Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions

Tax Exemptions

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

1. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the actions she has taken to examine the extension of the artists’ tax exemption to artists working through other mediums; if she has met with the Minister for Finance to discuss the expansion of the exemption; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8695/19]

As the Minister is aware, the artists tax exemption covers a limited number of mediums, namely, written works, music, the visual arts and sculptures, subject to a maximum of €50,000 per annum. What actions is the Minister taking to examine the expansion of the exemption to other mediums?

I thank the Deputy for raising the important issue of the artists tax exemption scheme which was introduced in 1969. Under the scheme, the profits or gains accruing to a writer, composer, visual artist or sculptor from the publication, production or sale of his or her work is exempt from income tax. Under section 195 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, the Arts Council and the then Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht drew up guidelines for determining whether a work within specified categories is an original and creative work and whether it has, or is generally recognised as having, cultural or artistic merit. On receipt of an application for the artists tax exemption scheme, the Office of the Revenue Commissioners is empowered to make a determination that a certain artistic work is both original and creative and has, or is generally recognised as having, either cultural or artistic merit. A work shall be regarded as original and creative only if it is a unique work of creative quality brought into existence by the exercise of its creator’s imagination. A work shall be regarded as having cultural merit only if by reason of its quality of form or content or both it enhances to a significant degree one or more aspects of national or international culture.

The scheme allows the Revenue Commissioners to make a determination only in respect of artistic works in the following categories: a book or other writing, a play, a musical composition, sculpture; or a painting or other like picture. Where a determination is not made, in effect, the application is rejected. There is a right of appeal to an independent appeal body in the event that Revenue declines to issue a determination. The exemption only applies to income taxes and does not extend to VAT. The maximum amount of income exempted from tax is €50,000 per annum. The names of recipients of the artists exemption together with the art work for which the relief is claimed are published on the Revenue Commissioners website. I wish to advise the Deputy that although I have not discussed the expansion of the exemption with the Minister for Finance, these matters are kept under review.

It is welcome that the matter is kept under review because, as the Minister is aware, the arts have expanded in terms of the mediums and forms in which art is created. We now have sound, multimedia and performing artists and it is very important that the scheme is updated to take account of contemporary art practice.

A recent review of pay and conditions by Theatre Forum found that low pay, poor conditions and precarious work for the performing arts are having a serious impact on artists and arts workers. Some of the statistics it uncovered are frightening. Some 30% of performing artists earned less than the minimum wage in 2018. Some 83% are paid flat fees rather than for hours worked. Some 53% of art organisations do not have a pension or personal retirement savings account arrangement for their staff, while four fifths of jobs in performing arts are precarious. Artists working through various mediums have raised the issue of working conditions with me.

I fully accept that the artists tax exemption is a complicated area on which the Minister must work closely with the Minister for Finance, but it may be one avenue which could be used to address these issues. Culture 2025 committed the Government to a critical analysis of direct and indirect supports funding arts and cultural activities and to improve funding structures through multi-annual and cross-stream funding and investment in regional and local services. Will the Minister commit to working with the Minister for Finance to consider the inclusion of artists working through other mediums in the tax exemption scheme?

It is important to note that just over 1,000 artists have been granted a favourable determination by the Revenue Commissioners since 2017 under the categories of writing, plays, musical composition, painting and sculpture. The focus of the Government is on increasing funding for the arts in general, as evidenced by the Taoiseach's repeated commitment to double the amount of funding over a ten year period. My Department received a 13% increase in funding in the Estimates for this year. There has been a €6.8 million or 10% increase in funding for the Arts Council, while €1.2 billion in capital funding for culture, heritage and the Gaeltacht has been allocated over the ten years to 2028 as part of the national development plan. That includes €460 million for an investment programme in our national cultural institutions and a €200 million audiovisual action plan which I launched last summer. The Government will continue to give consideration to any measures to further deliver on its commitments, including the artists tax exemption which is kept under constant review.

It is wonderful that 1,000 artists have availed of the exemption but I assure the Minister that thousands of artists in the creative industries are unable to access or avail of the exemption. That is why I urge the Minister to keep an open mind on reviewing and broadening the scheme. I invited representatives of Theatre Forum to Leinster House at the beginning of the year. It is stark and frightening that some artists are unable to afford certain basic services such as rent, childcare and healthcare.

