Public Procurement Contracts

Questions (262)

Mairéad Farrell

Question:

262. Deputy Mairéad Farrell asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the details of contracts of €25,000 or more that have been awarded by her Department or bodies under her aegis that were found to be non-compliant with procurement guidelines in 2018, 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021; the value and nature of the contact work carried out in each case; the year of each contract in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11386/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

My Department strives to ensure that there is an appropriate focus on best procurement practice and that procedures are in place to ensure compliance with all relevant guidelines to the greatest extent possible.

Where exceptions do arise, as provided for under the provisions of Department of Finance Circular 40/02, the Department provides the details of such instances to the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

The details of any instances that arose in 2018 and 2019 are included in the Statement on Internal Financial Control which forms part of the Annual Appropriation Accounts published by the Comptroller and Auditor General at https://www.audit.gov.ie/en/find-report/publications/2019/vote-33-culture-heritage-and-the-gaeltacht.pdf and https://www.audit.gov.ie/en/find-report/publications/2020/vote-33-culture-heritage-and-the-gaeltacht.pdf

Details pertaining to any instances which arose in 2020 and may arise for 2021 will be contained in my Department’s Annual Appropriation Account for the years in question which will fall to be published by the Comptroller and Auditor General in due course.

Procurement within the bodies under the aegis of my Department is an operational matter for which the bodies themselves are responsible.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (263)

Carol Nolan

Question:

263. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the details of the meetings, correspondence and engagements she and her officials have had with a group (details supplied); if she will specifically address the concerns outlined by the group; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11417/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

While I have not met the group in question as part of my Departmental duties, in the interest of completeness, representatives from the group spoke at an informal Green Party video conference on March 1 which I attended. I understand that officials from my Department have not met the group.

Value Added Tax

Questions (264)

Jennifer Murnane O'Connor

Question:

264. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if her Department has sought a commitment from the Department of Finance to retain the 9% tourism rate of VAT at least up until 2025 to assist recovery and provide certainty for tourism businesses shuttered under level 5 restrictions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11431/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

I appointed the Recovery Oversight Group in December 2020 to oversee the implementation of the Tourism Recovery Plan produced by the Tourism Recovery Taskforce and to monitor the sector’s recovery from the COVID crisis.

The Recovery Oversight Group submitted its first report to me on 15th February. The report had a number of recommendations, one of which was to extend the 9% VAT rate out to 2025. I brought the report of the Recovery Oversight Group to Government and also have written to a number of Ministers, including the Minister for Finance, in regard to the recommendations.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (265)

Jackie Cahill

Question:

265. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the reason the coach tourism business continuity scheme has still not been distributed to businesses that are relying on this funding to survive as a result of Covid-19 (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11437/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

As part of the July stimulus package and in response to the challenges being experienced by the Coach Tourism sector the Government provided €10m to fund the Coach Tourism Business Continuity Scheme which is administered by Fáilte Ireland. The scheme opened for applications last October and I understand allocations are being made this week.

I have referred the Deputy’s question to Fáilte Ireland for further information. Please let my private office know if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Sport and Recreational Development

Questions (266)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

266. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media when a club (details supplied) will have the commitments made regarding the provision of funding of the large-scale sport infrastructure fund realised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11447/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

The Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund (LSSIF) was launched in 2018 to provide Exchequer support for larger sports facility projects with €100m being made available over the period to 2027.

An application was received from the FAI in respect of a stadium development project for the club referred to by the Deputy. All applications under the LSSIF were assessed in accordance with the published scoring criteria. The scores were awarded based on factors such as the priority given to the project by the relevant NGB and/or local authority; the level of funding being provided by the project sponsor and how the project was likely to increase participation. Following the conclusion of the assessment process, provisional allocations totalling €82.4m for 32 projects were announced last year. The total funding applied for under the scheme significantly exceeded the amount available to allocate and the project referred to by the Deputy did not score sufficiently highly to be awarded a grant under this first set of allocations.

