Vacant Properties

Questions (580)

Denis Naughten

Question:

580. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the impact of delays in probate in releasing vacant homes to the housing market has been assessed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46399/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

All local authorities have vacant home officers to co-ordinate local actions to address vacancy and also to undertake local vacancy surveys in order to identify - through their Vacant Homes Action Plans - priority "vacancy hot-spot areas" and properties that can be quickly brought back into residential use.

Local authorities continue to undertake vacancy assessment exercises (drilling into available vacancy data), and carrying out or co-ordinating visual inspections / assessment of residential properties in their administrative area, with a view to identifying possible vacant recoverable homes.

Local authorities are primarily interested in identifying potentially long-term (in excess of six months) vacant homes that are located in areas of high housing demand, and where ownership of such properties can be identified, the local authority attempts to engage with the owners on the options available to assist in bringing those properties back into use for in the liveable housing stock.

The cohort of long-term vacant homes that would be of most interest to local authorities in respect of their possible reactivation would include those where the reason for vacancy is identified as, inter-alia, the owner has emigrated, is in hospital/nursing home, or the property is subject to probate (including possible legal disputes over title).

Probate is a legal process and can be both complex and lengthy, however, local authorities continue to monitor potentially long-term properties in their functional areas, irrespective of the reason for vacancy, with a view to engaging with owners when the opportunity arises.

Urban Regeneration and Development Fund

Questions (581)

Robert Troy

Question:

581. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the financial commitment to the North Quays (details supplied); the funding model for same; when Waterford City and County Council will receive the balance of the €104.5 million requested; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46408/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) is a flagship element of Project Ireland 2040.  Under the stewardship of my Department, the Fund was established to support more compact and sustainable development, through the regeneration and rejuvenation of Ireland’s five cities and other large towns, in line with the objectives of the National Planning Framework and NDP.  This is to enable a greater proportion of residential and mixed-use development to be delivered within the existing built-up footprints of our cities and towns and to ensure that more parts of our urban areas can become attractive and vibrant places in which people choose to live and work, as well as to invest and to visit.

€58 million is available to meet the funding requirements of approved URDF supported projects in 2019, and there is an Exchequer commitment of €550 million for the Fund to support these and other similar projects up to the end of 2022. The URDF has an allocation of €2 billion in the National Development Plan (NDP) to 2027.

As part of the first call for proposals under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) Waterford City and County Council submitted a bid for exchequer grant funding in respect of a major multifaceted project for the North Quays, Waterford, an area that the Government has designated a Strategic Development Zone.

It is intended that the largely transport focussed infrastructural works involved will open up the North Quays site, make it more accessible, and ultimately support the achievement of the broader objectives of the SDZ planning scheme.

On 26 November 2018, I announced initial URDF support of €100m for a total of 88 projects across the country, including €6m of initial support for the Waterford North Quays Project.  Furthermore, in June this year I agreed to ring-fence URDF support of €30m in respect of the advancement of the overall North Quays Project, pending further clarification of the project detail.  

This is a very important, complex, and high value project in a strategic development zone, and so it is critical that very careful consideration is given to its planning and development, and also in order to establish the correct combination of supports required to facilitate its successful advancement and completion.  At this stage the project composition, costs, sequencing, and requisite supports must be further clarified so that the appropriate level of ‘whole project’ URDF support can be established.

While the advancement of the North Quays Project is, in the first instance, a matter for Waterford City and County Council my Department is continuing to engage with the local authority to assist further progress on the development of this important project.

Freedom of Information Data

Questions (582)

Barry Cowen

Question:

582. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the disclosures log made by his Department under freedom of information was last updated; if this is in line with the disclosure policy of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46471/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

In line with the Code of Practice for Freedom of Information for Public Bodies and the Freedom of Information Model Publication Scheme, my Department publishes disclosure logs in relation to non-personal requests, on a quarterly basis.  The most recent logs were published in October 2019 for the period July to September 2019.  

The logs for my Department can found on its website at https://www.housing.gov.ie/search/sub-type/foi-log.

