Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions

Wildlife Conservation

Niamh Smyth


19. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the steps she has taken on foot of the recommendations from the curlew task force; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45670/19]

I ask the Minister to outline the steps she has taken on foot of the recommendations from the curlew task force, given its report was published in September 2019.

I thank the Deputy. In January 2017, a national curlew task force was formed, to include various stakeholders with an interest in the management of the curlew and its habitat. The National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department is currently considering the recommendations of the curlew task force, which were published in September 2019, in order to inform the vital next steps for curlew conservation. The possibility of the curlew becoming extinct as a breeding species is one of the most serious conservation concerns in Ireland at the moment. Decades of habitat loss and fragmentation, and losses to predators, have seen the species decline in numbers by 96% since the late 1980s and early 1990s. Unfortunately, these threats are very much still present and active.

The curlew conservation programme, which was established in 2017 to pioneer curlew conservation efforts in Ireland, will continue in 2020, co-ordinated by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The programme, which had a successful year in 2019, includes surveys, habitat maintenance, enhancement and creation, nest protection and public and community engagement. The aim of this locally-led programme is to reverse the population declines by supporting the creation and maintenance of suitable breeding habitat and employing nest protection officers, aiming ultimately to improve breeding productivity, that is, the number of young curlew successfully reared in a given year. Curlew productivity in key areas has improved year-on-year as a result of the works of the programme.

Landowners and local communities have been central to the success of the programme so far and co-operation with stakeholders will continue to be crucial to the programme's success. The efficacy of these ongoing conservation efforts will be determined by a research project in due course. The pilot phase of the curlew conservation programme, just three years in, has shown that prospects can be improved by following the model of locally-based teams, engaged positively and proactively with relevant stakeholders, most especially landowners, to find and safeguard the breeding attempts and improve the immediate habitat and environment for breeding attempts. Curlew conservation efforts will continue to be a key consideration in my Department's overall nature conservation strategy in 2020.

I thank the Minister. As the Minister rightly laid out, the evidence is that the breeding productivity of the curlew in the conservation areas has improved as a result of the action on the ground of the local curlew action teams, which are to be highly commended for their work on this issue. The report concludes that the work needs to be sustained on an ongoing basis and that, ultimately, the environment and landscape into which the curlew return will need to be greatly improved if the population is to be placed on a truly sustainable footing. The report concludes that wider policy changes are required to ensure this is so. Will the Minister outline how her Department intends to ensure this happens?

Will the programme be scaled up on a national level and replicated throughout the country?

There are two main pillars within the curlew conservation programme, one of which delivers on-the-ground action and another that progresses research on a species that has received little attention in Ireland to date. Both pillars are closely intertwined and complementary. The third year of the curlew conservation programme, which is this year, saw direct efforts in the following areas: the Stack's Mountains, the north of Lough Corrib; Lough Ree; north Roscommon and Mayo; mid-Leitrim; north Monaghan in the Deputy's constituency; and Donegal. Some 54 pairs were located in these operational areas in 2017, 45 in 2018 and between 41 and 56 in 2019. When the core areas that were covered in each of the three years are compared, those figures are as follows: 46 in 2017; 42 in 2018 and; 41 to 56 in 2019. Further habitat improvements were planned and undertaken this year, which should benefit curlews into the future. The pilot phase of the curlew conservation programme, just three years in, has shown prospects can be improved by following the model of locally-based teams engaging positively and proactively with local landowners and relevant stakeholders to find and safeguard the breeding attempts and to improve the immediate habitat and environment for these attempts.

Our Lady's secondary school for girls in Castleblayney had a good conference two weeks ago on Brexit. The conference covered the environmental section of that as well. The Minister mentioned north Monaghan, an area in which the conservation of the curlew is being developed, and that programme is welcome. Based on the figures the Minister outlined, am I correct that the number of pairs has reduced rather than increased? She might confirm that for me.

In August 2019, the sixth report of the UN convention on biological diversity confirmed potential catastrophic species loss and the deterioration of important habitats was accelerating. Ireland has a legal obligation to conserve biological diversity. An Taisce described the report as a damning indictment of the state of biodiversity, with insufficient progress reported across most targets. Birdwatch Ireland and the Irish Wildlife Trust have echoed An Taisce in calling on the Government to move quickly to arrest a species extinction crisis in Ireland. One third of all Irish bee species could be extinct by 2030 and the Irish butterfly populations have declined by almost 12% over the past decade. Some 50% of Irish freshwater areas are polluted and as a result, there has been a decline in our most sensitive aquatic species such as salmon. More than 90% of protected habitats are classified as having unfavourable conservation status. What provision was made in budget 2020 to tackle these staggering figures?

