Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire agus oifigí a Roinne. The suggested timetable for the meeting was circulated with the agenda. We will not follow it too rigidly and we will be reasonably flexible.
Is mór an phribhléid dom na Meastacháin seo: Vóta 42: £70.61 2 milliún don Roinn Ealaíon, Cultúir agus Gaeltachta, gan an Meastachán Forlíontach de £40.459 milliún lenar ghlac Dáil Éireann ar 15 Bealtaine 1996 a chur san áireamh; Vóta 43: £1 .859 milliún don Dánlann Náisiúnta; agus Vóta 44: £18.4 milliún don Chomhairle Ealaíon don bhliain dar críoch 31 Nollaig 1996 a chur os comhair an Choiste seo.
Members of the committee received a briefing note, in Irish and English, setting out the details of the Estimates with some background information. I do not, therefore, propose to dwell on the detail of the figures but I will return to it if Members have questions. The briefing note refers to the total amount of the Votes and includes the Supplementary Estimate for £40.459 million to which I referred, representing the 1996 allocation for the heritage service recently transferred to my Department. The references I will make to the different areas of the Votes will be in the same order as set out in the 1996 Revised Estimates for the Public Service.
I am pleased to report progress on a number of exciting developments at the cultural institutions which come within the remit of my Department. Regarding Collins Barracks, significant progress has been made on the development of the Clarke Square portion of the site. Plans for the inaugural exhibition to be staged in early 1997 are well advanced. The exhibition, which will be staged in the west and south wings will depict the National Museum on the move to Collins Barracks. It will signal the various components of the collections which the National Museum has not been hitherto in a position to display to the public due to lack of space.
Deputies may also wish to know that I recently appointed nine members to a caretaker board for the National Museum. It is intended that the board will be a precursor of the final autonomous board to be established under legislative proposals relating to the National Museum and National Library which I hope to publish in the near future.
Construction and conversion work on the Clock Tower building in Dublin Castle which will house the Chester Beatty Library has now been completed. After the conclusion of the Irish Presidency of the European Union, during which certain areas of the Clock Tower will be used for media purposes, it is the intention to set in train the implementation of the fit out stage, with a view to occupation of the building during 1997. The trustees of the library and I have now agreed that the governance relationship between the library and the State needed to be redefined in recognition of the significant investment involved on the part of the State. These negotiations have been successfully concluded and the trustees intend to make an application to the courts shortly seeking approval for the suggested changes to the board structure that have been agreed.
Plans are also in preparation for a new photographic archive for the National Library to be established in the Temple Bar area. The archive will facilitate the National Library in the preservation through computerisation of over 250,000 valuable photographs in the National Library's collection.
Deputies will be aware that the major festival of contemporary Irish art and culture, "L’lmaginaire Irlandais”, commenced formally in Paris when I officially opened the event at the Academie Francaise in March. The festival continues in Paris and the regions of France until August, with celebrations of literature and writers, drama, traditional, popular and classical music, contemporary visual arts, dance, architecture and cinema. I am delighted to report that the festival has been judged a major success by French audiences, that it has brought to their attention an image of contemporary Ireland of which they may not have been aware and has helped to insert Irish artists and art in its many facets into the bloodstream of France. It has also enabled a number of contacts, which I believe will endure, between artists and galleries and institutions between France and Ireland to be established. The Irish Government is spending £1.5 million on the project, of which £955,000 is provided in this year’s Estimate.
In February of this year I announced details of the first eight projects which I approved in principle for funding under the cultural development incentives scheme. These projects will involve total capital investments of almost £8 million, with grant offers of £5.649 million being made by my Department. The advisory committee, which I established to consider applications submitted under the scheme, recently made its recommendations on the projects which it considers merit funding from the remaining applications. I am considering the committee's recommendations and I hope to be in a position to announce details of further projects to which funding in principle will be offered in the very near future. I should tell Deputies in the spirit of giving as much information as I can that I hope to do so early next week.
AN GHAEILGE AGUS AN GHAELTACHT
Bhí méadú beag ar líon na n-iarratas tithíochta go dtí mo Roinnse anuraidh i gcomparáid le 1994 — breis agus 1,000 iarratas ar fad a bhí i gceist. Críochnaíodh 136 teach nua i rith na bliana le cabhair deontais mar aon le 789 cás eile a bhain le hoibreacha feabhsúcháin, sláintíochta agus méadaithe.
Ba mhaith liom a rá arís nach bhfuil deireadh curtha leis na deontais feabhsúcháin tithíochta sa Ghaeltacht, rud a chuala mé ar an raidio cúpla uair. Níl san athrú a rinneadh le héifeacht ó 1 Eanáir 1996 ar na deontais sin ach nach gcuirfear oibreacha áirithe neamhshubstaintiúla — fuinneoga agus dóirse go príomha -san áireamh feasta le haghaidh deontais. Déanfar eisceacht, ar ndóigh, i gcás iarratasóirí atáós cionn 66 bliain d'aois agus gur leo féin an teach lena mbaineann an t-iarratas.
Maidir le scéimeanna feabhsúcháin sa Ghaeltacht, den soláthar de £3.344m atá ar fáil i mbliana do scéimeanna feabhsúcháin mo Roinnse, tá£2m á dhíriú ar an gcéad chéim den mhórscéim mhuiroibreacha trí bliana chun áiseanna oiriúnacha calaíochta a fhorbairt ag an gcé ag an mBaile Thiar, Toraigh, Co. Dhún na nGall. Cuirfear críoch chomh maith i mbliana ar an mórscéim mhuiroibreacha ar Inis Meáin agus ar Inis Oírr, na hOileáin Árainn — obair a bheidh chun sochair do mhuintir na n-oileán sin agus chun leas fhorbairt thionscal na turasóireachta.
Scéimeanna Cultúrtha agus Sóisialta Scéim Labhairt na Gaeilge
Tá ag éirí go maith leis an scéim leasaithe labhairt na Gaeilge ar cuireadh tús leí trí bhliain ó shin anois. Is é cuspóir na scéime ná muintir na Gaeltachta a spreagadh chun labhairt na Gaeilge a chur chun cinn sa teaghlach agus sa phobal i gcoitinne. Sa scoilbhliain 1994/95 íocadh deontas faoi scéim le breis is 3,000 teaghlach.
Anuraidh, faoi scéim na bhfoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge, d'íoc mo Roinnse cúnamh i leith 23,534 foghlaimeoirí— 884 daoine fásta san áireamh. D'fhan na foghlaimeoirí ar íostas le thart ar 750 teaghlach Ghaeltachta.
Maidir leis an athbhreithniú bunúsach ar na coinníollacha ginearálta a bhaineann leis na coláistí Gaeilge a d'fhógair mé anuraidh, tá tuarascáil chuimsitheach ón ngrúpa oibre á scrúdú ag mo Roinn agus ag an Roinn Oideachais faoi láthair. Tá súil agam go gcríochnófar an scrúdú sin go luath.
Údáras na Gaeltachta
Soláthar Airgid ón Stát
Is soláthar caipitil de £17.6m atáá chur ar fáil ón Stát-Chiste don Údarás i mbliana le haghaidh forbairt na Gaeltachta, sé sin, chun deontais a íoc le tionscail, scaireanna a ghlacadh i gcuideachtaí agus clár tógála a airgeadú. Anuas ar an tsuim sin, tá suim £2.5m á tabhairt don eagraíocht mar chabhair i leith costais riaracháin. Is léiriú ar an tábhacht a chuireann an Rialtas — agus a chuirimse féin mar Aire agus a chuireann mo chomhleacaí Dónal Carey, Teachta Dála, mar Aire Stáit — i bhforbairt na Gaeltachta an t-airgead de bhreis ar £20m in iomián atáá chur ar fáil don Údarás i mbliana.
Ba í 1995 an bhliain ab fhearr fós ag an Údarás ó thaobh chúrsaí fostaíochta de sa Ghaeltacht ó bunaíodh an eagraíocht i 1980. Ag an am i láthair, tá isteach is amach le 11,000 duine fostaithe i dtionscail sa Ghaeltacht a fuair cúnamh óÚdarás na Gaeltachta — 6,835 dhuine ar bhonn lánaimseartha agus 3,940 duine eile ar bhunús páirtaimseartha nó séasúrach. I rith na bliana 1995 cruthaíodh 1,251 phost lánaimseartha nua tionsclaíoch sa Ghaeltacht agus, cé gur cailleadh 712 post, fós féin bhí an glan mhéadú ar an méadú ab airde le cúig bliana déag anuas.
I rith 1995 chomh maith cheadaigh an tÚdarás luach £22.7m de chabhair Stáit i leith tionscail nua a bhfuil acmhainneacht fhostaíochta de 1,790 post lánaimseartha ag baint leo. Is i mbliana agus i rith an dá bhliain atá romhainn a thiocfaidh an chuid is mó den fhostaíocht sin ar an bhfód sa Ghaeltacht. Is díol suntais é líon na bpost nua atáá nginiúint ag tionscail atá ann cheana féin — an bhliain seo caite bhí céatadán chomh hard le 55% ann, rud a léiríonn go bhfuil an bonn tionsclaíocht sa Ghaeltacht ag neartú agus ag fréamhú.
Bord na Gaeilge
Tá suim £2.5m ceadaithe mar chúnamh Stáit do Bhord na Gaeilge i mbliana. Tá ról tábhachtach ag an mBord i dtaca leis na cláracha gníomhaíochta atá le cur i gcrích ag ranna agus ag comhlachtaí Stáit chun feabhas a chur ar an bhfáil atá ar sheirbhisí Stáit trí mheán na Gaeilge sa Ghaeltacht agus sa tír i gcoitinne. Obair ghríosaithe agus spreagtha is mó atá ar siúl ag an mBord agus tuigim go maith na deacrachtaí a bhaineann le hiarrachtaí den chineál sin. Tá obair mhaith ar siúl ag an mBord agus tréaslaím a saothar leo.
Ciste na Gaeilge — Na hEagrais Dheonacha Ghaeilge
Déantar ciste na Gaeilge a airgeadú trí Vóta mo Roinne ó fháltais an chrannchuir náisiúnta. Is ón gciste sin a thugtar cúnamh bliantúil do na heagrais dheonacha Ghaeilge agus is cúis áthais dom go raibh ar mo chumas méadú a dhéanamh arís i mbliana sa chúnamh bliantúil a thugtar dóibh. Is ón gciste freisin a thugtar cúnamh, mar shampla, do thograí ilghnéitheacha Gaeilge ar nós "Gaillimh le Gaeilge", "Tiobraid Árainn ag Labhairt" agus lontaobhas Ultach.
Coimisiún faoi na hEagrais Dheonacha Ghaeilge
Ag tús na bliana d'fhógair mé go raibh coimisiún ar leith á bhunú agam, i gcomhréir le gealltanas a tugadh sa Chlár don Rialtas le haghaidh Athnuachana, chun ról, struchtúr, éifeachtacht agus comhpháirtíocht na n-eagras deonacha Gaeilge, a fhaigheann cúnamh bliantúil ón Stát, a bhreithniú. Seo an chéad scrudú cuimsitheach neamhspleách ar na heagrais sin agus táim sásta gur maith an rud é, ní amháin ar mhaithe leis na n-eagrais féin, ach ar mhaithe le cur chun cinn na Gaeilge chomh maith agus táim ag súil le tuarascáil ón gcoimisiún sar i bhfad.
CRAOLACHÁN AGUS SCANNÁNAIOCHT/ROADCASTING AND FILM
Members of the committee will be aware that at the end of April 1995 I published a Green Paper on Broadcasting which I subtitled "Active or Passive? Broadcasting in the Future Tense" nó, mar atá sa teideal Gaeilge, "Gníomhach nó Fulangach? Fáthmheas ar an Réimse Craolacháin". Since then I have received some 130 responses to the Green Paper from a range of interested parties and, as I said on a number of occasions in the DáiI, these are being examined and will inform my deliberations as I develop definite proposals for fresh legislation. I hope to be in a position to submit definite proposals to Government during 1996.
I have been asked on a number of occasions whether I will proceed directly to legislation or publish a White Paper. As I already said in the House, I am inclined at this stage to move directly to the legislative stage, given the amount of time that the preparation and publication of a White Paper would add to the process. It is my intention to publish the proposals for legislation approved by Government prior to the Bill being drafted.
I assure the Chairman and Members that all the interested parties will be given the opportunity to voice their opinions on any legislative proposals. In relation to independent television production, as required under section 6 of the Broadcasting Authority (Amendment) Act, 1993, RTE has recently submitted a report of its activities during 1995 regarding the commissioning and the making of independent television programmes. The report indicates that, in accordance with the terms of the Act, £6.5 million was paid into the independent television programmes account, that additional money such as VAT refunds and interest received was also paid into the account and that £6.8 million was expended therefrom in 1995.
As I indicated recently in reply to a parliamentary question the report is being considered in my Department and, in accordance with standard procedures, I will be bringing it to Government shortly, before causing it to be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas.
