Gabhaim buíochas leis an gCathaoirleach agus leis an gcomhchoiste as an deis a theacht i láthair ag an seisiún seo de chuid an chomhchoiste chun obair na Roinne a phlé i ndáil leis an Ráiteas Straitéise 2018 to 2020 agus le cur i bhfeidhm an chláir infheistíochta faoi Thionscadal Éireann 2040 - lnfheistíocht in ár gCultúr, in ár dTeango agus in ár nOidhreacht. I am grateful to have the opportunity to attend this session of the joint committee to discuss the Department’s work on its statement of strategy and in the implementation its investment programme under Project Ireland 2040 - Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage. I look forward to the discussion with and hearing the views of committee members.
I am accompanied by Mr. Conor Falvey, the assistant secretary with responsibility for our culture programme which encompasses culture policy, oversight of the national cultural institutions, Culture Ireland, the Creative Ireland programme, the audio-visual action plan, among other areas. Mr. Niall Ó Donnchú is the assistant secretary with responsibility for the heritage division which has responsibility for the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the National Monuments Service, the Heritage Council, national parks and nature reserves, as well as supporting all aspects of the built and natural heritage. Representing the Gaeltacht and island communities, as well as promoting the use of the Irish language outside the Gaeltacht, are Mícheál Ó Conaire, priomhoifigeach, an Ghaeilge taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht; Sorcha de Brúch, priomhoifigeach, Oileáin, An Foras Teanga agus Logainmneacha; and Seán Mac Eoin, priomhoifigeach, Gaeltacht agus Pleanáil Teanga.
The Department plays a key role in protecting, preserving and promoting Ireland’s culture, language, built and archaeological heritage, as well as its biodiversity and unique landscapes. It encompasses a wide range of functions from support for the arts and culture, conservation and safeguarding our biodiversity to supporting sustainable communities. Its remit also extends to Ireland’s global identity and national well-being, as well as fostering enterprise and tourism development. The work of the Department speaks directly to our understanding of ourselves and our national identity. It anchors us in our past, through the safeguarding of our cultural, built and archaeological heritage; gives context to our present, through the Department’s decade of centenaries programme; and sets out the values we want to protect in our future, through the national heritage plan - Heritage 2030, among others, to include the 20-year strategy for the Irish language. The Department is also a key driver of well-being across government, through opportunities to experience and participate in arts and culture; engage with our natural environment in national parks; and appreciate our language and heritage, including the islands. It occupies a unique space within government with its very broad policy and programme remit, as well as having a presence in every part of the country in national parks and monuments, cultural centres, schools and local authorities and through our direct involvement with Gaeltacht and island communities.
The Department delivers on its broad remit to support and promote culture and creativity in Ireland in partnership with the eight national cultural institutions, the Arts Council and Screen Ireland. It works closely with the Heritage Council and Waterways Ireland to protect and safeguard our built, archaeological and natural heritage. In supporting and sustaining Gaeltacht communities the Department works with Údarás na Gaeltachta, while also partnering with Foras na Gaeilge in promoting the Irish language more generally. An Coimisinéir Teanga which has a statutory role to play in safeguarding the Irish language also falls under the aegis of the Department.
In our work we engage directly with communities across the country, through the work of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the National Monuments Service and our colleagues in the Gaeltacht division. We work directly with and through local authorities, most recently to deliver a national programme to foster creative communities.
Our statement of strategy which covers the period 2018 to 2020, inclusive, was prepared in accordance with the Public Service Management Act, following the appointment of the Minister, Deputy Josepha Madigan, to the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. We are now just over one year into its implementation. The Department's overarching mission is to promote, nurture and develop Ireland’s arts, culture and heritage; to support and promote the use of the Irish language; and to facilitate the development of the Gaeltacht and the islands. Our core functions are to provide policy and funding support in the development of the arts, culture and creativity, including cultural infrastructure development; to provide for oversight of Ireland’s national cultural institutions; to protect and preserve Ireland’s natural heritage in line with national and EU legislation, national policies and strategies and to support sustainable development; to preserve our built heritage as part of the regeneration of cites, towns, villages and the countryside in accordance with the principles and values of Project Ireland 2040, and to protect our unique archaeological heritage.
We also assist in the sustainable development of island communities, including through the provision of transport links. We promote North-South co-operation through the work of Waterways Ireland and An Foras Teanga. These functions are translated into action through a number of policies and strategies, including Culture 2025, the audio-visual action plan, the 20-year strategy for the Irish language and the associated five-year action plan, the tourism interpretive master plan for national parks, the national biodiversity action plan and Heritage 2030, which is still at consultation stage.
To deliver on this policy framework, we structure our work across three policy divisions, namely, culture, heritage and the Gaeltacht, which are supported by a corporate division. Each division is led by an assistant secretary or director and we meet weekly as a management board to oversee and monitor our progress. Each division has responsibility for a particular high-level goal or goals under the statement of strategy. Goal A which falls to our culture division provides that the Department will support and develop engagement with and in the arts, culture and creativity by individuals and communities, thereby enriching individual and community well-being, and promote Ireland's arts and culture globally. Goal B relates to the work of the heritage division. It sets out to conserve, protect, manage and present the built and natural heritage for its intrinsic value and as an inspiration to creativity and environmental appreciation, as well as a support to local communities, regional economic development and sustainable employment. Goals C and D rest with the Gaeltacht division and provide that we will support the use of the Irish language throughout Ireland, strengthen its use as the principal community language of the Gaeltacht and facilitate the sustainable development of island communities. Goal E which involves the Gaeltacht and heritage divisions provides that we will work to promote North-South co-operation, particularly through the work of An Foras Teanga and Waterways Ireland.
