Estimates for Public Services, 2001.

Vote 41 — Arts Council (Revised).

Vote 42 — Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Revised).

Vote 43 — The National Gallery (Revised).

May I first congratulate the committee on its salubrious surroundings. It is my first visit to the new rooms.

I am delighted to be here this afternoon to present to the committee the revised 2001 Estimates for Votes 41 to 43, inclusive, covering the Arts Council, the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands and the National Gallery. Members of the committee have already received briefing material on the individual subheads in the three Votes and spare copies are available if needed.

My colleague, Deputy Coughlan, will speak——

Ní bhfuaireamar an nóta ach anois. Ní raibh sé againn cheana féin.

Acting Chairman

I can only apologise to committee members for that. They did not come into the possession of the committee secretariat until around 10.40 a.m. today so they could not be circulated sooner.

My colleague——

Is there a copy of the Minister's speech available?

The speech was being made available by our Department as well as the briefing material that was sent on to the committee.

This sort of thing used to appear on television screens at one time.

I am here to debate the Estimates, Votes 41 to 43, covering the Arts Council and the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, and the National Gallery. My colleague, Deputy Coughlan, will speak on the subheads relating to an Ghaeltacht, an Ghaeilge agus na hoileáin.

On the Arts Council, the amount secured for the council for 2001 is £36.519 million. I was particularly pleased with this allocation as the level of funding involved ensures the completion of the Arts Plan 1999-2001. Through this plan, the council has adopted a strategy which aims to re-evaluate, reorganise and radically reinvigorate the place of the arts at the heart of Irish society. I support their approach which has the effect of providing more focused and targeted resources to the arts sector.

In relation to Vote 42 for my Department, the administrative costs have risen to nearly £32 million, reflecting the increased staff levels and higher running costs associated with an expanding Department.

The cultural institutions and cultural projects, subhead C1, provides grant-in-aid for the main cultural institutions.

Acting Chairman

I am sorry Minister. I misunderstood earlier. I thought this script was included when the other script was circulated. We do not appear to have a copy of this script.

I understand the speech has been copied.

We are expected to respond to what we have here without having the anchor information. It is difficult to follow what is being presented.

Acting Chairman

Does the committee wish to adjourn for five minutes while we wait?

I would suggest that.

Is the Minister's speech based on this document? Are the relevant facts concerning either Minister's contribution not based entirely on what is here and is this not what we are here to discuss?

But we did not get this until we came in here.


Maybe I can clarify this. We are talking about two different documents here. The first document is the brief and has all the details that any Deputy would wish to peruse. That has been available since last Tuesday and that is the document to which Deputy Flood refers. It has been available for some days.

I did not get that until we came in today.

Acting Chairman

The briefing document was available. I got it in yesterday's post. They were obviously sent out but I do not know why some people might not have received them.

Vote 42, is it?

Acting Chairman

The briefing document is the one sent in the post.

The whole briefing document which takes in all the topics we will discuss.

Acting Chairman

It probably arrived in the Deputy's post yesterday.

All the details are in that. There are far more details in it than in my speech because I can only mention some of the details. The real detail is in the document already received.

Even if it was received, it is a large document and we have not had enough time to consider it. Everybody is caught up in business.

Acting Chairman

I accept that but we are not going to change what has been normal practice for a long period of time. It is quite normal for a script to arrive perhaps the day before a meeting. That is not peculiar to this committee.

Perhaps it is time to change it for all committees.

Acting Chairman

That is a point but we will not resolve it today. We do not have a copy of the Minister's script. It is currently being copied. Do committee members wish to wait a few minutes for it or shall we proceed?

On the basis that I did not receive this document until today, and have had no opportunity to absorb it, the Minister's speech would give me some guideline. She will comment particularly on the important changes obviously.

Acting Chairman

We shall suspend the meeting for five minutes.

Sitting suspended at 2.49 p.m. and resumed at 2.53 p.m.

Acting Chairman

Members have been furnished with a copy of the Minister's script.

I present to the committee the revised 2001 Estimates for Votes 41 to 43, covering the Arts Council, the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, and the National Gallery. My colleague, Deputy Coughlan, Minister of State, will speak on the subheads relating to the Gaeltacht, the Irish language and the islands.

On Vote 41 the amount secured for the Arts Council for 2001 is £36.519 million. I was particularly pleased with this allocation as the level of funding involved ensures the completion of the second Arts Plan, 1999-2001. Through this plan, the council has adopted a strategy which aims to re-evaluate, re-organise and radically reinvigorate the place of the arts at the heart of society. I support its approach which has the effect of providing more focused and targeted resources to the arts sector.

With regard to Vote 42, the administrative costs of my Department have risen to nearly £32 million, reflecting the increased staff levels and higher running costs associated with an expanding Department.

Subhead C1 provides grant-in-aid for the main cultural institutions. The cultural institutions include the National Museum, National Library, National Archives, National Concert Hall, Chester Beatty Library, Irish Museum of Modern Art and the National Archives Advisory Council. Overall, the allocation to this area increased significantly this year when account is taken of the once-off inclusion of funding of approximately £1 million for the purchase of the Eileen Gray Collection in last year's figures. The additional funding facilitated increases in the 2001 allocations to each of these cultural institutions. The 2001 figures include an additional amount to facilitate the national cultural institutions in developing their collections through the acquisition of appropriate materials and artefacts.

I am particularly pleased that a significant increase, from £682,000 in 2000 to £747,000 in 2001, was possible in the case of the National Archives. This allocation will facilitate the continuation by the National Archives of its conservation programme in partnership with Marsh's Library. Funding for the National Concert Hall has also increased, from £820,000 to £940,000. This increase reflects staffing costs but it allows for the continuation of the concert hall's important education and outreach programme.

The subhead C2 current allocations are for a number of small cultural projects and bodies. These include the Irish Manuscripts Commission, Marsh's Library, Irish Architectural Archive and the Hunt Museum. I am pleased to mention an increase from £107,000 to £200,000 in respect of Marsh's Library. This increase is facilitating the holding of a number of events and activities to mark the tercentenary of the foundation of the library in 1701.

In regard to subhead C3, 2001 will see the winding up of the cultural development incentive scheme (CDIS) which is being replaced by the arts and culture capital enhancement support scheme (ACCESS). A total of £36 million is being allocated to the latter scheme over the 2001-2004 period. I expect to be in a position to announce the projects that will benefit under this scheme in the near future.

In relation to the heritage fund — subhead C4, the Government approved the text of the Heritage Fund Bill on 3 April 2001, and I hope to have the Second Stage of the Bill taken before the summer recess. The Bill provides for the establishment of a heritage fund with an overall limit of £10 million. The purpose of the fund is to build up resources for use by the principal State collecting institutions to acquire items of moveable heritage. These items, which could include manuscripts, books and various works of art, would be rare, above £250,000 in value and be of national importance. In many instances, they could not be acquired otherwise. The collecting institutions involved are the National Museum, the National Library, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery and the National Archives. This year £3 million has been allocated towards the fund.

Turning to broadcasting matters, the committee will be aware that the Broadcasting Act, 2001, was signed into law on 14 March last. The Act provides for the introduction of digital terrestrial television (DTT), the regulation of broadcasting on all delivery platforms from a broadcasting perspective, clarification of RTE's public service remit, the establishment of Teilifís na Gaeilge (TG4) as a separate statutory entity, the abolition of the 3% levy on revenues payable by independent broadcasters and the establishment of a once-off £500,000 fund to assist local and community radio stations with capital costs.

As I said recently in the Dáil, I hope to make an order commencing the Act in its entirety shortly. Upon commencement, the Independent Radio and Television Commission will be renamed the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland and take on new powers and functions. These will include drawing up codes relating to matters of taste and decency in programming, codes of standards for broadcast advertising and sponsorship, and in particular, advertising directed at children, as well as rules relating to the enjoyment of broadcast programmes by the deaf and hard of hearing and the blind and partially sighted.