Following the award of provisional grants to successful applicants, the next stage in the process was a further review of the relevant economic appraisals by the Department. In view of the previous grant assistance provided, it was agreed that the economic appraisal of the project referred to by the Deputy should also be subject to this examination. This examination is now complete and a decision on whether to allocate funding to the club in question will be taken in the near future.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (267, 275, 276, 278)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

267. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media when the €50 million expanded live performance scheme will be accepting applications; the parameters or conditions for application; when she is announcing the opening of the scheme for applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11467/21]

View answer

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

275. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if hardship funding will be provided to the artists, musicians and entertainment workers ineligible for the Covid restrictions support scheme and Covid business aid scheme who are struggling to pay bills and now face going without work until June 2021. [11504/21]

View answer

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

276. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media when and the way she plans to spend the €50 million promised in live entertainment funding in Budget 2021; and the reason none of this funding has been provided to date to struggling workers and businesses. [11505/21]

View answer

Imelda Munster

Question:

278. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media when details will be available in relation to funding for the live entertainment fund announced in Budget 2021; when funding will be released; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11650/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 267, 275, 276 and 278 together.

I am acutely aware of the challenges facing those working in the live entertainment sector who rely on live performance to sustain their livelihoods on foot of necessary public health restrictions. An allocation of €50 million was made in Budget 2021 for the live performance sector. It is envisaged that the rollout of this funding would include measures such as a grant scheme along the lines of the pilot "Live Performance Support Scheme."

Officials in my Department have gained valuable insights from this scheme and will apply these learnings when allocating funding this year. Other measures are also under consideration including those which have emerged from engagement with the sector and with stakeholders. This engagement is ongoing and it is hoped that further details and decisions will be announced shortly.

My colleague the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment has in place a range of business and financial supports available to help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and these can be viewed at the following link https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports. This includes a new scheme called the COVID Business Aid Scheme (CBAS) which is aimed at those businesses who fall outside the eligibility requirements for CRSS. Supports such as the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and the CRSS will continue to be made available to those impacted. The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) is also available to help maintain people in jobs.

Sports Organisations

Questions (268)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

268. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if a sport (details supplied) will receive recognition by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11470/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

The recognition process for achieving the status of a National Governing Body for a sport in Ireland is a matter solely for Sport Ireland, which has the legislative responsibility for the development of sport in Ireland pursuant to the Sport Ireland Act 2015.

There are over 60 recognised National Governing Bodies which have each demonstrated their capacity to organise competitions in their respective codes and to implement policies for health and safety, safeguarding and other matters. These cover a broad range of sports including field sports, Olympic disciplines and minority sports.

There are also a number of sporting bodies which are currently working towards recognition, with the support of Sport Ireland. Further information can be found on Sport Ireland's website:

https://www.sportireland.ie/national-governing-bodies/ngb-recognition-process

Covid-19 Paindéim

Question No. 270 answered with Question No. 255.

Questions (269)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

269. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Turasóireachta, Cultúir, Ealaíon, Gaeltachta, Spóirt agus Meán ráiteas a dhéanamh mar gheall ar fhoilsiú an doiciméad Recovery and Renewal: The Path Ahead, ina leagtar amach tograí beartais phoiblí, go haonteangach as Béarla amháin i gcomhthéacs an freagra a thug sí ar mo cheisteanna parlaiminte uimhir 218 agus 219 ar an 17 Feabhra 2021, agus an ndearna sí aon iarracht a chinntiú go mbeadh an doiciméad foilsithe go comhuaineach sa dá teanga oifigiúil de réir alt 10(a) d’Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003. [11495/21]

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Written answers (Question to Tourism)

Tá dualgais dhíreacha ar gach comhlacht poiblí faoi Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 a chlúdaíonn eolas atá á thabhairt don phobal i gcoitinne (nó d’aicme den phobal), is iad sin:

- Alt 9(3) den Acht : I gcás ina ndéanfaidh comhlacht poiblí cumarsáid i scríbhinn nó leis an bpost leictreonach leis an bpobal i gcoitinne nó le haicme den phobal i gcoitinne chun faisnéis a thabhairt don phobal nó don aicme, cinnteoidh an comhlacht gur i nGaeilge, nó i mBéarla agus i nGaeilge, a bheidh an chumarsáid.

