Questions Nos. 1 to 7, inclusive, answered orally.

European Capital of Culture

Questions Nos. 9 to 12, inclusive, answered orally.

Questions (8)

Hildegarde Naughton

Question:

8. Deputy Hildegarde Naughton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of preparations for the launch of Galway 2020; the consideration given to the legacy of the project; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51889/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

The Galway 2020 cultural programme was launched on 18 September last and I was delighted to officiate at the occasion. More recently, following the recent third and final review by the EU Expert Monitoring Panel, Galway 2020 was also recommended for the prestigious Melina Mercouri Prize of €1.5 million. The EU Commission will make an announcement on the award of the Prize early next year.

Under the terms of the Performance Delivery Agreement between my Department and Galway 2020, a quarterly financial and management report is received in advance of a formal monitoring meeting between the Department and senior management in Galway 2020. All aspects of Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture are discussed at both the monitoring meetings and in regular communication that takes place between my Department and Galway 2020.

The legacy of Galway 2020 it is considered a very important aspect by all the main funders. 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.

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.

As we are now a little over 50 days out from the Opening Ceremony for Galway 2020, I am looking forward to a truly memorable, once in a lifetime year for all concerned.

Questions Nos. 9 to 12, inclusive, answered orally.

Oideachas Gaeilge

Question No. 14 answered orally.

Questions (13)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

13. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil sé i gceist aici athruithe a dhéanamh ar an scéim deontas le haghaidh ollscoileanna thar sáile ina múintear an Ghaeilge; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [51124/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

Tá mo Roinn ag cur maoinithe ar fáil ó 2006 mar thacaíocht le forbairt agus múineadh na Gaeilge a chur chun cinn in ollscoileanna tríú leibhéal thar lear. Is iad aidhmeanna an chiste dea-thoil i leith na Gaeilge agus an chultúir gaelaigh a chothú trasna na hEorpa, Stáit Aontaithe Mheiriceá, Ceanada agus níos faide ó bhaile agus an teanga a chur i láthair mar theanga idirnáisiúnta. Tríd an tionscnamh seo, cruthaítear ardán don Ghaeilge trínar féidir eolas a chur uirthi ar bhonn idirnáisiúnta. Cruthaíonn sé seo tuiscint níos fearr ar an teanga agus ar chultúr na hÉireann lasmuigh d'Éirinn agus cothaíonn sé naisc idir Éirinn agus na tíortha ina bhfuil na hinstitiúidí lonnaithe. Chomh maith leis sin, cuireann sé go mór le scoláireacht na Gaeilge i measc an phobail acadúil idirnáisiúnta agus méadaítear stádas na teanga dá réir.

Faoi láthair tá maoiniú á fháil ag os cionn 40 ollscoil/institiúid tríú leibhéal. Níos túisce i mbliana, cheadaigh mé ós cionn €1.3m do ós cionn 20 ollscoil ar fud na hEorpa don tréimhse acadúil 2019/20-2021/2022. Ciallaíonn sé seo go bhfuil ós cionn 40 ollscoil/institiúid tríú leibhéal ag fáil maoinithe nuair a chuirtear ollscoileanna Cheanada agus Mheiriceá san áireamh.

D’fhreastal ós cionn 2,500 dálta ar chúrsaí sa mbliain acadúil atá thart agus thug suas le ós cionn 100 de na daltaí seo cuairt ar Ionaid Ghaeltachta. Cruthaíonn sé seo deis iontach do na scoláirí na canúintí éagsúil a bhlaiseadh ag braith ar an ionad a roghnaíonn siad chomh maith le suim a mhúscailt in oidhreacht agus i gcultúir na tíre seo.

Ina theannta sin, tá mo Roinn ag comhmhaoiniú an tionscadail, Fáilte ar Líne, a bhfuil mar bhunaidhm aige cúrsaí ar líne go leibhéal céime don Ghaeilge agus do Chultúr na hÉireann a chur ar fáil. Tá tionscadal á fhorbairt in Ollscoil Chathair Bhaile Átha Cliath le Fiontar agus Scoil na Gaeilge agus an Ideas Lab san Instititúid Náisiúnta don Fhoghlaim Digiteach. Tá coiste idirnáisiúnta ag an tionscadal freisin, a dtarraingíonn ar an saineolas atá timpeall na cruinne sa bhfoghlaim digiteach agus sa teagasc ar-líne.

Ó seoladh an chúrsa anuraidh, tá os cionn 40,000 duine ó os cionn 100 tír timpeall na cruinne tar éis an deis a thapú an Ghaeilge a fhoghlaim ar-líne. Ceann de na príomhsprocanna atá ag an tionscadal seo ná an deis a thabhairt don Diaspora nasc leanúnach a choinneáil leis an tír seo agus leis an oidhreacht uathúil a thugann ár dteanga dúinn.

Question No. 14 answered orally.

Insurance Costs

Questions (15)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

15. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the assistance her Department can provide to cultural festivals and venues that are faced with closure due to spiralling insurance costs; if she has raised the challenge to cultural life with the insurance industry representatives and the Ministers for Business, Enterprise and Innovation and Finance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51908/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

The issue of insurance, in the first instance, is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Finance.

Due to recent changes in cover provided by insurance companies, many service providers across the State, including those in the tourism, leisure, children’s play facilities and arts organisations are experiencing significant difficulties in securing insurance. In addition, to difficulties in procuring insurance, there is a further issue where service providers are facing dramatically increasing insurance costs. This is also evident in the performing arts sector.

There is a particular impact on arts organisations involved in performance activities that take place in excess of 1.5 metres above the ground which include some arts organisations that engage in aerial and street performance. There are a small number of such companies spread across the State.

The Government is aware of the issues facing cultural festivals and venues and is particularly concerned about the affordability and availability of insurance. The pricing of insurance products is however, a commercial matter for insurance companies. The reality is that neither the Department nor its agencies, has any control over the costs of insurance products. This position is reinforced by the EU framework for insurance. Government cannot therefore direct insurance companies to cover certain types of risk, such as those in the cultural sector.

In 2016, the Government established a Cost of Insurance Working Group, which is chaired by Michael D’Arcy, T.D. Minister of State at the Department of Finance with special responsibility for insurance issues.

I am advised by the Department of Finance, that the working Group is focusing on implementing the recommendations of two reports that it prepared and published. These reports examined the factors contributing to the increasing cost of insurance in order to identify what short, medium and long term measures could be introduced to help reduce the cost of insurance for consumers and businesses.

The Working Group, as part of its remit, is also examining the issues encountered by the arts performance organisations. Officials from my Department have attended a meeting between Minister Darcy's Office and representative organisations for arts grouping affected by rising insurance costs. My Department will co-operate with the Department of Finance with any actions which will assist in the implementation of recommendations to mitigate the insurance issues.

