Questions Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, answered orally.

World Heritage Sites

Question No. 7 answered orally.

Questions (6)

Joan Burton

Question:

6. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of applications received requesting to be included on the 2020 tentative list for nomination as a UNESCO world heritage site; the number of applications which were successful; her plans to assist the successful applicants in their attempt to achieve world heritage status; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37912/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

In January, my Department launched a call for applications to Ireland’s Tentative List of World Heritage Sites. The closing date is 26 June 2020 and, given the amount of preparatory work involved, I would not expect to see formal applications coming until nearer that deadline.

Inclusion on the Tentative List is the first step towards nomination for World Heritage status. Immediately after the June 2020 closing date, my Department will conduct an initial screening of all proposals received before transmitting them to an expert advisory group, which will make recommendations as to which sites should be included on the new Tentative List. The Department acts as Focal Point for Ireland, as State party to the World Heritage Convention, and therefore makes the final decision in relation to the Tentative List.

My Department’s National Monuments Service actively assists and advises applicants wishing to have sites put on the Tentative List. A number of meetings have already taken place with local authorities under this new round and information events are planned for communities with potential Tentative List sites in their areas. My Department's policy is for applications to be sponsored by the relevant local authority or other statutory body in order to ensure continuity throughout the process. Individuals or other organisations are encouraged to apply in collaboration with the relevant local authority. The role of the local authority is crucial in order to facilitate public consultation and wider stakeholder engagement, particularly in light of the requirement under the UNESCO Operational Guidelines for participatory planning and stakeholder consultation.

The most critical element when determining whether a site should be included on the Tentative List is the potential of the property to demonstrate Outstanding Universal Value, meaning that its significance is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations. The property must also meet relevant conditions of authenticity and integrity, and there must be mechanisms in place to provide for its long-term protection and management.

I look forward to seeing the new Tentative List beginning to take shape in the months ahead.

Question No. 7 answered orally.

Architectural Heritage

Questions Nos. 9 to 11, inclusive, answered orally.

Questions (8)

Joan Burton

Question:

8. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if her Department has held discussions with Dublin City Council or other bodies in respect of the decayed state of a market (details supplied); her plans to provide funding for the preservation and restoration of the market; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37910/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

My role with regard to the protection and management of our architectural heritage is set out in the provisions of relevant legislation, as are the roles of local authorities and the responsibilities of owners.

Part IV of the Planning and Development Act gives primary responsibility to planning authorities to identify and protect the architectural heritage by including particular structures on their Record of Protected Structures. Inclusion on the Record of Protected Structures places a duty of care on the owners and occupiers of protected structures and also gives planning authorities powers to deal with development proposals affecting them and to seek to safeguard their future.

The building mentioned by the Deputy is in the ownership of the local authority, and is, in the first instance a matter for it. It is recorded in my Department’s National Inventory of Architectural Heritage and is rated there as of Regional Importance. As such it was recommended to the local authority for inclusion in its Record of Protected Structures.

As the owner of this protected structure, the local authority has a duty under the Acts to ensure the structure does not become endangered. My role in relation to protected structures is mainly advisory, officials of my Department have, however, contacted Dublin City Council to ascertain its plans and remain available to advise the Council in any future efforts to restore the building.

My Department also provides financial support for the protection of heritage buildings and historic structures through the Historic Structures Fund (HSF) and the Built Heritage Investment Scheme (BHIS), which are administered by local authorities. On Thursday 28 March, I announced funding of €4.3m for 478 projects under these schemes in 2019. Details of these projects are available on my Department's website and local authority websites. I understand, however, that the scale of investment needed for the structure mentioned would mean that the levels of grant funding available under these schemes would not be sufficient.

I fully understand and appreciate the value of our built heritage at a local level and I have asked officials in my Department to remain in contact with Dublin City Council on this matter.

Questions Nos. 9 to 11, inclusive, answered orally.

European Capital of Culture

Question No. 13 answered orally.