In addition to the enactment of the legislation, the public phase of the process of selecting the DTT multiplex operator got under way in May, when advertisements were placed in national and international papers inviting interested parties to take part in the process. I understand also that RTE has commenced the public phase of its transmission network sale process and began distribution of its pre-sale document to interested parties on 11 May.

With these developments the statutory and practical arrangements necessary for the introduction of digital television services and the regulation of broadcasting into the future are close to being finalised. Significant additional funding for TG4 has also been provided in subheads O1 and O2. I am confident from my discussions with the Minster for Finance that I can increase this finding significantly again in 2002.

The year 2001 is one for the Irish film sector. Staffing at the Irish Film Board will be increased from seven to 16. These additional resources, half of which will be at senior management level, are vital to ensuring that the Irish Film Board can implement its redefined dynamic role of directing the strategic plan for the Irish film industry. This role was signalled in the context of the recommendations of the film industry strategic review group report produced in 1999.

In November 1999, the Government also noted the proposal in that report for the extension of section 481 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997. In the December 2000 budget the Government confirmed its commitment to encourage and support investment in film production by extending the section 481 tax relief scheme for a further five years. In 2000, 28 projects, comprising 13 indigenous and 15 foreign productions, received section 481 certification authorising the raising of £62.6 million, giving rise to a spend of £72.9 million in Ireland. To date this year a total of 14 projects received section 481 clearances, thus authorising the raising of £35 million in section 481 relief and giving rise to an Irish spend of £54 million.

Another important development for film in Ireland is the Irish Film Board's company development initiative, which I launched recently at the Cannes film festival. This initiative is designed to help a number of start-up Irish production companies to grow over a number of years and to take advantage of the opportunities which are presenting themselves in the current market. I see this initiative as holding great potential to strengthen the overall indigenous industry for the longer term.

The 2001 capital allocation of £7.65 million to the Irish Film Board represents a 60% increase over 1999 in the funding of development and production loans. This reflects the Government's commitment to supporting the new role and direction for the board. The Irish Film Board (Amendment) Act, 2000, had the effect of raising the overall limit of expenditure, which may be incurred by the board in production and development fields from £30 million to £80 million.

Almost £8 million is provided for the Heritage Council in 2001. This includes a provision in subhead P1 for the purchase of a new headquarters building in Kilkenny. On the basis of the funding made available by the Minister, the Heritage Council intends to allocate £900,000 in respect of the Discovery Programme Limited, which is an archaeological research body. This year's level of funding to the council will also facilitate an increased spend on privately held structures which are under threat.

Subhead S provides for the maintenance and management of national parks and Wildlife and includes wages for industrial staff. In addition, the subhead provides funding for the significant compensatory and other costs associated with the implementation in Ireland of the EU Habitats Directive. Funds are also provided under this subhead for the capital development of visitor services related projects at several locations throughout the country.

A sum of £3.52 million is included for the ongoing maintenance and management of national parks and nature reserves, including the payment of wages for industrial staff. Our national parks continue to provide a particularly valuable recreational and educational facility for the public. Indeed, the threat posed by foot and mouth disease earlier this year, which regrettably necessitated the closure of most of our visitor sites for a period, certainly illustrated the importance of these facilities, both nationally and locally, to the tourist industry. Therefore, it is with considerable pride that I can again say that the facilities provided at our national parks represent money well spent and that the important role and standard of these facilities are widely recognised and appreciated by the public and by tourists alike.

A sum of £3.725 million has been allocated in 2001 for the improvement of visitor facilities. The principal projects covered by this provision are Mayo National Park Visitor Centre at Ballycroy; site acquisition for Clara Bog Visitor and Study Centre; Doneraile House restoration in County Cork and Killarney House improvements.

With regard to Waterways Ireland, these are exciting times for inland waterways in Ireland as the new cross-border implementation body, Waterways Ireland, settles into its role of providing a coherent all island strategy for the management of the inland waterways network. The headquarters of the body are in Enniskillen with regional offices in Scarriff, Carrick-on-Shannon and Dublin.

The provision for Waterways Ireland is £22.074 million. The allocation of £14.834 million for current expenditure includes the wages for about 300 staff. During the course of the year the work of these personnel includes an extensive programme of maintenance, which is critical to maintaining the infrastructure of the waterways and to developing boating and other amenities.

The capital allocation £7.24 million provides for the continuing development of facilities and new leisure destinations along the waterways. Works have recently been completed to extend navigation to Boyle, County Roscommon, and along the River Suck to Ballinasloe. Major improvement of the navigation in Limerick city is just complete and this is a major asset for the city and the region generally. All three facilities will be officially opened during the summer period. Further developments will be completed at Scarriff, Ballyleague, Shannonbridge and Ballyconnell this year.

Waterways Ireland has slowly, but surely, improved the Royal and Grand Canals and navigation is now possible on the Royal from Dublin to Abbeyshrule, County Longford. In time, the navigable link to the Shannon will be re-established.

Under subhead T1 an allocation of £100,000 is made to provide for expenses incurred in hosting the World Canals Conference in Dublin, Belfast and Lisburn last month. This world event, attended by delegates from all over the globe, was a great success and I heartily congratulate Waterways Ireland on its organisation.

The 2001 allocation for national monuments and architectural protection is £17.8 million. This figure includes an allocation of £8.343 million for capital works, which are funded under the national development plan. These funds are used to finance a wide range of important infrastructure projects in various parts of the country. A sum of £1.178 million has been provided for work being undertaken to underpin the conservation of our architectural heritage. The legislative and financial aspects of the package of measures for strengthening the protection of the architectural heritage, which I brought forward in conjunction with the Minister for the Environment and Local Government, have been brought into operation. These involved the revision of the planning Acts to provide more stringent protection to structures of architectural significance and an Act to place the national inventory of architectural heritage (NIAH) on a statutory basis. The NIAH will be a key resource in assisting planning authorities in their efforts to achieve the protection of the architectural heritage. To date, 18 town surveys and one interim county survey have been published. This year's programme will see the publication of a further four town surveys and five interim county surveys. I intend that the primary survey will be completed within the next 12 years and that the data obtained will be used for the purpose of recommending to planning authorities that specific properties be included in their record of protected structures.

Funding for the historic properties service of £13.471 million and for guides' pay at national monuments and historic properties of £2.303 million is sourced from subhead U of my Department's Vote. The provision for the current year represents an increase of £591,000 over the 2000 outturn. While the overall allocation is substantial at £15.774 million, the funds are used for a wide range of activities including the conservation, management and development of 21 historic properties in State care, the provision of public access to these properties and the provision of a high quality guide service for approximately 70 sites.

Projects funded from the capital allocation of £6.576 million under the national development plan include the restoration of the Palm House at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin; the reroofing of the west wing and other restoration works at Castletown House, Celbridge; repairs to the roof of the Pearse Museum, St. Enda's Park, Rathfarnham, and the phased restoration of the pleasure gardens at Fota, County Cork. Provision of £1 million is also made under the national development plan for minor capital projects at various historic properties.

Subhead X provides for the promotion of my Department's cultural facilities in Ireland and overseas. One project involves the publication of a quarterly basis of a booklet, "Dublin a magical trail of culture", highlighting the events, concerts, plays, lectures and exhibitions in eight national cultural institutions. The institutions involved are the Chester Beatty Library, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the National Archives, the National Concert Hall, the National Gallery of Ireland, the National Library of Ireland, the National Museum of Ireland and the National Theatre. A website,, markets the cultural institutions and heritage sites which have a guide service. The development of business relationships with tour operators and the assembly of digital image banks for the tourism sector are also facilitated by the provision.

