As indicated by the Taoiseach in his statement to Dáil Éireann of 6th May, my Department will, in its new configuration, retain all of the functions previously assigned to it, in addition to taking on a number of new functions in relation to rural affairs and regional development. This continuing commitment is reflected in the Programme for a Partnership Government. I can assure the House that the creation of a larger Department with a greater remit will not in any way diminish the importance of arts and culture within Government. In fact, I consider that a larger Department with wider responsibilities can bring greater weight to bear in promoting the importance of arts and culture right across Government.
Officials of my Department are currently engaging with their counterparts in the relevant Departments to establish the precise details of the functions that will now come under the remit of my Department and to identify the associated personnel and other resources to be transferred. I anticipate that this process will be brought to a conclusion shortly, following which the issue of delegations to the newly appointed Ministers of State in my Department will be addressed, as appropriate.
Since my initial appointment as Minister with responsibility for the arts, I have succeeded in securing increased funding for the sector year on year. Building on this, the Programme for a Partnership Government contains a very important commitment to work to progressively increase funding to the arts, including the Arts Council and the Irish Film Board, as the economy continues to improve. I can assure the Deputy that I will be engaging with my colleagues in Government and with the Oireachtas to seek to advance this commitment in the context of the forthcoming estimates and budgetary processes.
Finally, I would like to state that I have met with representatives of the National Campaign for the Arts and I have assured them of my continuing commitment to the arts, to the delivery of relevant undertakings in the Government Programme and to a new National Cultural Policy - Culture 2025 - which is built on ongoing dialogue and collaboration with the cultural sector.