Questions (12)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

12. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of times the legacy committee of Galway 2020 has met; the membership of the committee; the terms of reference of the committee; the reports published to date; the engagement her Department has had to date with the committee; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37931/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

I would like to thank the Deputy for her Question. I was delighted to be in Eyre Square in Galway yesterday evening to officiate at the launch of the detailed programme for Galway 2020. The Programme which is built around the ancient Irish calendar will commence with a spectacular opening ceremony on 8 February and will be 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.

The Performance Development Agreement under which Government support was granted to Galway 2020 provides for the development of legacy themes which are to be delivered according to agreed milestones and discussed at quarterly report and monitoring meetings.

The legacy sub-committee of the board of Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture was proposed and set-up at a board meeting in July 2019. The terms of reference of the committee is to advise the board on the best model to deliver on legacy of Galway 2020. I have been advised that the legacy sub-committee of the Board of Galway 2020 has met once since being established and has reported back to the most recent meeting of the Board. No formal reports have been published as of yet

The current membership of the sub-committee is as follows. This may be supplemented with other expertise in due course.

- Chair of Board of Galway 2020, Arthur Lappin- Galway 2020 board member, Mayor Mike Cubbard- Galway 2020 board member, Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath- Galway 2020 board member, Chief Executive of Galway County Council, Kevin Kelly- Galway 2020 board member, Ivonka Kwiek- Galway 2020 board member, Chris Greene- Galway 2020 board member, Claire McColgan- Galway 2020 board member, Catherine Cullen- Galway 2020 board member, Caroline Loughnane.

On 11 September last, senior officials from my Department met with the Chair and Chief Executive of Galway 2020 for a general update on the project in advance of the launch of the Cultural Programme on 18 September, and to complete the quarter two monitoring meeting for this year. Legacy plans and the work of the legacy sub-committee was one of the items discussed at the meeting, and my Department and Galway 2020 agreed to engage further on the work of the legacy sub-committee as it progresses.

It should be noted that legacy plans have been, and will continue to be part of the normal quarterly monitoring meetings between the Department and Galway 2020, as well as an agenda item at regular meetings between the Department and the Chief Executives of Galway City Council and Galway County Council.

Question No. 13 answered orally.

Cultural Policy

Questions (14)

Peter Burke

Question:

14. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the details of the expansion of the creative schools programme; and the status of the programme in counties Longford and Westmeath. [37422/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

The Creative Schools pilot is one of the flagship projects of the Creative Youth Plan, which seeks to enable the creative potential of every child and young person. This Plan is led by my Department, with the Departments of Education and Skills, and Children and Youth Affairs and the Arts Council, all working in partnership.

Creative Schools aims to understand, develop and celebrate the arts and creativity as a core aspect of school life. It strives to foster children and young people’s creativity, potential and participation in the arts as an integral part of their education. The initiative recognises that the arts are a powerful means through which children and young people can explore communication and collaboration, stimulate their imaginations to be inventive, and harness their boundless curiosity.

Schools selected to participate in the programme do so on a two-year cycle - the first to support them in developing a feasible creative plan for the school, and the second to enable them to implement this plan. Each participating school is provided with access to a Creative Associate, who are essential in embedding inspirational and sustainable creative practices in teaching and learning. Creative Associates are a mixture of practising artists and teachers with an understanding of creativity and its potential to transform the lives of children and young people. In addition, each school is allocated an annual grant of €2,000 to implement their plans.

There was significant interest in the pilot when launched in 2018 - with some 400 schools applying for 150 places. Given this level of interest, and the positive feedback from participants, total investment in the initiative for 2019 has increased to €2.36m - funded by my own Department as well as the Department of Education and Skills and the Arts Council. A second round of applications was opened in 2019 and just last week, the Minister for Education and Skills and I announced the details of a further 150 schools which have been selected to participate from this month.