Commemorative Events

Questions (16)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

16. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason there has been no announcement of the planned State and State-sponsored Decade of Centenaries 2013-2023 commemorative events for 2020. [51907/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

The Government is committed to ensuring that the State's approach to remembering this very complex period in our history, and all of those who lost their lives during those years, will be based on the respectful, sensitive, appropriate and authentic approach that has become the hallmark of the Decade of Centenaries commemorative programme.

We have entered the most challenging and sensitive phase of the Decade of Centenaries and the Government's commemoration planning continues to be informed by the guidance of the Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations, and consultation with the All-Party Consultation Group on Commemorations.

One of the cornerstones of the State's approach to commemorations over the coming years will be to continue to further reconciliation on the island of Ireland and between Ireland and Britain.

I am consulting widely with stakeholders and partners, including other Government Departments, the National Cultural Institutions and local authorities to best inform and finalise the State programme for 2020 early in the New Year.

To date, local authorities and other core stakeholders have responded very effectively to the themes of the State commemorative programme by developing inclusive, appropriate and citizen-focused initiatives, to encourage people of all ages to explore significant aspects of the political, historical, social and cultural context of that period. Funding allocations from my Department for local authorities and others in 2020 are currently under consideration and I expect to make an announcement shortly in this regard.

I further expect that local authorities and State partners will continue to have a key role in supporting engagement and facilitation with communities in developing appropriate commemorative initiatives as part of the Decade of Centenaries. This is particularly important, given the significance of and the need to be sensitive to the local historical context as per the principles expressed by the Expert Advisory Group.

Hare Coursing Regulation

Questions (17)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

17. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if the definition of regulated coursing matches requires clubs to comply with rules 11 and 13 of a club (details supplied) specifically in respect of the open seasons order for which she has sole responsibility. [51892/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

The legislative base for both parkland and open hare coursing is the Wildlife (Wild Mammals) (Open Seasons) Order 2005 which allows the hunting of hares, including coursing with dogs for “coursing at regulated coursing matches”. The Wildlife Acts defines a regulated coursing match as "regulated coursing match means a coursing match held in accordance with the rules for such matches which are for the time being both published and approved by the Irish Coursing Club pursuant to the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958.”

The rules of the club referred to by the Deputy state that coursing clubs can only hold meetings on dates allocated by the club.

The majority of coursing meetings organised by the club relate to regular park coursing where hares are captured under licence by my Department and are kept in a hare park, are released to course over a designated track and then re-released back into the wild. It is my understanding that in open coursing hares are not captured but are already present in the countryside. Clearly, a licence to capture hares is not required from my Department for Open coursing events where hares are not captured and as such there is no requirement for all such events to be listed on the schedule to the licences issued to the club in question.

In its opening statement delivered to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine on 9 July 2019, the club to which the Deputy refers made a distinction between Affiliated Clubs and Associated Clubs. My Department was not aware of the distinction. It is a matter for the club in question to clarify the legal status of such Associated Clubs and my Department is continuing to pursue this matter with the club.

As you know, I suspended the licences issued to the club in question on 9 August this year to capture and tag hares for the 2019/20 hare coursing- until a clearer understanding of the extent, spread and implications of the RHD2 virus emerges.

I issued revised licences in mid October to allow the netting and tagging of hares but there are specific restrictions and conditions explicitly attached to the issue of those licences. The capturing of hares and coursing activity is prohibited in areas within a 25-kilometre radius of where wild rabbits or hares have tested positive for the virus.

National Monuments

Questions (18, 27)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

18. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when the reconfigured Moore Street advisory group as recommended in the second Moore Street progress report, which she received in August 2019 will be announced. [51906/19]

View answer

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

27. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when she plans to reconvene and reconstitute the Moore Street advisory committee; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51125/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 18 and 27 together.

As the Deputies are aware, the Moore Street Advisory Group (MSAG) was established to represent and work with all stakeholders (including the owner of the development site surrounding the State owned National Monument at Nos. 14 - 17 Moore St) to help broker regeneration solutions that can be supported by all concerned.

I received the report of the MSAG - Securing History 2 - in August and would like to sincerely thank the members for their invaluable contributions during their time on the Group.

One of the key recommendations in the report is that the MSAG should be reconfigured to a smaller more focussed group in order to move the process forward as quickly as possible.

I am delighted to be in a position to confirm that Dr Tom Collins has kindly agreed to take on the role as Chair of the newly reconfigured MSAG. His knowledge of the issues and sensitivities is invaluable and I would like to put on record my thanks to him for accepting the role as well as for chairing the previous group.

On foot of this I have written to all the representative groups to ask them for their nominations to the reconfigured and more focussed MSAG. I would expect to receive these nominations over the coming weeks and the group will convene early in the new year.

I regard the Securing History 2 report as a significant milestone in the revitalisation of this crucial part of our capital city. The proposals put forward by Hammerson are sympathetic to and embrace the history and heritage of O’Connell Street and the Moore Street area and can be aligned with the objectives of protecting the national monument at Nos. 14 -17, opening it to the public and resonating the mercantile, social and political heritage of the area as a 1916 commemorative quarter. I understand that a statement from the Moore Street Traders Association has expressed its members' full backing for the proposals which it sees as providing an important opportunity for their businesses to become viable again.

I welcome the prospect there now is for reviving the Moore Street area and its market and to give Dublin a national main street and historic area to be proud of.

Traveller Culture

Questions (19)

Mick Barry

Question:

19. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the resources being given to Traveller culture; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52147/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

As I have previously advised the House in my response to Dáil Question No. 689 of 19th November last, the Travelling Community has a rich culture, with unique traditions and crafts which are an integral part of the heritage of this community.

On 18 July last, I launched the permanent National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage, celebrating living cultural heritage practices in Ireland. This initiative represents official State recognition of cultural practices all around Ireland, two of which are Traveller Tinsmithing and Cant/Gammon, the traditional language spoken by Irish Travellers.

The development of the National Inventory of Ireland’s Intangible Cultural Heritage is an integral part of my Department’s work under the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which requires signatory States to recognise, protect and promote the living cultural heritage of their countries.

Examples of other initiatives promoting Traveller Culture awareness by bodies under the aegis of my Department include:

The development and realisation of the Travellers' Journey Exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life in County Mayo. €150,000, was allocated to the development and realisation of the exhibition, which ran for a year, was opened in July 2018 by President Michael D. Higgins and included a series of events and talks on aspects of Traveller Culture and Identity. A further €10,000 was provided by the NMI to support projects arising from the Travellers’ Journey Exhibition including:

- CAMP. An art project led by artist Aideen Barry in which she and her students from Limerick School of Art and Design worked with members of the Traveller community in the west of Ireland to produce a series of visual art pieces. The resultant art pieces will be installed as part of this exhibition. This project ran from November 2018 – February 2019 in the Museum of Country Life.

- A talk entitled ‘I am Traveller: Our Histories and Heritage’ chaired by Senator Collette Kelleher held in February 2019 for which Traveller groups from Cork, Donegal, Meath, Mayo and Dublin formed the panel and shared their insights on traditional and contemporary Traveller culture and interesting community initiatives.