Before the Minister comes in, I remind Members that this is the first question and we have to keep a keen eye on the clock because other Members will be coming in.

It is okay but I ask Members to please co-operate with me.

I thank the Deputy for her comments. I commend Our Lady's secondary school on its efforts in respect of the conservation of the curlew. The recommendations of the report are being strongly considered by the Department. It is broken down into eight main areas: the curlew ecological requirements; farming and agri-environment; forestry; bogs; predation and nest protection; planning and development; curlew and people; and synthesis. The efforts of the curlew conservation programme, particularly in the local teams, in building and maintaining a positive profile for the curlew cannot be overstated. Conflict can often arise between the desires of those involved in conservation and the desires of landowners to manage their land as they see best. The understanding and communication skills, which involve listening as well as talking, of those involved in the programme, have been exemplary. The experience to date has been largely positive, with countless landowners and local people helping with reporting sightings, facilitating access, providing advice and undertaking efforts to help the curlew. This year, we increased the amount in budget 2020 for the heritage sector by 15%. Unfortunately, if we look back to the Fianna Fáil and Green Party budgets of the past, funding to the sector was cut by 75%.

An Teanga Gaeilge

Aengus Ó Snodaigh


20. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta a leagan amach conas a dhéanfar dul chun cinn ar thograí athbheochana dár dteanga náisiúnta laistigh de chonstaicí an mhaoinithe a leagadh amach i mbuiséad 2020. [45468/19]

Tá an cheist seo dírithe ar an Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta ach ar ndóigh glacaim leis go mbeidh an tAire Stáit, An Teachta Kyne, ag tabhairt freagra dom agus ag leagan amach dúinn conas a dhéanfar dul chun cinn ar thograí athbheochana dár dteanga de thairbhe ar na cinntí a glacadh i gcáinaisnéis 2020.

Is é an plean gníomhaíochta 2018-2022, a d'fhoilsigh mo Roinn i mí an Mheithimh 2018, an mapa bóithre ina ndéantar rianú ar cad a dhéanfar chun cúram a dhéanamh d'fheidhmiú na Straitéise 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge 2010-2030 sa tréimhse cúig bliana ó 2018 go dtí 2022. Ós rud é go bhfuil comhfhreagracht agus comhúinéireacht ag croílár an cur chuige, is plean tras-Rannach é agus is gá do gach ceann den 60 páirtí leasmhar a ndéantar a rianú sa phlean a gcion a dhéanamh chun go mbeidh an toradh is fearr a bhféadfaí a bheith ag súil leis mar a bhaineann sé le cur chun feidhme an breis agus 180 beart atá ann.

Leagtar amach córas monatóireachta úrnua sa phlean chun a chinntiú go bhfuil cur chuige níos éifeachtaí agus trédhearcaí ann a chinnteoidh dul chun cinn mar is cuí. Mar chuid den chóras seo, tá coiste stiúrtha atá ag feidhmiú faoi chathaoirleacht mo Roinne i mbun monatóireachta ar fheidhmiú an phlean ó foilsíodh é. I gcomhréir le cinneadh Rialtais, tá beartaithe an chéad tuairisc bhliantúil ar dhul chun cinn a fhoilsiú go luath tar éis í a bheith leagtha faoi bhráid an Rialtais. Is tríd an mheicníocht seo go príomha a ndéantar faireachán agus tuairisciú maidir leis an bplean.

Maidir le gnóthaí airgeadais, anuas ar bhuiséad Fhoras na Gaeilge d'os cionn €11 mhilliún in aghaidh na bliana, tá leithdháileadh de bheagnach €58 milliún curtha ar fail i bhfomhír C de chuid mo Roinne don Ghaeilge, don Ghaeltacht agus do na hoileáin do 2020. Cuimsítear sa soláthar ardaithe mar seo a leanas: infheistíocht bhreise ar fiú €500,000 é don phróiseas pleanála teanga a chinnteoidh go dtógfar ar an obair mhaith atá ar siúl faoin bpróiseas cheana féin; ardú de €1 mhilliún nó 11% ar sholáthar caipitil d'Údarás na Gaeltachta chun tuilleadh a chur lena chumas a chlár oibre a chur chun cinn ar leas na Gaeltachta agus; €200,000 breise do mhaoiniú na gcomharchumann Gaeltachta. Chomh maith leis sin, beidh teacht ag Údarás na Gaeltachta ar chiste faoi leith sa chás go dtarlóidh Breatimeacht gan socrú. Tríd na córais threisithe mhonatóireachta agus an cistíocht bhreise ar thagair mé dó, táim sásta go bhfuil cur chuige sásúil i bhfeidhm a chinnteoidh go mbeidh cúram ceart á dhéanamh don Ghaeilge agus don Ghaeltacht in 2020.

