Is mór agam an deis seo a fháil chun labhairt sa díospóireacht seo faoi Cháinaisnéis 1996. Ar ndóigh, is í seo an dara cháinaisnéis atá curtha i láthair ag Aire Airgeadais de chuid Pháirtí an Lucht Oibre. Ó cuireadh ceann an bliana seo caite i láthair, níl amhras ach go bhfuil éacht bainte amach i ndáil leis an mbainistíocht atá á déanamh ar eacnamaíocht na tíre seo agus ba mhaith liom comhghairdeas a dhéanamh le mo chomhleacaí, an tAire Airgeadais, an Teachta Ruairí Quinn, dá réir. Faoin gceannasaíocht atá tugtha aige, tá an ráta fáis eacnamaíochta níos airde sa tír seo anois ná in aon tír eile san Eoraip.
Féachtar chuige i gCáinaisnéis 1996 go leanfamid ar aghaidh ar an mbóthar sin. Ach chomh maith leis sin, táimid ag féachaint chuige go mbeidh torthaí an fhoráis atá romhainn i mbliana le roinnt ar theaghlaigh, ar lucht PAYE agus go háirthe orthu siúd nach bhfuil ag obair.
Ar ndóigh, bhí scéalta suntasacha sa cháinaisnéis féin agus sna Meastacháin a foilsíodh roimh Nollaig do réimsí áirithe a thagann faoi choimirce mo Roinne-se agus ag an bpointe seo ba mhaith liom tagairt a dhéanamh do roinnt acu sin.
I wish to refer to the extension of section 35 film relief, about which there has been much comment. Deputies will be aware that yesterday's budget signalled the decision to extend the section 35 tax relief for film production to 1999. At a time when all tax incentives have been the subject of the most rigorous scrutiny by Government in the context of containing both direct and indirect public expenditure, the decision to extend section 35 to 1999 represents a clear endorsement by Government of my conviction that the integrated range of strategies to promote the Irish film and television production industry which I introduced in 1993, and which was supported by the Government of which I was a member in that year; should be kept in place for a further period.
In addressing the future or otherwise of section 35, I was faced with the reality that the Finance Act, 1993 provided that the measure would terminate on 31 March 1996 for corporate investors and on 5 April next for individual investors. The House should be under no illusion that the extension of section 35 was in any way an automatic option for the Government. In order to inform the Government's thinking on future options for this measure, I was pleased to agree with my colleague, the Minister for Finance, that a detailed review of section 35 was called for in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the scheme in securing my objectives for the Irish film industry. This review was carried out by Indecon economic consultants and I wish to express my warm appreciation of the quality and professionalism of the consultants' work in the short time period which I assigned to them last October to undertake their task.
The Indecon report points to the dramatic increase in film production in Ireland since 1993 as a consequence of the section 35 tax regime. Their best estimates analysis, however, suggests that the annual cost of the section 35 incentives exceeded the quantified benefits to the Exchequer by a range of between £6.1 million and £8.8 million. This conclusion is in contrast with the earlier IBEC economic database analysis which suggested that for 1993 and 1994, a net benefit accrued to the Exchequer from section 35. Indecon's overall conclusion was that, on economic criteria, it would be hard to justify continuing the incentives in their present form.
Indecon's recommendations were designed to address three core objectives by an amendment of the section 35 regime. These were to: maximise the return to the Exchequer in terms of expenditure on Irish employment, goods and services; reduce the overall cost of the measure to the Exchequer in terms of tax foregone about which we can argue another day; and increase the investment pool to make use of section 35.
The Indecon recommendations formed the basis for extensive discussions which took place between the consultants, officials of my Department, and officials of the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners in subsequent weeks. They also informed my contacts with the Minister for Finance on this subject. I am pleased to inform the House that the Indecon recommendations provided the focus for the final package agreed for the next three years between me and the Minister for Finance, and subsequently the Government.
It was the clarity of the Indecon analysis which led us all to conclude that refocusing section 35 was warranted and I acknowledge Indecon's role in facilitating a satisfactory conclusion to our discussions with the Minister for Finance which offers the prospect of continued high levels of film and television production in the State in the years ahead.
