Questions Nos. 1 to 6, inclusive, answered orally.

Questions Nos. 7 to 20, inclusive, resubmitted.

Questions Nos. 21 to 30, inclusive, answered orally.

Arts and Culture Capital Scheme Funding

Questions (31)

Robert Troy

Question:

31. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the progress being made with regard to enhanced funding for a centre (details supplied) following a recent deputation by same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24316/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

I met with representatives of the centre to which the Deputy refers on 15 May 2019. The centre has identified some capital funding requirements which would be beneficial to its ongoing work. Project Ireland 2040 'Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage 2018-2027' sets out the Government’s objectives for capital investment in Ireland’s culture, language and heritage. The plan includes a total of €40 million over 10 years from 2018 to 2027 to secure existing investment in arts and culture infrastructure nationwide and ensure a regional balance. A total of €3.9m was spent on arts and culture infrastructure in 2018. This level of investment will ensure the upkeep of regional infrastructure right across the country.

The recent Arts and Culture Capital Scheme allocated €10.2 million to 134 projects under three complementary grant streams for the refurbishment and enhancement of the existing arts and culture facilities throughout the country. Over €7.6m of this funding will be paid out over the coming years. This is the most significant investment in cultural infrastructure in a decade with funding provided to arts centres, theatres, galleries and museums, artists’ studios and creative spaces. The list of these projects with the amounts of their allocations is available on my Department’s website.

This Scheme is making a huge difference to many individual organisations and we are seeing excellent outcomes and significant positive feedback. My Department is currently giving consideration to new round of grant funding for Arts and Cultural Capital to be announced later this year.

In the meantime, the Arts Council in conjunction with local government through the County and City Management Association commissioned an independent, strategic review of the network of venues and arts centres across the country.

The review focusses on the infrastructure of professionally-managed arts buildings that are open to the public throughout the year, and will be used to help develop a coordinated, spatially-informed strategy to support and develop the built infrastructure for the arts. A consultation phase was incorporated into the study and all stakeholders had an opportunity to participate. This review will inform my Department's framing of the new round of arts and culture capital funding.

Irish Language

Question No. 33 answered orally.

Questions (32)

Hildegarde Naughton

Question:

32. Deputy Hildegarde Naughton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the support provided by her Department for a project (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24207/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

As the Deputy is aware, I had the honour of officially launching the new Maker Space in Áras na nGael on Monday 27 May last. Located in Conradh na Gaeilge’s office in Dominick Street, Galway, the new Maker Space is a one-year pilot project and a collaboration of the following stakeholders – Áras na nGael; Camara Education Ireland, An Clár Techspace, Conradh na Gaeilge, Foróige and Ógras. This space will be available to members of Líonra an Chláir TechSpace – or the Irish language TechSpace Network - in Galway and to the wider Irish speaking network across the west of Ireland. The Network members can avail of the space outside of office hours and under the supervision of a partner organisation.

I am delighted that the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has provided current funding of €419,000 in 2019 to Camara Education Ireland to facilitate the national rollout of An Clar TechSpace. However, no direct funding – either capital or current - was provided by my Department for the establishment of the pilot Maker Space to be used by Network members.

Question No. 33 answered orally.

National Monuments

Questions (34)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

34. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when a report commissioned by her Department on the conservation and management of the Hill of Tara will be published; and her views on whether there is a need for increased services such as more parking and toilet facilities at the location. [24056/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

The Hill of Tara is one of Ireland’s premier national monuments and is of international prominence and importance. In recent years, it has been subject to extensive research by the Discovery Programme, funded by my Department, through which our knowledge and understanding of the site has been greatly increased. Around 200,000 people visited Tara in 2018.

Against the background of increasing visitor numbers, my Department has been developing a conservation management plan for the state-owned lands at the Hill and is leading a working group of relevant stakeholders, including the Office of Public Works (OPW), which has responsibility for day to day management of the state owned lands, Meath County Council, the Heritage Council and the Discovery Programme, with the objective of progressing, completing and publishing the updated plan as soon as possible. The Working Group meets regularly and is now in the final stages of producing the plan. The preparation of the Plan has included a monument condition survey to inform the conservation needs of the monuments on the State-owned lands. An online visitor survey, as well as a visitor profile, was also undertaken by the Dublin Institute of Technology at the request of the Discovery Programme and Heritage Council. My Department is now reviewing all relevant documentation with a view to bringing the Plan to completion.