Luaigh an tAire Stáit an figiúr de €58 milliún. Ar ndóigh, ní bhaineann a lán de sin le pleanáil teanga nó le hathbheochan na teanga. Baineann sé leis an nGaeltacht nó le hobair chaipitil sna ceantair sin nó ar na hoileáin. An cheist ná cad go díreach é an caiteachas atá ag tarlú d'athbheochan ár dteanga náisiúnta. Níl mórán sa fhreagra a thug an tAire Stáit, seachas an €500,000 do phleanáil teanga dírithe ar athbheochan a dhéanamh nó fiú tarrtháil a dhéanamh ar an teanga. Thar na blianta, tá liosta mór fada tugtha don Aire Stáit ó dhreameanna difriúla. Bhí Conradh na Gaeilge thar ceann 60 grúpa agus leag sé amach an méid áirithe airgid atá ag teastáil chun a dhéanamh cinnte de go mbeadh dul chun cinn á dhéanamh bliain i ndiaidh bliana, seachas dul i gcúl. Tá mé fós ag lorg cad go díreach é an caiteachas nua chun a bheith caite, má tá sé ann, seachas an €500,000 ar phleanáil teanga.

Casaim le Conradh na Gaeilge gach uile bliain maidir leis an gcáinaisnéis agus bhí sé ar a chumas méadú a dhéanamh ar a bhuiséad i mbliana le tacaíocht ón Aire, an Teachta Madigan, agus ón Roinn. Bhí €1 mhilliún breise de chaipiteal d'Údarás na Gaeltachta. Bhí Conradh na Gaeilge ag lorg na hinfheistíochta sin. Tá sé ag lorg níos mó agus tá sé sin ceart go leor ach táimid ag dul sa treo ceart agus tá buiséad caipitil de níos mó ná €10 milliún againn anois don chéad uair le beagnach deich mbliana anuas. Tá thart ar €7.37 milliún in 2020 le caitheamh ar thograí reatha cosúil le scéim na bhfoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge, scéim na gcúntóirí teanga, scéim na gcampaí samhraidh agus cúnamh d'eagraíochtaí Ghaeilge eile ar nós Acadamh na hOllscolaíocht Ghaeilge, UISCE agus Oideas Gael.

Chomh maith leis sin, tá an buiséad ag Foras na Gaeilge agus bhí sé ar mo chumas breis airgid a thabhairt díreach chuig na heagraíochtaí cosúil le Conradh na Gaeilge chun cur ar a chumas rudaí a dhéanamh ar nós an seó bóthair agus gluaiseacht chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn trasna na tíre, go mór mór sna scoileanna. Tá ról fíorthábhachtach aige san obair sin.

Luaigh an tAire Stáit Údarás na Gaeltachta agus an €1 milliún breise agus go ndeachaigh sé suas go dtí €10 milliún. In 2008 bhí €25 milliún á fháil ag Údarás na Gaeltachta. Tagraím do na tograí eile atá curtha faoina bhráid le tamall de bhlianta anuas ó Chonradh na Gaeilge. Níl an t-airgead ann agus ní bheidh sé in ann cur leis na tograí sin muna thagann an t-airgead. Tá mé ag caint mar gheall ar thograí ar nós scéimeanna do thuismitheoirí, scoláireachtaí aosaigh agus ógánaigh, líonraí Gaeilge, lárionad na Gaeilge agus Raidió Rí-Rá fiú. Tá a fhios agam gur thug an tAire Stáit €75,000 dó i mbliana ach níl go leor ann. Cén uair a fheicimid ardú suntasach seachas ardú suarach ar an méid airgid atá de dhíth chun ár dteanga náisiúnta a chaomhnú agus a athbheoigh sa tír seo?