Global Ireland 2025 committed the Government to implementing a range of further measures internationally, including the promotion of Irish arts, heritage and culture to new generations and audiences across the world. One of the key issues raised by the representatives of Theatre Forum in January is the position of Irish artists in Ireland compared to the esteem in which they are held when they represent Ireland abroad. This is a valid issue. When artists attend embassies or go abroad, they are held in high esteem, but the reality when they come home is that many cannot afford rent, childcare or healthcare.

I do not believe Fianna Fáil is in a position to lecture this Government on the funding of the arts or artists' pay and conditions. As we know, Fianna Fáil, when in government between 2007 and 2011, cut funding for the arts by €67 million. The majority of the funding available was for the Arts Council, which the Deputy has mentioned before. There was a decrease from €206 million to €139 million, which is a funding cut of 33%. In budget 2019, Fine Gael saw funding rise by 37% since the time of the cuts in 2011. This is a rise to a sustainable level. Fianna Fáil, when in government between 2007 and 2011, cut the budget to an unsustainable level. I have outlined a commitment the Taoiseach has given to double funding in this area by 2025. We are doing a considerable amount to achieve that.

Commemorative Events

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

2. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the planned permanent or capital projects that will be undertaken as part of the decade of centenaries commemorations for the period 2019 to 2023; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8854/19]

The reason for this question is that we are in a centenary commemoration period. In the run-up to the centenary commemoration of 1916, a number of capital projects were announced. They were completed in the years running up to 2016. What are the plans for permanent capital projects for the forthcoming period?

A capital programme of major restoration and development projects was initiated under the Ireland 2016 centenary programme to mark the centenary of the 1916 Rising. The most recent guidance of the expert advisory group on centenary commemorations, which I published on 8 January, highlighted the fact that the decade of centenaries created unprecedented opportunities for people of all ages to consider and explore some of the most significant events and themes in the history of modem Ireland. The group recommended that this positive engagement and the associated tangible, long-term benefits continue to be supported beyond the conclusion of the decade in 2023 and that State support be considered for specific, significant decade of centenaries permanent legacy initiatives. This is a view that I very much share.

One such legacy initiative is Beyond 2022: Ireland's Virtual Record Treasury, which the expert advisory group has endorsed as a potentially very significant and lasting decade of centenaries legacy initiative, combining historical research, archival conservation, technical innovation and international collaboration. This project seeks to reimagine and recreate, through virtual reality, the Public Record Office of Ireland and its archival collections, which the Deputy may know were destroyed on 30 June 1922 in the opening engagement of the Civil War. It is recognised that, while incomparable with the loss of human life, this cultural loss was one of the great tragedies of the Civil War. A significant national legacy project such as this, which emphasises the importance of open, inclusive and participatory access to authentic archival sources, would support the State very appropriately in its approach to the remembrance of the challenging and sensitive historical events over the remainder of the decade.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

The expert advisory group also welcomed the Government's commitment to capital investment of almost €1.2 billion in Ireland's culture, language and heritage over the next ten years under Project 2040 — the National Development Plan 2018–2027. In its second statement of principles, published in October 2017, the advisory group expressed the strong view that "the opportunity to encourage scholarship at national and local level must be used as fully as possible, with particular emphasis on archival investment and development." This significant capital investment will ensure that our cultural institutions and archives will continue to have a central role in continuing the process of broad public engagement, creating an important, tangible legacy that endures well beyond the decade of centenaries for generations to come.

I understand the need for digitisation. I welcome the information provided. Two major stores of historical information were destroyed, one when the Free State Army attacked the Four Courts and the other when, under de Valera, the IRA attacked the Custom House.

My question was trying to build on capital projects such as that at Richmond Barracks, the GPO, Teach an Phiarsaigh and the Military Archives, which are now permanent reminders of the events of 1916 and the role they played in developing our society. Other than the digitisation projects, is any specific project planned? Has the Minister invited the national cultural institutions to submit applications for substantial funding for new wings, for example, to add to our institutions, or even for local authorities to have appropriate commemorative statues and memorials built in the forthcoming period?

