Is mór an phribhléid dom na Meastacháin seo: Vóta 42, £60.665 milliún don Roinn Ealaíon, Cultúir agus Gaeltachta; Vóta 43, £1.74 milliún don Ghailearaí Náisiúnta agus Vóta 44, £16.25 milliún don Chomhairle Ealaíon don bhliain dar críoch 31 Nollaig 1995, a chur os comhair an Choiste seo.
Members of the committee will already have received a briefing note setting out the details of our Estimates with some background information, I do not, therefore, propose to dwell on the minutiae of the figures. References to the different areas of the Votes will be in the order set out in the 1995 Revised Estimates for the Public Service.
An exciting development is now taking shape in the new facility for the National Museum in the Collins Barracks complex. The provision of £10 million in the 1994 budget enabled work to be expedited on the first phase of the project. I am pleased to say that, with the co-operation of the Defence Forces — and I would like to acknowledge that — a complete conversion and transformation of the Clark Square segment of the site has taken place. Work is continuing in planning the first exhibitions to take place there is 1996.
Deputies will be interested to learn that the interim board, which I appointed last year to advise me on the future direction of the museum, including staff resources and the Collins Barracks requirements, has submitted its final report this week. I am deeply appreciative of the time and efforts which the members expended on producing this comprehensive report but as I am still examining their recommendations, I will not dwell on them today.
Construction and conversion work is also proceeding rapidly on the refurbishment of the clock tower building in Dublin Castle which will become the new home for the Chester Beatty Library. As I indicated last year, I envisage this to be ready for occupation by the library in 1997 and I am in negotiation with the trustees of the library regarding a new relationship between the library and the State, on foot of the significant investment involved on the part of the State.
Under the reorganised arrangements established between my Department and An Chomhairle Ealaíon, funding from my Department's Vote was determined for the National Concert Hall, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the National Theatre Society, acting on the advice of An Chomhairle. The new arrangements are of benefit to all concerned and I look forward to this continued source of advice in future years.
Members will be aware that the EU Operational Programme for Tourism is one of the operational programmes in which funds for this area are included. A significant proportion of the moneys available to me for the cultural elements of that operational programme have now been earmarked for the major cultural institutions through the Office of Public Works. I have also initiated a capital programme for the arts aimed at local projects which have a cultural as well as a tourism element. This scheme was substantially oversubscribed with some 170 applications asking for assistance. My Department is now in the process of assessing these applications and I am arranging for the establishment of a committee comprising representatives of my Department, An Chomhairle Ealaíon and the regions to make recommendations to me based on these assessments.
Subhead C2 includes a provision of £500,000 in respect of "L'Imaginaire Irlandais", a manifestation of contemporary Irish art and culture being organised for Paris and the French regions, commencing in the spring of 1996. It will immediately precede the Irish presidency of the EU. In all, £1.5 million will be spent by Ireland on this project.
The Heritage Act, 1995, was enacted recently. One of the main purposes of the Act is to establish a statutory corporation, to be known as An Chomhairle Oidhreachta or the Heritage Council, to perform certain functions in relation to the physical heritage. This body will replace the existing non-statutory National Heritage Council which was established in 1988 and which held its last meeting yesterday. It is appropriate that I take this further opportunity to express my thanks to the members of the council in general and in particular, to Lord Killanin for his excellent chairmanship.
The establishment of the Heritage Council, as I said in the Dáil, is part of a major package of heritage legislation, some of which has already been enacted and the remainder of which is currently being prepared by my Department. The National Monuments (Amendment) Act, 1994, was enacted last year and work is progressing on other proposals to amend the Wildlife Act and to provide new legislation in relation to parks and to give autonomy to the National Museum and the National Library. With the enactment of this body of legislation, we will have provided a solid, statutory basis for the protection of our heritage.
The broad functions of the Heritage Council will be to propose policies and priorities in relation to the identification, protection, preservation and enhancement of the physical heritage. A new and important function of the council will be a special responsibility in relation to buildings of architectural or historic importance in public ownership. I hope to be in a position to appoint the new Heritage Council in the coming weeks.