Water and Sewerage Schemes

Questions (583)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

583. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on the development of a regional sewage treatment plant at Clonshaugh, County Dublin, proposed in the Greater Dublin Drainage project on behalf of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46521/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Since 1 January 2014, Irish Water has statutory responsibility for all aspects of water services planning, delivery and operation at national, regional and local levels.

In addition, under Section 30 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended), as Minister, I am precluded from exercising power or control in relation to any particular case with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned.

Irish Water has established a dedicated team to deal with representations and queries from public representatives.  The team can be contacted via email to oireachtasmembers@water.ie or by telephone on a dedicated number, 1890 578 578.

Housing Provision

Questions (584)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

584. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the meetings he or his officials have had with Dublin City Council management or councillors since 7 October 2019 regarding a development (details supplied); and the additional funding requested and-or granted beyond the initial €10 million allocation from the serviced sites fund to assist an approved housing body acquire 30% of the units from a company for cost rental accommodation. [46540/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I have not met with Councillors or management from Dublin City Council to discuss the delivery of this much needed housing on the O’Devaney Gardens site since the date referred to by the Deputy.  I can confirm that, a number of weeks previously, I did make myself available to meet with a delegation of Councillors in relation to this development.  This offer was not taken up. I was therefore surprised by an announcement by a number of Councillors, acting under the name of the 'Dublin Agreement Group', concerning a suggested purchase of private units from the developer for what was termed ‘affordable rental’ housing.  My Department did not receive a request for funding in connection with this announcement.  I have written to the Lord Mayor on this matter.

My Department has regular and ongoing engagement with Dublin City Council officials in relation to housing delivery. This would include being advised that the Council had voted to support a proposal by the DCC Executive to develop its lands in O’Devaney Gardens by a majority of 39 votes to 18 on 4 November. My Department understands that the advice of the Council executive to the Council members at the meeting was that an exhaustive process had been undertaken over the last number of years and the delivery model proposed by the Council, which was the original model agreed by the previous Council, was considered the most effective way to develop the site both in terms of mixed tenure and from a financial perspective.  This is what was voted upon and passed.

768 homes will be developed under the agreement in question on a tenure mix 50% private, 30% social and 20% affordable. It is anticipated that my Department will fund, in full, the development of the 247 social homes on the site. My Department is also funding another 56 social homes, which are currently under construction, as part of an associated development. Separately, subject to the conditions of the scheme, approval in principle had already been confirmed for Serviced Sites Funding from the Department to support the delivery of the more affordable homes on this site.  This grant funding is associated with the 165 more affordable homes for purchase that will be delivered on site at significantly below open market rates.  These 1, 2 and 3 bedroomed homes will be made available to purchasers at an average price of €300,000 and in no circumstances will they cost more than €310,000.

Planning Issues

Questions (585)

Jim Daly

Question:

585. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if subdivision of a dwelling house requires a planning application in circumstances (details supplied); and if so, if one or two non-principal private residence, NPPR, returns for such a property should be made. [46545/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009, as amended, provides the legislative basis for the Non-Principal Private Residence (NPPR) Charge. The NPPR Charge  applied in the years 2009 to 2013 to any residential property in which the owner did not reside as their normal place of residence.  The NPPR charge was based on self-declaration and therefore the onus is on the property owner themselves to register their property and make the payment.  

Section 2(1) of the Act provides that a building that is situated in the State and that is occupied, or suitable for occupation, as a separate dwelling comes within the meaning of "residential property" for the purposes of the NPPR charge. My Department issued guidelines to assist local authorities in the implementation of the charge.

The 2009 Act places the charge under the care and management of the local authorities and the application of the charge in particular circumstances is a matter for the relevant local authority.

My role as Minister, in relation to the planning system, is mainly to provide and update the legislative framework and policy guidance. The legislative framework comprises the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, (the Act) and the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended. 

A person may establish whether or not planning permission is required for a particular development proposal by seeking a declaration from their local planning authority under Section 5 of the Planning and Development Act 2000.

Under section 30 of the Act, I am specifically precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any particular case, including an enforcement issue, with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned.

Housing Provision

Questions (586)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

586. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will provide correspondence in respect of two local authorities on a matter (details supplied). [46599/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The delivery of housing, whether it be social, affordable or the advancement of mixed use housing developments, is a key priority for both Cork City and Cork County Council. My Department is committed to working and supporting both these local authorities to deliver such homes across the County.  Indeed, my Department engages on a very regular basis on all matters relating to housing delivery, including project approval and funding applications.