The new measures introduced in yesterday's budget include: full retention of section 35 relief in respect of 60 per cent of the cost of production of projects under £4 million, targeting projects which, in the light of experience, offer better levels of Irish employment and spend on Irish goods and services; and retention of an important incentive to continue to attract higher-budget films to Ireland, also offering significant employment potential; the opportunity for the upskilling of our labour force; significant spend on Irish goods and services; and the raising of the profile of the Irish film industry and of Ireland in the international arena; in these cases, 50 per cent of the cost of production of the film can be raised from section 35 investments up to a ceiling of £7.5 million.
The budget also facilitated reducing the cost to the Exchequer by restricting the tax relief on individual and company investments to 80 per cent from 100 per cent, by reducing the amount that can be raised for film budgets over £4 million from 60 per cent to 50 per cent by increasing the investor pool by means of a facility to allow individual and corporate investors to dispose of their shares at the end of one year instead of every three years as was the case hitherto and by increasing the limit to which a company or a corporate group may invest from £1.05 million to £2 million.
Finally, the section 35 tax relief will now be triggered after the date of commencement of principal photography, addressing problems which arose where section 35 funds were being raised before film projects were available.
Since I secured a radical amendment of the section 35 tax regime in the 1993 and 1994 Finance Acts, there has been an unprecedented increase in the level of film and television production in the State. People are right to say that section 35 came into existence under the Finance Act, 1987, and it coincided with the decision to cease funding for the Irish Film Board. In the six year period 1987-93, £11.5 million was raised under section 35. In stark contrast, £55.5 million has been raised under the scheme in the two years and nine months since it was radically overhauled in 1993, and this significant shift in funding for production has been clearly translated into production gains. Eighteen feature films and 11 television productions were made in 1994, while in 1995 I certified no less than 33 feature films and 16 TV productions, some of which will not be completed or even commenced until this year.
The increased level of production in the State has led to tangible increases in employment in the industry. Although the labour force surveys do not facilitate the extrapolation of precise employment data for the industry, the IBEC economic database records the factual position in respect of all films supported by section 35 and-or Bord Scannán na hÉireann in 1993 and 1994.
This indicated that 4,191 persons, or 480 full time job equivalents, were directly employed in these projects in 1993. For 1994, the figures were significantly different, indicating that 12,784, or 1,115 full time equivalents, were employed in that year. When employment figures are taken for both the direct and indirect impact of the State incentives in 1994, it is estimated that some 1,228 full time job equivalents were secured in the industry in 1993 and 1,957 in 1994 — representing an increase of 59 per cent.
I am confident the amendments announced in yesterday's budget have struck the right balance and will ensure sustained levels of film and television production. The measures retain the core elements of the previous scheme in that they are designed to promote indigenous and non-indigenous production in recognition that non-indigenous production — apart from significant employment and value added for our workforce — is an important vehicle to upskill our workforce by providing them access to larger scale projects which the current scale of the industry here would not normally provide.
At the same time, our focus on indigenous production reflects my conviction that film is by far the most powerful vehicle for cultural expression and it is essential that the Irish imagination and Irish stories be portrayed through this vehicle and to the widest possible international audience.
Deputy de Valera has taken a keen interest in this scheme. When speaking yesterday on a financial motion she referred to the difficulties blockbuster films might encounter in Ireland given the amendment to the scheme. Looking back over the almost 70 projects which I certified since becoming the certifying authority, one animation project and two feature films would have been affected. I pointed to the advantages which these blockbusters gave us in phase I.
Everything I have introduced in film should be seen in an integrated way. The most important measure taken was the refunding of the Irish Film Board, for which provision has been made until 1999. I have made provision for the training initiative which will shortly get under way. The independent commission of RTE has resulted in £12.5 million or 20 per cent of production and the independent sector has been involved in Teilifís na Gaeilge. These hang together with Bord Scannán giving the lead as the core element of the future indigenous sector.
The amendments to section 35 which I have outlined represent the key elements of the Government's future strategy in this regard. In the context of the Finance Bill, however, I intend to give further consideration to other issues, including some raised by the INDECON analysis, such as the definition of a "qualifying film" and the question of providing an off-seasonal incentive to maximise film production throughout the year. Deputies correctly raised this problem of "peaking"— a concentration of production during a few months in the summer, which I am trying to address. I am also trying to avoid "overheating" of our labour resources due to too many projects taking place within a confined period of months.