With regard to Beyond 2022, I approved in January a funding allocation of €95,000 to support the transition phase of the project, which will, to some extent, be a capital project of the kind the Deputy speaks about. I have requested my officials to engage with the project team to ensure that an appraisal is carried out in line with the requirements of the public spending code and to ensure that the appropriate structures, governance and monitoring arrangements are put in place.

It might be helpful to the Deputy to be reminded of the expert advisory group's advice. It is suggesting a four-strand approach. It is talking about a State ceremonial strand, which will comprise a limited number of symbolic acts of national commemoration focusing on themes of remembrance and reconciliation and the commemoration of all those who lost their lives during the period in question. The group also talks about an historical strand, which will comprise a diverse range of activities designed to encourage authentic historical inquiry about the period and promote the use of primary archival sources. Some initiatives will be developed in collaboration with State partners, national cultural institutions, institutions of learning and other stakeholders. There will also be a community strand, which will involve a collaborative approach, similar to that adopted for the 1916 centenary commemorations, between the State, the local authority network, perhaps Dublin City Council in respect of the Deputy's area, as well as national community organisations, including in Northern Ireland, where appropriate. There will also be a creative imagination strand, which will continue to encourage artistic and creative expression in remembrance of the significant historical events.

The answer the Minister has given me is that there is nothing planned for the period between now and 2023 or 2024 by way of a substantial, permanent structure. Will the Minister revisit this aspect? To have a permanent structure built and opened as part of the centenary events over the coming years, planning would have to have begun.

I am not ruling anything in or out. What I am trying to point out to the Deputy is the advice of the expert advisory group on commemorations in general. The local authorities will have a significant role, including Dublin City Council. There will be an event on 13 March at which the local authorities will come together collectively and will be in a position to explore ideas they may have for the commemorations over the next decade. A number of events are planned. I outlined the general themes. There will be ceremonial events in 2021 on the signing of the Truce. In 2022, the centenary of the foundation of the State will be commemorated. There will be a ceremony of reconciliation and there will be a significant academic conference. The President is involved in respect of a sculpture related to last part of the decade of centenaries. It will be up to the local authorities and all the people in this country to decide whether they wish to have something suitable in terms of a capital project.

National Archives

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

4. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she will initiate a dialogue with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in order to make available or release, or both, Land Commission records in the context of the decade of the centenaries events and themes for the period 2019 to 2023; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8923/19]

My question is on the same theme. I have written to the Minister about the Land Commission records, which were an all-Ireland set of records. They are publicly available in Northern Ireland but completely private in the Republic. They date back to approximately 1892. The critical issue is that a new arrangement came into place in 1922 across all Departments. This is an example of something that could give some sort of lasting legacy in the same way as the military pension records resulted in a lasting archive in regard to the 1916 commemorations.

I thank the Deputy for her question. I received her letter and I understand an acknowledgement was issued.

All matters concerning records of the Irish Land Commission are a matter for the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and I have no function in this regard. As the Deputy will be aware, this is a very complex and sensitive area. I have had initial inquiries made of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and it has no immediate plans to make the estimated 8 million former Irish land Commission records, located at the record storage facility in Portlaoise, generally available to the public for research purposes or otherwise as these are, in its view, still working documents. Officials of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine regularly access these records to service queries from the public relating to current and past transactions and for the full completion of the work of the former Irish Land Commission.

Owners and purchasers of land and their personal or legal representatives are allowed access to and copies of relevant documents and maps. The records storage facility in Portlaoise is not in a position to provide a research facility, as the provision of such a service would require much greater resources than those currently available. I am advised that many of these files contain private and personal information and, as such, are subject to data protection, including estates' title deeds lodged in the former Irish Land Commission by landed families when the land was being transferred. I am conscious of the enthusiastic public interest in obtaining access to the vast repository of former Irish Land Commission documents held. However, wider access will be a matter for consideration when the completion of the work of the former Irish Land Commission is at a more advanced stage. Furthermore, the records that are available in paper format are fragile, some of them dating back as far as the early 1800s and this resource is irreplaceable in the event of loss or damage. To maintain the records, it is essential they are handled and stored appropriately. I am advised that opening up access to these files cannot be considered until appropriate measures are undertaken to minimise potential damage from routine handling.