To support delivery in the County, a Cork Social Housing Task Force has been established and is chaired by a former Secretary General of my Department. The Taskforce comprises representatives from both local authorities, the Housing Agency, the Approved Housing Body sector, as well as the Assistant Secretary leading the Housing Delivery Division of my Department. The objective of this Task Force is to identify any barriers that there are to delivery in the County and to accelerate and increase delivery across Cork.

In relation to the Deputy's request for extensive records and correspondence on all matters relating to every social, affordable and mixed use housing development, it should be noted that such records are, generally, provided under the various legislative provisions of the Freedom of Information Acts. I trust the Deputy will appreciate that the information sought is not readily available and its compilation would involve a disproportionate amount of time and work.

I am, however, attaching documents below, which provide details of the Cork City and Cork County social housing targets under Rebuilding Ireland, including progress made against these targets. Also provided are links to the most recent published quarterly Social Housing Construction Status Report - which details all social housing new build projects in the build pipeline in Cork; links to published targets and also to the statistics page on my Department's website which is updated quarterly to reflect delivery against target by local authority.

In relation to funding, I can confirm that to date in 2019, a total of €142 million has been provided to Cork City and Cork County for the delivery of housing programmes. Both local authorities have been advised that the social housing targets set for them are minimum targets and that funding is in place to support both Councils to exceed those targets.

I should say if there is a specific project that the Deputy has an interest in, my Department will be more than happy to provide that information directly to him.

Links to Social Housing Targets 2018-2021 and specific Social Housing Targets 2019:

https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-publishes-social-housing-delivery-targets-for-local-authorities-2018-2021/.

https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/social-housing-targets-2019/.

Link to quarterly statistical outputs for social housing by local authority which shows delivery against target:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision.

Link to most recent Social Housing Construction Status Report which outlines all social housing new build activity under Rebuilding Ireland in Cork City and County:

https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-publishes-social-housing-construction-status-report-for-q2-2019-2/.

Cork County

Cork City

Departmental Advertising Campaigns

Questions (587)

Jack Chambers

Question:

587. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the role his Department is playing in the winter ready campaign; the expenditure his Department will incur in this campaign; and the details of expenditure on external consultancy and advertising or communication. [46632/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department supports the "Be Winter ready" initiative as Lead Government Department for emergency scenarios involving severe weather and flooding. In this regard, the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management (NDFEM) and Met Éireann provide leadership in terms of forecasting and response. 

The NDFEM has a Crisis Management Team in place that works closely with Met Éireann to monitor weather and to provide early warning of weather events to the relevant agencies to enable a state of preparedness.

Met Éireann has a critical role in issuing weather forecasts and warnings for Ireland. Weather advisories and weather warnings are very important communication tools and it is imperative that people are informed about what they mean and the action that should be taken on foot of such warnings. A key emphasis of this year’s “Be Winter Ready” campaign is around further enhancing awareness around the colour-coded weather warnings. Met Éireann developed a brochure for this year's "Be Winter Ready" campaign highlighting the colour coded warnings and what each means. 

In terms of the response, my Department works closely with local authorities to ensure that they are ready for the winter season ahead. In particular, in terms of housing and homelessness the Cold Weather Initiative involves the provision of additional beds to ensure that there is adequate capacity to cope with additional demand due to colder temperatures. The Initiative also involves extended opening hours for facilities that do not normally operate on a 24-hour basis and additional outreach activity to encourage rough sleepers to avail of accommodation.

Rough sleeping is mainly concentrated in the urban regions and significant work has been carried out under Rebuilding Ireland to increase the availability of emergency accommodation.  In December 2015, the number of emergency beds for single people in Dublin was 1,500.  By December 2018, this had increased to over 2,300.  My Department is working with the Dublin Region Homeless Executive to deliver 300 additional emergency beds this winter, with 150 beds already in place and the majority of the 300 beds to be in place before Christmas.  A further 50 contingency beds are available to ensure that there will be sufficient beds available for all that require shelter. Specific measures are being put in place throughout all the regions.