Following on commitments in the programme A Government of Renewal, the statutory position on my responsibilities in relation to the physical heritage has been clarified. First, by way of Government orders under the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act, 1939, the functions of the Minister for Finance under legislation relating to the physical heritage were transferred to me as Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht. Secondly, by way of the Heritage Act, 1995, the performance of the functions of the Commissioners of Public Works under legislation relating to the physical heritage has been placed under my supervision and direction.
Fuair mo Roinnse breis agus 1,000 iarratas tithíochta i 1994 — méadú 4 faoin gcéad ar 1993. Críochnaíodh thart ar 100 teach nua i rith na bliana le cabhair deontais maraon le beagnach 760 cás eile a bhain le hoibreacha feabhsúcháin, sláintíochta agus méadaithe.
Íocann my Roinnse deontais reachtála le comharchumainn áirithe sa Ghaeltacht agus, mar thoradh ar ath-bhreithniú a rinneadh ar ról na gcomharchumann sin, tá na huasdheontais reachtála méadaithe agam anois ó£20,000 go £33,000 in aghaidh na bliana i gcás na gcomharchumann ar mórthír, agus ó£22,000 go £40,000 i gcás na gcomharchumann ar oileáin Ghaeltachta amach ón gcósta.
Íocadh deontas faoi Scéim Labhairt na Gaeilge le beagnach 3,000 teaghlach an scoilbhliain seo caite. On eolas atá ar fáil go dtí seo, creidim go bhfuil an scéim nua tar éis cur le húsáid na Gaeilge i roinnt mhaith teaghlaigh sa Ghaeltacht. Cé go bhfuil an scéim nua teoranta do theaghlaigh sa Ghaeltacht féin, shocraigh mé, mar bheart eisceachtúil, go mbeadh teaghlaigh áirithe lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht a bhíodh ag fáil cúnaimh faoin seanscéim i dteideal cúnaimh faoin scéim nua freisin go dtí go mbeadh a gclann críochnaithe leis an dara leibhéal oideachais.
Anuraidh d'íoc mo Roinnse cúnamh i leith breis agus 23,900 foghlaimeoirí— 700 daoine fásta san áireamh — a chuaigh go dtí an Ghaeltacht chun feabhas a chur ar a gcuid Gaeilge. Bhíáthas orm a fhógáirt ag tús na bliana go bhfuil méadú go dtí£4 ceadaithe agam sa deontas laethúil a íoctar leis na teaghlaigh sa Ghaeltacht a chóinníonn foghlaimeoirí Gaeilge. Shocraigh mé freisin, i gcomhairle leis an Aire Oideachais, go ndéanfadh grúpa beag oibre, comhdhéanta d'ionadaithe ón dá Roinn le cathaoirleach neamhspleách, athbhreithniú bunúsach ar na coinníollacha ginearálta a bhaineann leis na coláistí Gaeilge. Táim ag súil le tuarascáil ón ngrúpa faoi Dheireadh Fómhair seo chugainn.
Tá soláthar caipitil de £17 milliún a chur ar fáil d'Údarás na Gaeltachta i mbliana le haghaidh forbairt na Gaeltachta. Tabharfar suim £2.45 milliún don Údarás mar chabhair chun costais riaracháin na heagraíochta a airgeadú. Is soláthar maith airgid é sin cibé slat tomhais a úsáidtear agus is léiriúé ar an tábhacht a chuirimse mar Aire agus a chuireann an Rialtas i bhforbairt na Gaeltachta.
Bhuail mé féin agus an tAire Stáit, an Teachta Carey, le déanaí le Cathaoirleach, comhaltaí agus ardbhainistíocht an Údaráis agus d'iarr mé orthu plean straitéiseach cúig bliana a réiteach a chlúdódh gníomhaíochtaí uile an Údaráis agus a luífeadh leis an soláthar airgid atá acu i mbliana móide na méadaithe a luaitear le haghaidh caiteachais phoiblí i bpolasaí an Rialtais. Chomh maith leis sin tá domhain-mhachnamh á dhéanamh agam ar structúr an Údaráis féin — atá ar an saol anois le breis agus cúig bliana déag — féachaint ar chóir leasuithe bunúsacha a dhéanamh air.