They are a treasure trove. The corresponding records up to the foundation of our State are publicly available in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland so it is difficult to understand why they are not publicly available here. I accept these are paper records and that they are fragile and need to be handled and digitised to enable access without compromising the data source. The type of information available in some of these records is of enormous genealogical value. They include tenant books and other means of establishing title that will be a very valuable resource. It is entirely appropriate to consider these in the context of the decade of centenaries because land played such an important part in our history. It would be a legacy for the future if the records up to 1922 were made available. I would argue that publication of records dating further back would be appropriate.

Following Independence the commission's records were divided between the jurisdictions. In 1923, the Land Commission was reconstituted to recognise the Free State. The Land Commission archive has two main components, the records branch and the administration branch. The Deputy mentioned these records are publicly available in Northern Ireland. We do not hold the records in question in the same way as the corresponding records are held by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. We cannot, therefore, make them available for public scrutiny.

As I said, these documents remain, in part, working records of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and any proposals for public access would, therefore, require careful consideration. The commission's work obliged it to establish who had legal title to the properties, which is a hugely complex task and so it began to collect wills, correspondence, State records, family tree records, lease books, tenants' lists, maps, deeds and more.

Some of the documents about which the Minister speaks are wills and so on and they are publicly available in the National Archives. We are discussing historical documents. While our lifespan is pretty good I do not think it stretches back to the early 1880s or, for most people, the early 1920s. What I am hearing is the Minister's refusal, put in a nice way. This is a missed opportunity. I ask that the commission be specifically asked about these records.

We have to understand the constraints involved in regard to the endeavour which the Deputy mentions. As of 1 February 2019 the National Archives has received transfers of 154,579 files in archival boxes, relating to the termination of fair rents by the former Irish Land Commission, which the Deputy mentioned in her letter. Unfortunately, the National Archives are currently unable to make these publicly available owing to a lack of suitable storage space from which they could be retrieved for public consultation in its reading room. This situation is likely to continue until such time as the archives repository project is completed. In addition, the National Archives does not have sufficient archival staff to carry out the processing and checking work necessary before the records can be released to the public.

I am advised that as these archives are still required by the Irish Land Commission for the purpose of the discharge of its ongoing statutory functions it is not possible to transfer the fair rent order files to the National Archives.

Údarás na Gaeltachta

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

3. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aindrias Moynihan den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil sí sásta leis na hullmhúcháin le haghaidh Brexit atá déanta chun go mbeidh cliantchuideachtaí Údarás na Gaeltachta ábalta dul i ngleic le Brexit; cén t-éileamh atá ar na scéimeanna éagsúla i measc na gcliantchuideachtaí; cén teagmháil atá déanta aici leis an Údarás faoi; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [8883/19]

Tá spriocdáta an Breatimeacht ag druidim linn go tapaidh faoin tráth seo anois. Níl ach cúpla seachtain fágtha agus tá baol do fostaíocht agus gach rud eile a bhaineann leis. Tá 28% de chliantchomhlachtaí Údarás na Gaeltachta ag easpórtáil €148 milliún de earraí go dtí an Ríocht Aontaithe agus tá go leor eile ag gabháil trí an Ríocht Aontaithe go dtí an mór-roinn. Cad iad na hullmhúcháin atá déanta maidir leis an mBreatimeacht i measc cliantchomhlachtaí an údaráis? An bhfuil an Aire Stáit ag bualadh leis an údarás? Conas a bhfuil na hullmhúcháin?

Gabhaim buíochas as ucht an ceist fíor-thábhachtach. Is ar mhaithe le haon ábhar imní maidir leis an mBreatimeacht a chíoradh leis atá teagmháil leanúnach ar bun ag Údarás na Gaeltachta lena chuid cliantchomhlachtaí, chomh maith, ár ndóigh, le tacú leis na comhlachtaí agus iad a spreagadh le hanailís a dhéanamh ar thacaíochtaí margaíochta agus forbairtí straitéiseacha ar a ngnó. Tuigtear dom sa chomhthéacs seo gur eagraigh an t-údarás seimineáir agus seisiúin eolais ar an mBreatimeacht chun taispeáint do na comhlachtaí an tábhacht a bhaineann le bheith ullamh ina leith. Ina theannta sin, tuigtear dom go mbíonn an t-údarás páirteach in ócáidí eolais faoin ábhar a bhíonn á reáchtáil ag gníomhaireachtaí Stáit eile lena n-áirítear Enterprise Ireland.