These marketing provisions are very important. Consistently, market research cites the quality of cultural and heritage attractions as key determinants of the satisfaction of visitors to our country.

The 2001 allocation of £11.094 million shows an increase of 234% on the 2000 figure for Vote 43 — the National Gallery. This provision reflects the commitment of the Government to the completion of the major extension of the National Gallery on Clare Street. It will also facilitate the securing of exhibits, increase staffing and cover increases in pay and general running costs. I ask you now, Chairman, to call on the Minister of State who will deal with her specific areas within the Department.

Ós rud é go bhfuil an téacs ag baill an choiste, b'fhéidir go mbéadh sé níos fearr dul tríd na pointí is tábhachtaí. San aitheasc uaim beidh mé ag díriú ar a bhfuil ar siúl ag na rannóga Gaeilge, Gaeltachta agus oileán den Roinn. Táimid ag caint faoi fhomhírchinn D, E, F, G, H, I, J agus W de Vóta mo Roinne.

Suim £61.673 milliún ina iomlán atá sa Vóta faoi na fomhírchinn sin don bhliain seo, i gcomparáid le caiteachas de £54.024 milliún anuraidh. Seo méadú 100%, nó £35 milliún ó 1997.

Maidir le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta, is soláthar caipitil £27.75 milliún atá á chur ar fáil ón Státchiste don údarás i mbliana, le haghaidh forbairt na Gaeltachta. Anuas ar an méid sin tá suim de £4.559 milliún údaraithe don eagraíocht le haghaidh caiteachas reatha, sé sin mar chabhair do chomharchumainn Gaeltachta, mar shampla. Is léiriú ar an tábhacht a chuireann an Rialtas le forbairt na Gaeltachta an t-airgead — de bhreis ar £32 milliún ina iomlán — atá a chur ar fáil don údarás i mbliana. Cruthaíodh 1,000 post lánaimseartha úra le cúnamh ón údarás i dtionscadail sna Gaeltachtaí ach cailleadh 932 phost, rud a chiallaíonn nach raibh ach méadú de 68 ar líon na bpost lánaimseartha ag deireadh na bliana seo caite i gcomparáid le deireadh na bliana 1999.

Aithníonn an t-údarás an dúshlán atá roimhe chun fostaíocht tharraingteach a chruthú agus beidh polasaí fostaíochta na heagraíochta feasta ag díriú níos mó ar chaighdeán na bpost seachas líon na bpost, sé sin poist ar chaighdeán níos airde a mhealladh chun na Gaeltachta a bheidh oiriúnach do chaighdeán oideachais agus ardmhianta gairme aosa óig na Gaeltachta.

Rinne an t-údarás coimisiúnadh ar dhá mhórstaidéar i rith na bliana 2000. An chéad cheann faoi bhonneagar teileachumarsáide. Luaigh mé cheana os comhair an choiste go bhfuil mé ag fanacht ar theileachumarsáid dhigiteach d'ardchaighdeán a bheith le fáil sa Ghaeltacht agus ar na hoileáin faoin bplean forbartha náisiúnta. Baineann an dara staidéar le cursaí infrastruchtúir agus leis an mbonneagar fisiciuil, sóisialta agus iompair maraon leis an gcostas measta a bhéadh i gceist chun na bonneagair sin a uasghrádú go caighdeán náisiúnta. Tá súil agam go mbeidh torthaí an staidéir sin ós mo chomhair roimh deireadh na bliana.

Tá suim de £10.555 milliún i Vóta mo Roinne i mbliana don bhForas Teanga, roinnte mar a leanas idir an dá ghníomhaireacht: £10.125 milliún d'Fhoras na Gaeilge agus £430,000 do Tha Boord o'Ulster Scotch. Tá pleananna straitéiseacha na n-áisínteachtái don tréimhse 2001-2004 aontaithe idir na Ranna. Faoin Vóta seo faigheann Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, Gael-Linn, Conradh na Gaeilge, An tOireachtas, An Comhlachas Náisiúnta Drámaíchta, Cumann na bhFiann, Comhluadar agus Iontaobhas Ultach deontais on bhForas Teanga.

Déantar Ciste na Gaeilge a airgeadú trí Vóta mo Roinne ó fháltais an chrannchuir náisiúnta. Tá £1.75 milliún ar fáil i mbliana. Árdaíodh ar an méid a bhí údaráithe toisc gur cuireadh soláthar speisialta breise ar fáil do Chomhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann chun ceiliúradh a dhéanamh ar bhunú na heagraíochta sin 50 bliain ó shin agus chun aitheantas a thabhairt don méid atá déanta an an eagraíocht.

Tá dea-scéal agam anois maidir leis an mBille Teanga. Ghlac an Rialtas inniu le scéim ghinearálta den mBille Comhionannais um Theangacha Oifigiúla a ullmhú. Beidh téacs an Bhille á dhréachtú ag Oifig na nDréachtóirí Parlaiminte don Rialtas mar ábhar práinneach. Tá súil agam go mbeidh tacaíocht iomlán á fháil ón gcoiste seo nuair a bheidh an Bille os ár gcomhair. Seo dea-scéal, ní amháin do mhuintir na Gaeltachta ach do dhaoine ar fud na tíre a bhfuil Gaeilge acu.

Tá an coimisiún faoin nGaeilge sa Ghaeltacht ag dul ar aghaidh. Ceadaíodh an coimisiún seo ag an iarAire Stáit, Éamon Ó Cuív. Tá mé fós ag fanacht ar na moltaí ón gcoimisiún. Tá na téarmaí tagartha agus an t-ábhar atá le déanamh ag an gcoimisiún leagtha amach agus tá súil agam go mbeidh tuairimí ós mo chomhar ag deireadh na bliana.

Bhí méadu 10% ar líon na n-iarratas faoi Achtanna na dTithe (Gaeltacht) i 2000 i gcomparáid le 1999. Bhí an Bille nua ós ár gcomhar agus tá sé sínithe anois ag an Uachtarán. Tá £2.8 milliún curtha ar fáil i mbliana do dheontais tithíochta faoi na hAchtanna seo. Seo méadú mór i gcomparáid le 2000, go mórmhór do mhuintir na n-oileán mar tá an deontas feabhsúcháin méadaithe 200% i gcás oileán Gaeltachta. Méadú substaintiúil a bhéas le fáil agus cuideoidh sé go mór le muintir na Gaeltachta agus muintir na n-oileán.

Tá ardú á fháil ag na mná tí faoi bhun scéim na bhfoghlaimeorí Gaeilge. Tá £2.66 milliún curtha ar fáil don scéim seo i mbliana. Tá £535,000 curtha ar fáil do scéim labhairt na Gaeilge. Tá an scéim seo ag dul ar aghaidh go maith agus tá spéis ag na teaghlaigh agus ag na páistí inti.

Tá £1.165 milliún curtha ar fáil do seirbhísí ilgnéitheacha. Cuidíonn an t-airgead seo le hEagraíocht na Scoileanna Gaeltachta, Áras Uí Chadhain, Oidhreacht Chorcha Dhuibhne, An Chrannóg, Oideas Gael, An Ghaelacadamh, Áras Uí Ghramhnaigh agus Áras Shorcha Uí Ghuairim. Chomh maith leis sin íocfar cúnamh le scéim champaí shamhraidh trí Ghaeilge d'aos óg na Gaeltachta a reachtáil.