- The launch in April 2019 of the Travellers Journey Children’s Book. This was a partnership project between the National Museum, Kids’ Own Publishing, Involve, and Scoil Iosa, Ballina and funded by the National Museum, Department of Justice and Equality and Mayo North East under SICAP and PEIL.

The Crawford Art Gallery in partnership with Cork Traveller Women’s Network & Cork Visibility Group also hosted a number of events in the Gallery as part of Cork Traveller Pride 2019 Festival; -

Talking with Travellers: Workshop for people interested in knowing more about the journey, history, culture and real lived experience of Irish Travellers.

- Looped Film Screenings: Traveller Oral history film “Would you like to Suni at the Vardo” by Cork Traveller Women’s Network and UCC Folklore Dept. Film “Beady Pocket” is based on a poem by Traveller writer Rosaleen McDonagh, film by Mahon Traveller women with Frameworks Films.

- Craft Workshops: Workshops on the traditional Traveller craft of paper flower making.

I can assure the Deputy that my Department and f the bodies under its remit, will continue this proactive support for the recording and celebration of Traveller Culture and Heritage.

Commencement of Legislation

Questions (20)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

20. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when she plans to commence the National Archives (Amendment) Act 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52151/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

The National Archives Act 1986 provides for the transfer and release to the public of the records of Government Departments to the National Archives when they are 30 years old. Following a Cabinet decision in October 2015, my Department introduced legislation to amend the National Archives Act, 1986 to give the Minister power, by order, to reduce the 30 year period to 20 years on a phased basis , subject to the agreement of the Taoiseach, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and the relevant Minister in each case. The National Archives (Amendment) Act was signed into law in July 2018.

The new Act introduced a provision that allows records to be transferred when they are over 20 years old in certain circumstances. It is anticipated that the 2018 Act will be commenced next year which will allow for a partial move to a 20-year rule. This partial move will allow for the gradual build-up of the necessary resources to operate a full 20-year rule over the coming years. The approach taken in the National Archives (Amendment) Act 2018 is to release classes of records which have historical significance or to allow for the balance of reporting. This approach is different to that adopted by the UK.

Officials from my Department in conjunction with other Departments are examining the classes of records that are more than 20 years old but less than 30 years which might be released as the first tranche under the "20-year" rule. An order will be required for the release of records showing the clear delineation of the records intended for release so that there is absolute clarity around which records can be released under the order.

The commencement of the National Archives (Amendment) Act 2018 and its implementation will require additional resources within the departments affected and these are being put in place. The appropriate staffing for the implementation of the new legislation will be provided in advance of the commencement of the Act. It is also expected that some of the initial records to be released under the new legislation will be of considerable interest to historians, requiring their retention onsite at Bishop Street rather than offsite storage.

National Biodiversity Plan

Questions (21)

Martin Heydon

Question:

21. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the details of funding to promote biodiversity in County Kildare, including supports for Kildare County Council; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51905/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

My Department is responsible for developing and publishing Ireland's National Biodiversity Action Plan. The most recent Plan (Ireland's 3rd) was published in October 2017 and includes a number of actions aimed at assisting local authorities throughout the country in their efforts to protect and conserve biodiversity in their areas. Local authorities undertake much valuable work in this sphere and several have produced local Biodiversity Action Plans which are an important element in the overall approach to halting biodiversity loss.

In support of the work carried out by local authorities, a pilot grant scheme was introduced in 2018 to assist local authority led biodiversity, with funding for this scheme doubled in 2019. Kildare County Council received funding under this scheme in support of a number of initiatives during the last year, such as the implementation of the All Ireland Pollinator Plan, biodiversity training for staff and an ecological audit of Kildare County Council Parks.

The Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme, operated by my Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service, seeks to raise awareness of the important role our peatlands have in contributing to our biodiversity and our natural and cultural heritage. The scheme encourages local communities, groups, schools and other interested parties to engage in the conservation and revitalisation of our raised bogs. Under this scheme, the Irish Peatlands Conservation Council was awarded funding to hold a ‘My Raised Bog’ education program, which provided field study experience for 300 young people from schools local in Co Kildare. Maynooth University, in conjunction with Lullymore Heritage Park, received support under this scheme to collect, analyse and radio carbon date core peat samples on Lullymore Bog and to hold workshops for interested community groups.

As part of the Seeds for Nature campaign which was launched at the 2019 National Biodiversity Conference, the Community Foundation for Ireland established a fund to engage ecologists to develop Community Biodiversity Action Plans. Grants from this fund support community groups across all 26 counties, including County Kildare, who wish to carry out ecological studies in their local areas, the goal of which is the development of a Community Biodiversity Plan with the support of a qualified Ecologist.

National Biodiversity Plan

Questions (22)

James Browne

Question:

22. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of her plans related to biodiversity and nature; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51122/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

My Department is responsible for the implementation of a range of legislation and policy relating to biodiversity and nature in Ireland and is the National Focal Point for the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), an overarching international agreement underpinning the global biodiversity framework. In this context, my Department is the lead authority for the National Biodiversity Action Plan.

The current National Biodiversity Action Plan, Ireland’s 3rd, runs from 2017 to 2021 and captures the objectives, targets and actions for biodiversity to be undertaken by a wide range of government, civil society and private sectors to achieve Ireland’s Vision for Biodiversity.

The Plan is an all-of-Government document and progress is monitored through the Biodiversity Working Group which meets at least twice a year, and also by an independent advisory group, the Biodiversity Forum.

My Department is currently preparing an interim review of the Plan and is in the process of gathering data from other Departments, agencies and stakeholders to inform that review.

Since the its launch in 2017, there have been a wide range of measures implemented on foot of actions contained in the Plan, including the introduction of a new grant scheme for local authority led biodiversity projects in their respective areas. The 20 Seeds for Nature initiative is also a significant step forward.

Following completion of the interim review, my Department will begin the process of setting out a new Plan which will be developed in the context of the outcomes of CBD-COP15, due to take place in China next October, where a new 'Global Biodiversity Framework' will be agreed by Parties to the Convention.

The NPWS Farm Plan Scheme, a mechanism for engaging with individuals in a joint conservation efforts, will continue in 2020 to support measures to protect biodiversity and assist farmers with lands designated as SACs or SPAs in their role as custodians of nature. I have doubled the allocation for the Farm Plan Scheme to €1m.

The National Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation Management Plan 2017-2022, published by my Department in December 2017, aims to maintain active raised bog habitat and restore degraded raised bog habitat to active raised bog habitat. This programme can now be accelerated due to the announcement in Budget 2020 of €5m for peatlands restoration. This funding will allow for restoration measures to be undertaken on approximately 1,800 hectares in 2020 on up to 9 raised bog designated sites across 7 counties.

European Capital of Culture

Questions (23, 32)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

23. 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 progress made in securing long-term arts infrastructure for the county; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51991/19]

View answer

Catherine Connolly

Question:

32. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht further to Parliamentary Question No. 38 of 12 June 2018, the steps she has taken to ensure that a circus (details supplied), which is due to play a critical role in a showpiece event of the Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture celebrations, will not close; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51993/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 23 and 32 together.