Chomh maith leis sin, tá curtha in iúl ag an údarás go bhfuil sé ag comhoibriú le gníomhaireachtaí Stáit eile i ndáil le cur chuige comhordaithe maidir leis an mBreatimeacht agus go bhfuil sé i mbun an scéim tacaíochta agus comhairleoireachta 'bí réidh' a riar dá chuid comhlachtaí. Lena chois sin, cuirtear scéimeanna tacaíochta eile ar shúile comhlachtaí maidir le feabhas a chur ar ghnéithe sonracha dá ngnó.

Ar chomhairle na Roinne Fiontraíochta, Gnó agus Nuálaíochta, tá Údarás na Gaeltachta tar éis anailís cothrom go dáta a dhéanamh ar mhaithe le leochaileacht comhlachtaí Gaeltachta do thionchar na Breatimeachta a bhreithniú agus tá sé i dteagmháil le comhlachtaí a bhfuil ard-scór acu san anailís sin chomh maith le comhlachtaí atá ag brath ach go háirithe ar an Ríocht Aontaithe mar phríomhmhargadh acu. Sa chomhthéacs seo, tá an t-údarás ag tacú leis na comhlachtaí seo chun athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar a gcuid straitéisí gnó, iarratais a dhéanamh i gcomhair tacaíocht i leith nuálaíochta agus éifeachtachta, margaí nua a aimsiú agus scileanna nua a fhorbairt i measc a gcuid fostaithe.

Tuigtear dom chomh maith go bhfuil an t-údarás i dteagmháil le Corparáid Baincéireachta Straitéiseach na hÉireann agus go bhfuil faisnéis maidir leis na scéimeanna iasachta atá á riar ag an eagraíocht sin a scaipeadh ar a gcuid cliantchomhlachtaí.

Ní call a rá chomh maith go mbíonn Údarás na Gaeltachta ag obair as lámh a chéile le Enterprise Ireland chun a chinntiú go bhfuil an tacaíocht atá ar fáil maidir le scéim iasachta na Breatimeachta ar fáil do chomhlachtaí Gaeltachta. Sa chomhthéacs sin, is fiú a lua go bhfuil meamram comhthuisceana i bhfeidhm le tamall de bhlianta anuas idir Údarás na Gaeltachta agus Enterprise Ireland, rud a chinntíonn go bhfuil fáil ag comhlachtaí Gaeltachta ar scéimeanna éagsúla tacaíochta a chuireann Enterprise Ireland ar fáil ar fud na tíre. De thoradh seo agus, go deimhin, de thoradh an comhoibriú leanúnach atá idir an dá eagraíocht, táim sásta go mbeidh fáil ag cliantchomhlachtaí Údarás na Gaeltachta ar na deiseanna agus na hacmhainní céanna atá ar fáil do chomhlachtaí atá faoi scáth Enterprise Ireland.

Ar deireadh, is fiú dom a chur in iúl don Teach gur aontaigh Údarás na Gaeltachta comhaontú ceangal comhalartach oifigí gnó le cumainn tráchtála na hAlban ag deireadh 2018 faoina mbunófar oifigí trádála comhalartaithe chun tacú le comhlachtaí i nGaeltacht na hÉireann agus in Albain agus chun infheistíocht agus deiseanna trádála a éascú. Feidhmeoidh an socrú seo mar acmhainn luachmhar d'fhiontair bheaga agus mheánmhéide atá ag iarraidh a bpáirtíocht idirnáisiúnta gnó go gnó a leathnú.

Tuigim ón bhfreagra sin go mba féidir nach bhfuil an tAire Stáit tar éis bualadh leis an údáras in aon chor fós mar gheall ar an mBreatimeacht agus an baol a bheidh ann do na cliantchomhlachtaí. Tá sé go sonrach sa cheist agam, cén teagmháil atá ag an Aire Stáit leis an údarás. Táim cinnte, dá mba rud é go raibh an tAire Stáit tar éis bualadh leis, go mbeadh sé tar éis é a insint dúinn. An féidir leis an Aire Stáit é sin a chinntiú? An bhfuil sé tar éis bualadh leis an údarás mar gheall ar an mBreatimeacht agus na hullmhúcháin? Cad go díreach é an teagmháil atá ag an Roinn mar gheall air? Tá an tAire Stáit freagrach as an nGaeilge, an Ghaeltacht agus na hOileáin agus is aige atá an fhreagracht chun fostaíocht agus tacaíocht a thabhairt i measc na nGaeltachtaí. Shamhlóinn go mbeadh an tAire Stáit ag bualadh leis go rialta mar gheall ar rud chomh tubaisteach leis an mBreatimeacht.

