Questions Nos. 1 to 7, inclusive, answered orally.

Natural Heritage Areas Designation

Questions (8)

Denis Naughten

Question:

8. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the new bogs that are to be closed to turf cutting on foot of the publication of the review of raised bog natural heritage areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17781/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

As the Deputy is aware, the recently published Review of Raised Bog Natural Heritage Area (NHA) Network, which is available to download from my Department’s website, provides detail on future arrangements regarding turf cutting on each of the 75 current raised bog NHAs. The Review has concluded that Ireland could more effectively achieve conservation of threatened raised bog habitat through focused protection and restoration of a reconfigured NHA network. This will entail the phasing out of turf-cutting on certain NHA by 1 January 2017, and the partial or complete de-designation of certain NHAs.

To compensate for the loss of habitat within sites where it is proposed that turf cutting can continue, 25 currently undesignated raised bogs, which are either in public ownership, or where there is reduced turf cutting pressure, will be designated as NHAs. Compensation schemes will be made available to affected turf cutters.

These sites will be proposed for designation later this year when all the necessary preparatory work, which is underway at present, is complete. This includes, among other things, the delineation of proposed boundaries, the preparation of site maps and the compilation of the details of landowners and others who may be affected by the proposed designations.

As with all designations, my Department will, in due course, directly contact individual landowners in the relevant areas and advertisements will be placed in local newspapers, explaining why the site is being proposed for designation and the process through which individuals can appeal against the designation of their lands, up to having their case considered formally by the independent Designated Areas Appeals Advisory Board.

Air Strips

Questions Nos. 10 to 13, inclusive, answered orally.

Questions (9)

Seán Kyne

Question:

9. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if his Department will consider co-ordinating the use of the airstrips at Cleggan and Inishbofin for multiple uses, including small private planes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17988/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

As the Deputy is aware, my Department has developed two airstrips at Cleggan and on Inishbofin in Co Galway. These airstrips are not open at present or licensed for use by the Irish Aviation Authority and the landing of aircraft on the airstrips is strictly prohibited.

My Department took a decision recently to dispose of both airstrips. This decision was made in view of the economic downturn, the ongoing cost of maintaining the airstrips and the unlikelihood that my Department will, at any time in the near future, have the resources to provide financial support to an air service between the island and the mainland. My Department is currently assessing the disposal options that are available to it and a decision in this regard will be announced in due course. It is anticipated that the disposal of these assets will be on the basis of a public procurement process.

I can confirm that my Department has received enquiries from various parties regarding the future use of the facilities, including from the Irish Coast Guard. It is my understanding that the Irish Coast Guard has made use of the island airstrip for daytime emergency medical evacuations. Night-time evacuations are not possible as there are no landing lights on either airstrip. My Department has indicated to the Irish Coast Guard that it will examine any proposals that it may have in this regard. However, considering all the circumstances, I do not foresee any possibility of my Department coordinating the use of the airstrips for multiple uses, including the landing of private aeroplanes.

Questions Nos. 10 to 13, inclusive, answered orally.

Hare Coursing

Questions (14)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

14. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will impose time limits for hare coursing monitoring teams to report back to the National Parks and Wildlife Service in order for hare coursing reports to be drafted and published in a timely manner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17982/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

Hare coursing is administered by the Irish Coursing Club, a body set up under the Greyhound Industry Act 1958, which is the responsibility of my colleague, the Minster for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Under the terms of the Wildlife Acts licences are required by the Irish Coursing Club on behalf of their affiliated clubs to facilitate the tagging and the capture of hares. Such licences are issued on an annual basis by my Department. Coursing meetings can only take place during the Open Season, between 26 September and 28 February of the following year.

Regional staff of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department attend coursing meetings, as resources allow, to monitor compliance with the conditions of the licences. These staff have a wide variety of functions relating to management of National Parks, the conservation of habitats, the protection of protected species and the enforcement of legislation under National laws and EU Regulations. Notwithstanding current staffing constraints, my Department will continue to monitor coursing meetings on an ongoing basis, as well as collating the monitoring reports.