As regards the film industry, the committee will be aware that, having regard to the fact that section 35 was due to expire this year, I commissioned Indecon Economic Consultants last autumn to carry out an in depth review of the scheme and to make recommendations on the form which future State support for the film industry should take. The Indecon report concluded that a revised form of section 35 should be introduced which would place a particular emphasis on support for the indigenous film industry, reduce the cost to the Exchequer and increase the investor pool in the economy, and the new package addresses these objectives. The final package provided for in the Finance Act, 1996, involved significant improvements from that announced in the 1996 budget in that there is now an attractive "top-up" for production in off-peak periods and the limit on investments by companies has been increased from £1.05 million per annum to £6 million.
The re-establishment of Bord Scannán na hÉireann in 1993 was a key element — perhaps the most important — of my strategy to promote the indigenous film and television production industry. In the period up to end-1995, it has provided development loans to a total of 105 projects and production loans to a total of 43 productions. The board will receive continued funding to 1999 under the Operational Programme for Industrial Development 1994-1999.
Other recent or forthcoming measures serving to support film production in Ireland in the years ahead include the establishment of the national training committee for film and television; the obligation on RTE under the Broadcasting Act, 1980, to reach, by 1999, a level of expenditure of £12.5 million, or 20 per cent of the television budget, on independent commissioning; the establishment of Teilifís na Gaeilge and the proposed establishment of TV3 which also augurs well for the independent production sector; the new 310 million ECU European Union media II programme; and the continuing opportunity to benefit from Eurimages — the Council of Europe's fund for film co-productions. I am confident that the amendments to section 35 introduced this year, combined with the other measures and opportunities which I have just mentioned, have struck the right balance and will ensure sustained levels of film and television production in the years ahead.
Tááthas orm a chur in iúl don Choiste go mbeidh Teilifís na Gaeilge ar an aer faoi Oíche Shamhna 1996. Tá dul chun cinn suntasach á dhéanamh i ndáil le tógáil an bhunstructúir theicniúil agus le stoc charnadh clár don stáisiún nua. Maidir le caiteachas caipitil, tá deontas-i-gcabhair de £12.2 milliún sna Meastacháin mar sholáthar do thógáil an bhunstructúir theicniúil don stáistiún. Beidh £10 milliún ar fáil le haghaidh cláracha agus costais riaracháin an stáisiúin i 1996, £3.25 milliún de deontas-i-gcabhair do chaiteachas reatha mar aon leis an airgead atá carnaithe ag RTE ón bhfarasbarr ar an teorainn ioncaim a leagadh síos faoin Acht Craolacháin, 1990.
Mar is eol don choiste, is sé RTE, i gcomhairle le Comhairle Theilifís na Gaeilge, atá freagrach as bunú agus feidhmiú tosaigh an stáisiúin go dtí go mbeidh struchtúr reachtúil ar leith bunaithe don tseirbhís nua. Tá súil agam na moltaí reachtúla riachtanacha a chur faoi bhráid an Rialtais i rith na bliana mar chuid de mo bheartas i ndáil le reachtaiocht craolacháin nua a eascróidh ón bPáipéar Glas ar thodhchaí na craoltóireachta.
Members will be aware that An Chomhairle Oidhreachta, or the Heritage Council, was established under the Heritage Act, 1995. The broad functions of the Heritage Council are to propose policies and priorities in relation to the identification, protection, preservation and enhancement of the physical heritage. Its specific functions include the promotion of interest and education in and knowledge and appreciation of the national heritage. As I have stated on previous occasions in the Dáil, the establishment of the Heritage Council is part of a major package of heritage legislation some of which has already been enacted. Work is well advanced on proposals to amend the Wildlife Act, to provide new legislation in relation to parks and to give autonomy to the National Museum and the National Library. The aim is to provide a solid statutory basis for the protection of our heritage.
Pursuant to commitments in the programme, A Government of Renewal, the heritage service — comprising the National Monuments and Historic Properties Service, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and the Waterways Service — has been transferred from the Office of Public Works to my Department and the transfer of staff is currently taking place. This integrated structure for heritage within my Department, together with the solid statutory base referred to by me earlier, will serve the national heritage well into the next century.
As regards funding for the heritage service, as I mentioned at the outset, a supplementary estimate of £40.459 million for Vote 42 for 1996 was agreed by Dáil Éireann on 15 May last, representing the 1996 allocation for the heritage service now transferred to my Department. In the light of the detailed debate which took place on that day, I do not propose to go over the same ground now in detail. I will, of course, be pleased to answer any questions which Members may have in relation to this part of Vote 42.
Turning to An Dánlann Náisiúnta/the National Gallery, Vote 43, refurbishment of the 1968 wing has now been completed. A total of £9 million has been expended by the Office of Public Works to provide an upgraded gallery building for the national collection of old master and Irish paintings. The collection, as is well known, has been augmented in recent years by the gift of major paintings by, for example, Caravaggio, Vermeer and Goya. In recognition of the generosity of the Jesuit community in placing the Caravaggio in the National Gallery, a provision has been made in the Vote of the gallery regarding the establishment of a suitable fellowship.
The gallery is also at an advanced planning stage regarding proposals for the construction of a new wing on a site at Clare Street which was purchased for this purpose in 1990. The site, which is adjacent to the existing gallery, will house new public galleries and a major temporary exhibition facility for receipt into Ireland of travelling exhibitions of the works of old masters. The construction of the new wing at an estimated cost of £12.5 million will be funded from a combination of European Union Structural Funds and private funds to be raised by the Gallery.
Finally, I would like to refer to Vote 44 for An Chomhairle Ealaíon. In October last year I was pleased to secure the Government's approval for the arts plan. I have since agreed with the Minister for Finance that the funding requirements of the plan could be phased realistically over the five year period 1995-1999 rather that the three originally proposed. Subsequent to this agreement, An Chomhairle Ealaíon agreed to re-order its priorities over five years beginning in 1995. The allocation to An Chomhairle Ealaíon in 1996 of £18.4 million is an increase of some 13 per cent on the funding level available to it in 1995. This increase in funding has allowed An Chomhairle to concentrate resources in a number of critical areas identified in the arts plan, including those of drama and dance. I understand that all other art forms also saw significant increases in the level of resources allocated to them by An Chomhairle in 1996.
In relation to future levels of funding required by An Chomhairle Ealaíon for the full implementation of the plan, while the level of funding for each of the years 1997-1999 will be decided in the context of the budgetary situation pertaining in each of those years, it is my objective to achieve by 1999 the funding level of £26.1 million envisaged by An Chomhairle for the final year of the plan.
Níl ach léargas gairid tugtha agam ar na réimsi oibre a thagann faoi scáth mo Roinne-se ach tá súil agam go n-aontóidh sibh liom go bhfuil dul chun cinn nach beag á dhéanamh. Táim ag tnúth leis na Meastacháin seo a phlé libh agus aon cheisteanna atá agaibh a fhreagairt feadh mo chumais.
Thank you, Minister. If that is your cuntas gairid I am glad you did not attempt to present us with the full version. I will give the same latitude to other Members and spokesmen in particular if they exceed their allotted time slot. I apologise to the Minister of State for not formally welcoming him earlier. He is particularly welcome to the Committee.
I understand that we have some minutes to give an overall view and then perhaps we can come back on a more detailed basis individually vote by vote.
That is correct. We will have opening statements from Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats, and then we return to the individual votes.
The 6 per cent rise in administration costs for the Department was referred to. When we are going through these issues in detail I would like the Minister to refer specifically to that. Some weeks ago there was a debate on the millennium at the Finance and General Affairs Committee. At that stage the Minister was hoping that more staff and money would be available for his Department to deal with that issue. Given the fact that he has applied for a 6 per cent increase for administration costs I wonder if that includes what he would hope to have in terms of extra staff for the millennium project, or is it just in general terms? I also asked about this matter last year because very often this Government seems to govern by consultancy. There is a further increase of 8 per cent for consultants. I would like the Minister to take this opportunity to name the consultants and the reports that have been made available from the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht over the last year.
The Minister made a number of references to important cultural institutions such as the National Library, the National Gallery, the National Museum and the National Archives. Is there any provision in these Estimates for new legislation — which has been promised for some time — the Minister hopes to introduce for these institutions? The last time I raised this matter on the Order of Business the Taoiseach said that legislation on cultural institutions would be published in July. He did not say whether it would be published before the end of the session but he named the month. Today the Minister said the legislation will be published in the near future. Will he clarify whether it is to be published during July, as indicated by the Taoiseach?
I will be very interested to hear whether the Minister intends to introduce a charge for entry to these institutions under the legislation dealing with the national institutions. Unfortunately there is only a derisory increase for the National Library. I brought this issue up with the Minister on other occasions, including on the Adjournment. The Minister will say there has been a large percentage increase but that increase is from a low bench mark. We need to look at that aspect of the debate rather than just referring to a £20,000 increase for the National Library.
We are promised the necessary legislation in regard to Teilifís na Gaeilge in the autumn. According to newspaper reports, the Government is contemplating an increase in the licence fee to cover the costs incurred by RTE in the development of Teilifís na Gaeilge. The Fianna Fáil Party is very much in favour of Teilifís na Gaeilge and this has been acknowledged by the Minister on every occasion on which the issue has been raised. However, we are concerned that there does not seem to be a permanent funding arrangement for Teilifís na Gaeilge instead of the present ad-hocarrangement, particularly as the Minister seems to have done a U-turn since January 1995 and January 1996. He has asked RTE for further money for running Teilifís na Gaeilge. We need to see a permanent funding arrangement for it, for the sake of RTE and to ensure that Teilifís na Gaeilge is on a strong footing from the very beginning. Perhaps the Minister will take the opportunity of following up on that.
On Question Time some weeks ago I suggested to the Minister that perhaps Ireland's Presidency of the European Union would be an opportunity to take up the cudgels and establish the Irish language as an official language of the EU. This would lead to far greater employment as well as perhaps fostering the growth of the language.
I understand that a delegation from RTE will meet the Minister this week. I understand there is concern that the Minister may be acting outside his powers under the Broadcasting Authority (Amendment) Act, 1976, by telling the RTE authority to supply Teilifís na Gaeilge with 360 hours of free programming a year. I would be very interested to know what the Minister's legal advice has been in this regard. It has been suggested that a statutory instrument would be required for the Minister to issue such an edict. Will the Minister outline the legal position in this regard? I would also like him to outline the talks he has been having with RTE.
I am interested in the position of the Heritage Council. We all know about and participated in the debate on the Heritage Council and need not discuss it now. I was interested to learn that the Minister of State, Deputy McManus, was rather worried about some of the suggestions in Deputy Quill's Bill that local authorities and the Heritage Council would co-ordinate more when dealing with built heritage. I did not understand the need for her worry that this would be an onerous task for the local authorities. Does the Minister envisage the expansion of the powers of the Heritage Council and if so, what funding arrangements does he envisage in those circumstances? I would also like him to outline the reasons for the increase in the Heritage Council funding. We welcome this increase but perhaps we could have more details on it.
We had a three year plan for the Arts Council which is now, unfortunately, a five year plan. I noted a hesitancy in the Minister's contribution today where, in the context of the budget pertaining to each of those years, he says it is his objective to achieve a funding level of £26.1 million by 1999. This was the goal that his Department and the Government was supposed to have reached by 1997. We will get the old argument in reply that more money has been available to the Arts Council under this Government than hitherto, but there was a promise that the Arts Council plan would be a three year plan and that this money would be available by 1997. There is now a doubt as to whether it will be available by 1999. Perhaps the Minister will clarify that.
We have had a Green Paper for quite some time now on the question of broadcasting. The Minister replied to our questions in the Dáil by saying it is now unlikely that a White Paper will be published. This is rather an odd way to proceed. When the submissions on the Green Paper were received, the views of the Government and the Minister should have immediately been published for consideration in the form of a White Paper and legislation should then have been forthcoming.
There was a major delay after the publication of a Green Paper, yet no White Paper has been published. I am amused at the Minister's assurance that all interested parties will be given the opportunity to voice their opinions on any legislative proposals. That is what all Members of the Oireachtas are here to do. That is no favour to be bestowed on us by a Minister.
There were references to legislation on wildlife and parks. We have been told that this legislation, especially that pertaining to wildlife, will be forthcoming in the autumn. Will the Minister make a statement to that effect and tell us when we can expect the proposed legislation on parks?
Táim anseo um thráthnóna ar son an Teachta Quill. Tá brón uirthi nach bhfuil sí in ann bheith i láthair. Ba mhaith liom tosnú ar taobh an Paipéar Bán nach bhfuil ag teacht anois.
I cannot understand how a Minister can produce a Green Paper and then say he proposes to dispense with producing a White Paper. He produced a Green Paper and consulted people on the basis that there would be a White Paper, the second phase of a consultative process, so that people could understand his proposals on this matter. He has now decided to go directly to the legislative process which means preparing heads of a Bill, bringing them before the Cabinet, getting them agreed and tying himself almost inextricably to the proposals as approved by the Cabinet. That is a process which effectively excludes one very important stage of any constructive approach to legislation in a fundamental area such as broadcasting. If there was a Green Paper, there ought to have been a White Paper and the White Paper ought to be there so that before the Cabinet commits itself to any propositions in secret — now that we have a secret Cabinet since the unfortunate recent decision of the Supreme Court — we would have at least a process whereby the public could see the direction in which the Minister now proposed to go and there would be another opportunity for people to evaluate what was on offer.