Tá an ceart ag an Teachta go raibh buiséad caipitil ag Údarás na Gaeltachta de thart ar €25 milliún in 2008 ach laghdaíodh é sin go dtí €16 mhilliún in 2009 agus go dtí thart ar €6 milliún nó €7 milliún in 2010 sula tháinig an Rialtas seo isteach. Tá méadú ó shin ar na huimhreacha don bhuiséad caipitil freisin. Bhí sé ar mo chumas breis airgid reatha a chur ar fáil d’Údarás na Gaeltachta, go mór mór do na comharchumainn. Déanann na comharchumainn ar na hoileáin agus sna Gaeltachtaí uilig obair fhíorthábhachtach agus táim an-sásta go raibh muid in ann breis airgid a chur ar fáil dóibh. Is é seo an tríú bliain i ndiaidh a chéile a bhí muid in ann breis airgid a chur ar fáil do na comharchumainn. Freisin, ó thaobh na rudaí eile atáimid ag déanamh, tá airgead curtha ar fáil don obair thábhachtach atá siad ag déanamh, mar atá luaite agam. Chomh maith leis sin, tá Údarás na Gaeltachta in ann airgead a fháil ó scéim athghiniúint agus forbairt tuaithe an Aire Forbartha Tuaithe agus Pobail, an Teachta Ring, agus tá an comhpháirtíocht idir Údarás na Gaeltachta agus grúpaí eile ann. Mar shampla, tá Gteic oscailte sa Spidéal. D’oscail muid é coicís ó shin. Áis iontach sa Spidéal atá ansin agus bhí an comhpháirtíocht sin idir Údarás na Gaeltachta agus an Roinn Forbartha Tuaithe agus Pobail.

Arts Council

Niamh Smyth


21. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the details of the additional responsibilities given to the Arts Council following budget 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45671/19]

Will the Minister provide details of the additional responsibilities given to the Arts Council following budget 2020 and provide a statement on the matter?

Under the Arts Act 2003, the arts are defined as any creative or interpretative expression and include the visual arts, theatre, literature, music, dance, opera, film, circus and architecture. The responsibilities of the Arts Council are laid out in section 9 of the Act. They are to stimulate public interest in the arts; promote knowledge, appreciation and practice of the arts; assist in improving standards in the arts; advise the Minister on the performance of any of his or her functions under this Act, when so requested by the Minister; assist the Minister in the performance of his or her functions under this Act and in the implementation of Government policies and objectives in respect of the arts, when so requested; furnish advice or information to a Minister of the Government, including the Minister, on any matter connected with its functions, whenever the council considers it appropriate or is requested to so do by the Minister; furnish advice or information to a public body on any matter connected with its functions, whenever the council considers it appropriate or is requested to so do by the public body concerned; and co-operate with a public body in on any matter connected with its functions, whenever the council considers it appropriate.

These functions have not changed. In budget 2020, I announced an increase in council funding of 6.7%, bringing its annual allocation to €80 million. In consultation with the council, a number of funded initiatives, such as Culture Night, will be transferred to it from the Department. Culture Night was an idea originally developed by my Department and grown from a small scale Dublin event to a national cultural event that has captured both the public imagination and the enthusiasm of artists and arts organisations. Given its national status, it is now appropriate to transfer it to the Arts Council. Other initiatives are under similar consideration and the final list will be agreed with the council in time for the publication of the Revised Estimates Volume before the end of the year.

In the Minister's press release following budget 2020, we were advised the Arts Council's role was to be broadened. We were told it would take over the Department's role regarding both Culture Night and creative schools. However, it is not clear whether this is the total extent of the broadening of its role or whether it is envisaged other initiatives will be transferred to its remit. Will the Minister clarify that and whether funding from other organisations will be relocated from the Department to the Arts Council?

The funding breakdown remains a matter for discussion with the council and we are in ongoing discussion with it. The precise breakdown of the €5 million remains under consideration but we have stated it includes €1.25 million in additional funding to enhance the work of the council to support performing artists, art festivals, street arts and family events. This funding also includes €3.75 million reallocated from within the Department's existing Vote. It will further underpin the council's role, particularly regarding Culture Night and creative schools. Details of this allocation, as I said in my initial reply, will be finalised in the context of the Revised Estimates Volume, which will be published later this year.

In general, the Arts Council, where possible, should be delivering all initiatives relating to the arts. That would allow the council to ensure interventions in the arts sector are complementary to each other and are delivered as a strategic whole. There may be occasions where this is not straightforward to achieve, for example, where we are engaged in cross-cutting or interdisciplinary initiatives to support broader creative objectives such as under the Creative Ireland programme.