Rud an-tábhachtach do mhuintir na Gaeltachta is ea na scéimeanna feabhsúcháin, go mórmhór na muiroibreacha sa Ghaeltacht atá á chur ar fáil ag an Roinn. Tá £9.8 milliún ar fáil i mbliana do na scéimeanna seo. Tá £5.3 milliún chun bóithre stráitéiseacha sa Ghaeltacht a fheabhsú, £2 mhilliúin chun céibheanna stráitéiseacha sa Ghaeltacht, mar shampla Baile Fuar Uisce, Co. Tír Chonaill, a fhorbairt agus le céibheanna beaga na gcomhairlí contae sa Ghaeltacht a fheabhsú. Tá £1.5 milliún le fáil ag scéim na mbóithre áise. Tá £950,000 á sholáthar mar chabhair chun ionaid phobail, coláistí Gaeilge agus áiseanna chaitheamh aimsire a chur ar fáil nó a fheabhsú sa Ghaeltacht agus £50,000 chun cabhrú le grúpscéimeanna uisce sa Ghaeltacht a chur ar fáil. Tá na muiroibreacha agus na bóithre agus céibheanna stráitéiseacha an-tábhachtach do mhuintir na Gaeltachta.

Beidh £4.05 milliún le fáil i mbliana mar chabhair chun infrastruchtúr na n-oileán, mionoibreacha, bóithre, cosaint chósta agus mar sin de a chur ar fáil nó a fheabhsú. Tá £1.5 milliún fógraithe agam le déanaí chun forbairt eacnamaíoch agus sóisialta na n-oileán a chur chun cinn.

Tá £1.4 milliún le fáil i mbliana mar chabhair chun tograí reatha agus seirbhís fharantóireachta agus aeir chuig na hoileáin a chur ar fáil agus tá sé sin pléite anseo, i gcás an bhád fharantóireachta laethúil agus na seirbhísí éagsúla atá ar fáil do mhuintir na n-oileán. Thosnaigh sé in 1998 agus tá sé ag leanúint ar aghaidh go dtí go mbeidh na seirbhísí seo ar fáil.

Ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a ghabháil leis an gcoiste inniu as ucht an tacaíocht a thugann siad do mo Roinn. Cuidíonn sé le saol mhuintir na Gaeltachta a fheabhsú ach má tá ceist ag duine ar bith beidh mé lánsásta freagra a thabhairt.

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh an Aire agus an Aire Stáit, go speisialta an tAire Stáit mar seo í an chéad uair a chuir sí Meastacháin i láthair an chomhchoiste. Agus seo í an chéad uair domsa mar urlabhraí ag tabhairt freagra ar an gcur i láthair sin.

The Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands seems to become more important and assume more responsibility every year. The Minister of State has a wide remit and her work impinges on most of us, regardless of whether we live in the Gaeltacht. There has been a substantial increase in administration costs, which now total £3.816 million, most of which seem to be accounted for by the heritage service in which 94 new jobs have been created. As those of us who deal with the Department experience long delays in the processing of applications concerning Gaeltacht and other schemes, is the Minister of State satisfied that it is adequately staffed? Does she believe there are sufficient workers to deal with increased demands?

There should be more co-ordination between the Department and other Departments. In County Donegal, as the Minister of State is aware, we have to deal with problems of piers and harbours. What is the extent of the co-operation between the Departments of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands and the Marine and Natural Resources? Co-operation is also needed with the Department of Education and Science in this age of Irish language education, oideachas trí Ghaeilge. An bhfuil comh-oibriú between the two Departments? Do they consult each another? Is the machinery in place to facilitate adequate consultation and co-operation with other Departments? The Department of the Environment and Local Government is relevant to Gaeltacht areas because of road building and the national development plan.

I heard part of an interview on "Morning Ireland" yesterday during which an archaeologist expressed grave concern about the discovery of new archaeological sites. Adequate time is needed to carry out proper digs and surveys. Is there much co-operation with the Department of the Environment and Local Government and the National Roads Authority? Important matters are at stake. I am sure Ministers in the Department accept the responsibility of being the guarantors and guardians of our heritage. Every effort should be made to safeguard artefacts. I am not against the development of roads as they are badly needed but there should be a balance. Development should not be at the expense of our archaeological or cultural heritage.

I do not intend to go through the Estimates point by point as the committee only received them yesterday evening or this afternoon. Radio and television come within the remit of the Minister. Does she agree that RTE, having applied for a licence fee increase last October, is in limbo? I am aware that further information has been sought: has it been provided for the Minister? I am also aware that independent consultants were employed. Perhaps the Minister of State will give us the up-to-date situation on the matter.

I was not spokesperson for this area when the Broadcasting Bill, 1999, passed through the House. At the time, however, I raised the concerns of the Irish Hard of Hearing Association which wants subtitles for more television programmes. An amendment to the Bill was not accepted by the Minister. I am aware that she has been in touch with the Independent Radio and Television Commission: what progress has been made? The latest communication I have received from the IHHA is that it is concerned about the modus operandi of the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland in relation to the subtitling of television programmes. The IHHA thinks it should have more consultation with the Independent Radio and Television Commission. The situation is being monitored and I hope some progress will be made in the short-term rather than the medium to long-term. The Minister should pursue the concerns of the IHHA with the Independent Radio and Television Commission with a view to having them listened to and acted upon.

TG4 is also the responsibility of the Minister. Everyone agrees that those who work for it do an excellent job and that some excellent programmes are produced. Those with an hour or two to spare on a Sunday night will not be disappointed if they switch over to it. It is generally accepted that the station receives limited resources from the Government subvention and RTE. It gets a fraction of the funding available to S4C which receives about £100 million each year to provide a Welsh language television service, compared to £20 million to £25 million received by TG4. Such a sum is insufficient to finance and support the level and standard of programming provided.

The renewal of local radio licences will be an issue within the next year or two. The Minister of State should be aware that I have written to the Director of Telecommunications Regulation mentioning the number of pirate radio stations operating throughout the country. I do not know if the Minister has been in touch with the director. Who is responsible for ensuring radio stations are fully licensed and that we do not have pirate stations?

Representatives of the National Heritage Council appeared before the committee in recent weeks. What is the position regarding the council's headquarters in Kilkenny? Has the building been purchased for development? More importantly, are there plans to have the council established on a statutory basis? It gave the committee statistics showing that most similar councils throughout Europe are established on a statutory basis. It is amazing, therefore, that it has not been given similar status. I will be a little provocative for a moment. There is a great deal of conservation and restoration taking place. I have stated before that most of it seems to be south of a Dublin-Galway line. The Minister of State will agree that we could do with extra resources to bring Donegal Castle, which requires considerable work, up to standard, not to mention Doe Castle which has been referred to in the Dáil. Its great hall needs to be re-roofed. The Sweeney clan have great plans for it once that has been done.

A recent national heritage council report said that many of our archaeological sites and structures are in serious danger. There are 27,000 stone structures and monuments in Ireland, a third of which are being damaged or seriously neglected. Some archaeologists are very concerned that the mortar being used to restore our monuments does more harm than good. We have a responsibility to do something about monuments such as Baltinglass Abbey, County Wicklow, which needs protection of its carved granite, Trim Abbey, County Meath, which is at risk from loss of masonry, and Kilmacanogue Church, County Wicklow, which needs vital structural work. We have the resources. It is time to restore such important elements of our national heritage.

I did not have the benefit of the Minister's speech but several matters occur to me. The Asgard restoration project — I hope I am not ag teacht aniar aduaidh ar an Aire — it is one that has not been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction yet. Is it the intention of the Minster for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, Deputy de Valera, and her Department to proceed with that restoration or is it being reconsidered?

The Minister opened her remarks on the Arts Council. We all welcome the £35 million in resources allocated to the Arts Council this year. The arts plan is now in its third year. Has there been an evaluation or review of the plan and is its implementation being monitored? If so, what are its conclusions?

We are all delighted that the national parks have re-opened after the foot and mouth scare. I assume there will be a shortfall in their income this year. Glenveagh national park, for example, closed from St. Patrick's Day so it has lost around ten weeks of income. Is anything being done to recompense the parks for the loss of earnings sustained during the closure period? I understand the personnel remained employed and overheads were the same but they received no additional payment.