Ó thaobh cruthú fostaíochta de bhí 1994 ar an mbliain ba rathúla ag tionscail na Gaeltachta ó 1985 i leith. Cruthaíodh 1,072 phost nua ar an bhfód i rith na bliana i dtionscail faoi scáth an Údaráis agus, cé gur cailleadh 630 post, bhí glanméadú de 442 phost — rud a d'fág go raibh beagnach 6,300 dhuine san iomlán fostaithe go lánaimseartha faoi dheireadh na bliana i dtionscail a fuair cúnamh ón Údarás. Chomh maith leis sin bhí fostaíocht shéasúrach ag beagnach 3,300 duine.
I rith na bliana seo caite cheadaigh an tÚdarás líon mór tionscadal nua a bhfuil d'acmhainn iontu beagnach 1,500 post nua a chur ar fáil nuair a bheidh siad faoi lánseol. Bhí£19.6 mhilliún de chabhair Stáit i gceist do na tionscadail seo idir deontais agus scairchaipiteal agus mór-iomlán infheistíochta de bhreis agus £100 milliún nuair a chuirtear an infheistíocht ó fhoinsí eile san áireamh.
Tááthas orm gur éirigh liom i mbliana méadú go £2.25 mhilliún a dhéanamh ar an gcúnamh Stáit do Bhord na Gaeilge. Anuas ar a chuid gníomhaíochtaí féin, tá roinnt eagraíochtaí faoina scáth — ar nós Gaelscoileanna, An Comhchoiste Réamhscolaíochta agus Comhar na Múinteoirí Gaeilge — a mbíonn páirt shuntasach á glacadh acu i gcur chun cinn na Gaeilge trína gcuid oibre sa réimse oideachasúil. Ag an bpointe seo, ba mhaith liom mo bhuiochas a thabhairt don dream deonach a chabhraíonn go mór le cúis na Gaeilge san tír seo.
Is é Bord na Gaeilge freisin a bhfuil comhordúá dhéanamh aige i dtaca leis na cláracha gníomhaíochta atá le feidhmiú ag Ranna Rialtais agus ag eagrais san Earnáil Phoiblí d'fhonn feabhas a chur ar an bhfáil atá ar sheirbhísí Stáit trí mheán na Gaeilge sa Ghaeltacht agus sa tír i gcoitinne. Beidh an bord ag leanúint lena chuid oibre sa réimse seo agus beidh lán-tacaíocht le fáil aige uaimse agus ó mo Roinnse san obair thábhachtach seo. Ag an bpointe seo, nílimid ach ag déanamh iarrachta an chúis a bhorradh.
Is ó fháltais an chrannchuir náisiúnta trí Vóta mo Roinne a dhéantar Ciste na Gaeilge a airgeadú agus is ón gciste sin a thugann mo Roinn deontais bhliantiúla do na heagrais dheonacha Gaeilge, a mbíonn obair mhaith ar siúl go leanúnach acu ar son na teanga. Is trí Chiste na Gaeilge chomh maith a chuirtear airgead ar fáil do tograí ilghnéitheacha ar mhaithe leis an nGaeilge. Mar thoradh ar fhógra a cuireadh sna nuachtáin i mí Feabhra seo caite, fuarthas iarratais ar dheontais dár luach timpeall £3.4 mhilliún i leith tograí den chineál sin. Ag féachaint dó, áfach, nach bhfuil ach suim de thart ar £300,000 ar fáil le dáileadh, is léir nach mbeifear in ann ach freastal i mbliana ach ar líon an-bheag de na hiarratais a fuarthas. Tá an éileamh níos mó na an méad airgid atá ar fáil dom.