The Minister's Green Paper was a worthy effort in some respects. I cannot agree with the language in which it was so floridly couched but the Minister deserves great credit in that unlike most of his colleagues he engaged in a consultation process and elicited from a number of interested groups quite substantial and sophisticated responses. The least those groups deserve in response from the Minister now is that he stick to the process of issuing his White Paper by September. The Minister should state what he proposes to do by September and allow people one final chance to have an input into this process before he gets approval from his Cabinet colleagues for particular heads of legislation. If that procedure was adhered to, we would all be better off for it.
Deputy Quill is unable to be here today but she gave me one brief in respect of which I must represent her. That is in respect of An Comhairle Oidhreacta Naisiunta, the National Heritage Council. In the last couple of days, Deputy Quill laid before Dáil Eireann a legislative measure designed to span the gap between the purely aspirational role of a Heritage Council on one level and the nitty-gritty of dayto-day control and preservation of our built heritage on the other. The means whereby the Deputy proposed this was that the Heritage Council would have a direct role in future in the planning process. In her Bill — in the drafting of which I had no part, but which was a remarkably technically accomplished Bill — her purpose was to ensure that in future, local government planning and development Acts should not relate merely to a development code but should also be fundamentally rejigged to make them into a conservationist code in respect of our built heritage.
The response of the Minister of State, Deputy McManus in the Dáil debate, and indeed of the Minister, was a shocking disappointment to those of us who look to this Government for an enlightened attitude to the conservation of our built heritage. From a legal point of view, in the past there has been a great deal of nonsense talked in this country about the rights of private property versus the rights of our community in respect of the conservation of its heritage. I am confident — and defy anybody to produce a reasoned opposing view — there is not a constitutional conflict between the rights of private property and the rights of the community to preserve its culture, in particular its built heritage.
Property, Drummond said, has its responsibilities as well as its rights, or words to that effect. Our Constitution as drafted in the 1930s by Éamon de Valera was not designed to give some kind of right-wing petty proprietor's view of property and to enshrine that as the starting point in Irish property legislation. On the contrary, an Irish person is no more entitled to allow a Georgian building in Dublin to fall into disrepair and decay than the Jesuit Order would be entitled, if they owned a Caravaggio, to tear it up or to mutilate it for their own amusement, or somebody who owned the Book of Kells to tear it up or break it into pieces and sell if off. Property rights are not sacrosanct under our Constitution. Therefore, the Bill put before the House by Deputy Quill was an entirely reasonable and expertly drafted effort to bring together the notion of our aspirations in relation to our built heritage and the day-today practice of local authorities. The central point was hidden away in the Bill, that it would henceforth become an unauthorised use of land in respect of conservation buildings and their environment to allow them to degrade. That would have been a radical revolution in our approach to conservation of our built heritage. I am shocked and disappointed the Government turned its back on her legislation and claimed in the usual time-honoured formula, the Government would prefer to prepare its own Bill.
Looking at the crowded agenda the Taoiseach forecasts every day at the Order of Business as to what the Government will and will not do in late 1996 and early 1997, there is no prospect that in the life of this Government anything significant will be done in that area if things go on as they are. I underline on behalf on Deputy Quill my deep disappointment and sadness that this Government walked away from an eminently reasonable and very necessary effort to marry our aspirations with our practice.
On the question of the licence fee, there have been a number of mutterings about the necessity to increase the licence fee for radio and television. They have appeared in our newspapers and have ceased appearing in relatively recent times because there has been a counterpoint, in musical terms, from other Ministers to the effect that under no circumstances will there be any increase awarded to RTE in relation to the licence fee. There should not be any increase in the licence fee for RTE. If the taxpayer and the consumer of broadcasting is to have good value for money, this Government must show that the current expenditure of the licence fee represents good value for money and that economies cannot be made within the existing budget to accommodate any further programmes of expenditure which it is proposed to fund out of the licence fee. We in the Progressive Democrats have always supported the establishment of Teilifís na Gaeilge and we welcome the fact that the Minister has given a clear date for the commencement of this service and we believe the preservation of Irish as a spoken language is something which depends critically on the establishment by this State of a television service through the medium of Irish. We hope the Minister will ensure — I do not say this in the way Yeats spoke about Páidín's pence and the greasy finger in the till — that we get value for and a good return on the money invested in the Irish television service. In particular, we want to ensure that the Minister is aware of and is keen to prevent the emergence of waste or ineffectual expenditure in this area.
I was impressed by Ulster Television which decided to run a simple programme —"Thomas the Tank Engine" through Irish — as part of its Irish language service. Using something which is attractive to young children as a medium through which to use the language may involve taking things which are already on the shelf and converting them rather than starting from scratch to produce less attractive products. There will, however, be considerable pressure on the Minister from the artistic community, in particular, to sponsor original and innovative products in this area. He should be careful because experience shows that using existing media in terms of established preferences among children is very effective.
My son goes to a scoil lán ghaelach in Ranelagh and I was impressed to see the use of Disney cartoons through the clann Disney medium to get him to read comics in Irish. Instead of the less attractive comics in the Irish language which I remember, including Labhrás the Leprechaun, from the 1950s and early 1960s, this method is the right one to use to go forward. I ask the Minister to support that. I noticed that particular venture was getting into difficulties recently. The way forward is not to do something totally different but to attempt to get the use of Irish up and running through modes of thought and expression which attract children to the use of the language.
The Minister's speech might well justify the epithet an tAire um dea-nuacht. He is here to account to this committee for a job that most of his sternest critics, which sometimes includes myself, would credit him with doing well and enthusiastically. I would not like anything I said to be seen as negative in respect of the Minister's commitment to the various enterprises into which he has hurled himself with his customary commitment. I look forward to going through each of the votes and to examining the detail. I would not like him to believe that by nit-picking and by being scrupulous, which the Opposition is expected to do on such occasions, we are detracting from his undoubted achievements or deflating the enthusiasm with which he has attacked his task since he assumed it in 1992.
Perhaps the Minister might reply to the legislative and general issues. Items of detail may be left until we go through the votes.
As regards legislation for cultural institutions, I hope it will be ready to bring to Government in July for submission to the Oireachtas in September. That is the timescale I have in mind.
Will there be one or two boards for the National Library of Ireland and the National Museum of Ireland? The Minister's speech suggests one board for both institutions.
There will be two boards. A case has been made for entry charges, but I am not persuaded by it. It is an issue which one keeps under general review.
I welcome the opportunity to clarify the situation as regards Teilifís na Gaeilge, the issue in the newspaper and the licence fee. The decision as regards Teilifís na Gaeilge for which there has been cross party support, which I appreciate, was made in January 1995 in relation to £10 million funding from the Exchequer. I do not link any difficulties that may be written about in the newspaper in relation to Teilifís na Gaeilge with the general case for a licence fee. I am reviewing the case for the licence fee in relation to RTE in the context of its 1995 accounts. RTE's application for a licence fee increase should be looked at in that context. It is a stand alone application.
A point was made by Deputy de Valera in relation to the Presidency and the parallel process of the Intergovernmental Conference. Every effort will be made to seek to improve the position of the Irish language. Somebody asked me about the report in the newspapers last weekend that I was about to have a threatening meeting with RTE. I had a normal meeting with RTE on Tuesday and it has issued a statement which I can make available. We discussed the future of public service broadcasting, the position of an entity like RTE with its dual role as the national broadcaster and a major employer, the question of the likely funding required for it to function in the future and their response and mine to the 1995 accounts, which have been submitted. The accounts were examined by my officials who submitted questions to RTE which supplied us with more information which we debated.
As regards Teilifís na Gaeilge, we reviewed progress, including technical progress, and I expressed my gratitude to its engineering section, in particular, for making it possible for us to stick to the oíche Shamhna deadline. We can come back to that later if Members wish. There was a good debate in relation to the Green Paper and a number of seminars were held. Publishing the heads of the Bill and removing the uncertainly in relation to my thinking is the way forward.
The Wildlife Bill is complicated and technical legislation, which will be published in the autumn. It is necessary because so much derives from it in relation to the statutory basis for NHAs and so on. The parks legislation is well advanced and will be published in the autumn. I will come back to the other items under this heading because I do not want us to lose time.
I profoundly disagree with Deputy McDowell in the same generous spirit which he expressed towards me in terms of describing the public as consumers of broadcasting. That is the net distinction of my Green Paper — a suggested theoretical support for broadcasting as an aspect of citizenship, not as consumers in a marketplace. There are legitimate and decent disagreements between the Progressive Democrats and myself on that. Broadcasting is more than a product which is consumed, it is an aspect of national identity and cultural diversity, a matter which we can debate again. Deputy McDowell made a good point with which I agree, that is, that the children's programme component of Teilifís na Gaeilge should be good. I will come back to the other points raised. The Deputy's questions about the administration budget can be dealt with under the next section.
The Minister is to be commended for his speed through the tortuous process of the Green Paper, the White Paper and legislation. As the last speaker said, he has brought great urgency to his commitment in this area and rather than question it, it should be commended given the extent of the debate on the Green Paper. I am interested in the attitude of the Progressive Democrats. Their usual approach is to question political involvement in semi-State bodies and agencies where they believe that people should be allowed to make commercial decisions.
We will proceed to detailed examination of subhead A of Vote 42. This is one of the areas which refers to consultancies.
I referred previously to the 6 per cent increase in administrative costs for this Department. The increase is taking place even though the staff numbers in the Department have fallen from 152 to 140. It is difficult to see how special events being planned to mark the millennium can be organised if there are future staff reductions in the Department. That is the reason for my earlier reference to this and perhaps the Minister might expand on it.
The 6 per cent is accounted for by the inclusion of savings from 1995 of about £370,000. I sent these two documents in advance to brief the committee. I included as much information as I could and I will give any other information I have as we proceed.
I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to my staff. Deputy McDowell was generous in his comments on what we have tried to do in last three years but it has put an enormous strain on a Department that is under-staffed. In the autumn we will introduce four legislative measures. We are ready to go ahead with those but they place a great strain on the staff. In addition, we have taken on a number of new functions. I am not complaining but if we set ourselves targets and take on a number of different projects we want to fulfil them.
There is no question of cuts in staff. However, I could accomplish matters with greater speed and take on new projects if I had more staff. Our Department has completed the strategic management initiative and I would know where to recruit. However, we are curtailed by public expenditure guidelines and the external constraints of the Maastricht guidelines. Opposition Deputies will be aware that their parties support that discipline with an enthusiasm that is greater than mine. One cannot have it every way.
The figure in 1995 also relates to the fact that the staff were not in place for the full year; there was a transfer of staff which might have helped make up the figure.
I can share the Minister's sentiments about the difficulties that must arise when there is insufficient staff in a Department to do the work on hand. It is hard for the staff in place to carry on working in an efficient manner. The staff of the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht have been most effective and helpful when I have contacted them. My concern is that there appears to have been a decrease from 152 to 140 in the number working in the Department. Given the onset of the millennium, can the Minister say if he can rely on extra staff and money to deal with that project? It will put further burdens on his Department but it is appropriate that his Department should deal with any envisaged millennium projects.
I enjoyed the discussion we had this morning about the millennium. It was a good and valuable discussion during which a number of good ideas were put forward. I said I would prepare a submission for Government and I will do that. However, any undertaking about such a project by my Department will be accompanied by a statement of its implications regarding costs and personnel. That will be necessary in order to do it properly.
There is no spare capacity for large projects in my Department in terms of either cost savings or personnel. However, I will not be negative. I will make a proposal based on my conversations with the Select Committee on Finance and General Affairs and I will accompany it with a precise statement of what funding and staff resources will be necessary. I am not scoring a political point but the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht is not exempt from the existing general economic prescription. There is also another difficulty, which my successor will not experience to the same degree as I did, in that when one is composing a new Department from different elements, the baselines must be established and the percentage ceiling has a different meaning from when one is dealing with a large volume Department where the precise percentage is known and where one could discover options and alternatives in spending more easily. However, in my Department I know the exact cost of most of the projects which have come into existence.
With regard to the millennium discussion, Deputy O'Hanlon posed an interesting question. He wanted to know which millennium we were talking about and how we would calculate it. There is a considerable case to be made for opting for an older version of the calendar than the Gregorian calendar. There are things to celebrate which took place before the time of Pope Gregory, including the Aimhirgin calendar.
The proposals to Government would have to be accompanied by an explicit statement about the extra funding and staffing implications.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the interesting meeting that took place between the Select Committee on Finance and General
Affairs and the Minister on this subject. Without being a party pooper, I hope nothing stupid or silly is being proposed. We would do ourselves a big favour in not splashing out, like the national lottery, on a millennium clock and instead think long term about our projects. It is only a date on a calendar in many respects and worthwhile projects will not become more or less so depending on whether the year 2000 appears before or after them. I would prefer the Minster to keep a tight grip on his purse strings and his mind stuck on strategic issues rather than on hoopla for the millennium. The chance of making collective eejits of ourselves on the millennium is huge.
