Architectural Heritage

Questions (161)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

161. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the criteria used for the allocation of the structures at risk fund 2013; if county councils are able to apply for funding in next year's programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26476/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

I recently announced the allocation of €475,000 in grant funding to thirty-four local authorities under my Department’s Structures at Risk Fund 2013 to enable conservation works to forty-five heritage structures in both private and public ownership deemed to be at significant risk of deterioration and which are protected under the Planning and Development Acts 2000 – 2012. Applications for funding under this scheme received by 24 April 2013 were assessed by an expert panel within my Department based on the following equally weighted criteria:

- Significance of Structure;

- Urgency of works;

- Quality of Method Statement;

- Efficacy of works.

Significance: The Planning and Development Acts 2000-2012 require that a protected structure be of special interest under the following categories: architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social and technical. This element is largely based on the views of the relevant local authority.

Urgency: Works are deemed to be urgent where there are safety, fire or security risks, where there is a risk of water ingress and/or dry rot, where there is evidence of critical damage to the historic fabric (including any significant features, decoration, or artefacts, etc), where there is active structural movement, where the rate of decay has accelerated exponentially or where other extenuating circumstances apply.

Quality of Method Statement: This refers to the relevance and standard of the method statement submitted having regard to the guidance note prepared by my Department, the proposed works, scale of the project and the quality of experience of the person or team charged with delivering the project.

Efficacy of Works: This relates to the value of works being undertaken in securing the survival of the structure in the medium to long-term. Applicants were required to explain how the amount of funding sought was likely to make a significant contribution to eliminating risk and to preventing further deterioration of the structure, thus ensuring its survival into the future.

I hope to be able to continue this scheme in 2014 with applications being made directly by local authorities. However, this is subject to normal budgetary considerations.

Arts Funding

Question No. 163 answered with Question No. 16

Questions (162)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

162. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of arts or heritage events in respect of which he or his Department has received requests for funding, the degree to which it is anticipated to respond to such applications in the current year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26502/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

The Government's policy on the arts is to promote and strengthen the arts in all its forms, to increase access to and participation in the arts, and to make the arts an integral and valued part of our national life.

The Deputy will be aware that responsibility for the promotion of the arts at all levels throughout the country is primarily devolved to the Arts Council. Under the Arts Act 2003, the Arts Council is statutorily independent in its day-to-day operations and my Department has no role to play in its executive or funding decisions. Full information on the Council's funding decisions is made available on their funding decisions database on their website www.artscouncil.ie.

Within the current economic constraints, investment in the arts, heritage, culture and creative sectors is more important than ever, having regard to the employment intensity of these sectors. While I know that the Deputy appreciates the funding difficulties facing all Departments at this time, I can assure him that I remain committed to securing the best possible level of funding for these sectors. The specific allocations to be made over the current year will, of course, be dependent on the Department's budgetary position as the year progresses. Full details of all grant payments for the current year will be published on the Department's website in due course.

Question No. 163 answered with Question No. 16.

Tourism Promotion

Question No. 165 answered with Question No. 21

Questions (164, 169)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

164. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which he and his Department have engaged with bodies, groups or agencies involved in tourism with the objective of ensuring that Ireland's heritage remains to the fore in the course of any promotional or tourism events; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26504/13]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

169. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which efforts have been made to promote and increase visitor levels at various locations of historical, architectural or heritage interest throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26509/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 164 and 169 together.

While promotion of Ireland as a tourist designation is primarily a matter for Tourism Ireland and the development of tourism is the responsibility of Ireland’s National Tourism Development Authority, Fáilte Ireland, I am committed to availing of every possible opportunity to project a positive global image for Ireland. To this aim I recently met with Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland to enhance co-operation between my Department and both tourism bodies in promoting heritage and tourism.

I am particularly conscious of this in the context of 2013 being the year of The Gathering initiative. My Department is actively engaged in a wide range of activities to this end, both in co-operation with bodies such as Fáilte Ireland and the Office of Public Works, and in promoting its own initiatives such as our ‘Places to See’ and ‘Monuments to Visit’ websites, which provide directions to lesser known heritage sites and details of what the visitor can expect to find on arrival. Capital funding is provided by my Department to support the Office of Public Works’ conservation programme for the State's heritage portfolio, many properties from which attract high levels of visitors to Ireland.