To the extent that INDECON points to such issues as cost uncompetitiveness as a factor which reduced the benefits of section 35 — and specifically highlights the costs associated with intermediaries and financial and legal advisers as well as labour market entry restrictions and inflexibility in labour market practices — I look to all sides of the industry to come together to decide how best these issues can be addressed.
The retention of section 35 sends out a powerful message to the industry that the integrated range of strategies which I have introduced to ensure its sustained development are assured up to 1999 at least. This should enable the industry to plan its future with a degree of certainty not known before, and I would expect that demonstrable progress can now be made to achieve my objective of establishing a self-sustaining level of film and television production in the State. Such an outcome will greatly enhance our national culture and artistic expression while also contributing significantly to the economic and social progress of the State. In deciding to retain section 35, the Government is entitled to expect that these goals can be achieved over time in a spirit of partnership with the industry. As I was making my case to the Department of Finance, I read some comments in the public media regarding section 35. It would be hard to conclude other than that there was an element of begrudgery in it as if we could not, for example, handle a success, which it undoubtedly was. The time has come to put to rest old prejudices that film does not neatly fit into manufacturing, nor is it a service like international financial services. What it is, of course, is an exciting and new form of employment through cultural expressions, and it is very good for this country for all of these reasons.
Deputies will also be aware that I have warmly welcomed the extension of the business expansion scheme to include the music industry and to cover investment in the production, marketing and promotion of new artists' studio recordings and associated videos.
This is a very significant and worthwhile initiative. I have always contended that the cultural industries can make an enormous contribution to creating employment and assisting our overall economic development. It is a crucial moment for our self-confidence when we realise this is a source of new kinds of jobs built on the imagination of the Irish people. It was for this reason that I established a special task force, FORTE, to examine the needs and the potential of the music industry and to establish how co-ordinated, focused action by the State sector — in partnership with the industry itself — might help its further development. FORTE's final report will be published shortly, but in advance of this publication I requested an interim report dealing with issues of taxation. It was this interim report, backed up by a separate analysis carried out by an IBEC group, which provided me with the arguments and the rationale which I brought to Government when arguing for this type of BES relief. The extension of the BES scheme to music demonstrates that the arguments made have been accepted and augurs well not just for music but for the future development of all our cultural heritage industries. There can be no doubt that, in what has been described as the post industrial world, it is to those industries that we must look for much of our future development.
It must be emphasised that the industries in the cultural heritage sector need the same supports and resources as any other industry or source of job creation.
They need management and marketing skills, continuous investment and product development. In some ways the music industry has been a victim of its own success. The focus of our attention has been on our major international artists such as U2, the Cranberries, the Chieftains, etc. leading to the perception that the industry is doing well enough on its own —"if its not broken, don't fix it" might sum up this type of thinking. It is too important for that.
FORTE and other groups have been able to isolate those segments of the music industry which need support and investment, in particular the development of new artists and bands. Let us make no mistake, this is the very life blood of the industry. Ireland is recognised as being a rich pool of creative talent. However, unless the investment is made and support given to new artists, we risk squandering that resource. I am not prepared to see that happen, nor is this Government. We have listened to the rational, convincing arguments of the music industry and we have responded with alacrity and imagination.
I very much look forward to the positive response of Irish investors and the Irish music industry to this new initiative.
Maidir le Údarás na Gaeltachta, ar ndóigh, tá béim ar leith leagtha ag an gcáinaisnéis ar chruthú fostaíochta agus is ar Údarás na Gaeltachta atá an cúram sonrach sin leagtha laistigh de theorainneacha na Gaeltachta. Tá soláthar de bhreis agus £20 milliún á chur ar fáil don eagraíocht i 1996 le haghaidh forbairt na Gaeltachta. Is soláthar caipitil é £17.6 milliún den tsuim sin. Úsáidfear £11 milliún den tsuim sin chun deontais a íoc le tionscail Ghaeltachta d'fhonn an fhostaíocht sa Ghaeltacht a chaomhnú agus a mhéadú. Is ionann é sin agus méadú de bhreis ar 2 faoin gcéad i gcomparáid le bunsoláthar na bliana 1995. Tá suim £6.6 milliún á tabhairt don Údarás i 1996 chun clár tógála na heagraíochta a airgeadú agus chun scaireanna a ghlacadh i gcuideachtaí, etc. Is méadú de 5.6 faoin gcéad é sin i gcomparáid le bunsoláthar na bliana seo caite. Caithfear an fuílleach de £2.5 milliún go príomha ar chostais riaracháin na heagraíochta agus ar chur chun cinn na Gaeilge. Is soláthar maith airgid é sin cibé slat tomhais a úsáidtear agus is léiriú é ar an tábhacht a chuireann an Rialtas i bhforbairt na Gaeltachta agus i gcur chun cinn na Gaeilge. Beidh mé ag súil leis go gcaithfear an soláthar go coigilteach tíosach ar thograí fiúntacha a roghnófar trí dhianchritéir roghnaíochta.