The legacy sub-committee of the board of Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture was 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 am advised that the legacy sub-committee of the Board of Galway 2020 has met twice , in August and December. The committee is due to report back to the board again at the next board meeting which is scheduled for Friday 13 December. No formal reports have been published as of yet.

Legacy is an important aspect of everything that we do for the European Capital of Culture project. It is the ambition to deliver a year that leaves a lasting legacy that will benefit Galway for many years to come. The Board of Galway 2020, is working with partners to provide leadership as to the most appropriate mechanism for delivering the legacy in all its different forms and NUI Galway have announced their strategic partnership with Galway 2020 as the official legacy partner for the European Capital of Culture.

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.

The Galway project to which the Deputy refers in question 51993 is part of the Galway 2020 Cultural Programme and has been developed as a partnership across 10 European countries and is supported by European funding.

I am aware that owing to recent changes in cover provided by insurance companies, many service providers including those in the tourism, leisure, children’s play facilities, as well as arts organisations that engage in aerial and street performance are experiencing significant difficulties in securing insurance. The board of Galway 2020, on which I am represented, is concerned to ensure full cover is in place so that next year’s programme is not affected.

In 2016, the Government established a Cost of Insurance Working Group, which is chaired by Minister of State Michael D’Arcy, who has special responsibility for insurance issues. The Working Group, as part of its remit, is also examining the issues encountered by the arts performance organisations.

Hare Coursing Regulation

Questions (24)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

24. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht further to Parliamentary Question No. 262 of 19 September 2019, the status of the report on the assessment of the hare population here; if full protection will now be granted to the Irish hare; the status of the RHD2 outbreak and the control of the outbreak; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51121/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

The hare is protected in Ireland under the Wildlife Acts and is included on Annex V of the EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) although there is a short Open Season when hunting is permitted and the capture of hares for coursing is permitted under license.

Article 17 of 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 2019 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/publications/article-17-reports/article-17-reports-2019.

The 2019 Article 17 report states 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 and its overall conservation status at that time was assessed as favourable.

In addition, my Department also commissioned a new survey of the status of hare’s population in Ireland which took place using camera traps, over the winter of 2018/2019. It is intended that this survey report will published shortly.

The RHD2 virus was discovered in a number of rabbits and hares in the wild around the country during the summer and 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.

The scientific advice available to me at that time indicated that the catching of hares in nets, their transportation in boxes and their keeping in confined areas like coursing hare parks can all be considered to increase the risk of disease spread. In these circumstances, given my responsibility in relation to the conservation status of the Irish hare, I decided to suspend the licences issued to the Irish Coursing Club on 9 August to capture and tag hares for the 2019/20 hare coursing- until a clearer understanding of the extent, spread and implications of the RHD2 virus emerges.

Since these initial incidents, a request for public involvement has led to more than 75 reports of dead rabbits and hares across the country. Each report has been followed up vigilantly by the local National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) rangers. RHD2 has been confirmed in five hares found in Dublin and Wexford and 29 rabbits found in counties Carlow, Clare, Cork, Dublin, Kildare, Kerry, Leitrim, Meath, Offaly, Tipperary, Wexford and Wicklow. Since the suspension of Irish Coursing Club licences on 9 August, discussions have been ongoing between the NPWS of my Department, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Irish Coursing Club on the impact of this virus.

I recently issued revised licences last month to allow the netting and tagging of hares but there are specific restrictions and conditions explicitly attached to the issue of those licences. The capturing of hares and coursing activity is prohibited in areas within a 25-kilometre radius of where wild rabbits or hares have tested positive for the virus. New zones will be added on an ongoing basis if further positive tests arise and, in these new zones, the capturing of hares will have to cease immediately and coursing will only be possible with already captured hares, where the hares are certified in writing by a veterinary surgeon as being healthy, as such hares will only be released on foot of such certification. This has already impacted on some coursing events. In tandem with the granting of revised licences I have required a number of field studies to be undertaken at some coursing clubs, which will involve veterinary and virology expertise and input.

These studies, which are currently underway, are being carried out to supplement existing knowledge of the prevalence and nature of RHD2, are undertaken with co-operation between the NPWS of my Department, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and the Irish Coursing Club. The field studies involve the microchipping and swabbing of all captured hares and the testing of swabs in DAFM laboratories for RHD2. My decisions in this regard were taken following extensive liaison with DAFM officials and officials of my Department.

Aerfoirt Réigiúnacha

Questions (25)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

25. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Catherine Connolly den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an stádas agus sonraí, an praghas san áireamh, an chonartha maidir le ceannach Aerfort na Mine i gContae na Gaillimhe; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [51990/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

Is féidir liom a dheimhniú don Teachta gur cuireadh clabhsúr le ceannacht Aerfort Chonamara ar 6 Nollaig agus go bhfuil an aerfort faoi úinéireacht an Stáit anois. Chosain an t-aerfort €2.75m chun é a cheannach.

National Biodiversity Plan

Question No. 27 answered with Question No. 18.

Questions (26)

Peter Burke

Question:

26. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the details of support for biodiversity projects in counties Longford and Westmeath. [51896/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

My Department is responsible for developing and publishing Ireland's National Biodiversity Action Plan. The most recent Plan (Ireland's 3rd) was published in October 2017 and includes a number of actions aimed at assisting local authorities throughout the country in their efforts to protect and conserve biodiversity in their areas. Local authorities undertake much valuable work in this sphere and several have produced local Biodiversity Action Plans which are an important element in the overall approach to halting biodiversity loss.

In support of the work carried out by local authorities, a pilot grant scheme was introduced in 2018 to assist local authority led biodiversity, with funding for this scheme doubled in 2019. Westmeath County Council and Longford County Council received funding under this scheme in support of a number of initiatives during the last year, such as the Westmeath Wetlands Survey, Crayfish plague awareness and biosecurity training, pollinator infomercials and the production of a Habitat Management Plan for council-owned land around Lough Ennell in Westmeath. In County Longford, funding was received for thee Pallas Pollinator Project, the County Longford Public Biodiversity Awareness Project 2019 and the North Longford Native Tree Nursery.

My Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service are managing ‘The Living Bog’ project, which is co-funded under the EU LIFE 2014-2020 programme. Garriskil Bog, County Westmeath and Ardagullion Bog, County Longford (both Special Areas of Conservation) are two of 12 bogs that are part of this restoration programme. Whilst most of the restoration works are complete at Garriskil Bog and Ardagullion Bog, the project is continuing to carry out ecological and hydrological monitoring as well as ongoing engagement with local stakeholders.

Cloncrow Bog in Westmeath is part of CARE-Peat, an EU-funded Interreg restoration project of c.25ha of state-owned bog that was previously operated as a commercial bog moss operation. My Department and members of the project team are working closely with members of ETHOS, a local community group in Tyrellspass, with restoration works due to start in 2020.