I ask the officials to look at the chart they gave us on increases in the Estimates. It will be embarrassing if a student taking a doctorate comes across it in 100 years. Someone has obviously made a computer error because the percentages cannot be right. An increase from eight to ten is 25% not 125%. It is only a minor detail but it is important for the record.

Could the Deputy give the reference again?

The third page of the Minister's speech. The figures given are supposed to be increases, but those on the 2001 column are the Estimates for this year not increases.

I have looked at the speech by the Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, Deputy Coughlan. Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh an Aire Stáit agus roimh an ráiteas atá tugtha aici. Baineann sé le saol na Gaeltachta agus na n-oileán — an méid a bhí le rá aici anseo inniu. B'é an chéad rud a thagair an tAire Stáit dó ná Údarás na Gaeltachta. Aontaím go bhfuil an t-údarás ag déanamh obair an-mhaith do na Gaeltachtaí, ag cruthú fostaíochta. Tá dhá phointe agam. Ba chomhar go gcuirfí béim níos mó — agus tuigeann an t-údarás féin chomh tábhachtach is atá sé — ar na mionGhaeltachtaí ar fud na tíre, áiteanna cosúil le Gleann Cholmcille, Cill Charthaigh, an Ghaeltacht Lár, Ros Muc i nGaillimh, Tuar Mhic Éidigh, tuaisceart Mhuigh Eo, síos go dtí áiteacha cosúil le Cúil Aodha, Baile Bhúirne, Béal Átha an Ghaorthaidh agus Ciarraí. Ní shílim gur éirigh chomh maith leis an údarás sna mionGhaeltachtaí is a d'éirigh leo sna mórGhaeltachtaí cosúil le Gaoth Dóbhair, an Spidéal agus Baile Bhúirne. Tá na tionscail lonnaithe sna mórGhaeltachtaí agus ní chomhar dearmad a dhéanamh ar na mionGhaeltachtaí. An dara pointe agam ná na hoileáin. Ní shílim gur éirigh leis an údarás fostaíocht a chur ar fáil ar na hoileáin. Bhí mé agus an tAire Stáit, a Chathaoirligh, ar oileán Árainn Mhór dé hAoine seo caite agus tuigimid cé go bhfuil an-obair ag dul ar aghaidh ansin le céibheanna agus forbairt ar áiseanna agus saoráidí calaíochta, níl fostaíocht á chur ar fáil ansin nó ar Thóraigh nó ar na hoileáin in iarthar nó deisceart na hÉireann. Caithfear díriú ar na hoileáin Ghaeltachta mar go bhfuil an teanga láidir ansin agus ba mhór an trua muna bhféadfaí na daoine óga a choinneáil ar na hoileáin agus ní féidir é sin a dhéanamh muna bhfuil fostaíocht curtha ar fáil.

Sa bhliain 2000, cruthaíodh 1,000 post lánaimseartha agus cailleadh 932 phost, rud a chiallaíonn nár mhéadaigh an fhostaíocht sa Ghaeltacht an bhliain sin ach 68 ar fad. Nuair a fheicimid an caiteachas atá i gceist, is beag an méid é sin. Caithfear díriú ar thionscail nua-aimseartha a mhealladh go dtí na Gaeltachtaí, tionscail atá bunaithe ar an nua-theicneolaíocht.

Tá áthas orm go bhfuiltear ag leanúint ar aghaidh le scéim na mbóithre, go speisialta na bóithre straitéiseacha. Chuir an t-iarAire Stáit, Éamon Ó Cuív, tús leis an scéim sin agus tá áthas orm go bhfuil an tAire ag leanúint ar aghaidh leis. Beidh sé ina chuidiú mór chun infrastruchtúr na Gaeltachta a fhorbairt agus a chothú agus tabharfaidh sé tacaíocht do thionsclaíocht sa Ghaeltacht. Tá lúcháir orm go bhfuiltear ag leanúint ar aghaidh leis sin.

Chomh maith leis sin, caithfidh muid amharc ar ról na teanga san údarás agus ról níos lárnaí a bheith ag an teanga. Tá an t-údarás ann chun fostaíocht a chur ar fáil sa Ghaeltacht agus an teanga agus an cultúr a choinneáil. Ní chomhar go dtógfaí súil den ról sin ach an oiread. Caithfear tacú leis an teanga agus leis an gcultúr sna tionscail atá ar bun.

Bhí imní ann le bliain nó níos lú maidir le hoifig Eorpach na dteangacha neamhfhorleathana. Bhí imní ar dhaoine go raibh an oifig sin le dúnadh agus dá ndúnfaí í i mBaile Átha Cliath, sílim gur céim ar gcúl mhór a bhéadh ann. Agus tá súil agam go mbeidh tacaíocht an Aire agus tacaíocht an Rialtais le fáil ag an oifig sin ins an am atá le teacht.

Tá scéim labhairt na Gaeilge ag dul ar aghaidh. Tá lúcháir orm go bhfuil dul chun cinn le fógairt ag an Aire Stáit maidir leis an mBille Teanga. De réir cosúlachta tá glactha ag an Rialtas leis an mBille sin anois agus beidh sí ós comhair na Dála idir seo agus deireadh na bliana. Má's mall is mithid.

Chuaigh an Bille na dTithe (Gaeltacht) tríd an Oireachtas san earrach. Is cuimhin liom an oíche go maith, agus fáth agam leis mar bhí rudaí eile ag dul ar aghaidh sa timpeallacht an lá céanna. Tá deacrachtaí sna Gaeltachtaí de thairbhe tithíochta de, mar atá ar fud na tíre. Tá níos mó de mhuintir na Gaeltachta anois a chuireann isteach ar thithe ó na húdaráis áitiúla. Níor tharla sé sin san am a chuaigh thart. Ins na ceantair Gaeltachta go mórmhór chuir na daoine a gcuid tithe féin ar fáil ach anois tá an saol sóisialta agus eacnamaíochta ag athrú agus tá muintir na Gaeltachta anois ag cur isteach ar thithe ó na húdaráis áitiúla. An fáth atá leis sin go bhfuil costais tithíochta ag dul amach as a réimse agus níl an t-airgead acu. Roimhe seo bhí traidisiún láidir sna Gaeltachtaí go dtógfadh daoine a gcuid tithe féin agus bhí deontais le fáil chuige sin. Anois má tá deontas le fáil ní féidir do theach féin a thógáil, caithfidh tú conraitheoir a bheith agat. Ní cuidiú mór deontas £4,000 do dhuine atá ag tógáil tí. Mar a chualamar in Árainn Mhór ag deireadh na seachtaine, tá na rialacha ag cur isteach ar dhaoine go fóill. Cuireann siad isteach, mar shampla, ar dhaoine a d'fhág an Ghaeltacht agus a chuaigh go hAlbain, go Sasana nó go Meiriceá, a phós agus a tháinig ar ais, agus a bhfuil Béarla ag duine amháin den lánúin agus Gaeilge ag an duine eile. Go minic ní éiríonn le daoine mar sin an deontas a fháil.