Tuigim ón eagraíocht go raibh torthaí fostaíochta an-sásúla acu arís i 1995 agus go bhfógrófar iad sin go luath. Tá an iomaíocht thionsclaíoch ag éirí níos géire i gcónaí agus tá dualgas ar, agus ról ag, Udarás na Gaeltachta cabhrú le cuideachtaí Gaeltachta chun iad féin a chur in oiriúint do na fadhbhanna a chothaíonn sé sin dóibh. Tá béim níos mó ag an Údarás anois ar thacaíocht a thabhairt do chomhlachtaí chun a gcumas iomaíochta agus éifeachtúlachta a fheabhsú. Tá coimhlint mhór ann ó thíortha a bhfuil geilleagair íseal-chostais acu agus ní foláir do ghnóthais Ghaeltachta díriú ar riachtanais bhunúsacha ar nós na gceann seo a leanas le go mbeifear iomaíoch sa mhargadh: teicneolaíocht a uasghrádú; scileanna foirne agus bainistíochta a fheabhsú; agus tairgí ardchaighdeánacha a chur ar fáil.
Tá céadatán ard de na poist nua a cruthaíodh le roinnt bhlianta anuas i dtionscail Ghaeltachta á ghiniúint ag gnóthais sheanbhunaithe. Is comhartha mhór dóchais é sin agus táim cinnte go leanfaidh an tÚdarás lena gcuid iarrachtaí leanúnacha chun comhlachtaí faoina scáth — cinn sheanbhunaithe agus cinn nua — a fhorbairt agus a neartú oiread agus is féidir.
Le bunú Theilifís na Gaeilge tá gealladh ar leith ag baint leis an earnáil léiriúcháin neamhspleách chun deiseanna fostaíochta breise a chruthú. Beidh an tÚdarás ag tacú leis an earnáil sin chun an tairbhe is fearr is féidir, ó thaobh cruthú fostaíochta de, a bhaint amach don Ghaeltacht. Beidh mé ag tagairt do Theilifís na Gaeilge arís ar ball.
Maidir leis na Scéimeanna Feabhsúcháin sa Ghaeltacht, ar ndóigh, bíonn obair fhiúntach ar mhaithe le forbairt na Gaeltachta agus cur chun cinn na Gaeilge ar siúl freisin le cúnamh na ndeontas a thugann mo Roinnse féin le haghaidh Scéimeanna Feabhsúcháin sa Ghaeltacht. Is suim de £3.35 milliún a bheidh ar fáil i mbliana le haghaidh muiroibreacha, forbairt chomharchumann, hallaí agus Coláistí Gaeilge agus saoráidí ilghnéitheacha ar nós páirceanna imeartha, cúirteanna leadóige agus mar sin de. Usáidfear cuid den tsoláthar sin chun an mhórscéim mhuiroibreacha ar Inis Meáin-Inis Oírr a chríochnú i mbliana.
Is eol do Theachtaí, ní foláir, gur fógraíodh inné nach mbeidh ar chumas mo Roinn-se cúnamh a chur ar fáil faoin sean-scéim chun bóithre sa Ghaeltacht a fheabhsú. Cé go bhfuil méadú i mbliana sa soláthar atá déanta sna Meastacháin do na Scéimeanna Feabhsúcháin sa Ghaeltacht, is amhlaidh go ndearnadh cinneadh an t-airgead a chaitheamh ar oibreacha a bhfeictear a bhfuil tosaíocht níos mó ag baint leo ná Scéim na mBóithre Áise — go háirithe ar mhuiroibreacha Gaeltachta atá á bpleanáil i láthair na huaire. Dá thoradh sin, tá cainteanna ar siúl idir m'oifigigh féin agus oifigigh na Roinne Comhshaoil chun freastal níos fearr agus níos éifeachtaí a dhéanamh ar na riachtanais i gceist. Beidh cainteanna againn chomh maith le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta, eagrais phobail agus na comharchumainn.