The participating schools in Creative Schools from County Longford are:

- Gaelscoil an Longfoirt, Fearann Uí Dhuagáin, Co Longfoirt

- St Dominic’s National School,Kenagh, Co Longford

- Scoil Naomh Micheal, St. Mel's Road, Longford, Co Longford

The participating schools in Creative Schools from County Westmeath are:

- Ard na gCrath National School, Ard na gCraith, Walderstown, Athlone, Co Westmeath

- Naomh Mhuire, South Hill, Delvin, Co Westmeath

- SN An Cusan, An Cuasan, Castlequarter,Coosan, Athlone, Co Westmeath

- Scoil na gCeithre Máistrí, Lios Uí Mhulláin, Ath Luain, Co na hIarmhí

The Creative Youth Plan is ambitious and ever developing, and I hope that by 2022 it will have touched the lives of every child and young person in Ireland.

Environmental Policy

Question No. 16 answered orally.

Questions (15)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

15. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the progress being made on protecting biodiversity in view of the publication by the National Parks and Wildlife Service of Ireland’s third assessment on the status of EU-listed habitats and species here; the initiatives being undertaken in County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37767/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

Ireland’s 3rd assessment on the status of listed habitats and species was submitted by my Department to the European Commission in April 2019.

In Ireland, 85% of habitats are reported as being in Unfavourable status. The main drivers are agricultural practices which negatively impact over 70% of habitats, particularly ecologically unsuitable grazing, abandonment and pollution. The Unfavourable status of many habitats is not surprising as this is the reason they have been listed on the Directive.

My Department is engaged in a range of targeted activities to address these issues at regional, national and EU level, and also liaises with other departments, particularly the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, to implement policy and practices which will help tackle the drivers of biodiversity loss.

The status of species is somewhat better: 57% assessed as Favourable and 30% assessed as being in Unfavourable status, with 72% demonstrating stable or improving trends while just 15% demonstrated on-going declining trends. Progress is being made and a number of species such as bats, otter, pine marten and grey seal are doing well.

I recently visited Boora in Co. Offaly and saw first-hand the conservation work being done by the NPWS. The Grey Partridge was on the verge of extinction in the late 1990s but following an intense programme of habitat management and nest protection, the population in the project area is now estimated to be around 800 birds today.

This is a remarkable story of hands-on conservation in action and demonstrates how a strong partnership between the NPWS and the local community can lead to the reversal of loss and to species recovery.

As part of the ongoing implementation of the National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017-2021, in 2018 I launched a grant scheme to assist local authorities with biodiversity projects in their areas that support actions in the Plan. A grant of €16,000 was made to Offaly County Council to support a range of local authority-led biodiversity projects.

Recognising the need for a coherent cross-sectoral response to the biodiversity crisis, earlier this year I announced our ‘Seeds for Nature’ , a range of commitments to be undertaken by public authorities and other stakeholders to drive implementation of actions in the Plan.

Question No. 16 answered orally.

Natural Heritage Areas

Questions (17)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

17. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the details of the awarding of funding for the 2019 peatlands community engagement scheme; the recipients of same in County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37768/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

The Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme, which is administered by the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department, aims to encourage local communities, groups, schools and 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.

Following on from a successful pilot scheme in 2018, on 24 April this year, I announced a call for applications for the 2019 Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme. The scheme provides for grant funding of 75% of the total cost of a project. This year, I introduced a phased payment option of the total grant. To facilitate start-up, 30% of the funding for a project may be payable on acceptance of the grant and meeting start up conditions.

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 Department (www.npws.ie) and through social media and media outlets. Advertisements were placed in a number of regional papers, predominately where raised bogs are a feature of that community and its landscape and . Applications were accepted for the scheme up to the end of May 2019.

Eligible applications received were assessed by a panel established by my Department based on the information submitted and under the criteria of the scheme. Recommendations were then made to me, as Minister, for funding of a number of these projects. In July 2019, I approved grant funding of just under €131,000 to thirteen local community groups and organisations, with €16,245 in pre-funding to be provided to seven of these groups as start-up funding.

Funding of €1,500 was awarded to one local group in County Offaly, Kilclonfert Community Hall Committee, to have a display and information on Raheenmore Bog, a raised bog special area of conservation, set up in the local community centre and to have directional signage put in place for anyone wishing to visit the bog.