This is a cultural committee so perhaps this is the right place to attempt to decide what would be silly, tasteful or appropriate for the millennium. However, it is primarily a matter of taste.
The National Gallery could be opened in the millennium if it was finished.
Deputy McDowell referred to the millennium clock. I pass O'Connell Bridge regularly and I always see an enormous number of people gazing at it. It seems to attract a lot of attention and has become a popular feature.
There is a distinction between the interesting and the artistic.
I do not know if it is purports to be artistic.
There was a consensus that we should opt for the enduring rather than the ephemeral and we had an interesting discussion on the matter. I gave a list of ongoing projects that would be coming to fruition and the National Gallery was one of them. I also listed all those that could come to fruition earlier if additional funding was available. On all sides there was a general belief that whatever we agreed on should make a lasting contribution and a way of beginning the next period rather than something that would be exhausted in a moment.
Can the Minister expand on his Department's relationship with the Aimhirgin calendar and what kind of work is done by the 251 staff employed under the heritage services?
I will resist your first invitation because I could spend a long time on it here, but I will instead give an interesting reference. One of the oldest lunar calendars which relates to the Ogham lettering is referred to in Robert Graves's book The White Goddess. This refers to the oldest extant piece of writing in the ancient Milesian language, the Lament of Aimhirgin, who was the first poet and lawmaker and second son of Mil. That fragment refers to trees which were invested with particular significance in Brehon Law. For example, there were a set of penalties for damaging an oak which were higher than other trees. Graves’s work in The White Goddessattempted to decode Aimhirgin’s work.
What emerged from that was a lunar calendar based on 1328 which in turn related back to the ancient language, myth and the Battle of the Trees. While it is a Celtic calendar, it is, in scholarly terms, pre-Celtic. My Department's headquarters are called Dún Aimhirgin.
I always wondered about that.
I should publish a leaflet to explain this. While my own scholarship on this matter is tentative and amateur, there are others who can advise you better, Sir. I have noticed when there is a full moon that the behaviour of some of my political colleagues in the Dáil and constituents changes dramatically.
Many of the staff employed under the heritage services are present today — this is the first time some of them have been involved in the Estimates. This involves parks and wildlife and national monuments staff and park rangers, waterways and administrative, professional and technical staff. Around 1,000 industrial staff were paid out of the individual subheads. The money side is explained in the £40 million and this would cover parks and wildlife, monuments and historic properties and waterways staff. There would also be a huge seasonal employment component in visitor services.
Does the Minister see any role for his Department in third sector employment? Would it be possible to offer part time employment to the unemployed in the context of national monuments? Many places that people want to visit are either underguided or inaccessible due to manpower shortages. Can the Minister see his Department participating in providing part-time employment for the long term unemployed in that regard rather than having them do nothing?
I thought this matter might have been more appropriate to local authorities. However, many unprotected monuments are vulnerable. Headstones, for example, could be damaged by children playing there and people could also take what they liked from them.
I must reply with caution before I make any commitments. One could make the case for all we are doing in the general cultural area, inclusive of the language, on its own rights. However, we either commissioned, were associated with agencies that commissioned or used factual reports, for example, on the employment potential of the cultural industry.
Before coming to this meeting I was asked by Cothú how much arts sponsorship came from the private sector. It is currently £7.4 million per annum and has grown by 40 per cent over the last two years. According to the report on the employment content of the cultural industries, the number of people currently working in one kind of employment or another, many in different levels of conditions, is 33,500 people and is about the same as the banking sector.
We should examine the contribution every Department can make to reduce unemployment. We are not the lead Department in the generation of projects, but there are places where we could create employment if provision is made, for example, under the FÁS Vote. We are willing to make available the conservation and restoration expertise we have. For example, Portumna Castle is a big project where we used a FÁS scheme. We have had some very successful schemes which prove the point made by Deputy Michael McDowell. Our waterways service has worked successfully through FÁS schemes which specifically engaged the long-term unemployed. We also had barge restoration projects, which were successful in that they assisted the unemployed. Former offenders were involved in one restoration project. Their self esteem was advanced, their position in the community was enhanced and everybody benefited. The attitude of my Department would be positive in this regard.
I understand what the Minister is saying about that kind of project. However, I can imagine the Minister's colleague, the Minister for Finance, saying these projects require supervision, resources, barges, materials etc. and employer liability problems then arise. I had something more simple in mind, where somebody who is longterm unemployed, instead of being required to prove availability for work four or five days a week and required to stay in that position, is given a two day a week position on a shift basis. He could act as a guide or curator when Portumna Castle is restored, so that visitors would have someone to show them around. There does not need to be huge capital investment. For instance, I went to visit Kell's Friary in County Kilkenny recently. There seemed to be some kind of interpretative centre but it was closed. It is a magnificent archaeological site, but there was nobody there to tell us anything about it. If you did not have a Shell Guide in your pocket, you were finished. The local community, the local authority and the Minister’s Department could provide part-time employment. Instead of leaving people unemployed for five days a week, the State could ask them to do something for two days a week — to be present on an archaeological or national monument site. They could make sure, as Deputy Flaherty said, that it was not damaged and provide some minimal information to visitors.
It is an interesting issue for the future. The Minister has indicated broad interest. The scheme the Deputy suggests would require finance from the Government rather than the Minister.
My Department will be positive and I will keep any employment opportunities advanced under review. I was asked by Deputy de Valera about the number of consultancies. I have answered this question in parliamentary questions already, but that does not mean I will not answer it now. The study of the Royal Canal was done by RPS Cairns. The creative and design work was done by Baseline Creative Services. The legal advice I took on the Lusitania was issued by Hogan and Hassett. The study on the film industry in consultation with the Department of Finance was done by Indecon. The figure for all of those consultancies for 1995 was £148,000. I do not have, and have never had, any PR consultancy in my Department.
With regard to the legal advice the Minister sought on the Lusitania, surely in such situations any Minister would get legal advice from the Attorney General rather than a consultancy?
The Royal Canal survey is an excellent document and is extremely helpful. Only three stretches of the canal pass through my constituency but they are a valuable potential resource. There has been some development on it already. I contacted one of the local authorities identified as responsible for the canal and it indicated that it was not its responsibility. I wrote back to it underlining its duties. Will specific resources be allocated to the development commitments in the report, or are they to be found yet? Some of them will not be under Departmental control but improvement works may be covered under the specific allocations for the different sections. I would be interested in some details, as the report is excellent and all its recommendations should be fully implemented.
If I made a mistake, we can correct it, but the total figure for waterways expenditure between now and 1999 will be about £23.5 million. Including the studies which have been carried out on the canals, there is a mixture of funding between EU funds, Exchequer funding and the local contribution. There will be phased development in each year, as much as the work programme and the availability of personnel allows. The main point is to have as much of the work carried out between now and 1999.
On Deputy de Valera's question on legal advice, I took the advice of the State solicitors, the Attorney General and departmental legal advice. The consultant was an expert on US maritime law, because there is one outstanding case which affects the national interest. When the cases began, some of the precedents being quoted involved two different systems of law, US maritime law and the role of our High Court. I was anxious the jurisdiction of our courts would be protected and matters would be decided there. The payment referred to is to a company from outside the State who are experts in that area.
We will proceed to the Arts and Culture subheads B, C1 and C2.
I am disappointed at the National Library's financial provision. The actual increase is just over £20,000. Percentage increases are not adequate for the work to be done in the institutions, particularly the National Library. I pointed this out to the Minister on a number of occasions in Adjournment debates. With regard to the National Archives, the Minister will know I was particularly disappointed with his treatment of the women's archive and resource centre. The Minister said there are a number of views put forward on this issue. One of these is that the work could be taken up by the National Archives rather than having a specific women's archives and resource centre. To do that the National Archives would need far more funding. The Minister made no provision in the Estimates for a women's archive at the National Archives. The budget for the archives has been increased only by £30,000, a paltry amount if it is expected to take on extra work with particular reference to the women's archive. The latter archive was initially going to receive £100,000; it was axed by the Minister but at least that amount should have been invested in the National Archives so it could take on that work, if that was the proposal. Will the Minister comment on that?
I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight on the women's archive because it has not had a fair presentation so far. I will first give some facts which arise from the Estimate. The allocation of £15,000 to the women's archive in 1996, contained in these Estimates, represents a once-off payment in respect of liabilities incurred by the Irish Women's Archive and Resource Centre Limited on the assumption that it would receive grant-aid from the Department in 1996. A once-off grant of £50,000 was made in 1994 to facilitate examination of the feasibility of the project. This was largely used to prepare a policy paper outlining future strategy which was submitted to me in late 1994. In the 1995 budget a once-off grant of £100,000 for the newly constituted Irish Women's Archive was announced by the Minister for Finance. The 1995 grant was in the form of a budget add-on — in other words it was announced in the budget, added to my Department's Vote and then passed on. There never was at any stage a commitment by my Department for the continuous funding of the organisation — it is exactly as I explained.
The Irish Women's Archive and Resource Centre Limited is an independent private entity, formed as a company limited by guarantee in 1994. The immediate antecedent of the company was the Women's Celebration and Commemoration Committee, which had been in existence since 1989. That had been founded for the purpose of celebrating the contribution of women to all levels of society and the quality of Irish life and part of its brief was to establish a women's archive. WCCC had a broad representation, encompassing all the main political parties and other bodies. It had been responsible, with grant assistance from the Department, for holding an exhibition entitled "Ten Dublin Women", among other events.
In response to the submission, I provided a once-off grant of £50,000 in 1994 to facilitate examination of the feasibility of the project. That was largely used to prepare a policy paper on recognising future strategy. As I said, in 1995 a grant of £100,000 was approved by the Minister for Finance and allocated in that year's budget. Following the letter of 11 January 1996, IWARC represented that it had incurred certain liabilities on the assumption that it would have funding in perpetuity — this relates to what Deputy de Valera said. I arranged for an allocation of £15,000, provided for in these Estimates, to pay off liabilities into which the company had entered.
There never was, nor could it be represented that there was, any commitment from my Department for the development of a separate archival institution. In relation to the spending of the £100,000 grant, concern had been expressed by the Association of Women Historians among others as to the need for a professional training and expertise for those involved and on a number of other matters. I was concerned but I did not pull the plug on the women's archive as described because I never had responsibility for its continuous funding, nor did I simply end it. The view of the Association of Women Historians was that one needs an archive with professional training, a certain amount of safety and acceptability among the public. In its history, having been funded on these two occasions, the company had secured archives of a single book for which it had paid £700 -- that manuscript was the cookery book of Theodora Fitzgibbon. I do not say it did not have difficulties but if one accepts, as I do, the case for the importance of women's archives, their proper place is in the archival provision of the State, in the National Archives or the National Library.
It was represented to IWARC that any proposals it had for the proper provision of archives would be considered by the State. However, it is a different matter to suggest something which had received a grant to identify the need and a further grant of £100,000 would be in a separate institutional existence. In that sense, I was not in a position to agree this was the best treatment of women's archives into the future.
It was not a matter for me to decide but I thought the resource centre mentioned in the other part of the company's title could be developed. It is up to the company to come forward with proposals for that. I told it that I could — and I did — speak to colleagues in Government about that dimension, to which the same criticisms from outside might not apply.
I would like to be in a position to give more funding to the National Library and National Archives but I will continue to make the best case I can for provision to these institutions. I do not want to go back over old ground but one cannot have a general regime for curtailed public expenditure and an expansion at the same time. That is the factual position on the women's archive.
We are all aware that £50,000 was provided in 1994 for the Irish Women's Archive and Resource Centre, which was followed by a budgetary provision of a further £100,000 in 1995. This year, £15,000 has been provided to wrap up the company and deal with any outstanding matters. We cannot cover up the fact that IWARC has been axed.
I take on board the views expressed by some women historians who feel special expertise may be needed and that, therefore, the place for such information is the National Archives. If the Minister is putting forward this view, which means that the National Archives must take on extra responsibilities and work, it will need extra money. It is all very well to say he does not agree with or has no commitment to IWARC and would like to see the National Archives carry out this work, but he is not giving it the funding to be in a position to do it. As I already pointed out, the budget for the National Archives has been increased by only £30,000, which makes matters difficult.
The Minister may say he has to work within budgetary constraints but it is up to him to decide his priorities within his Department. I am sorry that neither IWARC nor the National Archives, which is to incorporate the work of a women's archive, is high on his list of priorities, as there is only a paltry increase to deal with this matter.
I am disappointed that Deputy de Valera insists on misrepresenting the position. It is not the case that I axed the Irish Women's Archive and Resource Centre. Even she does not disagree with the facts as set out and if she examines it closely, she can look, as she is entitled to do, at how it came to be funded originally and what funding was allocated.
My commitment to archives is real. I am examining proposals for enhancing access to archival materials relating to women in each of our national collecting institutions — this is the way to do it.
I make no apology for saying that women's material belongs in its full status in the national collections. The material of Countess Markievicz is important politically and in other respects. My advice is that the new application to set up a separate institution to deal with women's material, run in the way that had emerged from the IWARC would not meet the best policy for archival practice. I am examining how the matter can be dealt with in the institutions.