As part of the Seeds for Nature campaign launched at the 2019 National Biodiversity Conference, The Community Foundation for Ireland established a fund to engage ecologists to develop Community Biodiversity Action Plans. Grants from this fund support community groups across all 26 counties, including Longford and Westmeath, who wish to carry out ecological studies in their local areas with a view to developing a Community Biodiversity Plan with the support of a qualified Ecologist.

Question No. 27 answered with Question No. 18.

Maoiniú d’Fhoras na Gaeilge

Questions (28)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

28. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta míniú a thabhairt ar chaiteachas na Roinne ar Chlár na Leabhar Gaeilge agus a mbaineann leis trí Fhoras na Gaeilge. [51910/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

I dtosach báire, ba mhaith liom a mheabhrú go mbaineann saincheisteanna maidir le scéimeanna Chlár na Leabhar Gaelge le gnóthaí oibríochtúla Fhoras na Gaeilge agus, dá bharr sin, níl ról sonrach agam féin mar Aire Stáit ná ag mo Roinn i gclár oibre Chlár na Leabhar Gaeilge.

Cuireann mo Roinn maoiniú bliantúil ar fáil d'Fhoras na Gaeilge i ndáil le Clár na Leabhar Gaeilge. Ceadaíodh maoiniú €1,061,165 in 2019.

Is é misean Chlár na Leabhar Gaeilge ná scríbhneoireacht, foilsitheoireacht agus léitheoireacht na Gaeilge a chothú agus a chur chun cinn agus déantar sin trí na scéimeanna seo leanas a chuirtear chun cinn:-

Scéim na Foilsitheoireachta

Faoi Scéim na Foilsitheoireachta, cuirtear tacaíocht maoinithe ar fáil d’fhoilsitheoirí na Gaeilge sna réimsí táirgeachta, forbartha agus margaíochta bunaithe ar phlean cuimsitheach bliana a bheith curtha ar fáil acu. De thoradh an mhaoinithe:

- cinntítear saothair Gaeilge ar ard-chaighdeán a bheith ar fáil don phobal agus do léitheoirí Gaeilge i ngach aois-ghrúpa;

- foilsítear 90-100 leabhar in aghaidh na bliana i réimse leathan seánraí; agus,

- foilsítear leabhair i bhormáidí difriúla – leabhair chlóite, closleabhair agus ríomhleabhair .

Scéim na gCoimisiún

Is é aidhm na scéime seo ná ciste coimisiúnaithe a dháileadh i measc lucht liteartha na Gaeilge sa chaoi is go gcinnteofar soláthar sásúil sna réimsí éagsúla léitheoireachta. Dáiltear an ciste coimisiúnaithe trí na comhlachtaí foilsitheoireachta. Cuirtear an scéim chun cinn de ghnáth gach dara bliain. Bronntar idir 15 agus 20 coimisiún faoin scéim agus bítear ansin ag súil go bhfoilseofaí saothair de thoradh na gcoimisiún sin.

An Scéim Meantóireacht

Is é aidhm na scéime seo deis a thabhairt do scríbhneoirí i dtús a ré scríbhneoireachta comhairle faoina gcuid scríbhinní agus faoi cheird na scríbhneoireachta i gcoitinne, a fháil ó scríbhneoirí aitheanta. Cuirtear an scéim seo chun cinn gach dara bliain. Maoinítear suas le 10 bprintíseacht faoin scéim. Mar thoradh ar na printíseachtaí seo bítear ag súil le húdair nua a theacht chun cinn.

Scéim na dTionscadail Litríochta

Is é aidhm Scéim na dTionscadail Litríochta aird an phobail a dhíriú ar leabhair Ghaeilge agus ar litríocht na Gaeilge. Cuirtear litríocht na Gaeilge agus leabhair Ghaeilge chun cinn ar bhealaí éagsúla tríd na tionscadail litríochta mar a mbíonn:

- Léimh le húdair agus léimh fhilíochta;

- Tionscadail a chuimsíonn ceol agus damhsa chun aird an phobal a dhíriú ar litríocht na Gaeilge;

- Clubleabhar ar líne agus fóram plé faoi leabhair Ghaeilge; agus,

- Léirmheas ar leabhair léite agus blagáil faoin litríocht i measc daltaí meánscoile

Scríobh Leabhar

Is tionscadal é Scríobh Leabhar le scríbhneoireacht agus léitheoireacht na Gaeilge a chothú i measc páistí bunscoile. Cuirtear an tionscadal chun cinn tríd na hIonaid Oideachais agus an tÁisaonad ó thuaidh. Bíonn thart fá 8,000 páiste páirteach sa tionscadal gach bliain agus 5,000 leabhar scríofa, deartha agus clóite. Tá rogha de na leabhair ar suíomh www.scriobhleabhar.ie.

Cultural Policy

Questions (29)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

29. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of the night-time cultural policy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52154/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

On April 17, I held a symposium to investigate the possibility of creative nightlife and cultural activity after hours as an alternative and complementary option to Ireland's existing rich night time experience.

This work has significant potential to create a family friendly vibrant cultural night life to add to cultural events already taking place and to complement existing night life across the country. This topic has been one of interest in Ireland in light of a demand for a more varied night landscape and a recognition of the cultural, economic and social value of Ireland's evening experiences. It is also building on the back of movements across Europe such as Museum Night and, for example, the appointment of a "night tzar" in London.

My Department has been working with key partners to develop an approach to support a sustainable and forward looking infrastructure to facilitate the development of after-hours cultural events. In addition to local pilot projects and a national forum to consider the matter of night time culture in a comprehensive way, I am finalising plans to engage with local authorities and arts groups with regard to a mapping exercise of existing venues and civic spaces which may be suitable for night time cultural events to identify both gaps and opportunities, building on work done in this area to date. The exact methodology and approach to this mapping exercise is also being finalised.

Officials in my Department have recently written to selected local authorities with a view to establishing local interest groups to examine the potential for night time cultural events. The matter was the subject of a meeting between my Department and Dublin City Council on 4 December.

The main goal of these local groups will be to produce a report on what supports and impediments are currently impacting on opportunities for creative and cultural activity at night, both positive and challenging. The report will also propose practical locally-based initiatives to improve night-time culture. This report will then feed into a National Forum which is envisaged to comprise relevant Government Departments and Agencies. It is intended that this National Forum will meet upon receipt of local reports to consider matters arising for referral to the relevant Government Department or agency.

On foot of these engagements, consideration will be given to the development of Ireland’s first Night-Time Cultural Policy.

National Biodiversity Plan

Questions (30)

Joan Burton

Question:

30. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to promote biodiversity conservation and restoration to stop the current trajectory of biodiversity loss; her plans to ensure 30% of the territory of the State consists of natural areas by 2030 and for 30% of degraded ecosystems to be restored; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52067/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

I refer the Deputy to my previous extensive answers in this House on this matter and to the two day debate on biodiversity related issues in this House last July. My Department is responsible for the implementation of a range of legislation and policy relating to biodiversity and nature in Ireland and is the National Focal Point for the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), an overarching international agreement underpinning the global biodiversity framework. In this context, my Department is the lead authority for the National Biodiversity Action Plan.