The Minister has made the point that the €1.2 million funding to enhance the work of the Arts Council to support performing artists and the €3.7 million funding are reallocations of funds. It is a bit disingenuous to say that the council's funding has been increased by €5 million when all the Minister has done is given it the remit to do what it should have been doing in the first place, which is to deliver Culture Night and creative schools.

The council is the main funding agency for arts and artists and it plays a critical role in directing funding. It was established by statute to do this. Research by Theatre Forum into pay and conditions for performing artists earlier this year showed that one third earn less than the minimum wage and that work in the performing arts sector is characterised by poor working conditions and precarious employment. It was hoped that budget 2020 would have a positive impact on the living conditions for artists. Can the Minister outline how she envisages the budget will improve the income for artists?

It is a bit disingenuous of the Deputy to make that comment when her party cut funding for the arts by €67 million, from €206 million to €139 million, which was a cut of 33%.

The Minister's party has been in government for eight years.

Given the difficult budgetary environment in the context of Brexit, the Arts Council is pleased, as it stated in its press release, with the announcement of €80 million in funding for 2020. The precise breakdown will be finalised before the publication of the Revised Estimates Volume later this year. The funding will also strengthen the reach of council's role, particularly regarding the arts in education, for which it will then take on responsibility, as well as Culture Night. It will beef up its remit. To a certain extent, it will add further gravitas to the organisation. The €80 million funding is the most significant amount it has received in more than a decade.

Traveller Culture

Joan Burton


22. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the funding provided for the Travellers' Journey exhibition at the National Museum in Turlough Park, County Mayo, in each of the years 2017, 2018, and to date in 2019; the funding provided for tinsmithing and Cant, the traditional language spoken by Irish Travellers in each of the years 2017, 2018, and to date in 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45467/19]

I wish to ask the Minister about her Department's approach to the inclusion of people from the Traveller community in funding for the arts and why, when I tabled a question recently in this respect regarding Traveller artists specifically, it was unfortunately referred by the Minister to the Department of Justice and Equality?

The question covered elements of funding that are disbursed by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The Traveller community has a rich culture, with unique traditions and crafts which are an integral part of the heritage of this community. My Department and several of the bodies under its remit have a number of initiatives to support the recording and celebration of Traveller culture and heritage, including the Travellers' Journey exhibition presented by the National Museum of Ireland. A sum of €150,000 was allocated to the development and realisation of the exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland in County Mayo in 2018. The National Museum is funded from my Department's Vote and the allocation for the Travellers' Journey exhibition accounted for some 50% of the museum's exhibition development budget in 2018. The exhibition, which ran for a year, was opened in July 2018 by President Michael D. Higgins and included a series of events and talks on aspects of Traveller culture and identity. The National Museum has also been involved in a number of other events and initiatives in recent years in partnership with the Traveller community and is in the process of establishing a steering group of museum staff and representatives of the Traveller community to inform its permanent exhibitions and the representation of Traveller culture and heritage in its upcoming history of Ireland galleries.

On 18 July last, I launched the permanent national inventory of intangible cultural heritage, celebrating living cultural heritage practices in Ireland. This initiative represents official State recognition of cultural practices all around Ireland, two of which are Traveller tinsmithing and Cant or Gammon, the traditional language spoken by Irish Travellers. The development of the national inventory of Ireland's intangible cultural heritage is an integral part of my Department's work under the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which requires signatory states to recognise, protect and promote the living cultural heritage of their countries. Following on from the launch, my Department showcased a number of the traditions on the national inventory over the three days of the 2019 National Ploughing Championships. One of the exhibitors was the renowned tinsmith, Tom McDonnell, who exhibited the craft and skills of tinsmithing in my Department's marquee, drawing huge interest from visitors to the marquee.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

The national inventory is not a funding programme, but an initiative to celebrate and work with practitioners and agencies in Ireland to recognise, promote and safeguard these key living cultural heritage practices. My Department is working with its expert advisory committee to examine how it can most effectively work with both custodians of the valuable cultural heritage practices on the inventory and existing agencies to raise awareness of and safeguard these practices for generations. The next meeting of the committee will take place this coming Friday.

In view of the Minister's response, which quotes extensively from documents and publications by her Department concerning her Department's funding for Travellers and Traveller artists, I would like her to apologise to the Traveller community for refusing to take pretty much the same question on 3 October and having it transferred to the Department of Justice and Equality. From what the Minister just outlined, I note that she is now going to establish a committee on Traveller culture in the National Museum. What Travellers want to see is a sub-committee of her Department established to address Traveller artists, musicians, performers, playwrights and people who make television programmes. I am sure the Minister has met many of the people involved. I would like to hear from her the reason she refuses to engage with Travellers, other than in terms of programmes she has inherited rather than created.