My Department incurred no consultancy, advertising or other costs on the "Be Winter Ready" initiative.

Departmental Reports

Questions (588)

Shane Cassells

Question:

588. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number, date of publication and details of post-enactment reports published by her Department since March 2011, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46088/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

I refer the Deputy to my response to Parliamentary Question No 282 of 10th October last and wish to confirm that the position is unchanged from that time.  For the Deputy's convenience, the relevant details in respect of the six Acts brought forward by my Department that been signed into law since 2011, are again set out in the following table. 

Name of Act

Date Act signed into law 

Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2012

24 July 2012

Acht na Gaeltachta 2012

25 July 2012

National Cultural Institutions (National Concert Hall) Act 2015

10 December 2015

National Archives (Amendment) Act 2018*

14 July 2018

Heritage Act 2018

18 July 2018

Irish Film Board (Amendment) Act 2018

24th December 2018

*Act has not yet been commenced

The position in relation to post-enactment reports undertaken by my Department in respect of these Acts is set out below.

The purpose of the National Cultural Institutions (National Concert Hall) Act 2015 was to place the National Concert Hall on a statutory footing and provide for appropriate reporting and accounting to the Minister and onwards to the Oireachtas, while not impinging on curatorial independence.  A post enactment report in respect of this legislation was lodged in the Oireachtas library on Monday 15 July 2019.

The Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2012, extended arrangements set out in the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2010 regarding provisions that deemed all holders of valid firearm certificates issued for shotguns between August 1st 2009 and July 31st 2012 to be the holders of a hunting licence under the Wildlife Acts for the purposes of hunting game bird and hare species.  Given that the practical effect of this change was considered minimal, it has not been considered necessary to undertake a post enactment report.

An tAcht na Gaeltachta 2012 provided for the introduction of a language planning process, primarily in Gaeltacht areas, as set out in the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 and for changes in the size and method of appointment of members to the board of Údarás na Gaeltachta. As the full impact of both of these provisions will only become fully evident over the course of an extended period the appropriate timing for the undertaking of a Post Enactment Report of this Act remains under consideration.

The conduct of post enactment reports in respect of the National Archives (Amendment) Act 2018, the Heritage Act 2018, and the Irish Film Board (Amendment) Act 2018, all of which were enacted in 2018,  will also be considered in due course.

Wildlife Conservation

Questions (589)

Robert Troy

Question:

589. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the position regarding the regulation to ban lead shot; the proposed regulation and changes or amendments she is considering with regard to same; the date the regulations are to be enforced; and if she will provide additional information in this regard. [46159/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

In 2003 Ireland signed up to the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) which commits Ireland to phasing out the use of lead shot for hunting in wetlands. This is to combat the slow accumulation of lead from shot in wetlands where hunting occurs.  The lead is harmful in the environment and can also be consumed by wildfowl. 

Additionally, the European Commission has published a draft Regulation on the use of lead shot in wetlands, which, should it progress into law, will necessitate a move to alternatives to lead shot. The majority of Member States already have some restrictions on the use of lead shot over wetlands.

My Department is aware that any change to the regulations around 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. 

My Department and the other relevant Government Departments are fully committed to ensuring that this matter is addressed in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, including farmer and hunters, 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.

Built Heritage Investment Scheme

Questions (590)

James Browne

Question:

590. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if her attention has been drawn to the fact that owners of buildings with thatched roofs receive quotes of approximately €20,000 in respect of rethatching; her plans to introduce grant funding to facilitate the replacement of thatched roofs for those not in a position to fund same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46210/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

My Department operates two schemes to assist in the conservation of our built heritage which may include thatched structures. These schemes are the Built Heritage Investment Scheme (BHIS) and the Historic Structures Fund (HSF). While the primary responsibility to care for and maintain a protected structure rests with the owner, these schemes invest essential capital in our valuable built heritage and help the owners and custodians of historic structures in every local authority area across the country to safeguard their properties into the future for the benefit of communities and the public.The BHIS is a scheme for the repair and conservation of protected structures – in public and private ownership - on the local authority Record of Protected Structures. It is designed to leverage private capital for investment in small-scale conservation projects and to support the employment of skilled conservation professionals and tradespeople. I allocated funding of €2.5m for the BHIS in 2019. The HSF is for larger conservation works to such protected structures. I allocated €1.824m for the HSF in 2019. Both schemes are administered through the local authorities.

