to Deputy Burton's question. I will talk about the built heritage investment scheme in my next reply.

I thank the Minister. The built heritage investment scheme and the historic structure fund have been of great benefit to organisations in Kildare, and it would be great to see that again. The Minister knows the importance of heritage, both the need to protect and maintain it for future generations and its huge tourism potential. We have received very positive news from the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Deputy Ring, of an allocation of more than €5 million, with €67,941 allocated to the Barrow blueway project. In that context, I thank the Minister, Deputy Madigan, for the work she and the officials in Waterways Ireland have done. She very kindly gave up her time last August to come to a very well-attended public meeting of over 200 people in Monasterevin. Officials like Mr. John Boyle at Waterways Ireland deserve special mention for the huge amount of work they put into a really good application. The full amount that was applied for by Waterways Ireland and Kildare County Council has been allocated, through the rural regeneration and development fund and Project Ireland 2040, to make the 46 km dream that we in south Kildare have had a reality. The blueway will include Athy, Monasterevin, Rathangan, Roberstown and a significant part of Laois. I thank the Minister and her officials for the part they played in that regard. This is how the funding of heritage and other projects in rural Ireland through rural regeneration funding should work. It will support those communities' futures from economic and heritage perspectives.

I am delighted to hear about the blueway. It is really important to the constituency Deputy Heydon represents. Jobs will be created in the detailed design and construction stages. As the Deputy says, increased tourism will bring economic benefits to the area through direct and indirect visitor spending. That is the bottom line. Apart from the monetary benefits, there will also be benefits for new businesses and the vacant and disused properties along the waterways.

The Deputy also mentioned the built heritage investment scheme and the historic structures fund. I note that in Kildare the Sean Chill and the Grattan Vault in Celbridge, the Mill Cottage in Sallins, the graveyard and church in Johnstown and the Church of the Holy Saviour in Narraghmore all received funding this year, along with Ard na Gréine in Sallins, St. Michael's Church in Athy and Pebble Hill House in Maynooth. The Newbridge clock tower received €25,000 under the historic structures investment fund.

Artists' Remuneration

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

27. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the measures she is planning to take to combat employment and income insecurity across the arts sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45502/19]

Willie Penrose

Question:

29. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if her attention has been drawn to research by an organisation (details supplied) into pay and conditions for performing artists that showed that a third earn less than the minimum wage and that working in the performing arts is characterised by poor conditions and precarious employment; her plans to address same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45457/19]

Earlier this year, the Theatre Forum outlined the widespread poverty and lack of income and employment security among artists and people working in the arts. Prior to the budget, the National Campaign for the Arts pleaded with the Minister to honour the Taoiseach's commitment to double arts spending, which has merely crept upwards. The most recent budget saw a very marginal increase in arts funding which will do nothing to address the widespread poverty and income and employment insecurity facing artists and people working in the arts. I have repeatedly pointed out to the Minister that film crew in this country enjoy absolutely no income or employment security. Why was the budget so poor in this regard and what is the Minister going to do to address this issue?

I thank the Deputy. One of these questions was tabled by Deputy Penrose, who is not here. His question is linked to that of Deputy Boyd Barrett.

Are two questions being taken?

Deputy Burton will have an opportunity to ask a supplementary question. Only one Deputy can pose the introductory question.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 27 and 29 together.

 I am aware of the research Deputy Boyd Barrett has raised. Since becoming Minister, I have put in place a number of initiatives and additional supports for the arts that will make a significant difference over time to the income of people working in the performing arts.

Total funding for the arts and culture sector in 2020 will increase by more than 2%, from €189 million to almost €193 million, an increase of €4 million.  This funding will comprise €153 million in current expenditure and €39.7 million in capital investment.

The Deputy mentioned the Arts Council of Ireland, through which primary support for the arts is delivered. Its funding has increased in recent years and will reach €80 million in 2020.  This is an increase of €5 million, or 6.7%, on the figure for 2019.  The Arts Council of Ireland, which is independent in its funding decisions under the Arts Act 2003, operates within a published ten-year strategic framework entitled Making Great Art Work. This strategy prioritises support for artists throughout their careers by the involvement of many agencies in cultural provision, the impact of the arts on the creative economy and the depth and breadth of people's engagement with the arts.