The new plan will focus on conservation issues and will inform a list of priority conservation and site management actions and measures to be implemented over its lifetime. The plan will inform future interventions on the site, aided by the ongoing monitoring of visitor numbers by the OPW. It will concentrate on the lands that are in the ownership of the State and as such, it will not, nor is it intended to, address land use and planning issues in the wider environs of Tara. Parking and traffic management, as well as visitor facilities outside the area of the State-owned lands, are matters for the local authority although the Plan may inform the need for such visitor facilities. My Department is available to advise and assist the local authority with such proposals from the point of view of protecting the archaeology and amenity of the Hill of Tara itself.

Special Areas of Conservation

Questions (35)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

35. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the way in which persons from County Sligo can find out more about and apply for the 2019 peatlands community engagement scheme 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24266/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

Following a successful pilot phase in 2018, on 24 April this year, I announced that applications were open for the 2019 peatlands community engagement scheme. The scheme, which is administered by the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department, aims to encourage local communities, groups, schools and other interested parties to engage with my Department in relation to the conservation of raised bog special areas of conservation, natural heritage areas and other raised bog areas and to promote public engagement and awareness of our natural heritage.

The objective of the scheme is to support a diverse range of initiatives from events, education programmes, promotions, exhibitions, local area improvements, the development of conservation and management plans, amenity and local bog area improvements such as invasive species control near and within raised bog special areas of conservation and natural heritage areas or other raised bog areas. Applications were accepted for the scheme up to 4pm on Friday, 31 May 2019.

The 2019 scheme was advertised on the website of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (www.chg.gov.ie), on the website of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Departments (www.npws.ie) and through social media and media outlets. Advertisements were placed in a number of regional papers, predominately where raised bogs come within the landscape. An electronic copy of the terms and conditions of the scheme and the application form were also circulated to local authorities, national parks, visitor centres and to other interest groups and parties.

Applications received by the closing date will be evaluated in the coming weeks by a panel, established by my Department. The panel will make recommendations to me, as Minister, for funding of projects. Projects will be evaluated based on the information submitted and under the required criteria of the scheme.

It is anticipated that applicants will be notified whether they have been successful in securing funding under the scheme in early July.

In 2018, 12 peatland community initiatives were supported under the scheme to an amount of just under €137,000. This year, the budgetary allocation to the scheme is €200,000.

It is anticipated that the scheme will operate again in 2020. Officials from my Department are available to discuss the application process and the scheme itself with any interested party. It also would welcome any feedback on the scheme.

National Raised Bog Management Plan

Questions (36)

Mick Wallace

Question:

36. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of the 17 bogs that Bord na Móna stated it would close in late 2018 that have been rewetted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24281/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

Peatlands cover approximately 20% of the State’s land area and their use has implications across a wide spectrum of public policy. Intact peatlands produce an array of nature generated benefits to society known as eco-system services. These services provided by peatlands include water retention, which can reduce flooding, water filtration and supply, climate regulation via carbon storage and cultural benefits. Bogs are, of course, an important habitat in their own right and an important breeding ground for many species including highly threatened species such as the curlew.

The National Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation Management Plan 2017-2022, approved by the Government and published in December 2017, sets out how the raised bog special areas of conservation are to be managed, conserved and restored and how the needs of turf cutters are to be addressed. The national restoration programme for Ireland’s raised bog special areas of conservation and natural heritage areas is contained within this Plan. It is intended to restore all designated raised bogs within 3 cycles, with the first cycle operating for the duration of the Management Plan.