I will shortly be announcing details of the Built Heritage Investment Scheme 2020 and the Historic Structures Fund 2020. Details of the schemes, including the amounts allocated to each local authority, will be published on my Department’s website and on each local authority website.  

The Heritage Council, which my Department funds, also provides grants for the protection and preservation of our built heritage, which may include grants for thatching. The announcement of any proposed grant schemes can be found on their website at www.heritagecouncil.ie.

While my Department does not run a funding scheme specifically for thatched structures, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government administers a grant scheme for the renewal or repair of thatched roofs of owner-occupied houses. Full details are available from their website at www.housing.gov.ie/housing/grantsfinancial-assistance/thatching-grant/thatching-grants.

Departmental Offices

Questions (591)

Denis Naughten

Question:

591. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of vacant desk spaces available in accommodation allocated to her Department in Civil Service accommodation outside Dublin city; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46290/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

As the Deputy will be aware staff of my Department are located in offices throughout the country including  Na Forbacha, Killarney, Wexford and Ballina as well as the various regional locations operated by the National Parks and Wildlife Services such as the six National Parks as well as Nature Reserves and other shared offices.  In excess of 400 staff are based in these locations. 

My Department regularly liaises with OPW to ensure that all available office space is used at an optimum level and, also operates sharing agreements established with other decentralised government departments in shared locations to this end.  

I am advised that, at this time, there are 22 desks currently available in office accommodation allocated  across the Department's main administrative buildings located outside Dublin.

Irish Language

Questions (592)

Shane Cassells

Question:

592. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans for the development and protection of the Ráth Chairn Gaeltacht in County Meath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46397/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

As the Deputy may be aware, the Gaeltacht Act 2012 gives statutory effect to the language planning process under which language plans may be prepared at community level in areas to be recognised under the Act as Gaeltacht Language Planning Areas, Gaeltacht Service Towns or Irish Language Networks.

The language plan in respect of Ráth Chairn and Baile Ghib was submitted to my Department in July 2018 and approved in October 2018. In line with the overall support arrangements in place under the overall stewardship of my Department a Language Planning Officer has since been appointed to implement this plan at community level. Annual funding of up to €100,000 is being made available in support of this.

Insofar as all Gaeltacht areas are concerned, including Gaeltacht na Mí, the Deputy should also be aware that both my Department and Údarás na Gaeltachta administer a wide range of schemes, initiatives and programmes through which financial support is provided to assist in the implementation, at Gaeltacht community level, of practical actions, interventions, initiatives and projects which have as their core objective the maintenance and development of Irish as the community language of the Gaeltacht as well as promoting enterprise and employment opportunities within Gaeltacht regions.  

In order to further underpin in particular the work of Údarás na Gaeltachta in relation to the Gaeltacht region of Ráth Chairn and Baile Bhib the Board of Údarás na Gaeltachta approved the setting up of the Enterprise Forum 2017 in order to research and assess the development and employment opportunities of the area.

The aim of this enterprise action group is to place a new focus on a framework to build and develop Ráth Chairn and Baile Ghib, which are in close proximity to Dublin, as a competitive and successful region for job creation.

The aims include:

- Researching the resources and opportunities that exist in the area by engaging with local entrepreneurs, community groups, language groups and other relevant parties;

- Assessing the results of the research and preparing recommendations for job creation in this Gaeltacht region;

- Preparing a 3 year strategy for the Ráth Chairn and Baile Ghib Gaeltacht with a recommended budget to implement its objectives. 

This coordinated approach encompasses collaboration with relevant stakeholders - including Meath County Council, SOLAS, Louth and Meath Education and Training Board, the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Maynooth University, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht - along with business and community representatives.

The  report of the Enterprise  Forum group is currently being finalised and it is anticipated that it will be published in the coming weeks.