I have to work within overall financial constraints. I assure the Deputies that whatever moneys are spent, they are spent efficiently. The Deputies cannot have it every way, that is to say, on the one hand giving lectures about increases in the public borrowing requirement for the provision of public services and on the other hand asking for a continual expansion of resources. I recognise the need.
What was acquired of the collection of Theodora Fitzgibbon was a collection of cookery books. They are important but one has to consider what arrangement would be most likely to secure a deposit from women and interest groups. The question is where they will be willing to lodge or donate their papers. They would require conditions of archival practice.
The biggest problem for women is their almost non-existence in history and archival material. Is there a willingness in the institutions to rectify the imbalance and take on board the responsibility? How do they account for their past failure in this regard?
The Minister has indicated that the National Archives, because of its expertise, could take on the work of the women's archive. Nobody would object to that. However, there is an inconsistency in the Minister's argument. He says it would be the right institution to take on the task because of its experience and expertise, yet he is not giving it the funds to do so. He is giving with one hand and taking away with the other. The women's archive and resource centre is no longer in existence; it has been axed. No other institution is being given funds to carry on the work.
It is all very well to deal in platitudes about the importance of women in history but this should be a priority for the Minister. I would have expected it to have been a priority and I am disappointed it is not. It is not good enough for the Minister to say I am misrepresenting him or I do not understand the arguments at issue. I am well aware of the issues involved as they have been put to me by people anxious to ensure women get a fair deal. There should be a provision to ensure that the historical information which exists on women's position in society should be collected and catalogued. Money and staff are required and neither is forthcoming from the Minister.
I am committed to women's archives. I am examining the matter in relation to the National Archives and the relationship to the needs and demands of the National Library. Deputy de Valera has misrepresented the facts. She knows I have given her more information and could give her more on the details of the matter. If Deputy de Valera has the information and has publicly misrepresented the situation——
I have not misrepresented——
I had not responsibility for the functioning of the women's archive. I had never entered into a commitment in relation to it. Therefore, to say that I axed it is untrue.
Right through the discussion of this Estimate a dishonest position is being adopted in which a demand is being made for every item under every subhead with no indication of what would be——
Deputy de Valera may talk about priorities but I challenge her to say where she would make a cut in the Estimates to pay for this. Would she exempt arts, culture and the Gaeltachta from Deputy McCreevy's prescriptions for further cuts in public expenditure?
We must move on with the Estimate. We will move on to subheads D, E, F, G, H, I and J.
B'fhéidir dá dtógfaimis ceann ar cheann iad go mbeadh sé níos éasca. Ba mhaith liom comhghairdeachas a dhéanamh leis an Aire: anuraidh rinne mé casaoid maidir le cúrsaí páipéarachais agus tá sé sin curtha ina cheart. Ba mhaith liom leithscéal a ghlacadh leis an Aire nach raibh mé anseo níos túisce ach bhí ceist Dála thíos agam maidir le cúrsaí feilméireachta.
Fo-mhírcheann D: Tithe Gaeltachta; níl mé ag dul ag plé na ceiste go ginearálta arís mar tá a fhios ag an Aire mo dhearcadh air: go mba ghearradh gan ghá, gan choinne, a bhí ann deireadh a chur leis na deontais do na fuinneoga agus do na doirse.
Táimid anois sa chaoi go bhfuil trí scéim ann do dhaoine os cionn 66 bhliain: is féidir leo cur isteach ar an Essential Repairs Grant, Housing Aid for the Elderly agus deontas Gaeltachta. Níl aon scéim ann do na daoine, is cuma cé chomh bocht is atá siad, faoin aois sin. Nach nglacfadh an tAire leis go bhfuil fadhb ann anois mar go mór mór sna Gaeltachtaí agus sna ceantracha tuaithe, tá go leor daoine bochta a bhfuil a dtithe féin acu agus nach acmhainn leo doirse agus fuinneoga a chur ionta. Fós tá go leor tithe a bhfuil drochfhuinneoga agus drochdhoirse orthu agus i ngeall ar an aimsir thiar, bíonn fadhbanna le fuinneoga agus doirse. An ndéanfadh an tAire athmhacnamh ar an gceist seo ar fad le haghaidh na bliana seo chugainn mar ní thuigtear cé chomh mór is atá sé seo ag cur as do dhaoine?
Bhí mé ag éisteacht leis an méid a dúirt an Teachta. Má tá fianaise aige go bhfuil daoine idir 60 agus 66 bhliain i gceist——
No. No. Cad faoi daoine de 45 agus teaghlaigh acu?
——a bhfuil cruatan ar leith acu, is féidir liom féachaint ar an gcoinníoll sin agus déanfaidh mé athbhreithniú air. Táim ag díriú ar na riachtanais is mó: tá sé suimiúil go ndúirt an Teachta go bhfuil trí scéim ann: an Essential Repairs Grant; Housing for the Elderly Grant agus scéim Roinn na Gaeltachta do dhaoine atá thar 66 bhliain. Is é mo dhearcadh féin nach féidir a bheith ró-chúramach fé riachtanais na ndaoine sin agus is cuma liom go bhfuil trí scéim ann. Ach b'fhéidir gur fiú féachaint ar an tslí ina bhfuil na scéimeanna sin ag obair agus más féidir, iad a nascadh le chéile agus faoiseamh a fháil do dhaoine atá níos óige ná 60 bhliain.
Cuirfidh méé seo i láthair an Aire. Má tá teaghlach ann d'fhear agus bean agus triúr nó ceathrar gasúr agus seanteach feilme acu agus iad 45 bhliain d'aois cad as a gheobhaidh siad an t-airgead le fuinneoga agus doirse nua a chur sa teach? Agus sin í an fhadhb atá ag daoine.
Ceist eile ar mhaith liom a ardú ná go dtarlaíonn sé go minic má tá drochtheach ag seanduine agus má chuireann siad isteach ar Housing Aid for the Elderly agus ar dheontas Roinn na Gaeltachta le haghaidh oibreacha áirithe ar an teach chun caoi réasúnta a chur air, ní ceadaítear an dá dheontas dóibh. Má bhíonn ceann amháin faighte acu le rud amháin a dhéanamh, fiú más rud eile atá i gceist don deontas Gaeltachta, ní ceadaítear an dara deontas. Má fhaightear deontas Gaeltachta le haghaidh doirse agus fuinneoga agus má théitear ar ais ag iarraidh seomra folctha le cabhair ó Housing Aid for the Elderly, déarfar leat go bhfuair tú deontas ón Roinn agus nach féidir deontas a fháil ón dara áisíneacht.
Ba chóir go mbeadh daoine in ann an dara deontas a tharraingt an fad is nach mbeidís ag tarraingt an dá dheontas don rud céanna. Tá an fhadhb sin ann agus nuair a thug mé cás amháin ag an Ombudsman, géilleadh dom i gcás eisceachtúil amháin. Go ginearálta cuirtear ina aghaidh sin.
Aontaím leis an Teachta sa mhéid seo, gur chóir go mbeadh na scéimeanna éagsúla ag obair gan a bheith ag cur isteach ar a chéile. Iarrfaidh mé ar mo chuid oifigigh féachaint ar na scéimeanna éagsúla agus más féidir an éifeacht atá acu a nascadh níos fearr le chéile, déanfaidh méé sin.
Fo-mhírcheann E: tiocfaidh mé ag na bóithre i gceann nóiméad agus ba mhaith liom i dtosach báire rud a rá faoi E3: muiroibreacha. Tá£2.350 milliún thíos le haghaidh céibheanna. An bhféadfadh an tAire barúil a thabhairt cé mhéad de sin a chaithfear ar Inis Meáin agus Inis Oírr agus Oileán Thoraí?
Thug mé an t-eolas sin i mo ráiteas tosaigh. Den £3.44 milliún, tá£2 mhilliún de dhíth ar an gcéad chéim don mhórscéim muiroibreacha trí bliana chun áiseanna oiriúnacha a chur ar fáil ar Thoraigh agus cuirfear críoch i mbliana leis an mórscéim muiroibreacha ar Inis Meáin agus ar Inis Oírr.
Ach is í an cheist atá agam, an bhfuil an £2 mhilliún sin le hag haidh Toraigh amháin nó le haghaidh na trí oileán?
Tá£330,000 ann le críoch a chur le scéimeanna Árainn.
£2,330,000 agus an bhfágfann sé sin £20,000 le haghaidh an chuid eile?
Tá sé sin fíor agus tá scéimeanna beaga ann chomh maith.
Má tá£2 mhilliún ann le haghaidh Toraigh agus £330,000 . . . Tá£2 mhilliún á dhíriú ar an gcéad chéim de mhórscéim muiroibreacha trí bliana chun áiseanna oiriúnacha cáilíochta a fhorbairt ar an gcé ag an mBaile Thiar, Toraigh, Co. Dhún na nGall.
Seo iad na príomhchinn. Tá£2 mhilliún ann do Thoraigh agus £330,000 chun críoch a chur leis an obair ar Arann. Agus fágann sé sin fuílleach agus beidh caiteachas——
Ach an fuílleach atá ann má bhreathnaítear ar na figiúirí atá tugtha——
——ar iarratais eile.
——ná£20,000. Má bhaineann tú£2,330,000 ó£2,350,000 fágann sé£20,000 le haghaidh na scéimeanna eile.
Mar aon le haon sábháil a bhíonn ar na mórthograí. Tá an ceart agat.
Is dóigh liom gur cheart dúinn a bheith soiléir faoi sin. Tá£20,000 againn dó sin. Dúradh linn go raibh airgead na mbóithre áise le caitheamh ar chéibheanna ach an rud atá an tAire ag rá linn anois ná go bhfuil sé le caitheamh ar chéibheanna Thoraí, Inis Meáin agus Inis Oírr dáiríre.
An t-airgead atáá chaitheamh ar Thoraigh agus ar Árann, tagann cuid de ón Eoraip. An t-airgead atá ag teacht ón stát is a bhí sábháilte taobh istigh de mo Roinn, beidh sé ag dul do scéimeanna beaga. Gheobhaidh mé an t-eolas faoi na scéimeanna atá i gceist agus cuirfidh mé chuig an Teachta é. Beidh sé sin i bhfad níos éasca.
B'fhéidir go bhfuil meascadh suas ann idir an fuílleach atá fágtha tar éis na mórthograí agus an méid a bheidh á scaipeadh -beidh airgead breise á chur leis an £20,000 sin de bharr sábhála taobh istigh de mo Roinn. Faoin teideal seo tá£20,000 ag teacht ach tá airgead eile á chur leis.
Ó theidil eile?
Mar sin, má dhéantar——
Ní hí seo an t-uasfigiúr.
Bhuel, seo é an figiúr; seo iad na meastacháin. Tá an tAire ag rá más rud é go bhfuil fuílleach ann ó cheannteidil eile go gcaithfear air seo é ach mura mbeidh, nach mbeidh sé ann. Dá mbeadh sé cinnte go mbeadh fuílleach ann, ní bheadh an soláthar sin déanta sna meastacháin. Agus uaidh sin, tá sé ag rá má tharlaíonn go bhfuil sábháil ann faoi aon cheannteideal eile go gcaithfear air seo é ach má bhíonn an caiteachas de réir na meastacháin, ní bheidh ann ach £20,000 do mhionmhuiroibreacha.
Would the Deputy like to make a particular follow-on from that point? It is obviously a matter of concern if you have something in mind that will not be funded.
Tá go leor rudaí mar a dúradh linn, mar is eol don Aire, agus is í an tuiscint a bhí ag an bpobal go raibh £254,000 tógtha as meastachán na mbóithre áise le caitheamh ar chéibheanna scaipthe ar fud na Gaeltachta. Ach nuair a théimid ag an mír faoi mhuiroibreacha faighaimid amach, taobh amuigh den trí mhórscéim, nach bhfuil sna meastacháin taobh amuigh d'aon sábháil a dhéanfar aon áit eile, ach £20,000. Mar sin is éard atá i ngearradh na mbóithre áise ná gearradh na mbóithre áise: tá deireadh leis an airgead dóibh ach níor cuireadh isteach é le haghaidh scéimeanna scaipthe ar fud na Gaeltachta.
Tá mé ag súil le sábháil a dhéanamh sa chaiteachas ar na mórthograí agus tá sé ar intinn agam é sin a chaitheamh ar scéimeanna beaga.
Nuair a cuireadh deireadh le hairgead do na bóithre áise ar rith sé leis, ó tharla go raibh coinníoll ag dul leis an airgead sin le blianta go raibh 50 faoin gcéad den airgead á chur ar fáil ag na comhairlí contae le cur le hairgead Roinn na Gaeltachta, go mbeadh tionchar dhá oiread, beagnach, ó thaobh bóithre Gáeltachta thar an méid a bhí sé ag sábháil. Curtha go simplí——
Níl sé simplí.