Reports from staff are generally available for consideration within good time of the subsequent coursing season and delays have not been a problem in my Department's consideration of licensing. In these circumstances, I do not see a need to introduce specific time limits at this stage.

Departmental Agencies Staff Remuneration

Questions (15)

Mick Wallace

Question:

15. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in view of the fact that the national cultural institutions are required to be in compliance with public sector pay and recruitment policy, as set down by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, if it is acceptable for these institutions to advertise full-time unpaid internships; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16818/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to his Question No. 30 of 6 March 2014 which related to the same topic. As I outlined on that occasion, whilst my Department provides funding to the National Cultural Institutions, the board of each institution is responsible for all operational matters, including recruitment and internship programmes.

I have no direct function in these matters but am given to understand that a number of the National Cultural Institutions offer internship opportunities, which are provided mainly to third-level students and/or new graduates who wish to gain practical experience and develop work place skills relevant to their area of study.

I am advised that such programmes operate in a mutually supportive and complementary manner, which assists the institutions in achieving their goals and objectives whilst ensuring a rewarding and beneficial experience for interns in terms of enhancing their career opportunities.

Commemorative Events

Questions (16, 17, 21)

Sandra McLellan

Question:

16. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will provide an update on the planned 1916 centenary events and an update on any other related works planned for completion before the centenary of the Rising in 2016. [17784/14]

View answer

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

17. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his plans to commemorate the involvement of Irishmen and women in the First World War this year; when the 1916 Rising exhibition and visitor centre for the GPO will be completed; when he expects the Moore Street site to be completed; the further plans his Department have for the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17790/14]

View answer

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

21. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the funding available for groups and communities undertaking projects to commemorate the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising the procedures and criteria for applying; the decision making process on the applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17984/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 16, 17 and 21 together.

Consideration of proposals is ongoing at Government level on the development of projects relating to the centenary of the Easter Rising. Through consultation with the Oireachtas All-party Working Group on Commemorations and the Expert Advisory Group on Commemorations, I have sought to prioritise projects that are of educational and historical value, that provide a lasting legacy and that are appropriate in tone and scale to the events being commemorated.

To date, a number of capital projects have been identified as priorities in this regard for completion by Easter 2016. These include the development of a suitable permanent facility for the Military Service Pensions Archive, the renovation of Kilmainham Courthouse to enhance the visitor experience at Kilmainham Gaol, the development of a permanent exhibition space and interpretive centre at the GPO, and the development of visitor facilities at Teach an Phiarsaigh, Ros Muc. Among the further projects under active consideration are developments at the National Archives and the National Concert Hall, as well as the renovation of Richmond Barracks and the development of a Tenement Museum. The progress of these and other initiatives will be contingent, inter alia, on the availability of resources.

In relation to the national monument at Nos. 14-17 Moore Street, in July 2013 I made a determination under the National Monuments Acts on the consent application and related Environmental Impact Statement submitted by the owners in relation to their proposals for the national monument. My decision provided, inter alia, for the full repair and restoration of Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street and the creation of a commemorative centre to honour the leaders of the 1916 Rising. The completed designs for the approved works have now been submitted to my Department to verify that they are in compliance with the decision I made on the consent application in July 2013. The National Asset Management Agency has recently confirmed to my Department that it will make the necessary funding available for the works covered by my consent. This adds considerably to the prospects of a fitting tribute to the 1916 leaders being in place in Moore Street in time for the centenary of the Rising.