The cumulative impact of these funding increases is further testament to the commitment to double Government spending in the arts, culture and heritage sector by 2025, which the Deputy mentioned.  In this context I am already delivering additional supports to the arts and culture sector, building on the €1.2 billion earmarked for my sector under Project Ireland 2040 and thus leading to increased activity and employment across all sectors under the remit of my Department.  

In July of this year I announced the completion of a review of the Per Cent for Art scheme.  The outcome of this review led to changes to the scheme’s bands and limits which will make significantly increased funding available to the creative community.  Many artists have already received high-profile commissions for public art works as a result of this scheme and these increases will ensure many more will also benefit. The new limits and bands will apply from 1 January 2020. Details can be found on my Department's website.

I am re-establishing an interagency group to improve information-gathering and the collation and sharing of best practice within Per Cent for Art schemes.  This group will also be linked to the Arts Council of Ireland and will seek to enhance the council's existing advisory role in the scheme.

Artists deserve our full support and have my full support, particularly given the significant income challenges they face. With regards to artists' pay and conditions I would like to draw the attention of the House to the recent announcement by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Deputy Regina Doherty, and myself of the extension of the social welfare scheme for self-employed artists on jobseeker's allowance on a permanent basis to other self-employed professional artists such as those working in theatre and music. This scheme recognises the unique creative circumstances of professional artists in receipt of jobseeker's allowance and gives them special assistance in their first year out of work, allowing them to focus on their creative output.

In addition, my Department has also worked to address conditions and employment rights in the performing arts and screen industry in conjunction with the relevant agencies under its remit. Central to this are the Arts Council of Ireland's policies on the remuneration of artists, which strive to ensure that organisations in receipt of council funding offer fair and equitable remuneration to artists.

In tandem with securing additional funding, my Department has also worked to address conditions and employment rights in the performing arts and screen industry in conjunction with the relevant agencies under its remit.

My Department has also worked to address conditions and employment rights in the performing arts and screen industry in conjunction with the relevant agencies under its remit.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

It is important to note that employees in every industry, including those working in the arts and film sectors, are entitled to all existing legal protections, which includes new legislation under the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 to improve the security and predictability of working hours for employees on insecure contracts and those working variable hours.

The House may also be aware that the Workplace Relations Commission is undertaking an audit of the independent film and television drama production sector with a view to examining industrial relations generally.

The Government will continue to give consideration to measures to further deliver on its commitments but will balance supports to ensure that they are felt across the sector.

We need to realise that we are in a bad situation. It is against a background where this country's international reputation rests to a large extent on the reputation of our artists, musicians, writers, actors, theatre producers and so on. Despite this, we spend a miserable 0.1% of GDP, the lowest in Europe, on the arts. The Minister provided a miserable €5 million increase in the arts budget recently. The consequence for artists is that 80% of them are in precarious jobs and 60% earn less than the average industrial wage. On average, workers in the sector earn less money and work fewer hours than others and the average wage is something like two thirds of the national average. We treat artists and workers in the arts with contempt. I do not see how the miserable increase in funding in the budget will do anything to address that.

I call Deputy Burton on the same matter.

I know the Minister was a novelist in the past. Were Sean O’Casey writing about the likes of the Young Covey today, the characters would be struggling artists because they are the people at the bottom of the heap, struggling on less than the minimum wage. The data are available for the Minister. Artists should not have to look for a minimum wage; they should be looking to have a living wage. The second reason O'Casey would be writing about people still being in tenement style accommodation is that the artists we recently met at the forum our colleague, Deputy Smyth, helped to organise basically cannot look forward to any security with regard to housing. Some artists now spend approximately 80% of a very small income on housing. The Minister has responsibility for culture, heritage and the Gaeltacht. It is sad that we are talking about a social welfare scheme for artists. The Minister should address the issue of artists' employment and not just pass it on to social welfare, which is administered by a different Department for a different purpose.