Maoiniú d'Eagrais Ghaeilge

Questions (18)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

18. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cén céimeanna atá á nglacadh chun a bheith cinnte de go bhfuil an maoiniú cuí ann d’fhoilsitheoirí leabhar Gaeilge amach anseo agus ceann de na foilsitheoirí Gaeilge móra (Cois Life) dúnta ina iomláine, agus deacrachtaí ina measc siúd atá fágtha de thairbhe ar laghdú sa tacaíocht atá ann dóibh le blianta anuas. [37934/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

I dtosach báire, ba mhaith liom a mhíniú go mbaineann saincheisteanna maidir le foilsitheoirí leabhar Gaeilge le gnóthaí oibríochtúla Fhoras na Gaeilge agus níl ról sonrach agam féin mar Aire Stáit ina leith.

É sin ráite, tuigim ó Fhoras na Gaeilge, go bhfuil €3,295,303, curtha ar fáil ag Foras na Gaeilge go díreach d’fhoilsitheoirí na Gaeilge, trí Scéim na Foilsitheoireachta - Chlár na Leabhar Gaeilge, le cúig bliana anuas. Tá €674,574 curtha ar fáil tríd an Scéim chéanna do 2019.

Tuigtear dom go raibh cruinniú foirmiúil ag an eagraíocht le Cois Life nuair a fógraíodh go raibh rún acu éirí as gnó na foilsitheoireachta, agus tugadh le fios nach cúrsaí airgid go príomha ba chúis lena gcinneadh.

Tá trí scéim faoi leith ó thaobh na foilsitheoireachta trína bhfuil tacaíocht maoinithe dá chur ar fáil ag Foras na Gaeilge ina leith:

(1) do Nuachtán ar líne,

(2) d’Iris Ghaeilge chlóite agus

(3) d’Iris stílmhaireachtála ar líne

agus tá athbhreithniú ar siúl acu faoi láthair ar chistíochta na hearnála seo. Tá gach eolas ina leith ar fáil ar https://www.forasnagaeilge.ie/nuacht/comhairliuchan.

Hare Coursing Regulation

Questions (19)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

19. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she will maintain a ban on hare netting which was imposed since 9 August 2019 in response to the RHD2 disease; if her attention has been drawn to the importance of the Irish hare and its survival; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37891/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

I made the decision last month to suspend the licences issued to the Irish Coursing Club on behalf of its affiliated clubs to capture and tag hares for the 2019/20 hare coursing season which were due to come into effect on 10 August until a clearer understanding of the extent, spread and implications of the RHD2 virus emerges. Based on what we have been able to establish over the last 7 weeks, RHD2 appears to be widespread in Ireland. The virus is known to be highly contagious and easily spread and environmental contamination presents significant difficulties in terms of any biosecurity responses.

Netting and collecting hares for coursing meetings has been identified as a significant risk factor in spreading the disease. Accordingly, I have decided to maintain the suspension of the licences issued to the Irish Coursing Club to capture and tag hares for the 2019/20 hare coursing season. This decision will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

The disease was first reported in Ireland from domestic rabbits in 2018 and was first reported in the wild in early August this year. The virus has now been confirmed in Counties Clare, Cork, Leitrim, Offaly, Wicklow and Wexford with some other animals still awaiting testing. My Department officials will continue to work closely with colleagues in the regional laboratories and virology unit of Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine to gain a fuller understanding of the extent and impact of the disease in Ireland. All post-mortems and RHD2 testing to date has been done in DAFM’s labs and I would like to acknowledge their ongoing support and cooperation in our efforts to date.

While most of the confirmed reports to date have been in rabbits, the disease has also been recorded in two Irish hares. Further hares await testing. While all locations continue to support apparently healthy wild populations, unlike the situation in the UK where mass mortalities have been reported, officials from the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department continue to monitor the situation.

The cooperation of farming groups, hunters, the coursing clubs and other rural land-users will be essential to ensure that a full picture of the disease’s extent and spread are achieved.