- Alt 10(a) den Acht : Na doiciméid seo a leanas a fhoilsiú go comhuaineach i nGaeilge agus i mBéarla:

- aon doiciméad ina leagtar amach tograí beartais phoiblí.

Tuigfidh an Teachta gur gnó é d’Oifig an Choimisinéara Teanga monatóireacht a dhéanamh ar fheidhmiú Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 agus nach bhfuil aon ról agamsa mar Aire ann.

Question No. 270 answered with Question No. 255.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (271)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

271. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the levels under the COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021 - The Path Ahead plan wedding bands and musicians will be allowed to perform at weddings and wedding receptions; and the levels under which loud music and dancing will be permitted at wedding receptions. [11500/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

The Government recently agreed that the current public health restrictions will be extended until 5 April. The Government's clear message at the present time is for people to stay in their homes, unless necessary for those essential reasons set out in the public health regulations.

I understand the difficulties these restrictions pose for couples on their special day and the impact on musicians and bands. However, COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease, which spreads when individuals and groups come into close contact with one another, enabling the virus to move from one person to another. In certain settings, such as weddings, higher noise levels due to music, can force people into close proximity, requiring them to raise their voices or shout to communicate thus increasing the risk of spreading virus to others. Dancing is also problematic given the close contact involved. Such activities present a higher risk of transmission of COVID-19. Accordingly the Government has decided that no live or loud music is permitted at weddings and this is reflected in the relevant tourism sectoral guidelines published on the Fáilte Ireland website.

Last week, the Government published the COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery Plan 2021 – The Path Ahead and agreed that the public health restrictions will be subject to ongoing review taking account of the evolving epidemiological situation and available evidence in relation to vaccine deployment, uptake and effectiveness. The public health advice is that it is too early to say how and when restrictions should be eased given current uncertainties. Government will meet in advance of the 5th of April to review the level of restrictions. The focus of the assessment, based on the public health advice, will be on achieving the following before any significant easing of measures is contemplated:

1. Disease prevalence (case numbers/incidence) is brought to much lower levels that can be managed and controlled by public health and that the reproduction number (“R” number) is such that we can be confident that we can continue to suppress the disease e.g. at or below 1.

2. Hospital and critical care occupancy are reduced to low levels to protect the health service and allow for the safe resumption of non-COVID-19 care.

3. Ongoing and steady progress on the vaccination programme such that the most vulnerable are protected through vaccination.

4. Emerging information on variants of concern.

Any easing of measures should be slow and gradual with sufficient time between phases to assess impact and to respond if the epidemiological situation was to deteriorate. It will take account of emerging international and national evidence and experience and with a specific focus on supporting mental health and wellbeing.

In regard to the levels at which the activity in question will be permitted, Public Health advice is that the Framework for Restrictive Measures continues to provide an appropriate mechanism to guide decision-making. As set out in The Path Ahead, this will continue to be applied in a flexible manner, adapting measures to address the public health risk at a given time in addition to any specific contextual considerations.

Officials in my Department have also recently met with the Wedding Bands Association, as partof the ongoing engagement with the live performance sector. It is hoped that further details and decisions in relation to supports for the live performance sector will be announced shortly.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Question Nos. 273 and 274 answered with Question No. 272.

Question Nos. 275 and 276 answered with Question No. 267.

Questions (272, 273, 274)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

272. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if she has considered the proposal for a Covid music and entertainment grant submitted to her Department by an organisation (details supplied). [11501/21]

View answer

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

273. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media her views on the findings of the survey conducted by an organisation (details supplied); and the efforts she is undertaking to provide immediate relief for these workers. [11502/21]

View answer

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

274. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media her views on the findings of the survey conducted by an organisation (details supplied); and the efforts to ensure that mental health supports are provided specifically to workers in the sector. [11503/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 272, 273 and 274 together.