I have to take the reply. There will be a chance for a supplementary question.

Can I just finish on this?

I have had a bad day.

Of the €5 million given to the Arts Council, €3.75 million was a reallocation-----

There are other Members here.

-----so the real increase is €1.25 million.

I remind both Deputies of the Arts Council's press release on the budget. Deputy Boyd Barrett said the increase was a miserable one. The Arts Council stated that it welcomes the increase of €5 million. The Taoiseach has committed to doubling funding for the arts by 2025. We still intend to do that and we are on a trajectory to achieve it but we are all aware that this was not a normal budget in normal circumstances. Under those circumstances, the Arts Council has accepted that and it is best placed to discuss the matter. I am satisfied that the €80 million we secured this year, the highest level of funding in over a decade, was positive rather than negative. We should not try to mislead people in that regard.

Deputy Boyd Barrett mentioned our international reputation and I agree with him wholeheartedly. Our artists speak volumes about our global reputation. I wrote a novel and understand how difficult it is for people to earn a living. I could not have given up my job to write books. I am acutely aware of that but it is facetious to say that a social welfare scheme does not assist people because it does.

Four years after the Taoiseach made his commitment, funding for the arts has increased by 15% or 16% but it still stands at 0.1% of GDP. We are nowhere near being on a trajectory to double arts funding. In People Before Profit's budget submission for the past three or four years, we proposed doubling the arts budget, which would have enormous benefits for this country economically and socially as well as for artists. What else would the Arts Council say given that it is dependent on funding from the Minister? It will not say anything too loudly against her. The National Campaign for the Arts expressed considerable disappointment at the increase in funding.

I have repeatedly raised the issue of film crews. We need to do something about the fact that €80 million goes into film every year and nobody in the sector has any security because of the designated activity company, DAC, structure through which the money is filtered. Something needs to be done to address that and to give income and employment security to film crew. More generally, we need to look after our artists.

As Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, we expect the Minister to fight for artists who are genuinely struggling to cope with low pay, poor terms and conditions and sporadic work. In particular, they are struggling to rent spaces in which to carry out rehearsals and other artistic work. They are also struggling to hold on to art spaces and access rent at a reasonable rate. Artists are the backbone of the artistic concept of Ireland and the Minister is neither here nor there. The working artists make Ireland a country with a calling card and reputation which is so positive with regard to the arts. Why can the Minister not champion a living wage and affordable housing for artists? I would think that is absolutely within the remit of any Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The Minister has spoken a number of times today about the Arts Council being happy with its budget. In an interview on the day of the budget, the new chairman of the Arts Council, Professor Kevin Rafter, expressed the hope that funding for the arts would increase by 10%. He must have been bitterly disappointed. Research carried out earlier this year by Theatre Forum, members of which attended a meeting in Leinster House recently, on pay and conditions for performing artists showed that one third of artists earn less than the minimum wage, and that working in the performing arts is characterised by poor working conditions and precarious employment. People in the sector have no healthcare, job security, childcare, maternity leave or pension. The Minister has to do something for them.

I did not say the Arts Council was happy with the increase but rather that it welcomed it-----

That is the same thing.

-----under the difficult circumstances of this budget. On the report that was cited, it should be noted that the category in question is much wider than just the arts sector. It also includes gambling and betting activities, as well as sports, amusements and recreation. I commend Deputy Boyd Barrett for creating a policy initiative in the first instance because the Labour Party and Deputy Burton have not yet produced any form of a policy document.

Excuse me, I produced a major policy document.

I did not interrupt Deputy Burton.

The Minister has not read her brief. That is her problem. We will send it in the post to her.

I will answer the Deputy's questions on the national minimum wage. Thus far, the Low Pay Commission's recommendations have been accepted by the Government, with the result that the national minimum wage increased from €8.65 to €9.90 per hour between January 2016 and January 2019. The legislation relating to the setting of the national minimum wage has been in place since 2000. I take the Deputies' comments on board. Since I became Minister, I have increased the capital and current funding for arts at a difficult time. That has to be acknowledged. We have to give more funding to the Arts Council and bring other measures such as the percent for art and social welfare schemes into the mix in policy formation. Artists have a difficult job to do and should be encouraged and supported in any way possible.