Complementing the many special presentations, reports and discussions prepared by the national cultural institutions, colleges and community groups, the centenaries this year of the founding of Cumann na mBan and the import of arms by the Irish Volunteers are being marked by official ceremonies. The arrangements for Cumann na mBan included a commemoration led by the President at Glasnevin and an academic conference hosted by the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks. The import of arms in July 1914 will be marked by special presentations in the Asgard Gallery at Collins Barracks and a special programme at Howth harbour. A second online release of historic records from the Military Service Pensions Archive will support research and enhance our understanding of the republican movement. The continuous reporting and analysis of centenary news by Century Ireland will offer a sense of the period to interested readers.

The programme to commemorate the First World War is developing. In partnership with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Teresa Villiers, I laid the foundation stone for a memorial cross at Glasnevin Cemetery on 31 March last. This 'Cross of Sacrifice' was arranged in partnership between Glasnevin Trust and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The dedication of the Cross will take place in late July in remembrance of all the soldiers from Ireland who died in the Great War. A special Cathedral Service of Remembrance on 3 August will mark the entry into the war and be followed closely by further events in Britain and Europe in early August. The First World War centenary programme will continue on the historic timeline until 2018, marking the salient anniversaries of particular significance for Ireland.

Information on the developing commemorative programme will be available on my Department's website www.decadeofcentenaries.com and individual announcements will issue for specific events. I remain, as always, grateful to hear from Deputies with any views on commemorative arrangements.

Special Areas of Conservation Criteria

Questions (18)

Sandra McLellan

Question:

18. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the position regarding special areas of conservation on which turf cutting is still taking place. [17782/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

I published three major documents relating to Ireland's peatlands in January. These were the draft National Peatlands Strategy, the draft National Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) Management Plan and the Review of Raised Bog Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs). Copies of these documents are available for consultation on my Department’s website at www.ahg.gov.ie/en/Publications. Written submissions may be submitted until tomorrow 18 April.

The draft National Raised Bog SAC Management plan sets out the position in relation to SAC raised bogs. In general, turf-cutting on raised bog SACs is incompatible with their conservation and will not be possible in future. There are some exceptions which are dealt with in the draft Plan.

Cutting cannot continue on SAC raised bogs outside the legal framework laid down by the Habitats Directive, as transposed into Irish law, and legal action has been initiated in relation to a number of breaches in recent years. These issues are now before the Courts. It is important to note that the majority of turf cutters are engaging with my Department in relation to the compensation schemes which I introduced.

The draft National Raised Bog SAC Management Plan explores the possibility of using the limited flexibility, within the terms of the Habitats Directive, for continued turf-cutting on a small number of raised bog SACs where relocation possibilities are shown not to exist. In such a scenario, a robust case would need to be submitted to the EU Commission under Article 6(4) of the Habitats Directive and compensatory measures provided to make up for any damage to the SAC network.

However, it has not been possible at this point to determine whether this Plan could form the basis of a case to the EU Commission that an exception should be made for continued turf-cutting on any particular site, notwithstanding the damage it would cause. The issue is dealt with in more detail in Chapter 6 of the draft plan.

I hope that the publication of the draft Plan and the consultation process now underway will encourage further consideration by turf-cutters and their representatives in regard to this issue and their engagement with me and my Department to finalise the Plan.

Turbary Rights

Questions (19)

Denis Naughten

Question:

19. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of alternative bogs that have been sourced for turf cutters forced to relocate; the number of turf cutters who have been accommodated; the number who will be accommodated before the commencement of the 2014 turf cutting season; the number of persons who will not be accommodated by the commencement of the 2014 season; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17780/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

A total of 2,918 applications for compensation under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme have been received and acknowledged by my Department. Of these, 806 applicants have expressed an interest in relocation to non-designated bogs.

Progress in relocating turf cutters is being achieved in a number of cases. Arrangements for the relocation of turf cutters to non-designated bogs have been made as regards a group from Clara Bog special area of conservation in County Offaly and a group from Carrownagappul Bog and Curraghlehanagh Bog special areas of conservation in County Galway. The group from Clara Bog commenced turf cutting at the relocation site in Killeranny, County Offaly, in June 2012, where 23 qualifying turf cutters have now been accommodated. Arrangements have been made to enable 23 qualifying turf cutters from the group from Carrownagappul Bog and Curraghlehanagh Bog to commence turf cutting at the Islands Bog and Killasolan Bog, County Galway during the 2014 turf cutting season.