I am acutely aware of the challenges facing all musicians who rely on live performance to sustain their livelihoods on foot of necessary public health restrictions. An allocation of €50 million was made in Budget 2021 for the live performance sector. It is envisaged that the rollout of this funding would include measures such as a grant scheme along the lines of the pilot "Live Performance Support Scheme."

Officials have gained valuable insights from these schemes and will apply these learnings when allocating funding this year. Other measures are also under consideration including those which have emerged from engagement with the sector and with stakeholders. This engagement is ongoing and included recent meetings between officials of my Department and the Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland. It is hoped that further details and decisions will be announced shortly.

In December I was also pleased to announce funding of €230,000 for the expansion of the Minding Creative Minds Wellbeing and Support Services to the entire Irish creative sector, both home and abroad. This innovative 24/7 wellbeing support programme provides the Irish creative community with access to experienced counsellors and psychotherapists who can offer short-term intervention and advice covering practical, day-to-day issues that cause anxiety and stress. Details of these services are available at this link https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/3fb03-minister-martin-announces-funding-of-230000-for-the-expansion-of-the-minding-creative-minds-support-service-to-the-irish-creative-sector/ . This funding comes after a recent recommendation from the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce which specifically highlighted the need for wellbeing supports for the sector.

My colleague the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment has in place a range of business and financial supports available to help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and these can be viewed at the following link https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/ . This includes a new scheme called the COVID Business Aid Scheme (CBAS) which is aimed at those businesses who fall outside the eligibility requirements for CRSS. Supports such as the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and the CRSS will continue to be made available to those impacted. The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) is also available to help maintain people in jobs.

Question Nos. 273 and 274 answered with Question No. 272.
Question Nos. 275 and 276 answered with Question No. 267.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Question No. 278 answered with Question No. 267.

Questions (277)

Joe Carey

Question:

277. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media when a coach tourism business continuity scheme application made by a company (details supplied) will be paid; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11643/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

As part of the July stimulus package and in response to the challenges being experienced by the Coach Tourism sector the Government provided €10m to fund the Coach Tourism Business Continuity Scheme which is administered by Fáilte Ireland. The scheme opened for applications last October and I understand allocations are being made this week.

I have referred the Deputy’s question to Fáilte Ireland for further information. Please let my private office know if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Question No. 278 answered with Question No. 267.

Arts Funding

Questions (279)

Imelda Munster

Question:

279. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if the live entertainment fund announced in Budget 2021 will be open to workers and SMEs that work in supporting fields such as communications and public relations and to other workers and SMEs in the non-funded live entertainment sector; the way the fund will be managed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11651/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

I am acutely aware of the challenges facing those who rely on live performance to sustain their livelihoods on foot of necessary public health restrictions. The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment recently announced the COVID-19 Business Aid Scheme (CBAS) as one of a number of horizontal support across all sectors of the economy. SMEs and Businesses in the non-funded live entertainment sector are eligible to apply under this scheme.

An allocation of €50 million was made in Budget 2021 for the live performance sector. It is envisaged that the rollout of this funding would include measures such as a grant scheme along the lines of the pilot "Live Performance Support Scheme." Officials in my Department have gained valuable insights from this scheme and will apply these learnings when allocating funding this year.

Other measures are also under consideration including those which have emerged from engagement with the sector and with stakeholders. This engagement is ongoing and it is hoped that further details and decisions will be announced shortly.

Further information on the business and financial supports my colleague the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment has in place to help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis can be viewed at the following link https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/ .

Meanwhile, supports such as the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and the CRSS will continue to be made available to those impacted. The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) is also available to help maintain people in jobs.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (280)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

280. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if an organisation (details supplied) expressed an interest in distributing the music industry stimulus package before being approached by her Department; and if not, if her Department initiated contact with the organisation to offer it the role. [11687/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

I introduced the Music Industry Support Package (MISP) in 2020 to help meet the needs of the whole of the music sector in these unprecedented times. This was the first time this type of support was offered to the music industry and it was designed in a time of crisis and at short notice to cover all music genres. It had three key components, song writing, album release and recording to ensure support across the wide range of talent working in the industry from creation to recording and promotion.