Tá sé simplí. Má thug an tAire £80,000 do Ghaillimh le caitheamh ar bhóithre áise anuraidh, fuair sé£80,000 eile ón gcomhairle contae más comhairle contae a bhí i gceist. Mar sin bhí£160,000 á chaitheamh go speisialta ar bhóithre Gaeltachta sa bhreis ar an ngnáthairgead a bhíá chaitheamh ar bhóithre. An gcuireann sé as dó an cineál tionchair a bheas aige sin ar bhóithre beaga na Gaeltachta?
Tá sé ar intinn agam cruinniú a eagrú gan mhoill idir oifigigh mo Roinn-ne agus na hinnealltóirí contae agus éinne eile atá i gceist as na contaetha ar fad a bhfuil Gaeltachtaí lonnaithe iontu chun an cheist seo a phlé: an riachtanas atá ann maidir le cúrsaí bóthair; an chaoi is féidir iad a chur in ord; na coinníollacha a bheidh ann maidir le caitheamh an airgid agus an comhoibriú a bheidh ag teastáil idir mo Roinn agus na húdaráis áitiúla.
Níl mé ag iarraidh dul go leadrán ar an ábhar seo. Is ceist mhór í agus tá sí pléite cúpla uair againn cheana. Ach an mbeidh airgead ar fáil do bhóithre áise i mbliana? Táimid i lár na bliana anois: tá£70,000 curtha i leataobh ag Comhairle Chontae na Gaillimhe do bhóithre áise agus an mbeidh airgead ar fáil do bhóithre áise sa Ghaeltachta i mbliana?
Tuigeann an tAire go bhfuil go leor tithe sa nGaeltachta nach bhfuil aon bhóthar comhairle contae ag dul chomh fada leo agus go mbaineann sé sin freisin le bóithre portaigh. Faighimid £200,000 sa bhliain ón Roinn Comhshaoil faoin scéim LIS agus tá liosta feithimh suas le sé bliana againn. Má chuirtear na bóithre a bhíá ndéanamh go héifeachtúil faoin scéim bóithre áise Gaeltachta leis an liosta sin beidh daoine anois ag fanacht deich mbliana nó níos mó leis an mbunáis sin a fháil: bóthar chomh fada lena dteach.
Bhí buntáiste mór amháin ag baint leis an scéim seo: bhíodh ceist caighdeán teanga ceantair á cur i bhfeidhm anseo. Na ceantracha is mó a bhfuil an Ghaeilge á labhairt iontu is mó a fuair an t-airgead; mar ba cheart. Anois go bhfuil aon rud a bhaineann le Gaeltachta á chur chun deireadh, an spreagadh a bhíodh ann do cheantracha ó thaobh na Gaeilge de, tá séá dhíothú de réir a chéile.
Ní aontaím go bhfuil aon díothú ag tarlú. Ó thaobh an anailís a bhí déanta le blianta ar scéim na mbóithre áise, murach go raibh mí-úsáid polaitiúil á baint as, bheadh sé i bhfad níos sláine anois.
Maidir leis an gceist phraiticiúil a chur sé orm, tá sé ar intinn agam an cruinniú seo a eagrú idir oifigigh mo Roinn-ne agus na comhairlí contae. Luaigh an Teachta an scéim LIS agus an méid daoine atá ag cur isteach air. An rud is praiticiúla chun an toradh is fearr is féidir a fháil ar aon chaiteachas ná comhairle an chomhairle contae a ghlacadh agus an obair atá ar siúl acusan a chur i gcomhthéacs aon obair a bheadh ar siúl ag Roinn na Gaeltachta.
Rinne mé iarracht treoracha a thabhairt agus glacadh le comhairle na gcomhairlí contae. Tar éis an chruinnithe sin nuair a bheas rudaí níos soiléire maidir le caiteachas, breithneofar an scéal tuilleadh i gcomhairle leis an Aire Airgeadais, féachaint an tig linn soláthar a chur ar fáil i mbliana do bhóithre áise agus do bhóithre portaigh. Beidh bóithre portaigh dá bplé sna cainteanna seo chomh maith.
Cén uair a cheapann an tAire go mbeidh sé in ann a rá an mbeidh nó nach mbeidh airgead ar fáil? An bhfuilimid ag caint ar dheireadh mí Lúnasa nó tús mhí Mheán Fómhair?
Beidh an cruinniú ar siúl taobh istigh de cúpla seachtain agus ag an bpointe sin beidh mé ag filleadh arís ar an ábhar.
Ach cén uair a cheapann sé go mbeidh an cinneadh deireannach déanta agus fógra ann an mbeidh airgead do na bóithre áise? An bhfuilimid ag caint ar lár mhí Lúnasa?
Glacaim leis mar sin gur roimhe sin atá i gceist aige.
Are there any more questions on this particular heading?
Ní ar an gceann seo ach ba mhaith liom dul ar aghaidh go dtí fo-mhírcheann 4.
Feicim go bhfuil £75,000 agus £30,000 caite anuraidh — seo forbairtí comharchumann — caiteachas caipitil — agus is léir nach bhfuil an oireadh éilimh ar an scéim agus a bhíodh. An bhféadfaí díriú ar dhá rud anseo?
Thar mar a bhí fadó, tá sé ag tógáil i bhfad níos mó ama anois ar an Roinn, iarratais, fiú iarratais bheaga, faoin scéim seo a phróiseáil. Tá sé seo ag tarraingt deacrachtaí do na comharchumainn fiú le hiarratais nuair nach bhfuil i gceist leo ach £5,000 nó£6,000. Tá b'fhéidir sé nó seacht mhí d'am phróiseála ar iarratais. An bhféadfaí an cheist sin a scrúdú agus an bhfuil aon treoirlínte ann faoin gcineál caiteachais caipitil atá indeonaithe agus an cineál nach bhfuil? Ba chóir na comharchumainn a chur ar an eolas faoi sin.
Tá mé sásta na ceisteanna sin a mheas. Scríobhfaidh mé chucu faoi na tograí; mar a thuigim tagann sé seo aníos le togra i ndiaidh togra ach each one on its merits.
Gan dul isteach i gcásanna sonracha, bhí cás amháin go bhfuil a fhios agam faoi, gur iarradh go leor eolais, gur caitheadh ocht mí dá mheas agus ag an deireadh dúradh nach raibh aon deontas ar fáil i bprionsabal. Bhí sé seafóideach a bheith ag lorg meastacháin agus mar sin de agus ní thuigim cén fáth nár dúradh ag an tús nach raibh an rud indeonaithe i bprionsabal agus sin sin. Bheadh go leor ama sábháilte ag an Roinn agus ag an gcomharchumann a chuir isteach an t-iarratas.
Ceist bheag í seo maidir le riaradh na scéime. Ba í mo thaithí-se ar an scéim go raibh sé thar a bheith éifeachtach ach le cúpla bliain anuas cloisim casaoid maidir le cúrsaí moille agus go bhfuil fad curtha le rudaí nár cheart fad a chur leo.
Fo-mhírcheann E6: glacaim leis go dtiocfaimid ar ais lá eile chuig deontais reachtála comharchumann ach maidir le E6, tá laghdú anseo de £30,000. I ngo leor de na fo-mhírchinn, faraor géar, táimid ag caint ar laghdú airgid. Arbh in laghdú de bharr laghdú ar an éileamh nó laghdú de bharr cúrsaí buiséide? An bhféadfadh an tAire a rá cén céatadán deontais a bhíonn áíoc anois agus an bhfuil slat tomhais Gaeilge fós in úsáid nuair atá na deontais á meas?
Feicfidh an Teachta má dhíríonn sé ar an t-ollsuim de £544,000 atá méadaithe ó£466,000. Nuair a bhí na héilimh faoi na ceannteidil éagsúla curtha san áireamh cuireadh in ord iad agus tá na héilimh is práinne léirithe sna leibhéil a tháinig amach. Ó thaobh airgid a déanadh na laghdaithe, agus chun an t-airgead a úsáid ar an gcaoi is fearr is ea a thángamar ar an bhfigiúr sin.
An figiúr atá ag an Aire, glacaim leis go raibh sé ag cur na E go léir le chéile.
Bhíomar ag díriú ar Thoraigh a chríochnú agus airgead a chur ar fáil dó.
Leis sin a dhéanamh, ainneoin gur mórscéim í agus dá mbeadh séá dhéanamh in aon chontae eile faoi aon Roinn eile, nach mbeadh aon ghearradh ar na fo-scéimeanna faoin Roinn sin, tá an tAire ag rá go raibh air gach rud eile a ghearradh ar mhaithe le Toraigh a chríochnú.
Nithe eile a ghearradh.
Ach abair go bhfaigheann an Tuaim scéim séarachais. Ní ghearrtar deontais do na healaíon ná voluntary grants an Roinn Leasa Shóisialaigh. Tá sé ag rá mar sin i gcás na Gaeltachta go bhfuil eisceacht á dhéanamh: go bhfuil tionchar mar shampla ag mórscéim ar nós——
An rud a theastaigh uaim ná deireadh a chur leis an cur i gcéill. Bhí gealltanas tugtha do mhuintir Thoraí go ndéanfaí rud éigin bliain i ndiaidh bliana; bhíodar bréan díobh agus mheasamar go gcaithfí rud éigin a dhéanamh do Thoraigh fiú má chosnaíonn sé cúpla ciorraithe in áiteanna eile.
Ach tá an tAire ag rá le cé a fháil do Thoraigh——
Táím agus tá siad i bhfad níos fearr as. Bhí dalla mullóg á cur orthu; rinneamar cinneadh rud éigin a thabhairt i gcrích; chuireamar an t-airgead ar fáil: bhí orainn cúpla ciorraithe eile a dhéanamh. Má tá an Teachta ag rá nach bhfuil sé ceart an t-airgead a chaitheamh ar Thoraigh, is cuma liom.
Níl. Tá mé ag rá go mba chóir an t-airgead a chaitheamh ar Thoraigh ach nár cheart go mbainfí as rudaí ar nós——
Agus ar phlé an Teachta é sin leis an Teachta Charlie McCreevy?
Níl aon fhadhb agamsa le Charlie McCreevy.
Nach bhfuil? Nach bhfuil an Teachta ag déanamh rud atá contráilte ar fad leis an rud atáá dhéanamh aigesean? Tá an Teachta Ó Cuív ag caitheamh airgid agus eisean ag sábháil airgid. Caithfidh an Teachta a aigne a dhéanamh suas.
Tá m'aigne déanta suas agamsa. Níl aon fhadhb agamsa leis sin.
Sea, tá sé ag caitheamh airgid tráthnóna agus go n-éirí leis.
Má bhreathnaímid ar na meastacháin ag an Roinn d'ealaín agus do chultúr, tá deich faoin gcéad de mhéadú ann. Ach má bhreathnaímid ar na meastacháin don Ghaeltacht——
Cén gearradh siar atá i gceist ag an Teachta?
Tá laghdú de £30,000 ar na saoráidí ar nós páirceanna imeartha agus mar sin de. Chuir mé dhá cheist bhreise ansin nár fieagraíodh fós. Cén céatadán deontais atá ar fáil le haghaidh leithéidí páirceanna peile agus an dtógtar an Ghaeilge sa cheantar san áireamh?
Idir 50 agus 60 faoin gcéad.
Agus an dtógtar cúrsaí Gaeilge san áireamh?
Mar sin bíonn níos mó le fáil ag ceantair láidre Ghaeilge. D'fhéadfadh ceantar ar nós Ros Muc a bheith ag súil le 60 faoin gcéad.
Ní hí sin an chaoi ina n-áirítear é.
Dúirt an tAire go raibh idir 50 agus 60 faoin gcéad de dheontas le fáil.
Suas le. Sin an t-uasteorann.
Ach go praiticiúil, níl sé sin ar fáil?
Go praiticiúil an rud atá ag tarlú ná go bhfuil 50 fán gcéad ann mar chineál uasteorainn agus nuair a thagann na moltaíéagsúla faoi na fiontair éagsúla atá ag teacht suas, ceann de na rudaí a thógtar san áireamh ná cursaí Gaeilge agus an tionchar a bheadh ag an deontas ar chúrsaí Gaeilge.
Luaigh an Teachta Ros Muc. Tá obair iontach déanta i Ros Muc.
Tá. Gaisce déanta acu. Ach an féidir linn glacadh leis i ngeall ar na ciorraithe atá déanta ag an Aire le hairgead a chur ar fáil do Thoraigh, go praiticiúil i mbliana, le ceantar láidir Gaeltachta, táimid ag caint ar 34 fán gcéad i mbliana agus go mbeadh na ceantair laga Ghaeltachta ag caint ar 30 fán gcéad.
Nílim á rá sin. Tagann na fiontair suas and each one is judged on its own merits. Níl sé leagtha síos — níl aon rud scríofa síos nach bhfuil ag teastáil ach na hiarratais a chur isteach agus gan aon anailís a dhéanamh orthu go mbeidh 50 faoin gcéad ag dul dóibh. Nílim á rá sin. Táim á rá tar éis anailís a dhéanamh ar an iarratas agus má tá na cigiríáitiúla sásta é a mholadh ar aghaidh, tá uasteora ann agus tógtar san áireamh faoin uasteora sin an tionchar a bheas ag an deontas ar chúrsaí Gaeilge i gcoitinne.