Departmental Funding

Questions (593)

Shane Cassells

Question:

593. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to provide funding to a centre (details supplied) in County Meath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46423/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

In 2017, my Department awarded a capital grant of €300,000 under the Arts and Culture Capital Scheme 2016-2018 to the centre referred to by the Deputy . 

As is the case with all capital grants from my Department, the payment of the grant is managed under a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the project promoter.  The SLA sets out the conditions which must be met by the project promoter in advance of the payment of the grant.  At present, the project promoter is in the process of complying with these conditions in order to draw down the grant.

Freedom of Information Data

Questions (594)

Barry Cowen

Question:

594. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when the disclosures log made by her Department under freedom of information was last updated; if this is in line with the disclosure policy of her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46464/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

My Department publishes logs of all non-personal FOI requests on a quarterly basis in accordance with the Department’s FOI Publication Scheme, prepared under section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014.  The most recent update was published on 7th November 2019.

Each published log contains the following information:

- The reference number assigned to the request by the Department;

- The date on which the request was received in the Freedom of Information Unit of the Department;

- The category of the person making the request, e.g. whether they are a journalist, interest group or company or an individual. This includes non-personal FOI requests only;

-  A summary of the information or records requested;

- The date on which the Department’s decision was issued to the applicant;

- A summary of that decision, e.g. whether the request was granted in full, part granted, refused or withdrawn and dealt with outside of the Freedom of Information Acts.

The disclosures logs may be viewed at https://www.chg.gov.ie/about/information-requests/freedom-of-information/foi-request-logs/

Performing Arts

Questions (595)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

595. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht further to Parliamentary Question No. 8 of 10 April 2019, if she has met with a theatre (details supplied); if so, the outcome of the meeting; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46477/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

I have not met with the group referred to by the Deputy.  Ongoing correspondence has however been exchanged with my Department both from and on behalf of the group.

I recently announced a new capital investment scheme for arts and culture centres across the country with funding of €4.7m available for allocation.  Applications are now being invited for funding under the new scheme which is titled the Cultural Capital Scheme 2019-2022.  The Scheme is for arts and culture facilities that operate as not-for-profit organisations throughout the country and that have a clearly defined arts and culture focus.

The new scheme was informed by the recently published strategic Review of Arts Centres and Venues by the Arts Council & the County and City Management Association (CCMA) as well as the Arts Council's published Arts Centre Policy and Strategy 2019 which sets out its funding criteria for arts centres from 2020 onwards.

A particular focus of this scheme will be its emphasis on the reduction of carbon footprints to dovetail with the Government’s action on climate change.  Projects providing additional capacity for artists and artistic production particularly in arts centres will also be favoured. The Scheme builds on the success of the Arts and Culture Capital Scheme 2016-2018 which saw grants allocated to 134 organisations in 26 counties to refurbish and enhance their facilities.  This funding is provided from a €40m capital investment allocation for local arts and culture infrastructure contained in Project Ireland 2040 “Investing in our Culture, Language & Heritage 2018-2027'.  

Applications will be made online at www.licences.ie.  Applications are being invited under three separate Streams as follows.

- 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 by Visual Artists Ireland.

Further information on the Cultural Capital Scheme 2019 – 2022 is available on my Department’s website.  

The group referred to by the Deputy has been notified of the new Scheme by my Department.

Departmental Strategies

Questions (596)

Catherine Martin

Question:

596. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if Ireland was represented at the European peatland strategy workshop in Bonn on 28 and 29 October 2019; if so, the Departments or agencies in this regard; if Ireland supported the attendance at the workshop of civil society representatives; and if so, the organisations in this regard. [46587/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

My Department is responsible for co-ordinating the implementation of the National Peatlands Strategy, which I believe is one of the most advanced in Europe. This 10 year strategy sets out a cross-governmental approach to managing issues that relate to peatlands, including compliance with EU environmental law, climate change, forestry, flood control, energy, nature conservation, planning, and agriculture. The first progress report on the implementation of the National Peatlands Strategy was approved by the Government and published last year. Work on the second progress report is on-going with a view to publication by the end of this year or early in 2020.

I am advised that my Department was not in attendance at the European Peatland Strategy workshop held in Bonn in October last.  Nor am I aware that my Department or its agencies were requested to support the attendance of civil society representatives at the workshop. Indeed, such requests would be unusual.