There is nothing to apologise for in the context of the question to which Deputy Burton referred, which was transferred from my Department to the Department of Justice and Equality. The Deputy referred the matter to the Ceann Comhairle. There is a very simple reason for transferring the questions and we wrote back to the Ceann Comhairle yesterday to explain it. I believe my Department also gave the Deputy some further information on the matter. The simple reason is that the Department of Justice and Equality is the lead Department in overall terms on Traveller culture, identity and heritage, with the Minister of State, Deputy Stanton, having responsibility for this area. While the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht participates in the national Traveller and Roma inclusion strategy steering group, it is only one of a number of Departments delivering on the commitments included under the heading of Traveller culture, identity and heritage which is supported and valued within Irish society. As I said, the Department of Justice and Equality has the lead role for the overall strategy. In his reply to Deputy Burton on that occasion, the Minister of State, Deputy Stanton, noted that my Department is responsible for specific allocations of funding in certain areas to which Deputy Burton alluded. The Department has provided details of funding for specific projects in arts and heritage for the Traveller community in response to previous parliamentary questions.

Deputy Burton should ask her final question. The Minister should please conclude.

I will just finish, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

The details were provided, for example, in reply to Question No. 102 of 23 January 2018 from Deputy Bríd Smith.

The Minister's explanation is seriously deficient and it is also an insult to Traveller artists. When other artists the Department deals with raise issues, are they referred to the Department of Justice and Equality? I have no issue with the Minister of State, Deputy Stanton, who is excellent in his role. I made that clear. I will read out what the Ceann Comhairle said in his letter to me.

I can understand the frustration of transfers of PQs such as the one cited by you. [This was funding by the Department.] You make a cogent argument in your letter to me as to why the PQ should have been answered by the Minister for Culture rather than the Minister for Justice.

The Minister has made remarks on previous occasions about Traveller housing and other issues related to Travellers. As the Minister with responsibility for culture, why will she not directly answer questions on Travellers, including the question she previously rejected? Why will she not set up an interdepartmental committee in her Department to bring together Traveller musicians, actors and writers as well as other Travellers who are artists?

I call on the Minister to respond.

These artists are deserving of the Minister's recognition and respect.

I am sorry Deputy Burton feels that way, but it is a technical matter between departmental-----

No, it is not.

I beg to differ with Deputy Burton. It is certainly not coloured by my own views on Travellers. I am sure Deputy Burton is not suggesting that. We have written back to the Ceann Comhairle on the matter. The national cultural institutions, which are under my Department's remit, and the Arts Council, have a number of initiatives to support the showcasing and celebration of Traveller culture. They are supported by funding from my Department. I trust that should clarify the position on the Department's role in the implementation of the Traveller and Roma inclusion strategy, to which I alluded. There was a reason for the approach taken in respect of the question tabled by Deputy Burton. I also provided the Deputy directly with information on specific projects in arts and heritage for the Traveller community, funded by my Department. Suffice to say, it is something that we are very aware of in my Department. Going back to the national inventory of intangible cultural heritage, tinsmithing, Cant and Gammon have now been recognised and protected for future generations.

Go raibh maith agat.

This is extremely important for the Traveller community.

An chéad cheist eile, ón Teachta Aindrias Ó Muimhneacháin.

Just to finish-----

I am not going to continue-----

I just want to finish by saying-----

-----if the Minister is not going to respect the Chair.

-----I was present in the Dáil in March 2017 when the previous Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, allowed ethnicity for the Traveller community.

Before we take the next question, there has to be some respect for the Chair.

I was just finishing my sentence.

Hold on. The Minister might have been finishing her sentence, but there has to be respect.

On a point of order-----

-----the then Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, did not "allow" ethnicity. I was there.

He recognised it.

I was Tánaiste at the time.

Yes, it was recognised.

I am moving on to the next question.

It was a decision of the collective Dáil and was celebrated by people far and wide.

Coinnígí bhur súile ar an chlog.

It was not "allowed."

It was recognised.

Iarraim ar an Aire agus ar na Teachtaí eile a súile a choinneáil ar an chlog.

I apologise, but I felt it was an important point.