Ní miste a rá, ar ndóigh, nach mbíodh ach suim theoranta airgid ag mo Roinnse le caitheamh ar bhóithre, rud a chiallaigh nach raibh ar a cumas ach freastal ar líon beag den iliomad iarratas a fuarthas gach bliain — thart ar 80 bóthar as 800 iarratas a fuarthas anuraidh, cur i gcás. Caithfidh go bhfuil slí níos éifeachtaí chun an riachtanas a shásamh.
Faoi mar a dúirt me, is suim £3.350 milliún atá sna Meastacháin le haghaidh 1996. Táthar ag pleanáil go gcaithfear timpeall £2.35 milliún de sin ar mhuiroibreacha agus tá soláthar de £0.55 milliún ann chun deontais reachtála a íoc le comharchumainn Ghaeltachta, i gcomhréir leis na méaduithe suntasacha a cheadaigh mé dóibh anuraidh.
Is ar éigean is gá dom a rá go mbeidh mo Roinnse ag leanacht ar aghaidh ag tabhairt tacaíocht láidir do go leor scéimeanna tábhachtacha eile a théann chun tairbhe labhairt na Gaeilge agus muintir na Gaeltachta.
Ó thaobh Scéim an bhFoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge, d'fhreastal beagnach 23,000 foghlaimeoirí ar na Coláistí Gaeilge sa Ghaeltacht i 1995 agus d'fhan siad ar iostas i 740 teach Gaeltachta. Is cuid antábhachtach d'eacnamaíocht na Gaeltachta iad na Coláistí Samhraidh Gaeilge agus meastar go mbeidh thart ar an líon céanna foghlaimeoirí i gceist arís i mbliana.
I gcás scéim labhairt na Gaeilge, meastar go n-íocfar deontas faoin scéim le thart ar 3,200 teaghlaigh Ghaeltachta i mbliana. Tá an scéim nua seo tar éis cur le húsáid na Gaeilge i roinnt mhaith teaghlaigh ó cuireadh tús leí cúpla bliain ó shin.
Maidir le deontas do thithíocht sa Ghaeltacht, ba mhaith liom an deis seo a thógáil chun a rá nach bhfuil deireadh curtha le deontais feabhsúcháin tithe sa Ghaeltacht — tá na deontais sin ar fáil i gcónaí agus tá soláthar maith airgid déanta lena n-aghaidh i mbliana. Tá athrú sa scéim, áfach, sa mhéid nach gcuirfear oibreacha áirithe neamh-shubstaintiúla san áireamh feasta le haghaidh deontais. Ina lán cásanna, áfach, ní dhéanfaidh sé seo difríocht ar bith, mar go mbeidh go leor oibre i gceist chun an tuasdheontas feabhsucháin a thuilleamh ar aon chuma. Tá deontas feabhsúcháin ar fáil i gcónaí d'oibreacha substaintiúla ar bhunchreatlach tithe agus do shaoráidí sláintíochta cosúil le huisce, séarachais agus seomraí folctha.
Deputies will be aware that the 1996 Estimates have signalled, yet again, a significant increase in the allocation for An Chomhairle Ealaíon, the Arts Council. The Estimates figure of £18.5 million has been reduced marginally in yesterday's budget by £100,000 as a contribution to the additional funding being allocated to the long-term unemployed.
The council's revised allocation — now £18.4 million for 1996 — represents an increase of 13 per cent over 1995. This represents an increase of just over 81 per cent on the council's allocation for 1992, the year immediately prior to my initial appointment as Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht.
I acknowledge the contribution historically of all my predecessors with responsibility in this area, but facts are facts and the figure I inherited when I became Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht was approximately £10 million. The difference between £10 million and £18.4 is approximately 81 per cent.
Deputies will also be aware of my strong endorsement of the Arts Plan 1995-97 which was published by An Chomhairle Ealaíon in February last. I am pleased to inform the House that Government approval of the strategic objectives of the plan was signalled in November last and that I was charged with the task of entering into discussions with the Minister for Finance about the future funding of the plan.