Níl a fhios agam cad é an réiteach atá ar an fhadhb sin. Tá saol sóisialta agus cultúrtha na Gaeltachta ag athrú. Ní cheantar aon teanga é a thuilleadh. Is ceantar dhá theangach é. Ba chóir don Roinn aird a thabhairt air sin ach níl a fhios agam go díreach cad é is féidir a dhéanamh.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an infheistiú atá á dhéanamh do na hoileáin. Tá dul chun cinn mór déanta ó cuireadh an tuairisc idiranna ar fáil cupla bliain ó shin. Chuir an cathaoirleach, an Teachta Dónal Carey, tús leis an scéim sin agus tá na hAirí a tháinig ina dhiaidh ag leanúint leis. Is mór an t-athrú atá ar áiteacha cosúil le Oileán Thóraigh, Árann Mhór agus na hoileáin thiar ar chósta na Gaillimhe. Bhí sé thar am go gcuirfí na saoráidí sin ar fáil agus tá súil agam go leanfar ar aghaidh leo sa dóigh is go mbeidh an caighdeán maireachtála agus cóiríochta ar na hoileáin chomh maith agus atá siad ar an mórthír. Caithfimid gach iarracht a dhéanamh go mbéadh na seirbhísí ar na hoileáin chomh maith agus atá siad ar an mórthír.

Is beag atá fágtha le rá anois. Gabhaim comhghairdeas leis an Aire Mac Fhionnlaoich.

The introduction of digital terrestrial television appears to be the major issue currently before the Department. There is a reference in the Minister's speech to the pre-sale documentation of interest of parties that went out from RTE on 11 May in regard to the transmission network sale process. Will the Minister tell us if there has been any progress since 11 May and if there is any interest in the private sector regarding the RTE transmission network? There is also reference in the speech to the fact that on commencement of the Act, the Independent Radio and Television Commission will be renamed the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland. When does the Minister expect the Act to come into force? Will she bring us up to speed with what has been happening at EU level with regard to advertising which is targeted at children? Apart from the function of the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland in the matter of codes of standards for broadcasting, will she tell us what has arisen at EU level and what part she has played on behalf of the Government with regard to the whole area of the banning of advertising targeted at children who are under 12 years of age?

Deputy Mc Ginley spoke about the matter of provisions for the deaf and the hard of hearing, and for the blind and partially sighted. The issue of subtitling arises here, and as I understand it progress will not be made on that until the new Broadcasting Commission of Ireland is put in place. This is another reason those of us on this side of the House are seeking that the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland be brought into operation at an early date and that the two specific issues that were pursued by the Labour Party on Committee Stage of the Broadcasting Bill, that is the ban on advertising aimed at children and that within a five year period universal subtitling will be available, will be dealt with.

With regard to the ACCESS programme and the £36 million that has been provided, will the Minister tell us what level the decision making is at, has there been further narrowing down of the number of applicants and does she consider the £36 million to be sufficient for the number of applications that come through at the final stage or will she be looking for more money? Is there any likely provision from these Estimates in regard to theatres which do not come within the remit of the ACCESS programme or which would not have made applications at this stage? I have a couple of projects in mind here and there may be funding available at the end of the year which may be applied to projects where there is no new work to be carried out as is the position under ACCESS.

Tá an-suim agam san obair atá idir láimhe ag an údarás chun bonneagar teileachumarsáide sa Ghaeltacht a mheas. Cé chomh fada ar aghaidh is atá an t-udarás leis an obair seo? An bhfuil moltaí ag teacht go dtí an t-údarás chun go mbéadh sé in ann níos mó post a chur in áit? B'fhéidir go mbéadh an tAire Stáit in ann cursaí a fheabhsú i dtreo is go mbeadh tionscail á gcur ar fáil ins na Gaeltachtaí agus poist sheasta a mbéadh pá maith ag dul leo. Agus poist nach gcaillfí chomh héasca amach anseo.

Táimid go léir an-sásta gur cruthaíodh 1,000 post lán-aimseartha sa Ghaeltacht i mbliana, ach ar an láimh eile de, cailleadh 932 phost. B'fhéidir go mbéadh an tAire in ann níos mó eolais a thabhairt dúinn mar gheall ar cén sórt post nua atá curtha in áit, agus cén sórt post a cailleadh, anuraidh. Tá áthas orm go bhfuil an t-údarás ag féachaint ar thionscail nua-aimseartha mar is dóigh liom gur sa treo sin a bheidh rath na Gaeltachta amach anseo.

Deir an tAire go bhfuil súil aici go bhfoilseofar an Bille Teanga san fhómhar. An féidir léi anois aon eolas a thabhairt dúinn ar cad go díreach atá i gceist ann? An bhfuil sé i gceist go mbéadh ar chumas gach údarás áitiúil, Roinn stáit agus mar sin de an obair go léir a dhéanamh i nGaeilge le duine ar bith a thagann chucu? Nó cé chomh fada is a théann an Bille le go mbéadh daoine in ann a gcuid gnó a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge?

Rud atá ag goilliúint orm le fada ná nach bhfuil foclóir nua-aimseartha Gaeilge-Béarla nó Béarla-Gaeilge againn. An bhfuil aon phlean ag an bhForas Teanga foclóir dá leithéid a chur ar fáil? Nó an bhfuil sé i gceist ag an bhforas taighde a dhéanamh ar mheon an phobail maidir leis an nGaeilge, sa Ghaeltacht agus lasmuigh de? Níl aon chinnteacht ann ach oiread faoi cathain a bheidh obair Choimisiún na Gaeilge críochnaithe nó cathain a bheidh na moltaí ag an Aire agus cé chomh tapaidh is a bheidh sí in ann gníomhú ar na moltaí sin.

I will now consider the earlier sections. With regard to the Arts Council, we have heard terms such as "revaluation", "reorganisation" and "radical reinvigoration", which pertain to a desire to enhance the position of the arts in society. What exactly do these terms mean? What will be done in the remainder of the year to bring about the aims referred to in the Minister's speech?

Another issue concerns the Heritage Council. I welcome the allocation of £900,000 in respect of Discovery Programme Limited. The Minister stated that it is an archaeological research body. What is the remit of this body? What work is it doing and what are its objectives?

Will the Minister brief us on the implementation of the Habitats Directive? What is the position on the designation of SPAs? What is the position on submissions to the EU and what work is still outstanding? Is the money provided in the Estimates sufficient to finalise the growing lists of SPAs, which will be submitted to the relevant EU authorities for processing?

What is our position on the EU Birds Directive? Where Waterways Ireland is concerned, I am aware of the good work of the committee that was in Ballyconnell during the summer, of which I am a member. With regard to the national inventory of architectural heritage, a 12 year timespan for its completion is very long. Can the Minister speed up this process? To some extent, it is a matter of resources, but in light of recent reports recognising substantial problems relating to our stone structures and monuments, an urgent response is required rather than a plan that will take 12 years to complete. Is there anything the Minister can do in this regard?

Are there proposals to open the Museum of Natural History at weekends and on bank holidays so that people from outside Dublin can enjoy this important national institution?

Acting Chairman

Before the Minister and the Minister of State reply, I will allow some brief questions. If we are not finished by 4.20 p.m., we will have to return again after the vote which will presumably take place at that time. We have to vacate this room by 5 p.m. in any case.

I do not think we will be able to meet that schedule, but I will try.

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh na miontuairiscí a cuireadh ós ár gcomhair anseo inniu ag an mbeirt Aire. Fáiltím an t-airgead breise atá curtha ar fáil do na bóithre go speisialta. Muna bhfuil bóithre againn sna Gaeltachtaí, ní féidir a bheith ag brath ar thionscail mhóra a mhealladh isteach iontu. Ach táimid ag dul chun cinn go maith agus tá áthas orm go bhfuil airgead breise á chur ar fáil.

Tá a fhios againn go léir gur sa Ghaeltacht amháin is féidir deontas a fháil chun seantithe a fheabhsú chomh maith le deontais do thithe nua. Samhlaím gur chóir breis airgid a chur ar fáil do na deontais chun seantithe a fheabhsú. Nílim siúráilte an bhfuil breis airgid tugtha anseo ach b'fhéidir go ndéarfadh an tAire liom é ina freagra.