Maoiniú Údarás na Gaeltachta

Aindrias Moynihan


23. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aindrias Moynihan den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cén soláthar airgid a cuireadh ar fáil i mbuiséad 2020 d’Údarás na Gaeltachta, briste síos idir soláthar caipitil agus soláthar reatha; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [45776/19]

Tá ról an-tábhachtach ag Údarás na Gaeltachta maidir le cúrsaí fostaíochta, forbartha pobail, cultúrtha agus teanga a chur chun cinn sa Ghaeltacht. In ainneoin go bhfuil pleananna cuimsitheacha ag lucht an údaráis le fada an lá, braithim i gcónaí go bhfuil siad srianta de bharr easpa maoinithe. An bhfuil an tAire Stáit sásta go bhfuil go leor maoinithe á chur ar fáil don údarás? An féidir leis léiriú go díreach cad atá in aigne aige? Cén saghas maoiniú breise a chuirfear ar fáil le haghaidh Údarás na Gaeltachta agus, go háirithe, pobal na Gaeltachta? An féidir iad a scaoileadh chun pleananna a fhorbairt?

Mar is eol don Teachta, fógraíodh i mbuiséad 2020 go mbeidh ardú €1 mhilliún á chur ar fáil do chiste caipitil Údarás na Gaeltachta in 2020. Fágfaidh sé seo go mbeidh ciste €10 milliún ar fáil don eagraíocht, nó ardú de thart ar 11% ar an méid atá acu i mbliana. Chomh maith leis sin, cuirfear €200,000 breise in airgead reatha ar fáil d'Údarás na Gaeltachta don bhliain seo chugainn le dáileadh ar na heagraíochtaí pobalbhunaithe agus comharchumainn Ghaeltachta. Mar a luaigh mé leis an Teachta Ó Snodaigh, is ionann é seo agus ardú 25% le trí bliana anuas ar an gciste seo. Fágann sé sin go mbeidh soláthar iomlán de €4.05 mhilliún ar fáil don údarás in 2020 le dáileadh ar na heagraíochtaí pobalbhunaithe agus comharchumainn Ghaeltachta. Ina theannta sin, beidh teacht ag Údarás na Gaeltachta ar chiste faoi leith sa chás go dtarlóidh Breatimeacht gan socrú. Is fiú dom a mheabhrú go mbeidh soláthar de €9.602 milliún san iomlán ar fáil don eagraíocht in 2020 le haghaidh cúrsaí riaracháin. Ar ndóigh, ní gá dom a rá go bhfuil obair den scoth á déanamh ag Údarás na Gaeltachta chun an clár oibre atá idir lámha acu a chur ar siúl. Is ábhar sásaimh é gur éirigh leis an údarás 589 post a chruthú in 2018 agus go raibh 122 duine breise fostaithe i gcuideachtaí an údaráis sa Ghaeltacht ag deireadh na bliana 2018 i gcomparáid leis an mbliain roimhe sin. Bhí 7,625 post i gcliantchuideachtaí an údaráis ag deireadh na bliana sin. Ag cur gach rud san áireamh, táim sásta go mbeidh sé ar chumas na heagraíochta leanúint orthu agus a chlár oibre a chur i bhfeidhm go rathúil in 2020 ar leas na Gaeltachta agus na Gaeilge.

Meallann Údarás na Gaeltachta fostaíocht agus infheistíocht chuig na ceantair Ghaeltachta. Níl aon dabht go mbíonn tairbhe ag baint le hiarrachtaí an údaráis, go háirithe do phobal na Gaeltachta, nuair a éiríonn leo a leithéid a dhéanamh. Braitear i gcónaí go bhfuil srianta ar an údarás toisc nach bhfuil go leor airgid acu. Cén fáth nach raibh ach ardú de €1 milliún i gceist i mbliana, ós rud é go raibh éileamh i bhfad níos mó ann? D'fhéadfadh an t-údarás i bhfad níos mó a dhéanamh faoi na pleananna atá acu dá scaoilfí ar aghaidh iad agus breis maoinithe ar fáil dóibh. Tuigim go bhfuil ardú ann i mbliana, ach nuair a bhreathnaímid ar an bhfás atá tagtha ar an maoiniú le haghaidh eagrais cosúil le Enterprise Ireland agus IDA Ireland, caithfear a cheistiú an bhfuil cothrom na Féinne á fháil ag muintir na Gaeltachta agus Údarás na Gaeltachta. An bhfuil an t-ardú céanna i gceist i gcás an údaráis agus i gcás na heagrais eile? Cén fáth nach bhfuil ach €1 milliún ann i mbliana, in ainneoin is go raibh éileamh ann ar níos mó? Beidh deis againn athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar na Meastacháin níos déanaí i mbliana. Bainfidh sé sin le caiteachas nach bhfuil críochnaithe. An bhfuil sé i gceist ag an Aire Stáit airgead a threorú isteach chuig an údarás agus chuig cúrsaí Gaelainne agus Gaeltachta, go háirithe ós rud é go bhfuil dhá oiread an mhéid airgid á chur ar fáil i gcomhair na healaíon i gcomparáid le cúrsaí na Gaeltachta?