Tá mé fós ag scrúdú na bealaí is fearr chun Coimisiún a bhunú d'fhonn iniúchadh a dhéanamh ar na heagrais Ghaeilge, faoi mar atá leagtha síos sa chlár le haghaidh Rialtais Athnuachana.
On the broadcasting side, there has been a number of very significant developments. At the end of April this year I published a Green Paper on Broadcasting which I subtitled Active or Passive? Broadcasting in the Future Tense— nó mar atá san fho-theideal Gaeilge Gníomhach nó Fulangach? Fáthmheas ar an Réimse Craolacháin.
This Green Paper is a consultative document designed to stimulate a broad-ranging and constructive debate on the future of broadcasting in Ireland. It does not, in general, draw any conclusions but rather raises the issues which seem to be important in an attempt to set the framework for the debate. I believe that these issues can be distilled down to three fundamental questions. What is public service broadcasting? Is it relevant in today's broadcasting environment? If so, how can we best guarantee its future?
Developments in technology and the increasing convergence of telecommunications broadcasting and computer technologies have changed and are continuing to change the broadcasting map beyond recognition, and the speed of change is immense.
In chapter I of the Green Paper I have attempted to reflect the complexity of the emerging technological environment in relation to broadcasting and all the issues that must be seriously addressed by all involved in broadcasting in Ireland if we are to face into the next millennium with confidence in the light of these developments. As I have said in the Green Paper, the new technologies represent both a promise and a threat. Our task as legislators will be to maximise the promise and minimise the threat.
The importance that I attach to a wide-ranging consultation and discussion on these issues is illustrated by the fact that I am allowing a period of five months until the end of September for the submission of comments and ideas.
Recently I laid the first annual report of the RTÉ Independent Productions Unit before both Houses of the Oireachtas. Under section 4 of the Broadcasting Authority (Amendment) Act, 1993, RTÉ is required to make specific amounts of money available each year for the commissioning of television programmes from the independent production sector. The figure for 1994 was £5 million. The report indicated that in all 258 hours of independently produced programming, on which £5.28 million was expended from the independent productions account, were either made or committed to during 1994 and I feel that RTÉ are to be complimented on this. I have embarked on a consultative process with the independent sector to ascertain their views on the first year's operation of section 4 of the Act.
The committee will be aware that the Government recently appointed the members of the new RTÉ Authority with effect from 1 June 1995 and I take this opportunity to wish them well in the enormous and challenging task ahead in dealing with all the changes that are taking place in the broadcasting sector. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Chairman and members of the former Authority for the excellent work they did during their term of office.
The re-establishment of Bord Scannán na hÉireann has been a key element in the package of measures which I introduced in 1993 to promote the indigenous film and television production industry. The board supports indigenous film production by providing finance, as repayable loans, to Irish companies for the development and production of film projects. Its role is not a narrowly commercial one and it is active in its support for emerging talent. In addition, its affirmation of the inherent value of film as an art form is an essential counterweight to strictly commercial considerations. However, the board insists on a high standard of application, including full particulars of the artistic, financial and legal structure of the proposed project. This approach has borne fruit in generating a more professional and businesslike approach which is now essential if Irish film makers are to compete effectively in the modern marketplace.
Members of the committee will be aware that one of the other main elements of my package is to promote the film industry related to improvements in the section 35 tax relief scheme to encourage investment in film production by corporate and personal investors. Last year, 18 full length films and 11 major TV series were commenced or completed in Ireland. So far this year, I have certified 25 films for tax relief purposes and a further 20 applications for certification are under examination. I look forward with confidence, therefore, to a continuation and intensification of the vibrant film scene which we have experienced in this country over the past two years. We are beginning to see film makers with products of a very high standard coming through from an Bord Scannán, which is very welcome.