Bord Na Móna is a commercial State body, which I understand is transitioning from its original remit to develop the peat resource in parts of Ireland to more renewable and sustainable businesses. It has recognised the importance of peatlands conservation for many years. I understand that Bord na Móna has earmarked for conservation a considerable amount of degraded raised bog capable of regeneration and for the necessary restoration works to reverse the impacts of drainage. Bord Na Móna is under the remit of the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and I have no direct role in its functions.

My Department has been asked to provide observations on a number of rehabilitation plans produced by Bord Na Móna for a selection of raised bog sites, given its expertise and experience in the field of the restoration of raised bogs in Ireland. However, as Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, I have no statutory function in this regard and observations are provided in an advisory capacity only.

My Department will continue to liaise with representatives from Bord Na Móna regarding the implementation of the National Peatlands Strategy and the National Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation Management Plan 2017-2022 and the contribution rehabilitation efforts undertaken by Bord na Móna within its estate will make to national conservation targets for Ireland’s raised bogs.

Hare Coursing

Questions (37)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

37. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when the survey of Irish hares will be completed; if, in the interim, she will consider suspending netting of wild hares for the purpose of hare coursing as was done in Northern Ireland before a ban on live hare coursing was introduced there in 2011; and her views on whether the Irish hare should be protected due to the concerns regarding biodiversity. [24077/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

EU Directive 92/43/EEC (the Habitats Directive) requires Ireland to make a detailed report every six years on the conservation status of all listed species, including the hare. Ireland’s most recent report in 2013 included a comprehensive assessment of the range, population status, habitat and threats for the Irish hare. The report can be downloaded at https://www.npws.ie/article-17-reports-0/article-17-reports-2013. The next report is due later in 2019.

The 2013 report stated that the Hare is found throughout the country from coastal habitats to upland heath and bog. The Hare is widespread and common in Ireland with a broad habitat niche. None of the identified threats are considered likely to impact on its conservation status in the foreseeable future and the Overall Conservation Status was assessed as Favourable. My Department is not aware of any expert reports which indicate a national decline, in the interim, in the population of hares.

In addition to the reporting requirements of the EU Habitats Directive, data on the distribution of the hare is being collected continuously by the National Biodiversity Data Centre and the recent Atlas of Mammals in Ireland 2010-2015 provided a summary of the species’ range, demonstrating that it remains widespread across the country.

My Department recently commissioned a new assessment of the status of hare’s population in Ireland. The survey work to inform this population assessment has already begun with the main survey work to occur over the 2018/19 winter period. The final report is due later in 2019.

The data in these survey reports, particularly with regard to population trends, does not suggest an ecological basis for the cessation of hare coursing pending conclusion of the overall survey.

The control of live hare coursing, including the operation of individual coursing meetings and managing the use of hares for that activity, is carried out under the Greyhound Industry Act 1958, which is the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. My responsibility relates to the conservation status of the hare.

My Department issued the Irish Coursing Club with licences in August 2018 on behalf of its affiliated clubs to capture and tag hares for the 2018/19 coursing season which extended from the end of September 2018 to the end of February 2019. There are 29 conditions associated with the licences issued to the Irish Coursing Club which have been developed and refined over the years.

Ministerial Appointments

Questions (38)

Hildegarde Naughton

Question:

38. Deputy Hildegarde Naughton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of recent appointments to the board of Galway 2020 and the plan for events during 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24208/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

In 2020, Galway, on behalf of Ireland, will host the European Capital of Culture, one of the biggest cultural initiatives in the world. Galway's designation as European Capital of Culture 2020, is a great honour for Ireland and a wonderful opportunity to strengthen and promote our culture nationally and internationally.

The Board of Galway 2020 comprises 15 members, drawn from a range of expertise, including the cultural, governance, audit, business, legal, marketing and communications, digital and language sectors.

Last week, I appointed Dr Moling Ryan as my representative on the Board of Galway 2020. Dr Ryan has a proven track record in governance and public service, having lead and managed a number of public service organisations. He continues to chair and sit on a number of boards, as well as carrying out high-level reviews of various national and international organisations. Dr Ryan has replaced Mr Declan McGonagle who stood down recently for personal reasons.