My Department considered that, due to its considerable experience in managing applications, and expert knowledge of the music sector, the organisation to which the Deputy refers would be best placed to administer the Music Industry Stimulus Package in an efficient, timely and cost effective fashion, having regard to the immediate pressures being faced by the sector. My Department initiated a Performance Delivery Agreement with the organisation in question to cover the administration of the MISP.

The organisation to which the Deputy refers is the lead national music organisation for resourcing musicians and the independent music sector in Ireland. My Department has a well established working relationship with the organisation. It is funded both by my Department for international promotion of musicians as well as by the Arts Council and as such, it was considered to offer an effective way of administering the MISP.

Arts Policy

Questions (281, 282, 296)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

281. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media further to Parliamentary Question No. 214 of 17 February 2021, the details of the negotiations between organisations (details supplied) to achieve a favourable rate; and if negotiations were undertaken between the organisation and any other music distribution companies for the music industry stimulus package. [11688/21]

View answer

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

282. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the reason the in-house music distribution project run by an organisation (details supplied) was overlooked in favour of another organisation as the chosen music distribution service for the music industry stimulus package; and the difference between the service offered by organisations. [11689/21]

View answer

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

296. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the reason successful applicants to the music industry support package were not permitted to select their own music distribution company on an individual basis; and the reason no consultation was undertaken with musicians to ensure a decision on distribution was based on their needs and input. [11967/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 281, 282 and 296 together.

Further to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 214 of 17 February 2021, I understand that the first organisation to which the Deputy refers entered into negotiations on music distribution with the second organisation on the basis that it is the only company of its kind in Ireland available to the independent music sector. It directly delivers music (in the correct format) into music libraries of radio stations and all other media contacts in Ireland as well as delivering it directly to a database of music industry professionals.

The first organisation negotiated a favourable reduced rate with the second organisation which could be availed of by all successful applicants of the album release scheme to ensure wide distribution of the supported album releases. Awardees may opt not to use the second organisation if they so wish.

A third organisation to which the Deputy refers to in Question No. 282 is a discovery music portal built and owned by the first organisation where artists can create electronic press kits, and it can be accessed by artists, fans and industry professionals in Ireland and abroad. That organisation is a platform and does not offer an active service such as that provided by the second organisation.

Arts and Culture Capital Scheme

Questions (283)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

283. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if she will provide a list of projects that have received funding under the Large-Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund; and the amount granted for each project in tabular form. [11693/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

The Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund (LSSIF) was launched in 2018 to provide Exchequer support for larger sports facility projects with €100m being made available over the period to 2027. Following the conclusion of the assessment process, provisional allocations totalling €82.4m for 32 projects were announced in January, 2020. Details of these provisional grant allocations can be viewed at the following link:-

https://www.gov.ie/en/service/4113b3-large-scale-sport-infrastructure-fund-lssif/

The evaluation procedures and guidelines for the LSSIF provide that once provisional allocations are announced, the successful projects will undergo a further process of due diligence. This process includes a further review of projects including economic appraisals and feasibility studies as appropriate to comply with the Public Spending Code.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (284)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

284. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if consideration has been given to including the English language schools sector in the tourism business continuity scheme given its dependence on international tourism; the supports available to this industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11819/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

My colleague the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science has primary responsibility for language schools. The Tourism Business Continuity Scheme is in place to provide support to strategic tourism businesses who have been unable to qualify for assistance under the Government's Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS). In that regard, I understand that the Minister for Finance has clarified that where a language school carries on a trade, the profits from which are chargeable to tax under Case I of Schedule D, from a business premises (generally a building) located in a region for which restrictions apply, it may qualify for CRSS provided all eligibility criteria are met. Detailed operational guidelines on the CRSS scheme have been published on the Revenue website.