Chomh maith leis sin sa cheist, táim dírithe ar an éileamh. Níl aon fhigiúirí ag an Aire Stáit sa fhreagra go fóill mar gheall ar an éileamh. An féidir é sin a shoiléiriú? Cad é an t-éileamh i measc na gcliantchomhlachtaí ar na scéimeanna éagsúla atá ann mar tuigimid go bhfuil sé lag go leor mórthimpeall an cuid eile den tír? An bhfuil an tAire Stáit ag déanamh rud éigin faoi leith chun a chinntiú go mbeidh éileamh níos fearr agus go mbeidh níos mó déanta sna Ghaeltachtaí?

Casaim le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta go minic. Casaim leis an bpríomhfheidhmeannach agus leis na stiúrthóirí. Bím i dteagmháil leo ar an bhfón agus bíonn cruinnithe agam sna Forbacha freisin maidir lena lán cúrsaí, an Breatimeacht ina measc. Ag deireadh 2018, bhí os cionn 100,000 cliant ar an mbunchláir cliant de Údarás na Gaeltachta, an cuid is mó acu cliantchomhlachtaí beaga agus meánméide. Tá os cionn 150 cliantchomhlacht de chuid Údarás na Gaeltachta a fhostaíonn níos mó na deichnúir agus a seasann do 80% den fhostaíocht i gcliant an údaráis ina iomlán. Tá 25 acu seo aitheanta againn ón anailís nua mar na comhlachtaí is leochailí ó thaobh an Bhreatimeachta de agus tá teagmháil déanta leo ag an bpríomhfheidmeannach agus ag stiúrthóirí ón údarás. Tá an-réamhobair déanta ag Údarás na Gaeltacht leis na cliantchomhlachtaí chun fáil réidh leis an mBreatimeacht.

Tuigim go bhfuil teagmháil idir Albain agus an t-údarás mar gheall ar socrú a bheadh ansin chun cabhair a thabhairt do chomhlachtaí a bheadh ag plé leo in Alban. Cad é an scéal go díreach mar gheall ar chomhlachtaí a bheidh ag plé leis an gcuid eile den Bhreatain ar nós Sasana agus an Bhreatain Bheag nó fiú ag gabháil tríd an Tuaisceart nó Dún na nGall agus tríd an Bhreatain go dtí an mór-roinn? An bhfuil socrú faoi leith á chur ar fáil ar son na comhlachtaí sin nó an bhfuil siad dírithe go huille agus go hiomlán ar an socrú leis an Albain? An bhfuil an conradh don socrú sin sínithe go fóill? Mura bhfuil, cad é an mhoill? Cathain a bheidh an tAire Stáit ag súil leis sin a bheith ar fáil?

Mar is eol don Teachta, rinne an t-iar-Aire Stáit, an Teachta McHugh, an-obair le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta agus le cumainn tráchtála na hAlban ag deireadh 2018 faoina mbunófar oifigí trádála comhalartacha chun tacú le comhlachtaí i nGaeltacht na hÉireann agus in Albain agus chun infheistíocht agus deiseanna trádála a éascú. Tá an obair agus an ceangal sin ag dul ar aghaidh. Beidh feidhmeannaigh ón údarás ag dul go hAlban ag tús mhí Aibreáin freisin chun cúrsaí a phlé maidir leis na deacrachtaí ó thaobh trádála de. Mar a dúirt mé, tá thart ar 25 cliantchomhlachtaí aitheanta anois ag an údarás agus bíonn an cuid is mó de na comhlachtaí sin ag trádáil leis an Ríocht Aontaithe in iomlán. Tá mé sásta go bhfuil an réamhobair sin déanta agus go bhfuil chuile cliantchomhlacht ón údarás ar an eolas maidir leis an mbagairt ón mBreatimeacht agus an méid atá ar fáil ón údarás tríd an scéim 'bí réidh' agus ag Enterprise Ireland freisin.