The new Mayor of Galway City, Councillor Michael Cubbard, and the Cathaoirleach of Galway County, Councillor Jimmy McClearn, are also taking their seats on the Board following the recent local elections and their election last week to the positions in the City and County.

Having regard to events in 2019, this year is very much about getting a flavour of what is to come in 2020. These events include cultural projects such as Fresh Street #3, the international seminar for the development of street arts, which took place in Galway last month and included various street spectacles throughout the 3-day event.

Many other exciting events, along with workshops and launches, are also planned, an example is Galway Community Circus’ ‘Wires Crossed’ spectacular funambulism (high wire walking) project, which was launched last month and is holding workshops and training sessions over the summer in Galway, in preparation for their spectacular event next year.

Galway 2020’s community based programme, Small Towns Big Ideas comprises over 50 projects in round one, over 20 of which have already taken place and the remainder will follow throughout 2019. Applications for round two closed recently and successful projects will be announced in early July.

The cultural programme for Galway 2020 will be launched in September this year. Under the programme, we can look forward to a year-long celebration of street spectacle, exhibitions, readings, classical concerts, dance, schools’ projects, children’s events, the Irish language, musical performances, digital encounters, live art, theatre, circus, funambulism, public art, heritage, food, sports, sheep, folklore, our islands, our people, imagination and creativity.

Calafoirt agus Céanna

Questions (39)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Question:

39. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cad iad na pleananna atá aici chun feabhas a chur ar Ché na Reannaí, Athphort ar oileán Árainn Mhóir; an dtabharfaidh sí sonraí maidir leis na pleananna chun an togra a thabhairt chun críche agus aon dul chun cinn atá déanta aici ón am deireanach a chuir an cheist seo; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [24054/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

Tá deontais éagsúla ceadaithe ag mo Roinn do Chomhairle Chontae Dhún na nGall i leith na cé seo thar na blianta. Níl aon iarratas ar láimh ag mo Roinn ón gComhairle Chontae maidir le haon oibreacha bhreise ar an gcé faoi lathair. Ach a leithéid, d’iarratas a bheith faighte, déanfaí é a mheas, ag cur san áireamh na n-acmhainní atá ar fáil d'fhorbairt na n-oileán agus na n-éilimh éagsúla ar na hacmhainní sin.

World Heritage Sites

Questions (40)

Joan Burton

Question:

40. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of the seven sites on the 2010 tentative list for nomination as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24276/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

The seven sites on Ireland’s current Tentative List of World Heritage Sites are as follows: the Burren; the Céide Fields and North West Mayo Boglands; the Monastic City of Clonmacnoise; the Historic City of Dublin; Early Medieval Monastic sites; the Western Stone Forts; and the Royal Sites of Ireland. Three of these would be considered as serial nominations, as they comprise geographically distinct sites at different locations which have a thematic connection, including one site in Co. Armagh.

The current Tentative List has emanated from a very comprehensive process undertaken by a panel of Irish and international heritage experts specifically appointed for that purpose. It included full public consultation and an in-depth review of all proposed candidate sites.

Once the sites were selected for inclusion on the Tentative List, my Department engaged with local authorities and local groups from the areas concerned to gauge the extent of the support available to advance the proposals and to clarify the work and resources required for that purpose. The fundamental requirement is that each site must be capable of demonstrating Outstanding Universal Value to UNESCO but it is also crucial that there is sufficient local stakeholder interest to support any potential UNESCO World Heritage status bid. Local support is also key to ensuring the long-term protection of the sites.

UNESCO advises States Parties to re-examine and re-submit their Tentative Lists at least every ten years. This process allows the State Party, in this case my Department, to identify potential additional World Heritage Sites and to assess the robustness of the current List. My Department is currently in the process of managing the ten-year review of Ireland’s Tentative List. In this respect, the local authorities associated with each site on the current Tentative List have been invited to review the readiness of their communities and sites to proceed to World Heritage nomination. My Department is tasked with deciding whether or not sites are likely to meet the criteria for World Heritage nomination. It will do so at the end of the review period in June 2020, and with the benefit of additional information provided by the relevant local authorities in the meantime.