Tourism Industry

Questions (285)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

285. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the extent to which she anticipates scope for the revival of the tourism sector if measures to contain Covid-19 are successful; if good practice in relation to social distancing and hygiene should remain in place for a time thereafter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11844/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

Tourism is one of Ireland’s most important industries. It is estimated that the sector as a whole contributed over €9 billion to the economy in 2019 and supported approximately 260,000 jobs.

The impact of COVID-19 on travel and tourism globally has been overwhelming, with unprecedented and extremely serious consequences for Ireland’s tourism and hospitality sector since spring 2020.

As we saw last summer, there is a significant demand for tourism when public health advice allows it. However, a significant part of the tourism economy is based on overseas visitors (with almost 75% of the revenue generated by tourism coming from overseas visitors) and until we can safely allow overseas visitors to enter the country, it will be difficult for the sector to recover. Tourism Ireland have been actively working behind the scenes to keep Ireland front and centre in the minds of potential travellers and at the appropriate time they will launch an extensive global recovery kick-start programme.

I appointed a Tourism Recovery Oversight Group in December 2020 to oversee the implementation of the Tourism Recovery Plan 2020-2023 and to monitor the sector’s recovery from the COVID crisis. The Recovery Plan makes a number of recommendations, both to help ensure the survival of tourism businesses and jobs and also to help the sector to stabilise and recover in the years to come. The Oversight Group reported to me recently with its initial findings and will do so on a regular basis as regards the implementation of the Plan and the recovery of the sector.

I am confident that we can put in place an environment that will help tourism rebound in a significant way when public health advice allows us to do so. With regard to any social distancing and hygiene practices that might remain in place for the tourism sector, this is primarily a matter for the public health authorities but I have no doubt that the tourism sector will play its part in implementing best practice, as it has done up to now.

Arts Promotion

Questions (286, 288, 289, 290, 291)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

286. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the extent to which she expects cultural events to take place virtually throughout the summer having particular regard to the needs of the industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11845/21]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

288. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the degree to which she expects to encourage participation online of cultural and arts events with particular reference for attention at community level; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11847/21]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

289. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the extent to which she foresees the possibility of the development of interest in the arts at local level and the necessity for the revival of the sector as soon as that becomes possible; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11848/21]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

290. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the extent to which she is in a position to encourage, promote and invest in the arts in County Kildare notwithstanding the lockdown; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11849/21]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

291. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the extent to which she has considered online performances to enable the entertainment sector to perform notwithstanding the lockdown; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11850/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 286 and 288 to 291, inclusive, together.

Under the current level of restrictions no organised indoor or outdoor gatherings (i.e. controlled environments with a named event organiser or owner or manager) should take place. The Government's clear message at the present time is for people to stay in their homes, unless necessary for those essential reasons set out in the public health regulations.

Last week, the Government published the COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery Plan 2021 – The Path Ahead and agreed that the public health restrictions will be subject to ongoing review taking account of the evolving epidemiological situation and available evidence in relation to vaccine deployment, uptake and effectiveness. The public health advice is that it is too early to say how and when other restrictions should be eased given current uncertainties. Government will meet in advance of the 5th of April to review the level of restrictions.

Any easing of measures should be slow and gradual with sufficient time between phases to assess impact and to respond if the epidemiological situation was to deteriorate. It will take account of emerging international and national evidence and experience and with a specific focus on supporting mental health and wellbeing. The Government has agreed that the following areas may be considered if the situation improves sufficiently:

- Some easing of restrictions on outdoor activities and meetings beyond 1 other household.

- Consideration of extending the current 5km limit.

- Staggered start of easing of other areas of activity with a focus on outdoor activities including sport and some areas of construction.