The current National Biodiversity Action Plan, Ireland’s 3rd, runs from 2017 to 2021 and captures the objectives, targets and actions for biodiversity to be undertaken by a wide range of government, civil society and private sectors to achieve Ireland’s Vision for Biodiversity.

My Department is currently preparing an interim review of the Plan and is in the process of gathering data from other Departments, agencies and stakeholders to inform that review.

Over the course of the last year I have listened very carefully to the debate on biodiversity loss and the threats to nature. Actions for biodiversity in 2019 have included the National Biodiversity Conference in Dublin, which I hosted; the development of the Seeds for Nature initiative; the wide ranging public consultation on the Heritage Ireland 2030 Plan; as well as the extensive engagement across Government on Climate Action. These measures were instrumental in my securing an overall 15% budget increase in the Heritage sector in Budget 2020.

Total funding for our Built and Natural Heritage sector in 2020 will amount to €62.5m, up from €54m last year – an increase of over €8m. This funding includes €7m in funding to embark on an accelerated programme of peatlands restoration and conservation works. This programme will result in 1,800 hectares of restored peatland in 2020, generating 100 jobs in the Midlands. It is part of a multi-annual programme which aims will ultimately lead to the storage of 28 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Restoration and rehabilitation of raised bogs will provide multiple additional ecosystem services such as water and air quality improvements, flood mitigation, enhancing biodiversity, opportunities for tourism development, and contribute to the social and economic well being of local communities.

Additional funding is also being provided to accelerate key nature conservation and biodiversity programmes under the National Parks and Wildlife Service, including the expansion of the NPWS Farm plan scheme to protect biodiversity and assist farmers with lands designated as Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas in their role as custodians of nature.

At a local level, my Department continues to provide grant funding for local authority projects that promote actions contained in the National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) 2017-2021. This funding is aimed at enhancing biodiversity awareness, education and action through local authority led projects and initiatives.

The 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD (COP 15) is to be held in Kunming, China, from 19 October to 1 November 2020. The aim of COP15 will be to update the Convention’s strategic plan and adopt a post-2020 global biodiversity framework. The post-2020 biodiversity framework is still under consideration and final targets remain subject to ongoing discussion and agreement among the Parties.

The Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee of the EU Parliament approved a resolution setting out their proposals for the 30% target for the Parliament’s position for CBD-COP15. The Committee has called for legally binding targets at global and EU level to increase ambition and ensure that post-2020 action on global biodiversity will be effective. Specifically, they want 30 % of the EU territory to consist of natural areas by 2030 and 30 % of degraded ecosystems to be restored.

However, the negotiating position for the EU and its Member States, including Ireland, at COP15 has not yet been finalised. Further discussions will take place in the run-up to COP15 and my Department will fully participate in these to ensure that Ireland's interests are considered and represented in the final positions adopted in China next year.

National Peatlands Strategy

Question No. 32 answered with Question No. 23.

Questions (31)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

31. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she will consider the establishment of a peatlands national park and nature reserve; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51971/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

The National Peatlands Strategy provides a long term framework within which all of the peatlands within the State can be managed responsibly in order to optimise their social, environmental and economic contribution to the well-being of this and future generations. The 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 strategy has been developed in partnership between relevant Government Departments/State bodies and key stakeholders through the Peatlands Council.

Action 28 of the National Peatlands Strategy sets out that a peatlands strategy implementation group would be tasked with considering the creation of a national peatlands park. As a starting point for such consideration, an examination was undertaken in 2017 of existing and potential visitor facilities in the ownership of public, semi-state and voluntary bodies. It was found that there were fifteen peatlands sites in Ireland with features to be expected in a peatlands park ranging from community sites such as Abbeyleix Bog in County Laois to larger peatlands parks such as Lough Boora, in County Offaly which is managed by Bord Na Móna.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department intends to undertake a feasibility study in 2020 in relation to the creation of a national peatlands/wetlands park and will continue to engage with the relevant agencies and other stakeholders on the matter.

The consideration of peatlands as an amenity forms part of my Department’s EU LIFE programme funded raised bog restoration project and the National Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation Management Plan 2017-2022. The EU LIFE funded raised bog restoration project is supporting amenity development in a number of raised bog special areas of conservation. Planning is at an advanced stage for community based amenity developments in Ferbane, County Offaly and Mountbellew, County Galway, subject to the granting of planning permission.

The Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme, administered by my Department, has supported the development of a number of community led walking trails and looped walks, local area amenity improvements, education programmes along with a photographic exhibition, environmental surveys, an oral history project, signage, interpretative infrastructure and promotional material in relation to raised bogs in 2018 and 2019.

Question No. 32 answered with Question No. 23.

National Monuments

Questions (33)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

33. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans for the Hill of Tara. [51895/19]

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.

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, 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 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.

Officials from my Department’s National Monuments Service and OPW Heritage Services provided an update on the plan at a meeting of the Ashbourne Municipal District of Meath County Council earlier this week

Hedge Cutting Season

Questions (34)

Joan Burton

Question:

34. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to promote the protection of hedgerows during the upcoming hedgerow maintenance period to ensure they are maintained in terms of their biodiversity; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52066/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts 1976, as amended, prohibits the cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction of vegetation, with certain strict exemptions, from 1 March to 31 August.

There is provision in the legislation for some restricted exemptions from the prohibition during the closed period, for example, for works undertaken in the ordinary course or agriculture or forestry, for health and safety reasons, the destruction of noxious weeds, during works permitted under statute and for works undertaken for road safety reasons under Section 70 of the Roads Act 1983.

Ireland’s National Biodiversity Plan 2017-2021 recognises that hedgerows provide important habitats for a variety of species and there is a commitment in the Plan that hedgerow surveys will be continued by local authorities. My Department will continue to remind local authorities of the need to ensure that the scheduling and carrying out of necessary work to maintain hedgerows and vegetation growing on roadside banks and ditches should be completed outside the nesting season.

Commemorative Events

Questions (35)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

35. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she has considered the merits of having a more advanced announcement of the national Famine memorial day and location in order to allow many of the diaspora who are citizens of other states as a direct result of the impact of the Great Famine to travel to the commemoration and book in advance; if she will progress a specific famine museum; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51893/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

As I have previously informed the House in my reply to Parliamentary Questions Numbers 3023 and 3025 of 23 July 2019, the Government, on 1st May 2018 approved the designation of the third Sunday of May each year as the National Famine Commemoration day, with the arrangements for the holding a of State commemoration on this day or the preceding Saturday to be decided each year following consultation with the relevant local authority and host community.

An announcement in relation to the designation of the location for the National Famine Commemoration 2020 will be made in the New Year.