Oireachtas Joint Committee Reports

Questions (41)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

41. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she has read the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht report The Arts Matter and in particular its 28 recommendations; and if she will act on those relevant to her Department and remit. [24258/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

I welcome this Report. In the first instance, I would like to thank the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and thank you Deputy as Chairman of the Committee for your work in completing this Report and also for the wide ranging consultations you undertook over a 13 months period.

This Government recognises the importance of the Arts. This is underlined by the Government's commitment to double spending on culture, heritage and the Gaeltacht by 2025. In Budget 2019, total funding for arts and culture increased by almost €22m to €189m. This represents an increase of 13% over 2018. Project Ireland 2040 commits to a capital investment of €725m in the arts and culture between in the 10-year period to 2027.

Primary support for the Arts is delivered through the Arts Council and Arts Council funding increased in recent years and now stands at €75 million in 2019, an increase of €6.8m or 10% over 2018. Annual funding to the Arts Council has increased by over 15% in the past two years.

Responsibility for the 28 recommendations relates predominantly to my Department and to the Department of Education and Skills. In relation to the recommendations which fall within my remit, I am pleased to inform you that work is already under way in many cases.

For example in relation to recommendations on young people, Creative Youth a key element of the Creative Ireland Programme is led by my Department in partnership with the Department of Education and Skills, the Arts Council and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. Creative Youth aims to enable the creative potential of every child and young person. Creative Youth increased its budget from over €2m in 2018 to over €6m in 2019 across the various partners and is implementing a range of arts, creativity and education measures both inside and outside of the school system.

In relation to the recommendations on the Irish language, my Department in partnership with TG4, Ealaín na Gaeltachta, Foras na Gaeilge and the Arts Council has commenced the development of an Integrated Arts Strategy for the Gaeltacht and the Irish Language.

Hare Coursing Regulation

Questions (42)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

42. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason two hares which a veterinarian confirmed had suffered injuries after being caught and held by muzzled greyhounds were released back to the wild a few hours after a coursing meeting (details supplied) in County Wexford; the nature of the injuries and treatment received; and her views on whether the stress and injuries suffered by hares compromise their survivability post-coursing. [24079/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

The control of live hare coursing, including the operation of individual coursing meetings and managing the use of hares for that activity, is carried out under the Greyhound Industry Act 1958, which is the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. My responsibility relates to the conservation status of the hare.

My Department issued the Irish Coursing Club with licences in August 2018 on behalf of its affiliated clubs to capture and tag hares for the 2018/19 coursing season which extended from the end of September 2018 to the end of February 2019. There are 29 conditions associated with the licences issued to the Irish Coursing Club which have been developed and refined over the years.

Where resources allow, local National Parks and Wildlife Service Conservation Rangers from my Department attend coursing meetings, on a spot-check basis, to monitor compliance with licences issued to the ICC and its affiliated clubs. Officials of the NPWS of my Department monitored 34 coursing events during the previous 2018/19 season.

The coursing meeting mentioned by the Deputy was monitored by an official from the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department. The official was present on the second day of the meeting and during the release of the hares at the end of the second day. There were a number of hares injured and examined by the veterinary surgeon during the meeting and all injured hares were considered fit by the veterinary surgeon to be released back into the wild.

A Monitoring Committee on coursing is in place, comprised of officials from my Department, the ICC and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to monitor developments in coursing and in that regard the situation is kept under constant review to ensure that coursing is run in a well-controlled and responsible manner in the interests of both hares and greyhounds.

My Department has received an application from the Irish Coursing Club for licences to capture and tag hares for the forthcoming 2019/20 coursing season. All reports in relation to the previous season will be reviewed and all issues arising, including possible breaches of conditions, will be investigated and considered in the context of applications for licences by the Irish Coursing Club for the 2019/20 coursing season.