Further details of this revised plan can be accessed at the following link https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/resilience-recovery-2020-2021-plan-for-living-with-covid-19/ . The Government has already responded to the challenges facing the arts, and culture sector through a number of measures. Significant additional funding was announced in Budget 2021, with €130 million allocated to the Arts Council for 2021 and €50 million for supports for life performance. Many of the supports in 2021 allowed included provision for extensive online content to be generated. Supports have also been provided to those impacted in the arts, culture, performance and events sector through the pandemic unemployment scheme and various wage subsidy schemes. My Department also continues to expand the delivery of the Creative Ireland programme.

The operation of the pilot Live Performance Support Scheme clearly demonstrated the versatility of the live entertainment sectors and particularly showed that staging high quality live entertainment does not depend on an easing of Covid-19 restrictions. Since mid-November and into 2021, the scheme provided a pipeline of exceptionally high-quality live-streamed concerts, a raft of pantomimes and theatre productions which were well received in Ireland and across the world. The performances also provided a much needed wellbeing support for audiences.

My Department has also supported a range of other initiatives to ensure that there is good quality artistic and cultural content available online for the general public. These have included the Other Voices Courage programme, the Culture Ireland Performs initiative, live streamed concerts from the National Concert Hall and the Abbey Theatre’s Dear Ireland project. Creative Ireland has targeted supports at older people in long term care settings.

I recently announced the pilot Outdoor Public Space Scheme 2021 intended to fund local authorities to adapt, equip or otherwise improve public spaces for cultural and events activities, taking account of public health guidelines and of the needs of the local arts community. Outdoor public spaces that can provide year-round use can improve wellbeing and contribute positively to the public realm. The pilot scheme was developed in consultation with the local authorities County and City Management Association (CCMA), as the Local Authorities are best placed to understand the individual needs of the communities they serve.

I have also provided funding to local authorities in support of local creative and cultural activity under the Creative Communities Strand of the Creative Ireland Programme. Funding for local authorities for commemorative events under the Decade of Centenaries can be applied to appropriate cultural events under the creative imagination strand.

Arts Policy

Question Nos. 288 and 289 answered with Question No. 286.

Questions (287)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

287. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the extent to which she continues to have dialogue with stakeholders in the entertainment sector with a view to alleviating the hardship as a result of Covid-19 and the utilisation of online performances in the short-term to keep the industry alive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11846/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

I am acutely aware of the challenges facing all musicians who rely on live performance to sustain their livelihoods on foot of necessary public health restrictions. An allocation of €50 million was made in Budget 2021 for the live performance sector. It is envisaged that the rollout of this funding would include measures such as a grant scheme along the lines of the pilot "Live Performance Support Scheme." My Department has gained valuable insights from these schemes and will apply these learnings when allocating funding this year. Other measures are also under consideration including those which have emerged from engagement with the sector and with stakeholders. This engagement is ongoing and it is hoped that further details and decisions will be announced shortly.

The operation of the pilot Live Performance Support Scheme clearly demonstrated the versatility of the live entertainment sectors and particularly showed that staging high quality live entertainment does not depend on an easing of Covid-19 restrictions. Since mid-November throughout the Christmas period, and continuing even now, the scheme has provided a pipeline of exceptionally high-quality streamed concerts, a raft of pantomimes and theatre productions which were very well received and watched both in Ireland and across the world.

My Department has also supported a range of other initiatives to ensure that there is good quality artistic and cultural content available online for the general public. These have included the Other Voices Courage programme, the Culture Ireland Performs initiative, live streamed concerts from the National Concert Hall and the Abbey Theatre’s Dear Ireland project. Creative Ireland has targeted supports at older people in long term care settings.

My colleague the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment has in place a range of business and financial supports available to help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and these can be viewed at the following link https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/ . This includes a new scheme called the COVID Business Aid Scheme (CBAS) which is aimed at those businesses who fall outside the eligibility requirements for CRSS. Supports such as the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and the CRSS will continue to be made available to those impacted. The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) is also available to help maintain people in jobs.

My Department has regular engagement with a range of stakeholders in respect of the supports required to sustain the sector in light of continuing restrictions on live performance.

Question Nos. 288 and 289 answered with Question No. 286.