Na hOileáin amach ón gCósta

Catherine Connolly

Question:

28. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Catherine Connolly den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta maidir le Ceist Parlaiminte Uimhir 231 ar an 18ú Mean Fomhair 2019, soiléiriú a thabhairt maidir leis an gCoiste Idir-Rannach do na hOileáin, go háirithe o thaobh na dtéarmaí tagartha, na mball den choiste agus an phlean oibre; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [45412/19]

Maidir leis an gcoiste idir-rannach ó thaobh na n-oileán de, an féidir leis an Aire Stáit soiléiriú a thabhairt maidir leis na téarmaí tagartha, ballraíocht an choiste agus an clár oibre?

Tá sé mar chuspóir lárnach agam, agus ag mo Roinn, go leanfaidh pobail bhríomhara, inmharthana ag cur fúthu ar na hoileáin. Ag eascairt as Tuarascáil an Choiste Idir-Ranna deiridh a foilsíodh i 1996, tugadh tús áite do bhonneagar oileáin a fhorbairt agus seirbhísí iompair a fhóirdheonú. Is obair thábhachtach leanúnach í seo agus tá go leo bainte amach ó 1996 i leith.

Tá dúshláin fós le sárú, áfach, agus chun aghaidh a thabhairt orthu seo tá mo Roinn agus ár gcomhghleacaithe sna Ranna Stáit eile ag tabhairt faoi pholasaí nua tras-Rialtais do na hoileáin a fhorbairt.

Bunaíodh Coiste Idir Rannach le tabhairt faoin obair seo agus tionóladh an chéad chruinniú, ar a raibh mé fhéin mar Chathaoirleach, ar an 24 Meán Fómhair 2019. Cruinniú an-dearfach a bhí ann. Pléadh téarmaí tagartha an choiste agus tá súil ann iad seo a aontú go foirmeálta ag an chéad chruinniú eile, a thionólfar an tseachtain seo chugainn.

Faoi láthair tá ballraíocht an choiste comhdhéanta do na Ranna Stáit seo a leanas: an Roinn Cosanta; An Roinn Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta; an Roinn Cumarsáide, Gníomhaithe ar son na hAeráide agus Comhshaoil; an Roinn Dlí agus Cirt agus Comhionannais; an Roinn Forbartha Tuaithe agus Pobail; an Roinn Gnó, Fiontar agus Nuálaíochta; an Roinn Gnóthaí Fostaíochta agus Coimirce Sóisialaí; an Roinn Iompair, Turasóireachta agus Spóirt; an Roinn Leanaí agus Gnóthaí Óige; an Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna; an Roinn Sláinte; an Roinn Talmhaíochta, Bia agus Mara; agus an Roinn Tithíochta, Pleanála agus Rialtais Áitiúil.

Tá plépháipéar á dhréachtú ag mo Roinn i gcomhar leis na páirtithe leasmhara a chuimseoidh polasaithe agus seirbhísí reatha na Ranna agus forais Stáit éagsúla, chomh maith leis na réimsí éagsúla a bheidh faoi chaibidil sa chomhairliúchán poiblí.

Agus an plépháipéar a bheith foilsithe, tosófar ansin ar phróiseas cuimsitheach comhairliúcháin le pobail na n-oileán agus le geallsealbhóirí eile. Tá tréimhse shé mhí leagtha síos ag an gcoiste chun an chuid seo den phróiseas a chur i gcrích agus beidh oifigigh shinsearacha mo Roinne ag tabhairt cuairte ar na hoileáin le linn na tréimhse sin agus ag reáchtáil cruinnithe phoiblí iontu. Beidh deis ag daoine achainí scríofa a sholáthar freisin. Beidh sé seo uile sa bhreis, dár ndóigh, ar shraith chruinnithe a thionólfar le comhlachtaí forbartha agus comharchumann ar na hoileáin chomh maith le Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann.