Heritage Sites

Questions (1213)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

1213. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the date on which the Hill of Tara conservation management plan will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45297/19]

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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.

Against a background of high visitor footfall, 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, Meath County Council, the Heritage Council and the Discovery Programme. This work has been undertaken with the objective of securing consensus among stakeholders and progressing, completing and publishing an updated Management 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 to ensure the Plan fulfils its aim and primary focus with a view to bringing the draft Plan to completion as soon as possible.

The 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. It will also guide 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 related deliberations and actions. My Department is available to advise and assist the local authority with any such proposals from the point of view of protecting the archaeology and amenity of the Hill of Tara itself.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (1214)

Brendan Smith

Question:

1214. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the expenditure for her Department, both current and capital, to date; the expected expenditure by year end; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45439/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

Details of expenditure by my Department and all Government departments are published by the Department of Finance on a monthly basis at:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/b40401-fiscal-monitor-september-2019/.

Expenditure for my Department to 30th September 2019 amounted to approximately €230 million; €38 million in capital funds and approximately €192 million in current funds.

While it is too early at this point in time to accurately forecast the full end of year outturn, I can advise that no significant savings are envisaged at present. All expenditure within my Department's vote will continue to be carefully monitored between now and year end to ensure the best use of available financial resources.

EU Directives

Questions (1215)

Brendan Smith

Question:

1215. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht further to Parliamentary Question No. 37 of 19 September 2019, if there has been recent developments in respect of discussions with the REACH committee; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45440/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

As stated in my reply to Parliamentary Question No 37 of 19 September my Department is aware that the EU draft Regulation on the use of lead in gunshot could provide a range of difficulties to transition to new guns/gunshot for many gun owners in Ireland, including farmers and hunters, as many gun owners could have to make alternative arrangements, in many cases to purchase new guns. I am committed to ensuring that this matter is addressed in consultation with all relevant stakeholders and that all potential impacts are fully considered. This process of consultation is continuing. All proposals will be comprehensively evaluated, including extended lead-in times.

In this regard, my Department recently submitted a document for circulation to the REACH Committee of the European Union suggesting an extended lead-in time to enable hunters and farmers and other stakeholders in the country to make the necessary arrangements.

Brexit Issues

Questions (1216)

Brendan Smith

Question:

1216. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the outcome of the most recent discussions she has had with her counterpart in the UK Government and with Departments and agencies in Northern Ireland in respect of issues that will arise due to Brexit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45487/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

As I have previously advised the House in my response to Dáil Question No. 273 of 19 September last, negotiations on both the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement and political declaration on the framework for the EU-UK future relationship, were conducted on behalf of the EU27 by the EU's Chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and the Commission's Article 50 Taskforce.

An agreement was reached on a revised Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration between the EU and the UK and was endorsed unanimously by the European Council on 17 October. It now requires ratification by the European and British Parliaments. On 28 October, EU 27 leaders unanimously agreed an extension to the Article 50 process, with a view to allowing for the final ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement. This averted the risk of a no deal Brexit on 31 October, by extending the deadline to 31 January 2020. However, if the Agreement is ratified before then the UK exit could take place earlier.

We continue work to prepare for the UK’s exit. Even with an agreement, it is still the case that the UK is leaving the EU and this will bring change. It is important that Ireland is ready for that change, both for our citizens and our businesses. We will continue our preparations for all scenarios.

As I have previously advised, in the course of my visit to London last year, in connection with the GB 18 Programme, I met with Matt Hancock MP, the then UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. I also met with Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs in the course of my visit to Glasgow in connection with GB18. At all of these meetings, while noting that Brexit negotiations are conducted between the EU and the UK, Brexit related matters were discussed in addition to other matters of mutual interest. While I again met with Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs earlier this year in Dublin, this was related to the launch of the Words that Bind Us project and did not include a discussion on Brexit or other policy matters.

In the interests of completeness I would also like to advise that following the visit of the then Aire Stáit, Joe McHugh T.D. to Glasgow in May 2018, Údarás na Gaeltachta in recognition of, and in preparation for Brexit, agreed a Trade Office arrangement with the Scottish Chambers of Commerce at the end of 2018. The arrangement, under which, reciprocal trade offices are being established to provide business support services to companies and facilitate investment and trade opportunities, will act as a valuable resource for SME's looking to expand their international business to business partnerships.

Wildlife Protection

Questions (1217)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

1217. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the details of the activities of the National Parks and Wildlife Service in combatting wildlife crime; the successes in relation to same in counties Sligo and Leitrim; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45577/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

The Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2018 are the primary statutes designed to afford protection to the various species in the State and which set out the framework for dealing with wildlife crime. In addition, the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 include provisions affording strict protection to a number of species and habitats.

Wildlife crime takes many forms ranging from persecution of badgers, illegal hunting of deer species, illegal hunting of hares with packs of dogs generally known as lurchers, trapping of wild birds such as native finches for illegal trade, willfully disturbing or destroying the eggs or nests of wild birds, poisoning of raptor species and the illegal cutting of hedges during the nesting season for birds.

While much wildlife crime is local we should not underestimate the dangers involved in investigating it as many perpetrators have links with other more serious crime.