Maidir le Teilifís na Gaeilge, d'éirigh liom, mar is eol don choiste, aontú an Rialtais a fháil chun £10 milliún a chaitheamh ar oibreacha caipitil do Theilifís na Gaeilge i 1995. Tiocfaidh £6.4 mhilliún de sin ón teacht isteach a bhí carnaithe mar fharasbarr ar an "gcaipín" ar ioncam fógraíochta RTÉ agus an fuílleach ón Státchiste faoi Fho-mhírcheann P. 2. Cuirfidh an Státchiste an méid eile atá riachtanach chun tógáil an líonra a chríochnú— thart ar £6 milliún — ar fáil an bhliain seo chugainn. Tá thart ar £2.5 mhilliún á chur ar fáil i mbliana faoi Fho-mhírcheann P.1. chun íoc as na costais tosaigh neamh-chaipitil don tseirbhís nua, ceannach clár san áireamh. Tááthas orm a chur in iúl don choiste gur chuir RTÉ in iúl ag cruinniú le déanaí go bhfuiltear ag súil leis go gcomhlíonfar an sprioc chun an stáisiún nua a bheith ar an aer roimh dheireadh 1996.
The National Gallery of Ireland refurbishment project is nearing completion. A total of £8 million has been expended since 1990 to provide an upgraded gallery building for the national collection of old master and Irish paintings. The collection as is well known, has also been augmented in dramatic fashion in recent years by the gift of major paintings of, among others, Caravaggio, Vermeer, Goya and Murillo, the gifts of, respectively, the Jesuit Fathers, Sir Alfred and Lady Beit, and Mrs. Alice Murnaghan (who, incidentally has celebrated her 100th birthday this week and to whom I have written to thank her for her gift), in memory of her husband, the Hon. Justice James Murnaghan.
The refurbished building will have state of the art environmental and security conditions, new lifts allowing complete access by all visitors — this is an important issue which often came up — including those with disabilities, to every public area; a complete rehang of the picture collection; a dedicated watercolours, drawings and print display area, new publications; a portable audio guide for visitors; multimedia displays; and improved shop, restaurant and visitor services.
The gallery is also at an advanced planning stage in its efforts to construct a new wing on site at 27-29 Clare Street, specifically acquired for this purpose in 1990. The site, which is contiguous to the existing gallery will house new public galleries and a major temporary exhibition facility for receipt into Ireland of travelling exhibitions of the works of old master painters.
In the policy agreement for A Governmental of Renewal, it was agreed that the “Arts Plan 1995-1997” would be the basis for a programme of action in the arts. The plan was drafted by An Chomhairle Ealaíon in close consultation with my own Department, following a request by me to An Chomhairle at the end of 1993 to draw up such a plan. The plan sets out a strategy for the development of arts and culture in our society over the next three years, building on the exciting advances which have been made in this area since my initial appointment as Minister in January 1993. In essence the plan seeks to address the years of neglect by successive Governments and to place State support for arts and cultural expression in our society on a sufficiently high plateau within a relatively short period of time. The plan also addresses current funding of the arts by An Chomhairle Ealaíon over the next three years.
The plan was recently discussed in the Dail and I welcome the broad support that was forthcoming from all sides for the objectives contained therein, and the fact that our debate went on over two days shows the degree of interest and cross-party support that there is for development in this area, which I appreciate and am conscious of. I am interested in securing the future of this area and I pay tribute to anyone who did any work before my own Department was founded. We are dealing with a huge new demand from the public and we need to make provision for it. For that reason I was particullarly pleased that there was such a consensus that we should provide for this area.
A sum of £14.25 million was allocated to An Chomhairle Ealaíon in the 1995 Estimates discussions between myself and the Minister for Finance. In the budget I secured an extra allocation of £2 million for An Chomhairle Ealaíon, bringing the funding level in the Vote up to £16.35 million, an increase of some 22 per cent on the allocation for 1994.
Níl ach léargas gairid tugtha agam ar na réimsí oibre a thagann faoi scath mo Roinn-se ach tá súil agam go n-aontóidh sibh liom go bhfuil dul cinn nach beag á dhéanamh. Táim ag tnúth leis na Meastacháin seo a phlé libh agus aon cheisteanna atá agaibh go léir a fhreagairt chomh maith agus is feidir liom. Go raibh maith agaibh.