Ach go praiticiúil——
Tá sé fíorphraiticiúil. Sin an fáth a bhí leis an figiúr de £65,000 a tháinig amach don bhfiontar a luaigh an Teachta i Ros Muc.
Is ionann é sin agus 34 faoin gcéad den chostas.
Is cuma liom faoin gcaoi a gcuireann an Teachta síos——
Tá ráite acu gur £190,000 an meastachán atá curtha acu chuig an Roinn; gur £65,000 atá faighte; agus de réir an calculator beag atá agamsa, oibríonn sé sin amach ag 34 faoin gcéad den ollchostas. Anois, glacaim leis go n-áirítear Ros Muc mar cheantar an-láidir ó thaobh na Gaeilge de agus gur mhaith leis an Aire níos mó airgid a thabhairt dóibh agus gurb é an t-údar nach raibh sé in ann é sin a dhéanamh nach raibh an t-airgead sa kitty. An mbeadh sé sin fíor?
Bím ag troid i gcónaí chun an t-airgead is mó a bhaint amach. An t-uaschostas atá ag baint leis an togra ná£250,000. Tá£85,000 bailithe acu; tá deontas de £65,000 ceadaithe agus beidh seans acu teacht ar ais don chéad chéim eile ach mar a dúirt an Teachta féin, caithfidh mé feidhmiú taobh istigh de na teorainneacha airgid atá ann.
An rud atá ag déanamh imní domsa le hais mar a bhíodh rudaí, táimid anois le £85,000 fágtha tar éis Ros Muc le caitheamh ar an Gaeltachtaí uilig i mbliana. Má roinntear é sin suas is airgead beag é.
Fo-mhírcheann E7: forbairt comharchumainn. Tugadh ardú deontais anuraidh ach níor tugadh aon ardú deontais i mbliana. Tá na deontais sin fós taobh thiar den leibhéal deontais atááíoc ag an Roinn Leasa Shóisialaigh dá gcomhionann taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht. An bhfuil sé i gceist athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar na deontais reachtála seo do 1997?
Thug mé ardú suntasach dóibh sa deontas reachtála mar a thuigfidh an Teachta.
Tuigim é sin.
Fiú tar éis an staidéar atá déanta aige air ní féidir leis cur ina choinne sin.
Aontaím leat go hiomlán. Bhí sé in am ach rinneadh é.
An troid is mó a bhí agam féin leis an rud ar fad ná maidir leis na sé seachtaine ba dhorcha do mhuintir na Gaeltachta ag deireadh 1994 nuair a d'imigh an Rialtas seo as agus nuair a gearradh siar an caiteachas faoin gceannteideal sin ó£1.5 milliún go dtí£400,000. Bhí gach rud gearrtha siar agus ag titim as a chéile — an sórt leithscéala a bhí air ná Ní rabhamar i ndáiríre faoi sin; ní raibh ann ach an buiséad. agus nach bhfuil an chosúlacht air sin go mbeadh figiúirí eile athraithe aige i ndeireadh na dála sna meastacháin? Sin an sórt rí-rá a bhíonn ann i gcónaí agus tá sé ag tarlú arís.
Is cuma liomsa maidir leis an Teachta Ó Cuív má tá sé ag iarraidh ormsa níos mó airgid a chur ar fáil; cuirim an cheist ar ais air: an bhfuil cead faighte aige ón urlabhraí ar chúrsaí airgid atá ag a pháirtí, eisceacht a dhéanamh do chúrsaí Gaeltachta?
Tá mé cinnte go bhfuil; níl fadhb ar bith ann.
Is maith liom nach bhfuil agus cuireann sé ionadh orm mar tá an liosta ag éirí níos faide. Táim anbhuíoch de cheannaire a pháirtí chomh maith nuair a deireann sé go bhfuil eisceacht eile ann do Theilifís na Gaeilge agus tá séá leathnú amach anois go dtí eisceacht do chúrsaí Gaeltachta chomh maith. Mar sin ní bheidh aon deacracht——
Tá a fhios ag an Aire gurb é dara aidhm an pháirtí cúrsaí Gaeilge agus ní cheapfainn go bhfaighfeadh an tAire fadhb iriamh le Fianna Fáíl ó thaobh cúrsaí Gaeilge agus Gaeltachta.
Ach amháin nuair a bhíonn ceannaire an pháirtí sin ina Aire i 1994/95.
Ní féidir linn a bheith ag plé an rud nár tharla agus tá a fhios sin go maith ag an Aire.
An bhféadfaimis dul ar aghaidh——
Before we proceed with the ding-dong may I ask the two Members present if they are happy to use up the relatively short remaining time on this part of the estimate? Or can we bring it to a conclusion and move on to Votes 33 and 34?
That would be my wish.
An bhféadfaimis críochnú? Caithfidh mise imeacht: tá mé ar an athló ag caint faoi fhadhb scoile thiar sa Dáilcheantar.
Could I have a view on that issue? We have yet the National Gallery and the Arts Council to deal with together with heritage and broadcasting. I think we will make this a final comment on the Gaeltacht.
Ach ní minic a phléitear an Ghaeltacht sa Teach seo.
Maidir le fo-mhírcheann F1: deontais do theaghlaigh arbh í an Ghaeilge a ngnáth-theanga: tá laghdú beag ansin de £18,000. Tá a fhios agam go n-íoctar an deontas sin de réir an t-éileamh atá air; ach an é sin le rá go bhfuilimid ag glacadh leis go bhfuil laghdú ar líon na dteaghlach atá ag labhairt Gaeilge lena gclann sa nGaeltacht? An é sin an fáth go bhfuil an figiúr sin laghdaithe?
Níl laghdú ar líon na dteaghlach agus is leor an t-airgead.
Tá an tAire ag rá go bhfuil níos lú gasúir ag na teaghlaigh mar sin: go bhfuil níos mó daoine ag fáil £100 in ionad £200 mar bhfuil na gasúir acu.
An méid airgid atá curtha ar fáil, déanfaidh sé. Is leor é chun an t-éíleamh a shásamh.
Tuigim é sin ach tá laghdú£18,000 ann agus caithfidh, mar sin, go bhfuilimid ag súil le níos lú iarratais nó le níos lú iarratais go n-éireoidh leo.
Ní thuigim an loighic.
Ó thaobh Údarás na Gaeltachta de, faoi fho-mhírcheann H3: caiteachas caipitil ar fhoirgnimh — scaireanna agus mar sin de — an bhfuil sé sin curtha in áit an airleacain a bhíodh ann fadó— an t-airgead a bhíodh á thabhairt ar aghaidh? Is dóigh liom gur céim mhór chun tosaigh é: go bhfuil transparency i gceist leis an socrú seo nach mbíodh i gceist leis an seansocrú. Molaim an tAire as an rud sin a dhéanamh.
Tá laghdú ansin de £3,350,000. Deirtear liom go bhfuil an-easpa spáis monarchan, aisteach go leor, sa Ghaeltacht i láthair na huaire agus go bhfuil níos mó tograí ná spáis monarchan ann agus nach féidir leo dul ar aghaidh leis an gclár tógála i ngeall ar easpa airgid. B'fhéidir go bhfuil malairt céille ag an Aire. An féidir linn glacadh leis go mbeidh dóthain airgid ag an Údarás le haon chlár tógála réasúnta atá acu a chur i gcrích? Níl aon amhras ann gur beag monarcha folamh atá sa nGaeltacht anois.
Is féidir liom a rá gur pléadh an cás seo idir oifigigh agus baill an Údaráis agus mo Roinn. Chomh maith leis sin tá cainteanna ar siúl idir mé féin agus an Roinn Airgeadais agus ní bheidh aon iachall ar an Údarás aon seans a chailliúint ó thaobh tograí de. Tá an ceart ag an Teachta sa cheist a chuir sé orm.
Rinne an tAire rud i mbliana le cúrsaí oidhreachta: thóg sé rud ón Office of Public Works agus chuir sé isteach faoi oidhreacht é. Tá go leor againn sa nGaeltacht a déarfadh go mba cheart dó an rud céanna a dhéanamh ó thaobh cúrsaí Gaeltachta de. Mar shampla, dul ag an Roinn Oideachais agus a rá, Ná bígí sibhse ag cur aon airgead ar fáil le haghaidh tograí spóirt agus mar sin de sa nGaeltacht mar is muide a dhéanfaidh hallaí agus faichí imeartha agus mar sin de a chur ar fáil agus tugaigí an t-airgead a bhíodh sibh ag caitheamh sa nGaeltacht dúinne agus caithfimid faoi aon Roinn amháin é. Mar an gcéanna leis an Roinn Comhshaoil: Tugaigí an t-airgead a bhíodh sibh ag caitheamh ar thithe sa nGaeltacht dúinne agus caithfimidne é mar Roinn.
Chiallódh sé sin nach mbeadh an dúbladh ann atá ar bun sa nGaeltacht i láthair na huaire — dúbladh a raibh an tAire agus mé féin thíos leis an tseachtain seo caite go deimhin — agus an rud céanna a dhéanamh le FÁS agus Bord Fáilte ó thaobh an Údaráis de.
An bhfuil sé i gceist ath-thógáil a dhéanamh ar an Roinn agus ar an Údarás sa gcaoi is go mbeidh gnónna na Gaeltachta faoin Roinn agus faoin Údarás agus nach mbeidh an iliomad scaipthe á dhéanamh: rudaí comhthreormharacha dá ndéanamh i Roinn na Gaeltachta agus sna Ranna eile agus i gcásanna eile le háisíneachtaí stáit agus an t-Údarás sa nGaeltacht? An bhfuil sé i gceist aon ath-eagrú mar a rinne an tAire i gcúrsaí oidhreachta a dhéanamh le cúrsaí Gaeltachta?
Tuigfidh an Teachta go bhfuil an chontúirt ann i gcónaí go ndéarfadh lucht an Bhéarla go rabhamar ag empire-building dá ndéanfaimis sin.
Caithfidh mé an t-ábhar seo a phlé le mo chomhleacaithe. Tá an smaoineamh suimiúil ach níor tharla a leithéid san am atá caite ach ní hé sin le rá nach fiú smaoineamh a dhéanamh air.
Ach ní raibh Aire ar nós an Aire seo ann cheana, ach oiread.
Caithfidh mé stop a chur leis an ábhar seo agus leanúint ar aghaidh.
Impireacht bheag eile arbh fhiú smaoineamh air náó tharla go bhfuil an tAire agus an tAire Stáit anseo, ní fheicim cúis ar bith nach gcuirfí na hoileáin ar fad le chéile — tá scoilt á dhéanamh ansin anois mar tá Aire Oileáin agus Aire Stáit Gaeltachta gurb é an duine amháin é ach tá dhá chineál rannóga ann. An bhfuil aon seans go gcuirfí an 800 duine atá ar na hoileáin Ghalltachta faoi Roinn nua Ealaíon, Cultúir, Gaeltachta agus Oileán?
I will not ask the Minister to reply because we said we would bring this to a conclusion. We will now proceed to broadcasting and heritage.
Reference was made to the licence fee. I know RTE has been attempting to link the licence fee increase to its work for Teilifís na Gaeilge. However, these are separate issues which should not be linked.
The Minister may be acting outside his powers under the Broadcasting Authority (Amendment) Act, 1976, by telling the RTE authority how to spend its money vis-ï¿½-vis Teilifís na Gaeilge and the number of hours it should allocate to programming. Perhaps the Minister could clarify what legal advice he has received and whether a statutory instrument is required.
Other language programmes were mentioned in relation to the development of the new station. Has any progress been made in that regard?
I welcome Deputy de Valera's statement. A licence fee increase for RTE as the national broadcaster should be viewed on its merits. I prepared my response to its request on the basis of all its accounts. It would be an unfortunate development if people suggested it arose because of its £4.5 million or £5 million contribution to Teilifís na Gaeilge. RTE needs to invest in its outside broadcasting unit, which would cost approximately £1.5 million. There are questions in relation to the buildings and the replacement of equipment which might be in excess of the depreciation. These are to be based on the accounts. The case is a general one. The last increase was in 1986. In other words, we are ad idem in regard to the case standing on the basis of its general needs. There is, of course, another issue which is that they are in a far more competitive environment. If TV3 arrives, there is the question of existing satellite and cable competition. They are in a very competitive world. The licence fee will be looked at generally.
In relation to the statutory instruments, it was mentioned in one of the Sunday newspapers that this issue would be raised with me when RTE came to make urgent representations to me, to threaten me and so on. The delegation from RTE said they could not understand where that story had come from and that it had no basis whatsoever. I introduced important decisions in regard to Teilifís na Gaeilge during the last Government and introduced one in this Government on 20 January 1995. On that occasion the Government decided on a policy strategy. I then asked the chairman, Mr. Sorohan, and the director general, Mr. Barry, to meet me and I conveyed to them the Government's decision in relation to Teilifís na Gaeilge. There is nothing in the Broadcasting Act which requires statutory instruments so the story was without a basis.