Progress has been made with a view to the relocation of 7 qualifying turf cutters from Ballynafagh Bog special area of conservation in County Kildare to Timahoe North, County Kildare, which is in the ownership of Bord na Móna. My Department envisages that qualifying turf cutters from Ballynafagh Bog will be able to commence cutting in the relocation site during the 2014 turf cutting season, provided that an agreement is reached with them.

The Department has provided 7 turf cutters from Monivea Bog special area of conservation with the possibility of relocating to a number of sites which have been assessed as suitable for relocation:

Killaclogher Bog, Abbert Demense, County Galway which could accommodate 11 turf cutters;

Clogh, Cloonkeen Bog, Attymon, County Galway which could accommodate 14 turf cutters; and

Gortnalone South, Cloonkeen Bog, Attymon, County Galway which could accommodate 10 turf cutters.

The responses received from the turf cutters are being assessed. Due to the number of turf plots available, the Department is also endeavouring to determine whether other turf cutters may be interested in relocating to one of these sites.

I am advised that of the remaining 48 raised bog special areas of conservation, potential relocation sites have been identified for a further 32 bogs and work is ongoing on identifying and investigating sites. Relocation is unlikely to be required, or is likely to be small-scale, for another 16 raised bog special areas of conservation due, for example, to the small number that had been cutting turf on these sites during the relevant five year period and would qualify for the relocation option available under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme.

Special Areas of Conservation Designation

Question No. 21 answered with Question No. 16.

Questions (20)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

20. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht further to Parliamentary Question No. 47 of 6 March 2014, if there are further methods of conservation recognised by the State and the European Union that could be employed to strengthen the unique and special status of the Howth Peninsula, Baldoyle Bay and the Velvet Strand, Portmarnock. [17785/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

Ireland, along with all other member states of the European Union, is obliged under the Habitats and Birds Directives to designate Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) for the protection of important habitats and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for the protection of birds. These sites are known collectively as Natura 2000 and are selected subject to certain criteria laid out in the Directives. Areas may also be designated as Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs) under the Wildlife Act.

Ireland’s network of Natura 2000 sites is largely complete at this stage and I have no intention to propose further areas for designation at the location referred to by the Deputy, which already has a number of such sites, including Baldoyle Bay and Howth Head Coast SPAs, as well as Baldoyle Bay and Howth Head Coast SACs. While the designated areas do not cover the entirety of the Velvet Strand area referred to in the Deputy's Question, a portion of that area is within the Baldoyle Bay SAC.

While designation under the Birds and Habitats Directives, or under the Wildlife Act, focuses on the nature protection issues, there are also additional mechanisms available to local authorities under the planning code to protect areas. For example, local authorities, in drawing up their development plans under the Planning Acts, have a broader responsibility for protecting high amenity areas from inappropriate development. In this regard, I understand that a portion of Howth Head is subject to a Special Amenity Area Order under the planning code.

Question No. 21 answered with Question No. 16.

National Parks and Wildlife Service Staff

Questions (22)

Clare Daly

Question:

22. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his views on whether there are problems with providing adequate Sunday cover by the National Parks and Wildlife Service officers in view of the fact that abuse of wildlife is more prevalent on Sundays; and if he has any plans to improve the position. [17985/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

Officials of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department monitor compliance with the Wildlife Acts across the country on an ongoing basis and carry out patrols and site visits to enforce the various provisions of these Acts, as required. This often requires working at night and at weekends. As with all services provided by my Department, they are delivered within the overall resources available.

I have no evidence to suggest that wildlife crime occurs more frequently on a Sunday than any other day.