Bfhéidir go bhféadfaí tacaíocht a thabhairt do dhaoine taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht teacht agus tithe nua a thógaint sa Ghaeltacht. B'fhéidir go bhfuilimid ró-dhian maidir leis an teanga agus gur chóir dúinn breis ama a thabhairt dóibh chun teach a thógáil agus an teanga a fheabhsú. Muna bhfuil siad maith a dhóthain sa chéad iarracht b'fhéidir gur cheart cabhair a thabhairt dóibh an teanga a fheabhsú muna bhfuil sí acu nuair a thagann siad isteach sa Ghaeltacht.

If this Department is to deal with monuments and preservation of our heritage it should consider conducting a new survey of what old castles are remaining around the country. There is a list of those, but many are in danger of collapsing. There would not be too many that we should make an all out effort to try to preserve them. We could give funding to local authorities or local groups to reconstruct them. That would be a good thing for this section of the Department to do.

Déanfaidh mé iarracht bheith tapaidh, ag tógaint san áireamh an dá óráid atá tugtha, ceann ag an Aire agus ceann ag an Aire Stáit. Tá mioncheisteanna agam maidir le caiteachais éagsúla. Níl sé ró-shoiléir dom an chaoi ina bhfuil Ciste na Gaeilge mar chaiteachas, mar shampla, aistrithe ón Roinn. Bhí suim ag an Roinn i gcónaí i gCiste na Gaeilge agus bhí suim chruinn ag an Rúnaí-Ghinearálta inti.

Ní thuigim ina iomlán an clár ama atá ag an Aire Stáit maidir le Bille na Gaeilge. Deir an t-Aire Stáit, "De réir chinneadh an Rialtais d'ullmhaigh mo Roinn dréachtscéim ghinearálta den Bhille" Ina dhiaidh sin deir sí, "Tar éis mionscagadh a dhéanamh ar na tuairimí a bhfuarthas, cuireadh meabhrán ar aghaidh le cur faoi bhráid an Rialtais ag lorg ceada don dréachtscéim ghinearálta. Ach an cead sin a bheith faighte beidh an Bille le dréachtú ag Oifig na nDréachtóirí Parlaiminte don Rialtas mar ábhar práinne." Is cuma cén práinn atá ag baint leis, agus tá, muna bhfaightear cead níl an tAire Stáit ach ag cur ama amú. Cén fáth nach bhfuil an cinneadh sin faighte? An féidir leis an Aire Stáit a rá linn cathain a cuireadh an tarna aide memoire leis na tuairimí go dtí an Rialtas? Bhéadh an t-eolas sin suimiúil.

Maidir leis an dá choimisiún a bhunaigh an t-iarAire Stáit, Éamon Ó Cuív, tá sé soiléir go raibh a lán suime aige sna ceisteanna sin ach cathain a bheidh na torthaí ar fáil nó an gceapann an t-Aire Stáit go mbeidh sé ar ár gcumas iad a thuiscint? B'fhéidir go mbeidh siad chomh teibíoch sin nach mbeimid in ann sin a dhéanamh.

Tréaslaím leis an Aire Stáit as an méid airgid atá bainte amach aici faoi na ceannteidil éagsúla. Cén fáth nach bhfuil an costas caipitil a bhí á lorg ag muintir Inis Meáin don chéibh sna Meastacháin? An bhfuil cás déanta ag an Aire Stáit ag an Roinn Airgeadais mar gheall air? Bhí teachtaireacht istigh ag Aire na Mara mar gheall ar an iarratas seo. Tuigim go bhfuil Roinn na Mara i bhfeighil an ceadúnas a thabhairt ach rannóg na n-oileán a fhaigheann an t-airgead ón Rialtas. Má bhí rud ar bith le bheith déanta mar gheall ar an gcéibh ba chóir go mbéadh tagairt dó sna Meastacháin seo.

I congratulate the Minister on the sums of money that have been secured. I find some aspects of the presentation curious. The Minister is quite entitled to draw comparisons between 1997 and 2001. In the presentation a significant increase ranging from 171% to 224% is referred to.

Acting Chairman

It was pointed out to us earlier that those increases are not quite right.

I know, but I am not too worried. I will deal with them at the moment as an illusion.

I want to clarify the position as to the numbers not being quite right. There is only one number that is incorrect and that is for the National Archives Advisory Council. Eight is the number under 1997, ten is the number under 2001 and an increase of 25% over 1997. There are no other incorrect figures.

I am grateful to the Minister for clearing that up and I also thank the Chairman. By comparison with the other institutions for which there is responsibility under the legislation I introduced, archives have done badly. The Minister will remember that when she was in Opposition archives were top of her list.

When using this methodology to compare 1997 to 2001 the Minister was inconsistent when comparing section 481 funding for film. She did not use the same time period. In her speech the Minister gave figures for 2000, there were 28 projects comprising 13 indigenous and 15 foreign productions receiving section 481 funding. The most recent description of film from the Department compared this year with last, and last year with the year before. Why abandon the fruitful methodology of comparing 1997 and 2001? Let us have the figures for each year, giving a breakdown of indigenous and foreign productions. Why not give the figures from 1993 on when the film board was refunded and section 35 was revamped? The gross spend given here tells us section 481 gave rise to an Irish spend of £54 million. I remember a spend of £160 million in my time as Minister. "Braveheart", which was the first film I certified, had a gross spend of £47 million, that helps put the £54 million in context. "Saving Private Ryan" was the last one I certified and we lost "Band of Brothers" which would have had a spend close to the whole year's budget. I would extend the annual comparison from back from 1997 to 1992. Compare 1992 with 2001, that would be invaluable for section 481 in particular.

I notice an interesting ideological preference in the main brief. There is a description of projected travel between 2000 and 2001. It is a modest increase, a Minister should be entitled to travel and should be assisted by his or her officials. We were terribly abstemious in my time as Minister, and received regular admonitions on keeping costs low, and quite right it was too.

I notice in relation to the projected increase in spending, it says here under the heading with regard to overseas travel, the figure for the EC in 2000 is £64,000. The Minister is at least consistent in projecting that it will fall in 2001 down to £53,000 million. On the other hand, in relation to her other relationships to the world it is £35,000 in the year 2000 and it increases to £130,000. The Minister is obviously engaging with the wider world to the exclusion of the EC. It would be interesting to know why these figures are falling out like this? In my time, even in times of smaller budgets and revenue surpluses, it was very simple. There are six month presidencies. The country holding the Presidency holds a meeting at home and travels to the general meeting in Brussels. In the case of the Presidency being held by other countries, they have a home meeting and another meeting in Brussels. That is two meetings every six months. Would it be possible to attend with this figure here? Does the Minister intend sending officials out, as I did, to discuss the budget before the Culture Ministers' meeting takes place? That is invaluable because it is there that the atmosphere is created for important matters, such as Media II when we were negotiating it, and Television sans Frontieres. All of these are important matters which are of common interest in the Cultural Council in Europe. It is well known that Ministers build relationships as well. I understand advertisements were placed in the European Journal inviting cities of culture to contribute. The situation is better than it was in my time. Consultants have been appointed to deal with this. Those decisions were taken and difficult choices were made at the lunch surrounding the Cultural Council meeting. They were taken formally on the agenda in the afternoon.

I was always protective of the administrative budget. I see a figure of about £600,000 to upgrade IT. Why is that necessary? I remember when the Department was founded we spent £250,000 between the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and my Department. I had to fight tooth and nail to get it. That was when I was a Minister in a Labour-Fianna Fáil Government and dealing with the then Minister for Finance, Deputy Bertie Ahern. He gave us £125,000 to install an IT system. Now it takes £600,000 to update it. It would be useful to know why. These are the points that struck me as I examined this brief on the train.