In the light of these discussions, I agreed with the Minister for Finance that the funding targets set out in the plan could be realistically phased in over the five year period 1995-99, rather than the initial three years as proposed. I am pleased to inform the House that, at their first meeting for 1996 last week, An Chomhairle Ealaíon welcomed the level of funding secured by me for 1996 and decided to reschedule the plan to cover the five years 1995-99. This was a prudent decision in the light of the historically high increases I have secured for An Chomhairle since 1993, and I am confident that the additional timeframe now proposed can secure the funding targets by 1999. It was, of course, a document produced after considerable consultation and the further consultation in this rolling plan will be facilitated for the Arts Council by the extended time.
As regards the cultural development incentive scheme, about which I am frequently asked, the Government's commitment to funding for the contemporary arts is not confined to the annual allocation of An Comhairle Ealaíon, significant though it is for 1996. The £18.4 million allocation for An Chomhairle this year includes a capital allocation of £1 million designed to assist modest capital works, mainly on existing infrastructure requiring repair or upgrading.
In addition to these funds, however, I have additional Exchequer and European Union funds at my disposal under the Operational Programme for Tourism 1994-1999 to promote the development of an arts and cultural infrastructure in the State, notably in the regions. These funds will be disbursed under my cultural development incentives scheme which I announced last year and which, with matching funding from other sources such as local authorities, will enable me to facilitate the development of an arts, cultural infrastructure to the value of some £26 million from now until the end of 1999.
I am pleased to inform the House that an advisory committee which I have appointed to undertake an evaluation of the applications under the scheme and make recommendations to me thereon has commenced its deliberations on the 170 applications I have received to date. I hope to be in a position to announce some decisions on these applications within the next two months or so.
In concluding this item, I should inform the House that the £26 million in capital infrastructure which I hope to be able to generate under the cultural development incentives scheme is additional to the some £5.7 million which I have already committed to flagship projects in the regions such as the Galway Municipal Theatre, the Longford Theatre, the Hawskwell Theatre in Sligo, the Hunt Museum in Limerick and the Crawford Municipal Gallery in Cork. They are in a separate group.
From March to August 1996 the planning that has gone on for the past three years both here and in France to develop the major celebration of contemporary Irish art and culture, "L'Imaginaire Irlandais", will bear fruit across France. I secured Government commitment to provide up to £1.5 million towards the project, the idea for which originated during President Mary Robinson's State visit to France in 1992. At the end of 1995 over £500,000 had been spent on preparations and the balance of the funds for the project are provided in this year's Estimate for my Department.
I am happy to record that the French Government agreed to make available a cash contribution of up to £500,000 to co-fund jointly agreed elements of the programme of events in France and that access is being provided to suitable venues in France for various facets of the project. The project represents the fruits of continuing and long established contacts between arts groups, individuals and State agencies in the cultural arena throughout the island of Ireland. The emphasis will be not just on next year but on enduring contacts.
The development of the programme, under the general guidance of organising committees in both countries, is in the hands of the full time commissioner appointed by me for the project, Ms Doireann Ní Bhriain, and her opposite number in France, Mr. Michel Ricard, of the Department of International Affairs in the French Ministry of Culture. The overall programme is being designed and developed in close collaboration with the project's French partners. Both sides are confident that, following the manifestation, there will be a greater awareness among French people of the people of this country as dynamic, innovative and looking with confidence to the future. Irish creative artists will have entered the bloodstream of French cultural life and there will be long-term cultural and economic benefits for the people of both countries.
On the national cultural institutions I must emphasise that I am equally concerned for them. I have allocated significant increases to this purpose to the national cultural institutions since assuming office. The amounts of the normal grants-in-aid allocated to these institutions have increased by 46 per cent between 1992 and 1995. If funding for specific new or one-off projects is included, the grant assistance provided increased by 62 per cent over the same period. In relation to the National Gallery, which has a separate Vote, increases of the order of 66 per cent have been allocated in the same period. I want to pay tribute to these institutions and thank their staff for all they have done.