Within my Department, the National Parks and Wildlife Service has responsibility for the protection and conservation of Ireland’s natural heritage, including species protection and biodiversity at national level. The NPWS is therefore dedicated to looking after our species and habitats and NPWS frontline conservation Rangers are deployed through a regional structure. Some of their work entails scientific research and survey work and the monitoring of compliance with national and European law in relation to nature conservation and wildlife crime across the country. The team also conduct patrols and site visits to enforce the various provisions of national and EU legislation and investigate reports of breaches of legislation including the various types of wildlife crime I have already described. My Department works closely with An Garda Síochána who are also specifically empowered under the Acts to investigate alleged wildlife crime offences and to prosecute as they see fit.

In the period 2013 to date in 2019 some 80 prosecutions were taken by my Department for breaches of the Wildlife Acts. As far as counties Leitrim and Sligo are concerned while there have been no convictions for breaches of the Wildlife Acts since 2013 in these two counties, it is a fact while bringing perpetrators of crime to justice is important, the success of dealing with wildlife crime cannot be judged on this alone, as ensuring compliance in the first instance is clearly of critical importance.

Given the concerns that I have surrounding the nature of wildlife crime, an internal Wildlife Crime Group staffed by field staff and senior Departmental officials meets regularly, most recently last week. The Wildlife Crime Group has pursued many important initiatives including the organisation of a major Wildlife Crime Conference last year which was attended by An Garda Síochána and representatives from organisations in Britain and Northern Ireland dealing with wildlife crime.

I am also committed to ensuring that we continue our covert actions with other agencies, including An Garda Síochána and the I.S.P.C.A to counteract these illegal activities.

Arts Funding

Questions (1218)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

1218. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the funding that has been provided to arts and culture centres in counties Sligo and Leitrim; the capital investment that will be available in the coming years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45578/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

The table below shows the funding provided by my Department to arts and culture centres in counties Sligo and Leitrim in the past 4 years.

Organisation

County

Grant allocated

Project details

Status of grant

Year

Organisation

County

Grant allocated

Project details

Status of grant

Year

The Model Arts & Niland Gallery

Sligo

10,000

Exhibition Aisteach - the Avant-Garde Archive of Ireland

Fully drawn down

2018

Hawk's Well Theatre

Sligo

550,000

To refurbish and enhance the existing facility.

Not yet drawn down

2017

Teach Morrision Outreach Centre CCE

Sligo

7,550

Sound system/ Projector / Screen / Staging & storage

Not yet drawn down

2017

The Model Arts & Niland Gallery

Sligo

20,000

Projector, equipment and repairs to the floors and roof

Not yet drawn down

2017

Hawk's Well Theatre

Sligo

8,728

Lights / External steps

Fully drawn down

2016

The Model Arts & Niland Gallery

Sligo

10,000

Computers / phone upgrades / heating upgrades

Fully drawn down

2016

The Model Arts & Niland Gallery

Sligo

5,000

Redevelopment of website

Fully drawn down

2016

The Dock / Leitrim County Council

Leitrim

128,337

Health & safety and development project of The Dock

Partially drawn down

2017

North Leitrim Glens Development Company Ltd

Leitrim

50,000

Repairs and refurbishment project at the Glens

Not yet drawn down

2017

Anaglyph Ltd (Leitrim Sculpture Centre)

Leitrim

20,000

Upgrading the centre

Not yet drawn down

2017

I am also pleased to state that I have just announced a new €4.7m capital investment funding scheme for arts and culture centres across the country. Applications are now open for the Cultural Capital Scheme which will run from 2019-2022 and focus on enhancing the existing stock of arts and culture centres throughout the country. It will also prioritise carbon footprint reduction in line with the Government’s action on climate change. Projects that provide additional capacity for artists and artistic production particularly in arts centres will also be favoured. The Scheme builds on the success of the former Arts and Culture Capital Scheme 2016-2018 which saw 134 organisations in 26 counties receive funding to refurbish and enhance their arts and culture facilities. The funding is part of my Department’s commitment to a €40m capital investment in local arts and culture infrastructure nationwide contained in Project Ireland 2040 “Investing in our Culture, Language & Heritage 2018-2027.

Applications are being invited under three separate Streams as set out below.

* Stream A will offer grants up to €50,000 for small enhancement/expansion/ refurbishment projects which may involve construction works to arts and culture facilities and/or upgrading of equipment.

* Stream B will offer grants from €50,000 up to €300,000 for larger enhancement /expansion/ refurbishment projects involving construction works to arts and culture facilities.

* Stream C will be a separate scheme aimed at the upgrading of visual artists’ workspaces. Applications for this Stream will be invited separately.

Further information on the Streams A & B of the Cultural Capital Scheme 2019 – 2022 are available on my Department’s website at https://www.chg.gov.ie/arts/creative-arts/grants-and-funding/

Hare Coursing Regulation

Questions (1219)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

1219. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason for lifting the total ban on hare net licences in view of her previous statements regarding the damage the RHD2 disease could potentially inflict on the hare population; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45087/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

My Department issued revised licences for the netting and tagging of hares for coursing last month to allow the netting of hares on a managed and restricted basis and only in areas unaffected by the Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD2) virus. Revised licences have issued to the Irish Coursing Clubs with additional conditions permitting netting outside of areas where wild hares and rabbits have tested positive for the virus.

At the same time, it has been decided to carry our field studies at four coursing clubs, which will involve veterinary and virology expertise and input, in order to supplement existing knowledge of the prevalence and nature of RHD2.