The unique qualities of Ireland’s national heritage play a significant role in enhancing and projecting Ireland’s image abroad, and in supporting economic renewal through cultural and heritage tourism and in downstream opportunities, such as in the retail, catering and accommodation sectors. For example, I understand from Fáilte Ireland that some 3.5 million overseas visitors engaged in cultural activities while in Ireland in 2011. Over 2.5 million tourists visited historic houses or castles, while 2 million visited our archaeological monuments, with over 3.7 million visitors to heritage sites where the Office of Public Works provides a guide service.

My Department’s network of National Parks and Nature Reserves are also a major part of Ireland’s tourism attractions. It is my intention to encourage and facilitate, to the greatest extent possible, public access and appropriate visitor use in these parks and reserves. Such access and use must, of course, be consistent with the ethos of the parks as natural places of peace and tranquillity set in scenic landscapes, as well as being compatible with the conservation and biodiversity considerations that are of necessity associated with the management of heritage properties.

Despite current economic challenges, it is my intention to invest in visitor facilities in the parks and nature reserves to maximise their sustainable use and enjoyment. To this end, and building on previous investment in this area, my Department is working on proposals to further develop visitor facilities, such as walking and cycling routes, enhanced signage and interpretation.

As regards visitor centres, in the last couple of years my Department opened modern visitor focussed centres at Ballycroy National Park, Co. Mayo, Clara Bog Nature Reserve, Co. Offaly, and a visitor information point for the Burren National Park in Corofin, Co. Clare.

I anticipate that the redevelopment of Killarney House in Killarney National Park will be a major tourism asset in years to come. The House, once complete, will serve as the main visitor and interpretative centre for the National Park, highlighting the beauty and interpreting the richness and significance of the Park’s landscapes, habitats, flora and fauna, as well as telling the story of man’s interaction with the Park over the centuries. It is also intended that some of the formal rooms will be restored to their former glory. This is a major project for my Department and involves collaboration with OPW as project managers and Fáilte Ireland which has committed funding of €5.2 million towards the project, under its Tourism Investment Programme.

In addition, my Department provides core funding for several heritage organisations such as the Heritage Council, which supports a range of initiatives including National Heritage Week, and the Irish Architectural Foundation, which runs the successful Open House event each year.

This year, in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland, my Department is also initiating a pilot programme, the Historic Towns Initiative, in Youghal, Westport and Listowel with the Heritage Council and the local authorities in each town. My primary objective with this initiative is to ensure that the participating towns have access to, and an understanding of, appropriate guidance to assist them in best conserving their heritage assets and, in so doing, underpin the sustainability of their community and local economy. It is my hope that meeting these goals will also, by extension, significantly enhance the visitor experience in these towns, thus helping to maximise the potential positive contribution of tourism to each of these towns and their respective hinterlands.

These are just a sample of the overall range of initiatives and programmes my Department is helping to promote, support or guide as a means of preserving the quality and diversity of our heritage, which in turn, is basis for positively promoting that heritage abroad.

Question No. 165 answered with Question No. 21.

Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme Payments

Questions (166)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

166. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which settlement has been reached with the various turf cutters and-or bog owners throughout County Kildare who have been affected by EU generated special areas of conservation or nationally imposed restrictions; the extent to which relocation or other is imminent in respect of the remainder of cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26506/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

There are 2 raised bog special areas of conservation in County Kildare affected by the cessation of turf cutting - Ballynafagh Bog and Mouds Bog. 56 applications for compensation under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme have been received and acknowledged by my Department in respect of Ballynafagh Bog and 101 applications have been received and acknowledged by my Department in respect of Mouds Bog. 28 and 39 of these applicants respectively have expressed an interest in relocation to a non-designated bog. 42 payments and 8 deliveries of turf have been made in respect of the applications received from Ballynafagh Bog and 51 payments and 35 deliveries of turf have been made in respect of the applications received from Mouds Bog.

Progress has been made with a view to the relocation of qualifying turf cutters from Ballynafagh Bog to Timahoe North, County Kildare. Discussions have been ongoing with a view to turf cutters being able to commence cutting on the relocation site during this season.