I want to be as helpful as I can and I will now answer your question, chairman. A number of suspicions have been put around -not by Deputy de Valera but by others who want to write about it in a different way. There will be an infrastructure in place, as you said. There is a commitment to broadcasting in the Irish language. Of course, the transmission system has many uses, including distance learning, foreign language training, coverage of the proceedings of the Oireachtas and so on. However, the consideration of any proposal would, in the first instance, be for Comhairle Teilifís na Gaeilge, which is in discussion with RTE, which is bringing the new television service into existence.
Provision will be made for Teilifís na Gaeilge as an independent structure in the broadcasting legislation. Whatever authority is responsible for Teilifís na Gaeilge will make the decision. I do not want to delay the Select Committee. I have read suggestions, not from the Deputy but in some newspapers, that it would not be accountable for its usage. That could not be further from the truth. It is not my intention to interfere. I understand that some people have already approached Teilifís na Gaeilge about this. Its comhairle considers such proposals which are then discussed with RTE, which has a caretaker relationship with the emerging new station.
When the new legislation is enacted, there will be a clear authority for Teilifís na Gaeilge, which will be the body to make the decisions on the appropriate usages. It is a public service channel which is being paid for by the State and provides three hours of Irish language programming. It would obviously appear to anyone looking at it in that way that educational projects and other projects which would not normally arise out of the marketplace would be most cognate to the basic purposes of the station.
I made the reference to the licence fee for a specific reason. That should be looked at on its own merits, on which the Minister and I agree. However, I am worried there does not seem to be a long-term strategy for the funding of Teilifís na Gaeilge. In other words, it does not have its own funding base, rather a symbiotic arrangement with RTE. That could jeopardise the new channel. The Minister said there will be a clear authority for Teilifís na Gaeilge under the legislation, which we hope to see in the autumn.
The funding strategy for such a channel should have been in place from the beginning. I agree with the Minister that the other 21 hours which will be available should have a public service broadcasting element because it is paid for by the Exchequer. The position in the Fianna Fáil policy document on broadcasting is that those hours should be used for education and other such interests. To whom would people apply to use those hours for programmes? What criteria would be used to assess such applications? I raised these matters during Question Time a couple of weeks ago but I did not get a satisfactory answer from the Minister. Perhaps he might answer those questions now.
It is perfectly clear from what I have already said that the person to write to is the secretary of Comhairle Teilifís na Gaeilge.
I have corresponded with the Department in relation to a request by a Christian broadcasting group for access to lines. I do not mind if I do not get a reply today as I would be happy to receive a written reply within 24 hours.
I read, from time to time, articles by people who are deliberately muddying the whole relationship with Teilifís na Gaeilge — I am not talking here about Deputy de Valera's contribution. The world and its mother knows that if the legislation had been changed first to provide for an autonomous Teilifís na Gaeilge, it probably would not have happened. When I come to write my full story of Teilifís na Gaeilge I will give the facts of how the whole story evolved. There was a commitment in the Fianna Fáil-Labour Government on how Teilifís na Gaeilge would be funded from the cap and so on. I do not want to open that up again but I decided to deliver the station. I think we have done remarkably well because it will begin on Oíche Shamhna this year. The point was to do it under the existing broadcasting legislation.
I will answer your question very directly. RTE was given the task by the Government to implement this Government decision and Comhairle Teilifís na Gaeilge was established in an advisory capacity. It has appointed staff to look after the future of Teilifís na Gaeilge. Applications for usage of the extra capacity should be made to it initially. It will, in turn, discuss them with RTE. When I bring in the broadcasting legislation in the autumn, there will be a clear structure there.
The authority with responsibility for Teilifís na Gaeilge can assess all of the applications. It is not my business to decide them. Many of my opponents would love me to say I favour one or am hostile to another. I do not expect those leopards to change their spots, even after the television station goes on the air. I do not interfere in television programming. It is very important that we know where the structure will be.
It logically follows that there will be public service broadcasting. It is very important to know where the structure will be.
There will be public service broadcasting; that will logically follow. I read, Chairman, that you referred to an impending application. I have heard that others from universities are interested in putting together a package or a proposal to use the capacity of the station. I imagine that the staff of Telifís na Gaeilge are busy putting together the three hours and having it ready for Oiche Shamhna. This is probably the reason they have not spent much time on this other dimension on what would be possible.
The funding decision of 20 January 1995 is for Exchequer funding of £10 million per annum into the future. This is stated explicitly in the Government decision. Given the running costs of the station for three hours and the hour's contribution from RTE, is it unreasonable to ask the national broadcaster, who receives the licence fee, to make a contribution to the cultural, social and economic life of this country through Telifís na Gaeilge? Supposing one put it the other way and announced that the Irish language function was being taken away from RTE. Would one be damaging RTE's case with regard to the licence fee? There was an explicit commitment in our programme for Government with the Fianna Fáil Party that there would be a contribution from RTE when the idea of Telifís na Gaeilge was introduced. I followed this faithfully.
I was interested to note the Minister's remarks on the running costs and the commitments made when Fianna Fáil was in office. The statements made in January 1996 by the Minister regarding the running costs of Teilifís na Gaeilge and RTE's responsibilities amount to a U-turn on his statement of a year earlier. In 1996 the Minister asked RTE for additional moneys for its running costs.
That is not accurate.
It is not accurate to say that the situation was the same in 1994 as in 1995 regarding the commitment on running costs for RTE. This should be underlined. The reason a specific fund for Telifís na Gaeilge was necessary from its inception is that RTE has and will have a difficult time — the Minister has already referred this — in keeping up with competition on technology and so on. The Minister mentioned earlier that RTE will have competition. This is why those in RTE find it difficult to look at this situation when additional costs have been imposed on them.
This is not to say that Telifís na Gaeilge should not be given every help and support by way of funding. We all agree with the principles of Telifís na Gaeilge. It is the approach to long term funding rather than ad hoc arrangements or symbiotic arrangements which concerns me.
The proposals on Telifís na Gaeilge were included in the proposals of the various parties in the 1990s. For example, the Progressive Democrats included it in their election manifesto. However, it was not included in the programme for the Progressive Democrats-Fianna Fáil Government. The Progressive Democrats left Government and the Fianna Fáil Ministers, meeting as a group, decided that Telifís na Gaeilge was a good thing but no Cabinet decision of any kind were taken. I brought the first proposals for Telifís na Gaeilge to the Fianna Fáil-Labour Government on the basis of an explicit commitment in the Government programme between our two parties that it would be funded from the accumulation of the money following the disastrous savaging of RTE by Deputy Raphael Burke when a cap was introduced in 1990 and that there would be an hour's contribution from RTE.
Deputy de Valera has recently changed Fianna Fáil's position to the effect that there should be no contribution from RTE.
That is not correct.
The Deputy said that I made additional demands on RTE in 1996. This is not so. The reason there is such mischievous misconstruction of the facts is that people are afraid to oppose Telifís na Gaeilge. In fairness, Fianna Fáil supports Telifís na Gaeilge. Outside commentators are entitled to their views on the station. The Exchequer commitment is there arising out of the decision of 20 January 1995.
When the broadcasting legislation becomes clear there will be an autonomous body for deciding the capacity of the new transmission system. In the interim, the comhairle of Telifís na Gaeilge will listen to any suggestions and discuss them with RTE. The response to spending money so far has been excellent and the two commissioning programmes have been good. There have been applications from all over the country and submissions have been made from small companies.
It is not a matter of me having to be convinced of the competition which RTE faces. I may be the only Minister in the past ten years who was willing to consider proposing a television licence fee increase to Government. We have not had one since 1986. It is easy to wring one's hands about what RTE needs. It is another thing to prepare a memo, convince one's colleagues in Government and try to secure it for RTE. These are the kind of things we discussed at the meeting last Tuesday from which a public statement was issued by RTE.
When the Minister refers to funding Telifís na Gaeilge it is important that the references to Exchequer funding and running costs are looked at. With regard to the running costs, an additional amount of money was asked of RTE in 1996 for the running costs. Most parties can agree with the general position on Telifís na Gaeilge. It is the approach that is important.
The request from the Christian Broadcasting Group did not relate to the television channel. It referred to a disused radio frequency. It does not require an answer now, but I would like a substantive reply in the next day or so if possible.
There have been inquiries as to how the film area is doing. Is the Minister happy that the general financial environment continues to be good and that substantial activity continues to be generated?
Did the Minister say he attempted to convince his colleagues of the need to increase the licence fee?
No. I said I may well be the first Minister to have, in the last decade, made an attempt to convince Ministers of the need for a television licence fee increase.
Is that the Minister's view?
Ministers who had the opportunity of helping RTE through a television licence fee increase did not take it. Leaving that aside, I am preparing a response to RTE's submission to Government. I put that plainly and directly; there was no spin on it.
The Minister may recommend an increase?
I will make a recommendation to Government.
Will the Minister make such a recommendation?
I will not be crossexamined on it; I do not think I should be.
Perhaps we can move on to the film industry.
Since the film regime was changed, 1995 was probably our best year. When the changes were introduced in 1993 we were committed to a review at the end of two years. The review, by the consultants, Indecon, was carried out jointly with the Department of Finance. The situation improved, and continued to improve, and a three year regime was put in place at the end of the review. The advantage of the plan is that people who take decisions in relation to film making for example can see their slated films across a period of time.
So far this year, 26 films have been certified with total budgets of £75 million. This is a projected figure because the Department certifies on the basis of the budget submitted. The projected Irish spend on those is £46.5 million and the projected section 35 amount is £40.3 million. This time last year there were 25 certified films. The level of activity at present is healthy and there is a stronger indigenous component.
I ask Deputies to wrap up this and the two remaining headings as the meeting must conclude by 5.30 p.m.
I do not expect the Minister to deal with my first point in detail now; perhaps he could reply in writing. Regarding recent financial analysis on the contribution of the film industry to the Exchequer — I am aware of the IBEC report -I would be grateful for other up to date information. This would be valuable and perhaps the Minister could send it to me.
I will send the Deputy anything which is available.
I am disappointed that less than half of 1 per cent of the Arts Council grants budget of £18.5 million, that is £90,000, is allocated to arts and disability. Although the Arts Council grants budget shows an increase of £2 million this year, only £20,000 went to arts and disability. Thirty-two individual groups and organisations got larger grants than the entire budget for arts and disability and I hope this area is not forgotten. The Minister will say the allocation of the money is the business of the Arts Council once it has received its budget, but I ask him to ensure the disabled are looked after. He has been derelict in his duty in relation to the disabled and I hope he can put that right by advising the Arts Council, or perhaps allocating other money at his disposal, to help bring the worlds of the disabled and the arts much closer together. If we are discussing equality, surely this is a glaring area which should be immediately addressed.
I wish to clarify an aspect which may be of assistance to the Deputy in understanding the percentage which works slightly differently if one considers it another way. I wish to be positive about this matter. If one considers the allocations to persons with disabilities and the different groups funded by the Arts Council, groups of disabled artists are not included in the percentage. They are not included but I am not trying to defeat the Deputy's point. The Department has committed itself to implementing the findings of the working group on disability and I will discuss the points raised by the Deputy with the Arts Council.
The Minister mentioned a working group.
When discussing the report of the working group in the Department of Equality and Law Reform it will be appropriate to discuss this matter. Rather than telling the Deputy this matter is the business of the Arts Council, I will ask the council, when the report is issued, to consider how its practices meet the working group's demands.
When will the working group conclude its deliberations?
Within a few weeks, I understand.
I welcome the fabulous developments regarding the National Gallery. These lift everybody's hearts. I had forgotten how much material had been closed up and the new developments are of a high standard. These items will be available to the nation in the future. It is a jewel of which people should be immensely proud. I look forward to the new stage of the development. What is the position regarding the proposed Jesuit fellowship?
Discussions are ongoing between the director of the National Gallery, the council of the gallery and the Jesuit community regarding how best the fellowship might be used. In terms of my area of responsibility, it will involve £25,000 in the 1996 Vote. The fellowship arose because the Jesuit community facilitated the gift to the people of the Caravaggio painting, "The Taking of Christ" so it was considered appropriate that there should be discussion with the Jesuits on how best the fellowship might be used. The details regarding how to apply, etc., will be published in the autumn.
Report of Select Committee.
This concludes the committee's considerations of the Estimates. I propose the following draft report:
The Select Committee on Social Affairs has considered the Estimates for the following public services for the year ending 31 December 1996:
Vote 26 — The Office of the Minister for Education -Revised Estimate.
Vote 27 — First Level Education — Revised Estimate.
Vote 28 — Second Level and Further Education — Revised Estimates.
Vote 29 — Third Level and Further Education — Revised Estimate.
Vote 41 — Health — Revised Estimate.
Vote 42 — Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht -Revised Estimate.
Vote 43 — National Gallery — Revised Estimate.
Vote 44 — An Chomhairle Ealaíon — Revised Estimate.
The Estimates are hereby reported to the Dáil.
Is the report agreed? Agreed.
Report agreed to.
Ordered to report to the Dáil accordingly.
I thank the Minister, the Minister of State and their officials for a pleasant and interesting afternoon. I thought we were in for a light afternoon when we started discussing former calendars but it did not remain so. I thank Deputy de Valera and other members for their contributions.
There is a deep commitment on all sides to this area.
The Select Committee adjourned at 5.31 p.m.