Members of An Garda Síochána, who are also empowered under the Acts to investigate alleged offences and to prosecute if they see fit, regularly assist my Department's staff in carrying out their functions.

Animal Welfare

Questions (23)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

23. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason behind the National Parks and Wildlife Service's licensing unit granting licences to kill the pine marten; the reason non-lethal options, such as the trap and release of the animal, are not available in view of the fact that the pine marten is a protected species and Ireland's rarest mammal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17993/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

The pine marten is protected in Ireland by both national and EU legislation. Under the Irish Wildlife Acts it is an offence, except under licence, to capture or kill a pine marten, or to destroy or disturb its resting places. Once rare, the species has spread widely in Ireland in the past 30 years. Only one licence has been granted in recent years to allow the killing of one pine marten. In this particular instance, the licensee demonstrated that there was an on-going persistent problem that had not been solved by live capture and removal. There was also a public health concern as the affected premises housed a food wholesaler.

I recognise the need for practical advice and guidelines for dealing with pine marten in a manner that is consistent with conservation goals. As they have become more widespread, they can take up residence in places where they are not welcome to humans.

Last autumn, the Vincent Wildlife Trust and my Department collaborated on the development and publication of a leaflet which provides advice on how to keep pine martens out of game and poultry pens. Both organisations are again working together, this time to develop an information leaflet that will provide practical guidance for individuals to help them to prevent pine martens from taking up residence in their houses. This leaflet will be published in the coming months.

National Archives

Questions (24)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

24. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will list, by location and capacity, the total available storage spaces which are being used by the National Archives to store materials; the quality of archival storage facilities and equipment that is available at each site; if he will guarantee that the 70,000 uncatalogued National Archives items are being stored in conditions that meet international best practice; if the available space creates an impediment in itself to the process of cataloguing the backlog; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18053/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to today's Question No 13 in relation to the National Archives.

On a general note, the Deputy will be aware that all of the National Cultural Institutions, including the National Archives, have unavoidably suffered cuts in their allocations in recent years. This is a difficult reality that every publicly funded body has had to deal with during the economic crisis. I can assure the House that I have done my utmost to minimize budget cuts to the cultural institutions, in so far as was possible, while being cognisant of competing demands on the public finances. The stark reality is that, in the current funding environment, institutions have had to make difficult choices when prioritising the spending of their allocations.

In relation to the National Archives, the Bishop Street headquarters are at capacity and off-site storage has been required for a number of years to house the statutory annual transfer of Departmental records to the National Archives. Cognisant of these matters, my Department had requested that the OPW prepare a development plan for the Bishop Street premises. A plan was prepared accordingly for the phased delivery of the necessary works in the National Archives headquarters warehouse. The plan concluded that the construction of a two storey facility within the existing building will provide an efficient and economically viable solution to the storage needs of the National Archives. A formal Cost Benefit Analysis in respect of the proposed development was completed in October 2013. My Department is continuing to progress this project with OPW and other stakeholders in the context of the Decade of Commemorations.

With regard to the current capacity of the various storage locations used by the National Archives and the facilities/equipment available, the position is set out in the following Table, which will be included in the Official Report.

TABLE:

Location

Capacity

Facilities/Equipment

Four Courts

90,000 boxes

- refurbished, good facilities and equipment

Bishop St front block

125,000 boxes

- good facilities and equipment

Bishop St warehouse

114,000 boxes (including 70,000 boxes uncatalogued)

- substandard facilities and equipment and being addressed as part of development plan

Commercial storage

1,800 boxes

- good facilities and equipment

As the Deputy will be aware, the key obstacles to working on the National Archives backlog are lack of skilled and qualified staff who could carry out the cataloguing and preservation work and a lack of space in which to store the documents when this work is complete. In relation to staffing, I am pleased that my Department recently secured sanction for the filling of 2 Keeper posts, 2 Senior Archivist posts and 1 Senior Conservator post at the national Archives, as well as the recruitment of 2 additional Archivists.