Lattins Bog, also known as Mouds North Bog, in County Kildare has been identified as a potential relocation site for turf cutters from Mouds Bog. Bord na Móna has produced a preliminary suitability assessment report and stratigraphy assessment report for the relocation site, which my Department has provided to the Secretary of the Committee of the Kildare Turf Cutters Association. Officials from my Department met with representatives from the Kildare Turf Cutters Association earlier this month. Following this meeting, my Department has asked Bord na Móna to undertake a full assessment of this site.

There are also 2 natural heritage area raised bogs in County Kildare designated under national law in accordance with the provisions of the Wildlife Acts - Carbury Bog and Hodgestown Bog. In May 2010, the previous Government decided that turf-cutting should come to an end on all raised bog NHAs at the end of 2013. However, as set out in the Programme for Government, the current Government undertook to review the situation with regard to raised bog NHAs. This review is currently underway and the future of turf-cutting on such sites is being considered as part of that review. To assist in this task, my Department has engaged a team of scientific specialists to underpin this review. I hope that the review will be completed in the Autumn.

Architectural Heritage

Questions (167)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

167. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the measures put in place by his Department to protect at-risk buildings and-or sites of a heritage or historial importance; the location of any such sites or buildings currently under review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26507/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 137 of 25 April 2013. Comprehensive statistics are not available in respect of locations of sites or buildings at risk or under review.

National Monuments

Question No. 169 answered with Question No. 164

Questions (168)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

168. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which historical sites deemed to be of importance in connection with the 1916 Rising have been identified for preservation purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26508/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

I refer to the reply to Question No. 137 on 25th April 2013. Various sites related to the 1916 Rising are protected under the National Monuments Acts 1930-2004. For example, the buildings at Nos. 14-17 Moore Street are a national monument subject to a Preservation Order under the Acts, while many other sites related to the Rising are included on Dublin City Council’s Record of Protected Structures, most notably the General Post Office on O’Connell Street.

As is the case with all monuments or buildings of historic or heritage importance, my Department assesses the necessity for protective measures to be applied in individual cases as the need arises. My Department’s Commemorations Committee will also continue to advise on any issues that may be identified with regard to monuments or structures associated with forthcoming commemorative events.

Question No. 169 answered with Question No. 164.

Irish Language

Question No. 171 answered with Question No. 22

Questions (170)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

170. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which his Department maintains contact with Gaelscoileanna throughout the country in the context of the further promotion of the Irish language as a spoken language; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26510/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

I should explain at the outset that Foras na Gaeilge, an agency of the North South Language Body (An Foras Teanga) under my Department's remit, has a statutory role in regard to supporting both Irish-medium education and the teaching of Irish in both jurisdictions. Foras na Gaeilge co-operates with and acts as an advocate for the promotion of Irish in the education sector. For example, Foras na Gaeilge is represented on the boards of An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta & Gaelscolaíochta (COGG), the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and the North South Standing Committee on Irish-Medium Education. I understand that regular meetings are held by those fora to progress issues relating to Irish-medium education and the teaching of Irish.

Foras na Gaeilge assists and facilitates the development and provision of Irish language resources as well as Irish language courses at all levels. For example, Foras na Gaeilge produces teaching resources for both primary and post-primary schools through its publication house, An Gúm. Foras na Gaeilge operates schemes which support Irish language groups in organising summer camps and youth events outside of school hours.

Foras na Gaeilge also operates specific schemes in schools, consisting of GLEO (Gaeilge Labhartha san Earnáil Oideachais / Spoken Irish in the Education Sector), a scheme to promote Irish in English-medium primary and post-primary schools, and the Scríobh Leabhar (Write a Book) scheme which encourages creative writing in primary schools. Foras na Gaeilge has also developed a policy on immersion education.

Finally, Foras na Gaeilge currently provides funding to a number of Irish language organisations which have a remit with regard to the Irish language in the education sector, including Gaelscoileanna, Comhar na Múinteoirí Gaeilge, Forbairt Naíonraí Teoranta, Altram and An tÁisaonad.

Question No. 171 answered with Question No. 22.