I am interested in the sums in relation to the EU Habitats Directive. That is a topic in which the Minister has a particular interest, with Europe telling us what to do. There is a capital provision in paragraph 1 for £3.175 million and a current provision of £4 million has been made for 2001. The capital allocation covers purchase by agreement of lands mainly in raised bogs, and of turbary rights. I would like more detail on that. Does that mean a deal has been concluded with the landowners involved? Is the capital sum required to implement an important agreement that has taken place? It will be remembered that the former Minister of State was involved very much in making sure that I did not reach an agreement. However, I did. An agreement has now been reached and the Minister will spend £3.175 million out of £4 million.

Before we move to the big figures in regard to national parks, I got weary of tabling Dáil questions about a small sum of money, £100,000, Eglinton Canal. I allocated it in the spring of 1997. Lest people say I spent all the money on canals in Galway, £100,000 out of £25 million was negotiated for the canals. That £100,000 has been the subject of about four Dáil questions. The Minister of State, Deputy Ó Cuív gave answers on a number of occasions to the effect that it would be paid in September. It was due in September 1999, then in September 2000 and September 2001. Will it arrive around the same time as digital broadcasting from RTE, which would bring it within the period of office of seven or more Governments?

What is happening in regard to the staffing of the folk museum in Mayo, a project dear to my heart? I went ahead with it despite the antipathy, hostility and opposition of several Finance Ministers of different hues. What staffing allocation is being made from central funds?

There is reference to the community development incentive scheme which brought light and energy to buildings all over the country, from Letterkenny, to Tallaght to Coolock, Galway, Cork, Longford — there is a wonderful facility in Longford. There are facilities in Moate, Mullingar and so on. The Minister says the scheme is being wound up. What is the total expenditure? I think it is about £100 million more than the funding being provided for the scheme that will replace it. The Minister is bringing in a scheme to replace it for the next period of the plan. What is the difference between the two capital sums. The CDIS scheme had a capital figure. Much of it was European money. The new scheme will have another figure, I understand £35 million. By what process will that £35 million be allocated? Will it be sufficient? The other scheme ran from 1994 to 1999. There were about four projects for every one to which the Minister could, with a perfectly clear conscience, have said "yes". How many of them will survive or will they run on automatically into the new funding? There have been advertisements in the paper and that is necessary, but will the capital sum be sufficient to allow continuity?

Acting Chairman

The Deputy has been speaking for nearly 20 minutes. I would ask him to conclude.

I am about to finish. I have a final point. In relation to the funding, the independent radio operators welcome the 3% under the Independent Radio and Television Commission. There is a sum of £500,000 for development. There has been a report in the papers that not all community stations may qualify for that. Why not? On what grounds do community stations not qualify? How many community stations will qualify? Will as many community stations as independent commercial stations qualify?

Is the Deputy referring to the £500,000?

Yes. I am concerned that there should be equity and that the community stations would not be put on the hind teat, as it were, by the Independent Radio and Television Commission, and will have a chance of getting more than the people who were favoured by that Independent Radio and Television Commission.

I apologise for taking so long but this is such an interesting document and this is such a wide and interesting area.

Acting Chairman

There is a wide range of questions for the Minister and Minister of State to deal with.

It shows how the broad the remit of this Department is. Deputy McGinley said that he was pleased that the Department was growing in terms of staffing and responsibilities. It is the type of Department that will always need more staff. We have been lucky in getting a positive response from the Minister in relation to that.

What Deputy McGinley said about co-ordination is correct. As Prime Minister Blair said in his last Administration, we should be looking to joined up Government. Obviously what he meant was not to have tunnel vision where Departments are concerned but to try to see the links between different Departments. That is the approach we are taking. He is right in saying this Department can impinge on many areas of Government not least health, environment and education. When different legislation is going through we look for support from every Department but there will obviously be Departments that we deal with on a day to day basis in these matters and we get support from them. In regard to arts and heritage the Department with which we have most contact is the Department of Education and Science where an interdepartmental group has been set up. In regard to the islands and issues of access, health and environment, there is an even greater opportunity for further consultation.

With regard to the new archaeological sites, I agree with the Deputy that because of the stable economy there is a boom in development and we want that to continue. He is correct in saying it should not be an either/or debate where one is talking about development and also preservation and conservation of our heritage. We have been looking for a balance in that area since I took over in the Department. We have paid particular attention to the NRA. The Deputy may be aware that we have set up a code of practice between the Department and the NRA, the purpose of which is to ensure we appreciate the difficulties that can arise quickly and to get down to discussing them and approaching them with a view to ensuring development and conservation issues are dealt with. We have more archaeologists involved in this and the NRA has recruited 14 full-time archaeologists. I thank all those from the NRA who worked with us on this. It is a model we are using for co-operation with other groups because it augurs well for development in the future.

In regard to the RTE licence, RTE lodged an outline application on 5 October 2000. It gave further information on 31 October. I then engaged PriceWaterhouseCoopers to advise on that application and to give an independent view. The consultants' report was received in late January 2001. They sought further information from RTE. However the further information did not solve all the problems and the consultants had to request further information. I discussed the matter with the chairman of the authority on a number of occasions and met with the Director General of RTE who was present at one of the meetings with the chairman. At my request PriceWaterhouseCoopers met the chairman and senior management and further information was then forthcoming from RTE on 20 April 2001. PriceWaterhouseCoopers has carried out its examination of the additional information and its report was received in the Department last week. I will be looking at that report. Obviously we want to ensure that the additional information which RTE has provided is looked at objectively and independently. On foot of that examination I will make my decision. That is the position with regard to the licence fee.

I was asked about the hard of hearing and the blind. This issue was of great importance in the legislation. I met with various groups and individuals on this. We had a long discussion in the Dáil and Seanad. Some of the groups concerned wrote to me saying they would want me as Minister to record the concerns expressed both in the Dáil and Seanad and asked if I agreed with those concerns. I had no problem in saying that. We want their particular concerns recognised. I undertook in both debates to write to the Independent Radio and Television Commission to ensure it takes on board the genuine concerns expressed by Deputies and Senators, including myself. The reply I received to that letter was sent to all Deputies and Senators so that it is on their files.

The issue of the renewal of licences arose during the general discussion on the Broadcasting Bill. I met with the IBI on numerous occasions and I was in a position to accept proposals. I then put forward my own amendment to deal with the whole question of licences. We could not deal with automatic renewal and that was understood. The amendment put forward was accepted by all concerned. I received a letter to that effect from the IBI.

The question of pirates concerns many and it raises its head in all sorts of discussions both in committee and in the Houses of the Oireachtas. As Minister I have no function with regard to pirates. They are acting illegally but this is a matter for the ODTR. I advise the Deputy to contact the ODTR.

With regard to RTE's sale of transmission, this process should be completed by August. We have no additional information on the RTE process. The information we have been given is that this process should be completed by August.

Acting Chairman

I am sorry to interrupt the Minister. A vote has been called. There are a number of questions from members that still have to be answered. Would members accept that the questions that have not been answered would be answered in writing to the members by the two Ministers so that the Estimate could be concluded now? Otherwise we will have to come back again and our time will be short. It may have to be on another day because this room is being used for another committee meeting later.

It is very sad. We are trying to make politics more relevant and more meaningful and we are putting in a great deal of work. It is not your fault. We are concluding Estimates because we do not have a room and we do not have any more time.

Acting Chairman


It is not the Minister's fault.

I understand the Deputies and would like to answer the questions and to take part in the debate. Perhaps there could be another time. Is it not possible to come back after the vote?

Acting Chairman

It is not really practical as there is another meeting here at 5 p.m. We would be coming back for the sake of five or ten minutes. If we do not conclude now we shall have to come back another day. I am in the hands of members.

I propose that we come back on another day.

I second that.

Acting Chairman

Is that agreed? Agreed.

The Select Committee adjourned at 4.30 p.m.