Finally, as I have previously advised the House, decisions in relation to the curation and presentation of temporary or permanent exhibitions within national cultural institutions are operational matters for the relevant cultural institutions. However, I would like to take this opportunity to remind the Deputy that there are many local museums and other entities around the country that display material relating to the famine, such as the very significant Irish National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park, County Roscommon.

Caiteachas Gaeilge agus Gaeltachta

Questions (36)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

36. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aindrias Moynihan den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an léireoidh sí, i bhfoirm tábla, caiteachas na Roinne ar áiseanna pobail agus spóirt sna Gaeltachtaí éagsúla do na blianta 2014-2019, agus na blianta sin san áireamh; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [52145/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

Is faoin gClár Tacaíochtaí Pobail agus Teanga, a cuirtear cúnamh caipitil ar fáil chun áiseanna pobail agus teanga a athchóiriú nó a fhorbairt sa Ghaeltacht. Tacaíonn an clár sin go praiticiúil le cuspóirí comhaontaithe a bhaineann leis an nGaeltacht mar a leagtar amach iad sa Phlean Gníomhaíochta don Ghaeilge 2018-2022 .

Tugann an tábla thíos léargas ar chaiteachas mo Roinne faoin gclár ó 2014:

Contae

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019 to data

Iomlán

Dún na nGall

155,036

342,416

413,310

813,707

574,937

337,233

2,636,639

Maigh Eo

0

36,729

27,104

150,369

170,589

12,769

397,560

Gaillimh

243,108

338,376

380,015

676,986

345,092

382,609

2,366,186

Ciarraí

966,043

488,928

59,959

81,892

103,499

103,147

1,803,468

Corcaigh

40,867

163,674

24,627

122,510

87,533

7,500

446,709

Port Láírge

8,197

0

6,117

11,537

2,515

37,893

66,259

An Mhí

3,749

17,006

10,763

0

0

0

31,518

An Chláir

0

0

0

0

8,528

0

8,528

Níos mó ná Gaeltacht amháin

3,000

46,143

0

43,000

40,710

40,850

173,703

Iomlán

1,420,000

1,433,273

921,895

1,900,000

1,333,403

922,000

7,930,570

Artists' Remuneration

Questions (37)

Gino Kenny

Question:

37. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the precarious nature of work in the arts means that many artists, writers, musicians and actors are particularly affected by the housing crisis and are often part of the hidden homeless phenomenon (details supplied); her views on the important role that these workers play; if she will work with artists to address the housing and other issues of poverty; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51891/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

I can assure the Deputy that I am acutely aware of the long standing difficulties faced by artists and I have put in place a number of initiatives and additional supports to the arts that I believe will, over time, make a significant difference to the income of people working in the arts.

Primary support for the Arts is delivered through the Arts Council. Funding for the Arts Council has increased in recent years and now stands at €80 million in 2020, and increase of some €5m or 6.3% over 2019. 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.

Total funding for the arts and culture sector in 2020 will increase by over 2% from €189m to almost €193m. My Department and I will continue to work rigorously with all of my Government colleagues towards delivering on the commitment to increase Government spending in the arts and culture sector on a trajectory that will see funding doubled by 2025. In this context, I am already delivering additional supports to the arts and culture sector, building on the €1.2 billion earmarked for culture, heritage and the Irish language under Project Ireland 2040, thus leading to increased activity and employment across all sectors under the remit of my Department.

Last summer Minister Regina O'Doherty and I announced the extension of the Social Welfare Scheme for Self-Employed Artists on Jobseeker’s Allowance on a permanent basis to other self-employed professional artists such as those working in theatre and music.

My Department has also worked to address conditions and employment rights in the performing arts and screen industry in conjunction with the relevant agencies under its remit. Central to this is the Arts Council policies on the remuneration of artists which strives to ensure that organisations in receipt of Arts Council funding offer fair and equitable remuneration to artists.

In addition, on 10 July last, I announced new, significant measures aimed at increasing funding for public art and artists. Following completion by my Department of a review of the Percent for Art scheme, which allocates up to one percent of public capital projects to the commissioning of new works of art, changes are being introduced from 1 January next to the scheme’s bands and limits. This will result in increased funding being made available to the creative community and will ensure that the investment in public art projects will be closer to one percent.

Arts Funding

Questions (38)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

38. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the funding available for promoting and translating Irish literature abroad; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52150/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

The remit of Culture Ireland, a division of my Department, is to promote and advance Irish arts worldwide thus strengthening Ireland’s cultural profile and global reputation and increasing career opportunities for Irish artists globally. Culture Ireland supports and works with Literature Ireland to bring the best of Irish literature in translation to readers around the world through the award of translation grants to publishers, the hosting of literary translators in Ireland and by representing Irish writers at international showcases, book fairs and festivals. Culture Ireland works with resource organisations and Ireland's key international cultural centres, on an annual funding basis, to deliver these key objectives.

Funding has also been provided to Literature Ireland by the Arts Council. Literature Ireland has funded the translation of over 2,000 works of Irish literature into 56 languages around the world.

Literature Ireland’s services include:

- Running a translation grant programme for publishers to fund the translation of literature from Ireland into foreign languages, and the translation of foreign literature into English or Irish.

- Operating a residential bursary programme for literary translators.

- Attending international book fairs and festivals and managing the Irish national stands at the London and Frankfurt book fairs.

- Support for international author and translator events.

- Providing information to publishers, agents, translators, writers and other interested parties.

-Publishing and distributing New Writing from Ireland and other publications.

- Participating in international literary translation projects.

- The Arts Council also provides funding to Words Ireland, which is an umbrella group of seven literature organisations whose purpose is to strengthen the literature sector in Ireland and to offer professional development support and opportunities to writers. The organisations which make up the network are: Children’s Books Ireland, Literature Ireland, Poetry Ireland, The Stinging Fly, Irish Writers Centre, Publishing Ireland and Munster Literature Centre.

Words Ireland's remit includes the provision of professional development opportunities, with a particular focus on mid-career and advanced career practitioners. It provides mentoring opportunities, creating meaningful employment for professional writers and opportunities for emerging writers to advance their creative practice. Words Ireland receives funding from the Arts Council

Books for young people can be translated into Irish in Foras na Gaeilge, by An Gúm and their books are sometimes translated into other languages. Their Translation Scheme also provides funding for translations from other languages into Irish under certain arrangements.

Wildlife Conservation

Questions (39)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

39. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which she proposes to focus on the protection of endangered species of birds and animals for the future, with particular reference to the possibility of preventing further endangerment of such species; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52085/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

I refer the Deputy to my replies to his recent questions, PQs 37724/19 and 45449/19.

My Department is responsible for implementing the Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2018, the primary legislation underpinning the protection of biodiversity and nature in Ireland. The Wildlife Acts afford protection to a range of habitats and species and provide for regulation and control of activities that impinge on biodiversity, such as hunting and trade.