I am pleased to say that work is progressing well on a number of specific projects, some of which began during the time of the last Government. I refer in particular to the clock tower in preparation for the relocation of the Chester Beatty Library to Dublin Castle. The first phase of the redevelopment at Collins Barracks for part of the National Museum collections continues apace with, it is hoped, the opening to take place in 1997. That is a major development for the city and the museum. In this regard, I am finalising my examination of the report of the interim board of the museum and hope to implement as many of its recommendations as resources permit. I am also pleased to note the exciting developments which have been progressing at the National Gallery in recent years, including the completion of the refurbishment of the 1968 wing and the planned development of the vacant site on Clare Street over the next few years.
The National Library too will see the completion in the Temple Bar district in 1996 of its new dedicated photographic archive which will share its premises with the Photography Department of the Dublin Institute of Technology. At last the library will be able to store, preserve and make available to the public copies of some hundreds of previously unseen prints and photographic plates.
I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the new measures in this year's budget for facilitating the development of the collections in the national cultural institutions. Provision was made last year for a special tax relief for donations to national collections. A major gift under the scheme was to the National Gallery of Ireland of the archives of the artist Jack B. Yeats, including his many wonderful notebooks and sketch books. The National Museum of Ireland also received a gift of a large historical group painting entitled "HQ staff of the Irish Republican Army" by the artist Leo Whelan. I would like to express publicly, in the time given to me by Deputy de Valera, the great appreciation due to the donors for their co-operation. Last year's provision of £0.5 million for this relief has been increased this year to £0.75 million.
Ba mhaith liom cúpla focal a rá ag an bpointe seo faoi Theilifís na Gaeilge. Thug cinneadh an Rialtais den 7 Nollaig 1993 údarás dom treoir a thabhairt do RTE dul faoi na hoibreacha capitil riachtanacha i ndáil le Teilifís na Gaeilge agus freagracht a ghlacadh don tseirbhís nua, go dtí go mbeadh struchtúr reachtúil ar leith bunaithe di.
Tá RTÉ, faoi stiúir mo Roinne-se, ag gabháil faoi láthair don obair tógála is gá d'fhonn an bunstruchtúr do Theilifís na Gaeilge a chríochnú. Tuigim ó RTÉ go raibh caiteachas caipitil £7.6 milliún den chostas measta iomlán de £16.1 milliún déanta acu faoi dheireadh 1995. Cuireadh deontas-i-gcabhair de £3.6 milliún ar fáil do RTÉ ó Vóta mo Roinne-se i 1995 agus cuirfear suim bhreise de £12.2 milliún ar fáil i mbliana i ndáil leis na hoibreachta caipitil. Tuigim ó RTÉ freisin go bhfuil na hoibreacha caipitil ag dul ar aghaidh i gcomhréir leis an sceideal agus go bhfuiltear fós ag súil leis go mbeidh an tseirbhís nua ar an aer faoi Dheireadh Fómhair 1996.
Maidir le costas reatha na seirbhíse, cuireadh suim iomlán de £3 milliún ar fáil do RTÉ ó Vóta mo Roinne-se i 1994 agus 1995 agus beidh soláthar de £10 milliún ar fáil don chuspóir céanna i 1996. Tá an obair ag dul ar aghaidh go maith, faoi choimirce Chomhairle Theilifís na Gaeilge, i ndáil leis an bpróiséas chun cláir a choimisiúnú agus a charnadh sula dtosaíonn an chraoltóireacht ar ball.
I am pleased to have obtained an increase of £400,000 in 1996 or 22 per cent over the amount provided in 1995 for the Heritage Council. I had support from Members of all sides of the enactment of the Heritage Act, 1995. I am pleased to see the enthusiasm, energy, vision and independence which the members of the new council have already displayed in the first six months of their period in office. The council has a wide and challenging brief and I wish it well. The heritage services in the Office of Public Works are in the course of transfer to my Department. The provision for these services at £42 million approximately represents an increase of £1 million on the 1995 provision.
Last Monday I had the pleasure of launching a report by consultants Cairns on the future development of the Royal Canal. There is a significant amount of development and work.
Is í seo an saghas cáinaisnéise atá riachtanach dúinn i láthair na huaire — cur chuige atá cothrom agus cúramach, agus a bhfuil a chuid tosaíochtaí leagtha amach go soiléir, go háirithe dóibh sin atá dífhostaithe ar bhonn fad-théarmach. Is cur chuige den chineál seo atá ag teastáil don tír agus níl amhras ach go bhfuilimid ag freagairt dó sin mar is cuí.