Departmental Advertising Campaigns

Questions (597)

Jack Chambers

Question:

597. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the role her Department is playing in the winter ready campaign; the expenditure her Department will incur in this campaign; and the details of expenditure on external consultancy and advertising or communication. [46625/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government launched the ‘Be Winter-Ready’ 2019 -2020 Information Campaign focusing this year on the different colour codings associated with Met Éireann weather warnings on Wednesday 6th November.

The ‘Be Winter-Ready’ campaign informs the public of what is being done in relation to winter preparations and where they can source valuable information that can assist them through a difficult period.  

This year’s campaign is focused on “Met Éireann’s Weather Warnings”. The Office of Emergency Planning, in collaboration with their colleagues in Met Éireann, have designed and produced a leaflet on these weather warnings. This leaflet and leaflets from previous Be Winter Ready campaigns are available on the winterready.ie website.

The campaign highlights the ‘Whole of Government’ approach being taken to winter preparations.  This sort of approach was seen during recent storms which posed challenges for communities, businesses, Government Departments and Agencies. While my Department participates in the campaign, as it does not have a lead role in this campaign, no expenditure is planned on external consultancy, advertising or communication at this present time.

Special Areas of Conservation

Questions (598)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

598. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of the 53 bog SACs which have to date been fully resolved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46692/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

Significant efforts have been made by the State to resolve the issue of the protection of Ireland’s raised bog special areas of conservation within the framework of the EU Habitats Directive. This has included the establishment of the Peatlands Council, intensive and on-going engagement with turf cutting interests, the farming community, non-governmental organisations and with the European Commission, as well as the establishment of a long-term compensation scheme for affected turf cutters. The aim is to address the needs of turf cutters as part of an overall raised bog designated sites network solution, as set out in the National Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation Management Plan 2017-2022. This involves a balance of protecting traditional rights, providing compensation where these rights are curtailed and seeking to facilitate feasible alternatives, where possible, while working to ensure that Ireland meets its legal obligations.

In the region of 2,000 applicants have qualified under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme from 48 of the 53 raised bog special area of conservation sites. There are particular reasons as to there being no qualifying applicants under the scheme for the remaining 5 sites, for example, the lack of turf cutting on these sites during the qualifying period.

For 11 raised bog special areas of conservation, relocation sites have been identified and developed. Some of these relocation sites have been operational since 2013/14 with the most recently developed relocation sites ready for turf cutting to begin in the 2020 season. Relocation sites for a further 6 special area of conservation bogs have been identified by the Department and are at various stages of development. The Department is still investigating suitable relocation sites for 7 raised bog special areas of conservation.

For a number of the special area of conservation sites, the non-designated site identified may not be suitable or may not have the capacity to cater for the number of turf cutters who may wish to relocate there. In such cases and within the framework of the National Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation Management Plan 2017-2022, the Department, in consultation with turf cutter representatives, is considering the available options in terms of relocation and the provisions of the Habitats Directive to provide for turf cutting with certain areas of raised bog special areas of conservation. 14 sites are under consideration for the possible application of article 6 of the Directive.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (599)

Willie Penrose

Question:

599. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of additional staff appointed in her Department and agencies under her remit in 2019; the estimated cost of hiring the additional staff, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46701/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

The information requested by the Deputy is detailed in the following table.

Organisation

Number of additional staff appointed in 2019

Estimated annualised payroll cost of additional staff appointed in 2019

€million

Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht

33

1.22

Arts Council

5

0.244

Crawford Art Gallery

1

0.048

National Concert Hall

2

0.116  

National Gallery of Ireland

13

0.435  

National Library of Ireland

2

0.060  

National Museum of Ireland

9

 0.240

Screen Ireland

2

0.060  

Waterways Ireland

12

0.402  

 

 

 

Total

79

2.825

I am informed that my Department, Waterways Ireland, the National Museum of Ireland and the National Gallery of Ireland all recruited a number of seasonal staff in 2019.  As this is an annual occurrence to give additional cover for busy periods in public-facing sections such as the National Parks in my Department and does not give rise to a year-on-year increase in payroll, seasonal staff are not accounted for in the above figures.