At the core of the delivery of these strategies will be the development and enhancement of cultural, linguistic and heritage infrastructure under the Department's €1.2 billion programme of investment, Project Ireland 2040. Other priority areas for the Department are the delivery of supports for the arts and culture, including the audio-visual sector, the delivery of the Creative Ireland programme to promote individual, community and national well-being and the completion of the decade of centenaries commemorative programme.
In the heritage area we are in the process of developing a new national heritage plan, Heritage 2030, for protecting, preserving and promoting national heritage. We have just completed a comprehensive consultation process and will be developing the plan in due course. Our activities to promote the Irish language will continue to focus on implementing the five-year action plan for progressing the 20-year strategy for the language.
Project Ireland 2040 represents a once in a generation opportunity for the Department to protect, preserve and enhance cultural, linguistic and heritage infrastructure. It has the potential to be a transformative investment, conserving our unique culture and heritage and enhancing opportunities to experience it, while also stimulating tourism and local economies. The Department's investment plan under Project Ireland 2040 is an important vehicle in delivering sustainable communities, valuing the built heritage through regenerating town centres and creating spaces for people to express themselves artistically or through the Irish language, while also providing direct support for the development of local enterprise. It has also been transformative for the Department in bringing together for the first time all aspects of our heritage, namely, cultural, linguistic, the built and natural, under a single programme of investment with an holistic vision. A cornerstone of the Department's investment programme is the €460 million that has been set aside for the regeneration of the national cultural institutions. This year we have made progress on a number of key projects. We will see completion of phase 1 of the National Library of Ireland and the commencement of subsequent phases. There has also been significant progress made in the National Archives project which will complete the decanting of its collections this month to facilitate the construction phase. I understand we will see the project tender completed this year.
The Department continues to progress other projects through the appraisal and evaluation stages of the project life cycle, including the Natural History Museum and the Crawford Gallery in Cork. We also support the development and enhancement of regional cultural infrastructure through a number of schemes and initiatives. In terms of our culture and creativity programme, we have a major new strategy for the audio-visual industry which is guiding the €200 million Project Ireland investment in expanding this vital creative industry. This year alone, the Department will provide funding support of more than €16 million for Screen Ireland to deliver the strategy and support the Government's ambition to develop Ireland as a global hub for the production of film, TV drama and animation.
We are looking forward to the launch in September of Galway 2020 as the European Capital of Culture. Although it has been through some difficult times, a feature which is common to many capitals of culture, the programme will be ambitious and commence in late 2019.
A further strand of our programme under Project Ireland is the investment of €285 million over ten years in the built and natural heritage. An important delivery vehicle for this investment is the tourism interpretative masterplan for key tourist sites and heritage amenities in the national parks in partnership with Fáilte Ireland. It will see us leverage our investment to maximise the value for money of projects throughout the parks and reserves network for the enjoyment of 4 million visitors every year. We are also working closely with colleagues in the Department of Rural and Community Development in investing in a wide range of new trails and other visitor amenities in national parks and nature reserves. In addition to work in national parks and wildlife reserves, we are working to deliver on commitments to protect the built heritage through the built heritage investment scheme and historic structures fund which leverage private funding, local authority structures and central government grants to protect the built heritage, while utilising local craft and construction resources.
The national planning framework under Project Ireland specifically recognised the importance of protecting unique Gaeltacht and island communities, underpinned by a funding provision of €178 million to 2027. In that regard, we are working to deliver key capital actions in the five-year action plan for the Irish language, while also supporting Údarás na Gaeltachta in fostering enterprise and supporting communities across the Gaeltacht. Údarás na Gaeltachta will invest some €10 million in these communities this year. In addition, we are working in partnership with Dublin City Council, Conradh na Gaeilge and others to develop a flagship Irish language and cultural centre in Dublin city centre. The project has recently completed its feasibility study stage and we are preparing to move to planning.
Over the lifetime of Project Ireland we will invest in a number of piers projects to enhance access to island communities. These are complex projects that require significant planning in terms of environmental impacts, sustainable development and community engagement. They are also some of the most complex in terms of construction, given their location and often challenging sea conditions.
That is just a snapshot of what we are seeking to deliver and progress throughout the year and into 2020. We continue to work closely with colleagues in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on the overall management and oversight of the programme. With the growing ambition for the Department under Project Ireland 2040, we need to ensure it is capable of delivering on these ambitions. To that end, we have undergone an organisational capability review in the past six months. The review process which was signalled in our statement of strategy and is part of a wider Civil Service renewal initiative has seen us look closely at our capabilities in demonstrating leadership in our sectors, developing policy and strategy and implementing and evaluating our work. The review was undertaken by a team from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, with our support, and overseen by an independent external review panel. It is at the final stages of drafting and once finalised will be presented to the Government. It has been a useful experience, one which will enable us to enhance the Department’s capabilities to deliver on its statement of strategy. Increasingly, it is clear just how broadly our work impacts on the lives of everyone in Ireland, as well as on how we view and present ourselves on a global stage. With such a broad remit, our collaborative approach with the national cultural institutions and agencies, other Departments, North-South bodies, the public sector and the committee continues to be essential to the delivery of the high-level goals in our statement of strategy and Project Ireland 2040.