Cuanta agus Céanna

Questions (43)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

43. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cén dul chun cinn atá déanta maidir le forbairt na gcéibheanna ar Inis Meáin agus ar Inis Oírr; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [24058/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

Tá forbairt na gcéanna atá luaite ag an Teachta san áireamh sa liosta tograí atá clúdaithe sa Phlean Forbartha Náisiúnta 2018 - 2027.

Maidir le Cé an Chaladh Mhóir, Inis Meáin, tá Comhairle Chontae na Gaillimhe i dteagmháil le geallsealbhóirí faoi láthair i dtaobh a gcuid mianta d'fhorbairt na cé agus tá Cás Gnó i leith na forbartha á réiteach ag an gComhairle faoi réir théarmaí an gCód Caiteachais Poiblí. Déanfar cinneadh críochnúil faoi scóip na forbartha amach anseo i gcomhthéacs na n-acmhainí airgeadais a bheidh ar fáil do mo Roinn sna blianta amach romhainn agus na n-éileamh éagsúla ar na hacmhainí sin.

Is féidir liom a dheimhniú don Teachta go bhfuil dul chun cinn maith déanta maidir le forbairt Ché Inis Oírr. Le cúnamh airgid ó mo Roinn, tá innealtóirí comhairleacha ceaptha ag Comhairle Chontae na Gaillimhe i ndáil leis an togra a fhorbairt. Ach an oiread le haon togra eile ar an scála seo, beidh gach chéim d'fhorbairt Ché Inis Oírr le meas i gcomhthéacs an tsoláthair airgid a bheidh ar fáil do mo Roinn ag an am sin agus faoi réir na bhforálacha atá san áireamh i gCód Caiteachais Phoiblí an Rialtais.

Bíonn cruinnithe rialta idir oifigigh mo Roinne agus Comhairle Chontae na Gaillimhe ag a bpléitear forbairt na gcéanna seo.

Artists' Remuneration

Questions (44)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

44. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she will commission a report on the issues faced by artists who are parents; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24331/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

A range of supports in the areas of early childhood care and education or free pre-school are provided to parents across all sectors of Irish society, including artists, through schemes operated by my colleague the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. Further details of these schemes are available on her Department's website at http://www.dcya.gov.ie/cat/EN/What-We-Do/211.htm.

My Department, through its funding to the Arts Council, supports professional artists in a variety of ways. Primary support for the arts is delivered through the Arts Council, whose funding has increased in recent years and now stands at €75 million in 2019, an increase of €6.8m or 10% over 2018. The Arts Council, which is independent in its funding decisions under the Arts Act 2003, operates within a published 10 year strategic framework entitled Making Great Art Work. This strategy prioritises support for artists throughout their careers, by the involvement of many agencies in cultural provision, by the impact of the arts on the creative economy, and by the depth and breadth of people's engagement with the arts. The Arts Council now includes as an assessment criterion, the organisation’s policy on the remuneration of artists in an effort to ensure that organisations in receipt of Arts Council funding should offer fair and equitable remuneration to artists.

At present, while the Government remains committed to the range of supports in place for parents, I have no plans to commission a specific report on the matter in question.

Abbey Theatre

Questions (45)

Willie Penrose

Question:

45. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if the Abbey Theatre has met the conditions of improving the quality of employment opportunities it provides for Irish based artists, including remuneration rates, for it to receive the €300,000 in funding allocated to it but frozen by the Arts Council; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24280/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

The Arts Council is independent its funding decisions under Section 24 of the Arts Act 2003.

The Abbey and theatre practitioners have been involved in ongoing dialogue in recent months and both the Abbey and the practitioners have kept me and my Department updated on their deliberations.

I understand that although the Arts Council has not yet released all of the funding previously withheld, it is anticipated that it is likely to do so in the months ahead as the Abbey meets the conditions the Council set in its decision. I also understand that the Council is working closely with the Abbey Theatre to support them in meeting the relevant conditions.

Historic Structures Fund

Questions (46)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

46. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if provision will be made to Monaghan County Council for the restoration of a building (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24332/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question 660 of 9 April and to your meeting with officials from my Department in the meantime.