The legislative framework in place to protect our natural heritage is further strengthened by the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 SI No 477/2011, which also fall under the remit of my Department. These Regulations transpose the EU Birds Directive and the EU Habitats Directive into national law, and provide for protection of certain habitats and species across the European Union, giving a framework for specific measures to be taken to target areas of concern in each Member State. The main instruments provided for are the designation of Special Protection Areas (SPA), aimed at the protection of threatened species of birds, and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), aimed at protecting other animal species and habitats.

Ireland’s 3rd assessment on the status of listed habitats and species was submitted by my Department to the European Commission in April 2019. A summary report has also been published and is available on the NPWS website (https://www.npws.ie/publications/article-17-reports).

My Department drives targeted conservation work throughout the country and co-ordinates a number of EU-funded LIFE nature projects. KerryLIFE, a project worth over €5 million to support two local communities in the Caragh and Kerry Blackwater areas, for instance, is focussed on helping restore populations of the endangered freshwater pearl mussel.

The NPWS Farm Plan Scheme offers a mechanism for engaging with individuals in a joint conservation effort. The scheme will be enhanced in 2020 to support measures to protect biodiversity and assist farmers with lands designated as SACs or SPAs, in their role as custodians of nature.

My Department's NPWS continues to monitor and assess the status of vulnerable species in Ireland, and takes into consideration any appropriate responses possible, within their remit and the resources available, including specific schemes to address particular threatened species.

National Orchestras

Questions (40)

Joan Burton

Question:

40. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the progress to date on the transfer of the National Symphony Orchestra to the remit of the National Concert Hall; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52065/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

Following the publication of the report by RTÉ that it commissioned from independent consultants Helen Boaden and Mediatique on the RTÉ Orchestras entitled RTÉ Orchestras Ensuring a Sustainable Future, the Government agreed in principle that the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) should come within the remit of the National Concert Hall (NCH), and authorised the initiation of discussions on the implementation of the recommendations of the report.

The overall aim of the Government decision in relation to the proposed transfer of the RTÉ NSO is to enable the orchestra to be established as a world class orchestra which would, with the NCH, provide a creative and imaginative programme strategy that would greatly enhance the offering of the combined organisation to the public.

In the recent Budget, I secured an allocation of €1 million to allow for the start of the process of transferring the National Symphony Orchestra to the remit of the National Concert Hall.

Discussions are ongoing between this Department, the NCH, RTÉ and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment in order to resolve practical issues arising from the transfer.

In addition, engagement continues with the members of the National Symphony Orchestra.

I look forward to further progress on this important issue.

Ministerial Meetings

Questions (41)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

41. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she has met recently with a group (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52152/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

The group to which the Deputy refers, has a “Wires Crossed” project as part of the Galway 2020 Cultural Programme. which has been developed as a partnership across 10 European countries and is supported by European funding. I am aware that owing to recent changes in cover provided by insurance companies, many service providers including those in the tourism, leisure, children’s play facilities, as well as arts organisations that engage in aerial and street performance are experiencing significant difficulties in securing insurance. The board of Galway 2020, on which I am represented, is concerned to ensure full cover is in place so that next year’s programme is not affected.

In 2016, the Government established a Cost of Insurance Working Group, which is chaired by Minister of State Michael D’Arcy, who has special responsibility for insurance issues. The Working Group, as part of its remit, is also examining the issues encountered by the arts performance organisations. Neither I nor my Department have met with the organisation referred to by the Deputy.

Interdepartmental Committees

Questions (42)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

42. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of the interdepartmental committee on the islands; the consideration given to having island communities directly represented on the committee; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51992/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

The Interdepartmental Committee for Island Development, in which a number of Government Departments are participating, was set up earlier this year with the aim of drafting a National Islands policy. To date the committee has met twice, and further to their meetings, a consultation paper has been prepared and published.

The consultation paper, which was launched by both An Tánaiste, Simon Coveney T.D., and me on Sherkin Island recently is now available on my Department's website www.chg.gov for viewing and for download by the public. This consultation document will form a central part of the consultation process where senior officials from my Department will visit the islands to meet and obtain input from the island communities into the process. A timetable for these visits is currently under discussion with relevant parties.

My officials will also meet other relevant stakeholders and the islands' representative bodies with a view to gaining further insights into relevant issues that they wish to be considered for inclusion. The end result will be a comprehensive cross-Government policy document which will inform the delivery of public services to island communities over the coming years.

I can, therefore, assure the Deputy that the island communities will have a central voice throughout this entire process.

Irish Language

Questions (43)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

43. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to make the Irish language more viable in County Meath. [51894/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

The 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 represents the foundation stone of the Government's policy on the Irish language. The Strategy outlines an integrated approach to the Irish language, in which 9 areas of action are specified, namely Education; The Gaeltacht; Family Transmission of the Language - Early Intervention; Administration, Services and Community; Media and Technology; Dictionaries; Legislation and Status; Economic Life; and Cross-cutting Initiatives.

Last year, my Department published an action plan for the period 2018-2022 which contains specified strategic priorities for the next five years along with a timeline for their implementation. The focus of the Plan is on the measures to be implemented in the period to 2022 to further support the Irish language and the Gaeltacht in the overall context of the nine areas for action as set out in the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish language.

The Plan outlines over 180 specific measures that will be implemented in conjunction with approximately 60 stakeholders on a cross-Departmental basis in support of the Irish language and the Gaeltacht from now until 2022.

Regarding County Meath, Foras na Gaeilge, an agency of the North South Language Body, is the agency charged with promotion of the Irish language on an all-island basis. In carrying out its legislative mandate, Foras na Gaeilge provides support, advice and financial assistance to many groups who promote the language in County Meath, including provision of courses and activities to help people improve or learn the language.

As I indicated in my reply to PQ No. 592 of 12 November 2019, 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.

In that regard, 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 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.

To further underpin the Language Planning Process in the Gaeltacht a number of further actions in support of early years, the family, the traditional arts and youth were initiated in 2018. Three-year funding programmes were agreed with the organisations, Tuismitheoirí na Gaeltachta and Comhar Naíonraí na Gaeltachta in support of early years and the family respectively. In further support of the traditional arts in Gaeltacht areas, a three year programme was recently agreed with the organisation Ealaín na Gaeltachta. These supports will be available to all Gaeltacht areas, including Ráth Chairn and Baile Ghib.

Finally, I should remind the Deputy that I recently launched the Meath Gaeltacht Enterprise Forum Report at an event in Ráth Chairn and the key outcomes from the report include the need to further capitalise on the wealth of Irish language, culture and heritage of this Gaeltacht community, to promote this Gaeltacht area to potential entrepreneurs and support their development and growth through the provision of modern workspaces and facilities.

In order to meet the needs of the Meath Gaeltacht, the report makes a series of recommendations such as the development of a gteic innovation and digital hub as part of Údarás na Gaeltachta’s Gréasán Digiteach na Gaeltachta to accommodate entrepreneurs, innovators, concept developers, start-ups and especially remote workers in the Meath Gaeltacht. It is also recommended to develop, support and promote bespoke cultural and linguistic tourism in conjunction with local providers, Meath County Council, Fáilte Éireann and other agencies.