National Gallery

Questions (25)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

25. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will provide an update on the restoration of all galleries in the National Gallery; if he is in a position to provide support for the proposed expansion of the National Gallery; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17789/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

Work has commenced on the major restoration project at the National Gallery of Ireland. The project will include the repair and restoration of the fabric of the Dargan and Milltown Wings, infill of the voids between the wings and the installation of 21st century climate, heating, fire suppression and lighting systems amongst other things. The Office of Public Works, the National Gallery of Ireland and my Department are cooperating on the oversight of this project - which has an expected 24 month duration. As the Deputy will appreciate, resources are limited and this sizable and historic restoration and upgrade project is a priority for my Department.

I am not currently in a position to provide for a further expansion of the National Gallery.

Seirbhísí Aeir Fóirdheonaithe

Questions (26)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

26. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil treoir tugtha aige do na comhairleoirí atá i mbun an staidéir ar sheirbhísí aeir d'oileáin Árann comhairle a ghlacadh le háisíneachtaí stáit ar nós Fheidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte, Chomhairle Contae na Gaillimhe, na Roinne Oideachais, Bhord Oideachais agus Oiliúna na Gaillimhe srl faoin tionchar a bheadh ar a gcumas seirbhisí cuimsitheacha a chur ar fáil ar na hoileáin sin dá gcuirfí deireadh leis an tseirbhís aeir go dtí na hoileáin; agus na himpleachtaí costais a bheadh ann dóibh, ag cur chostas foirne san áireamh; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [17779/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

Tá na comhairleoirí atá ceaptha chun athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar sheirbhís aeir Oileáin Árann i mbun a gcuid oibre faoi láthair. Is staidéar iomlán neamhspleách a bheidh á chur i gcrích acu. Tá téarmaí tagartha an athbhreithnithe ar fáil sa cháipéis a foilsíodh agus tairiscintí á lorg don athbhreithniú. Déantar cur síos sna téarmaí tagartha ar na nithe a chlúdófar sa tuarascáil.

Tuigtear do mo Roinn go ndeachaigh na comhairleoirí i dteagmháil le páirtithe leasmhara éagsúla agus iad i mbun an athbhreithnithe agus gur tugadh deis dóibh a gcuid tuairimí a chur in iúl ar an ábhar. Táim muiníneach go mbeidh ar chumas na gcomhairleoirí tuarascáil chuimsitheach a chur ar fáil do mo Roinn a thógfaidh na tuairimí éagsúla a fuarthas agus gach gné den tseirbhís san áireamh mar chuid den athbhreithniú.

Cultural Property

Questions (27)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

27. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his plans to use the former Houses of Parliament building on College Green for cultural events; if any national cultural events will take place there in 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17788/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

As the Deputy is aware, following ongoing discussions between my Department and the Bank of Ireland, the facilitation of a Cultural and Heritage Centre at the Bank of Ireland Branch at College Green, Dublin 2 was recently announced. The Bank of Ireland at College Green is one of the most iconic buildings in Dublin City. It was the first purpose-built Parliament in Europe, completed in 1739, and served as Ireland’s Parliament until the Act of Union in 1801. The space for the Centre will be made available to the State for a ten year period, to run alongside the Decade of Centenaries. It is envisaged that exhibitions at the Centre will include a significant focus on key events in Irish history – up to the centenary of the Civil War – which led to the creation of modern Ireland, whilst also including a strong cultural component.

Bank of Ireland will cover the costs of refurbishing the space and operating the Centre. My Department, in partnership with the Bank, will manage, operate and animate the Centre. I very much welcome Bank of Ireland's decision to make the space available and would like to thank the Bank for strongly supporting this initiative.

As the matter is at an early stage of development, it is not possible yet to offer specifics about the programme of events or the operation of the centre. However, I believe the work to be carried out in the centre will have a significant impact on enriching the cultural programme during the Decade of Centenaries and over the next 10 years.