The building referred to in question is owned by the local authority who are currently conducting an analysis of its structural integrity following damage to the roof and internal walls over the winter. A technical report is expected by the end of this month. Further decisions in relation to the future of the structure can only be made by the local authority when this technical assessment is completed. My role in relation the structure is mainly advisory and my officials remain available to advise the local authority in its efforts to manage the building and see it returned to a sustainable use that is consistent with its significant history and position in the town.

As proposed in the previous response, and noted earlier, I understand that officials from my Department met with the deputy on 8 May, along with interested parties from the area, to discuss the building itself as well as other potential funding sources, including funding from the Department of Rural and Community Development under a new pilot programme for the regeneration of town centres.

It also remains open to the Council to apply for funding under the next round of the Historic Towns Initiative, a joint undertaking between by Department and the Heritage Council to provide support to historic towns engaged in a programme of heritage-led regeneration. Or it may apply for funding under the Historic Structure Scheme, operated by my Department. Funding was previously awarded under this initiative in 2018 but was not ultimately taken up by the Council due to the scale of works required which were considered to need a larger intervention.

Film Industry

Questions (47)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

47. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the position regarding the establishment of a forum independent of other forums to address ongoing industrial difficulties in the film industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24328/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

The report of the Joint Committee on Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht entitled 'Development and Working Conditions in the Irish Film Industry’, which was published last year called on the Irish Film Board (now Screen Ireland) to constitute a Film Forum to allow stakeholders to work together to develop mutually beneficial solutions for the industry. However, despite the efforts of Screen Ireland, it became clear that it was not possible to constitute a Film Forum as described by the Joint Committee as all the stakeholders were not prepared to meet as a single forum.

There was disagreement between various bodies representing employees and workers in the industry who would not agree to meet and given the contrary positions of the parties who should participate in the Film Forum, Screen Ireland informed the Joint Committee in December that it could not proceed without excluding one or more of the parties who should participate.

The original purpose of the proposed forum was to allow stakeholders to come together to develop solutions for the industry. There is a risk that now, rather than adopting a collaborative, inclusive and forward facing approach in an atmosphere where ideas are exchanged and developed for the good of the industry, the forum might constitute little more than the airing of disputes and past grievances. Disputes and grievances should be dealt with through the formal mechanisms of the State. The Government has a well-resourced labour inspectorate, which forms part of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and its core services include the inspection of employment rights compliance, the provision of information, adjudicating on complaints under employment protection, equality and industrial relations legislation and the provision of mediation, conciliation, facilitation and advisory services. Any person who believes that s/he has experienced discrimination which is contrary to the Employment Equality Acts may seek redress by referring a complaint to the WRC.

I have however, directed officials in my Department to consider if a mediation process might assist in addressing concerns and ultimately lead to a collaborative forum that would discuss proposals to advance the industry rather than focus on specific disputes that should be resolved through other channels.

Performing Arts

Questions (48)

Joan Burton

Question:

48. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to increase the provision of audio description captioning for the hard of hearing and the availability of Irish Sign Language interpretation at the national performance venues of the State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24278/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

This is a day to day operational matter for national cultural institutions and other performance venues which are autonomous bodies.

The Deputy may wish to be aware that the National Concert Hall caters for hard of hearing patrons through the provision of infrared assistive listening devices within the building.

The Abbey Theatre offers a range of services for visitors with disabilities including performances that are audio described, captioned and Irish Sign Language interpreted. Seats are reserved to give the best possible experience.

In addition, the Arts Council funds organisations such as Disability Ireland to provide audio description and captioning for the hard of hearing. For example, Arts Council funding for touring will usually include a requirement and the resources for the receiving house to hire in the audio description and caption technical materials and for any conversion needed.

Organisations can also apply to my Department for capital grants towards the cost of enhancements or improvements in arts and culture facilities. For example, Siamsa Tire- the Irish folk theatre installed a system which allows patrons with hearing aids to tune in to an amplified sound channel and improve their experience. On occasion Siamsa has also worked with Arts & Disability Ireland to provide Irish Sign Language on certain shows.