Aontaím leis an Teachta go bhfuil ról fíorthábhachtach ag Údarás na Gaeltachta ó thaobh poist a chruthú i gceantair iargúlta na Gaeltachta trasna na tíre. Bím ag lorg breis airgid don údarás i gcónaí. Le linn mo dhá thréimhse mar Aire Stáit na Gaeltachta, bhí sé ar mo chumas breis airgid a chur ar fáil don údarás sa bhuiséad lárnach nó san athbhreithniú ar an mbuiséad roimh dheireadh na bliana. Bhíomar in ann €1 milliún breise a chur ar fáil i mbliana. Ardú de 11% sa bhuiséad a bhí i gceist. Bhí ardú iomlán de 4% i mo rannóg féin sa bhuiséad a fógraíodh an mhí seo caite. Bíonn breis airgid á lorg againn i gcónaí. Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil ról tábhachtach ag an údarás. Beidh mé ag lorg breis airgid sna blianta amach romhainn.

An dóigh leis an Aire Stáit go bhfuil cothrom na Féinne á fháil ag an nGaeilge, mar theanga, agus ag an údarás i gcomhthéacs na slí ina bhfuil an t-airgead a threorú? Cé go bhfuil fás tagtha ar an gciste, laistigh de rannóg an Aire Stáit tá dhá oiread an méid airgid imithe go dtí an Chomhairle Ealaíon, mar shampla. Molaim an maoiniú iontach atá bainte amach ag an gcomhairle. Cén fáth nach bhfuil ach leath den mhaoiniú sin - €2.4 milliún - ar fáil do chúrsaí Gaelainne agus Gaeltachta? Tá an sciar den chiste iomlán a fhaigheann grúpaí eile, cosúil le Enterprise Ireland agus IDA Ireland, luaite agam. An bhfuil an ráta fáis a bhaineann leis an maoiniú a fhaigheann na heagrais sin cosúil leis an ráta fáis a bhaineann leis an maoiniú a fhaigheann Údarás na Gaeltachta? Ba chóir go mbeadh deis ag lucht an údaráis a gcuid oibre a dhéanamh gan na srianta seo. Ba mhaith leo brú ar aghaidh le tograí móra ar fud na tíre, ina measc Coláiste Íosagáin i mBaile Bhúirne i mo cheantar féin. Caithfear a chinntiú go bhfaighidh cúrsaí Gaelainne agus Gaeltachta cothrom na Féinne. An dóigh leis an Aire Stáit go bhfuil a leithéid á fháil faoi láthair, nuair atá an ráta fáis i gcás mhaoiniú na n-eagras atá luaite agam curtha i gcomparáid leis an ráta fáis i gcás mhaoiniú Údarás na Gaeltachta?

Ba cheart dúinn an chomhpháirtíocht idir Údarás na Gaeltachta agus, mar shampla, an Roinn Forbartha Pobail agus Tuaithe agus an Roinn Gnó, Fiontar agus Nuálaíochta a thógáil san áireamh freisin. Tá airgead caipitil curtha ar fáil le haghaidh Pháirc na Mara i gCill Chiaráin i gConamara, mar shampla, ó chiste an Aire, an Teachta Humphreys. Tá an chomhpháirtíocht idir an t-údarás agus na heagraíochtaí Stáit agus Ranna Stáit eile fíorthábhachtach. Tá an t-airgead caipitil sin ar fáil don údarás agus tograí an údaráis. Tá jab iontach á dhéanamh ag lucht an údaráis. Tá ainm an-mhaith ag Údarás na Gaeltachta. Tá an t-údarás ag obair go maith le heagraíochtaí Stáit eile. Tá sé ar chumas an údaráis cur isteach ar scéimeanna eile tríd an Roinn Forbartha Pobail agus Tuaithe agus an Roinn Gnó, Fiontar agus Nuálaíochta. Tá an obair sin ag dul ar aghaidh. Tá airgead ag an údarás chun poist a chruthú sna ceantair fíorthábhachtacha seo. Tá sár-jab á dhéanamh ag an údarás sa chomhthéacs seo.