National Heritage Plan

Questions (49)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

49. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the level of response she received from County Louth during the Heritage 2030 public consultations; and the remaining opportunities for groups and residents of the county to make submissions to the process. [24187/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

Heritage Ireland 2030 is this Government’s commitment to a revitalised and refreshed National Heritage Plan. The development of that Plan is led by my Department.

Our heritage belongs to us all and it is important this shared ownership is reflected in Heritage Ireland 2030 – not only in its content but also in its composition. As such, in November 2018 I announced a three-month national public consultation in which members of the public and stakeholder organisations were invited to respond to questions relating to the three proposed themes of the plan: National Leadership and Heritage; Heritage Partnerships; and Communities and Heritage, as well as having their say on the future of our heritage and helping to identify the priorities for funding of €285 million identified in Project Ireland 2040 for investment in our built and natural heritage. The Department, alongside partner organisations, and some Local Authorities, organised public workshops to encourage individuals and communities to make submissions.

Such was the scale of the response to the public consultation that I decided to extend the consultation period by an extra month, until the end of March this year, in order to allow for additional workshops to be held and further submissions received. In total, 70 workshops were held and 2156 submissions were received by my Department.

My Department, assisted by an external expert multi-disciplinary team, analysed the submissions and, on 28 May, hosted a public information event in Dublin Castle at which the initial findings of the analysis were presented and the next steps in the Heritage Ireland 2030 process outlined. The event was livestreamed on the Department’s website and Facebook page and the recording can still be accessed at those locations.

The quantitative analysis of the submissions showed that, of the 1225 submissions received by email and post, 9 were from County Louth. Of the 931 submissions received in response to my Department’s online survey, 5 were from County Louth.

The public information event on Heritage Ireland 2030 hosted by my Department on 28 May was a great success and was fully subscribed, attended by 270 people. Invitations to the event were issued to all who made submissions to the consultation and the surplus was made available to members of the public, advertised through my Department’s website and its social media. The event was an opportunity for individuals and organisations who care about our heritage to meet with one another and to discuss with my officials and other experts the challenges and opportunities faced.

The initial public consultation phase has now ended and my officials will continue to liaise with officials in other Departments while they draft the Plan over the coming months. It is anticipated that a draft Plan will be published for further observations by the end of 2019 and interested individuals and groups will have an opportunity to comment further at that stage.

Film Industry

Questions (50)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

50. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to improve employment and working conditions for workers in the film industry following the recent debate in Dáil Éireann on the issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24235/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

Employers and employees in the film industry are subject to the same employment law as is every other industry and there are no special exemptions for the sector. Employees are entitled to all existing legal protections and there are institutions for reporting abuse of employment legislation.

The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018, which was signed into law by the President in December. The provisions of this Act improved the position of workers on insecure contracts and those working variable hours by reducing insecurity and unpredictability of working hours .

The Act, which is the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, delivers on the Programme for Government commitment to address the challenges of the increased casualisation of work and to strengthen the regulation of precarious employment. In a changing world, this reform helps to ensure that the legal protections for all workers will match the conditions experienced by a modern workforce and make a real difference in the lives of thousands of workers.

The Finance Act 2018 made changes to Section 481 the film tax relief and the Revenue Commissioners made the Film Regulations 2019 to give effect to these changes on 27 March 2019. The new Regulations include a compulsory undertaking by employers to provide quality employment which requires both the producer company and the qualifying company to comply with all obligations in the field of environmental, social and employment law. The producer company and the qualifying company must be responsible for compliance with all statutory requirements and have in place written policies and procedures in on grievances, discipline and dignity at work (including harassment, bullying and equal opportunity). The companies are also required to provide details of any Work Place Relations Commission decisions aligned with confirmation that any findings against the companies have been followed or an explanation where the finding has not been followed. This means that employers must provide a workplace which is free from bullying, harassment and intimidation including bullying, harassment or intimidation of workers by other workers; otherwise payment of film tax relief will be withheld.

My Department will continue to work through the Audiovisual High Level Steering Group to address issues raised in the audiovisual industry, and to support the industry and the people who work in it.