Questions Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, answered orally.

National Monuments

Questions Nos. 7 to 11, inclusive, answered orally.

Ceisteanna (6)

Paul Murphy

Ceist:

6. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if the National Monuments Acts will be amended to ensure that members of the public that find archaeological objects and consign them to the National Museum of Ireland after the use of a metal detector with no intention of searching for archaeological objects would not be liable to prosecution; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16557/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The statutory provisions relating to the use or possession of detection devices for archaeological purposes, and in relation to discoveries of archaeological objects generally, are set out in the National Monuments Acts.  

While it is unlawful to be in possession of, or to use, a detection device on any monument site protected under those Acts without Ministerial consent under section 2 of the 1987 National Monuments (Amendment) Act, such consent is only otherwise needed where the device is being used for the express purpose of searching for archaeological objects.  Therefore, where a person using a detection device other than to search for archaeological objects finds such an object and complies with the legal requirement to report it to the National Museum, they would not have committed an offence under the National Monuments Acts. In summary, if an archaeological object is discovered by chance, provided the find is reported as required, no offence would be committed.   

I do want to emphasise, however, that unregulated and inappropriate use of metal detectors does cause serious and irreparable damage to Ireland’s archaeological heritage.  Unsupervised recovery of archaeological objects can greatly diminish, and could entirely eliminate, any research value that might be gained from a particular discovery.  Archaeological objects must be excavated in a structured scientific manner, with careful recording of their association with other objects, structures, features and soil layers.

I believe that the Deputy would support me in wanting to retain a system where important cultural heritage material found in the State belongs to the people and is not liable to fall into private ownership and that he would back the existing legislative framework rather than seeking to introduce changes that would be inappropriate to the circumstances as they exist in Ireland.

I consider the present legislative framework, and the manner in which it is implemented, to be reasonable, proportionate and essential to preventing irreparable loss and damage to our national heritage. Therefore, I have no proposals to make any changes to the law as it applies to the use of metal detecting devices.

Questions Nos. 7 to 11, inclusive, answered orally.

City of Culture Initiative

Ceisteanna (12, 23)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

12. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her views on whether the funding proposed for European City of Culture programme Galway 2020 will be adequate and ambitious enough to deliver a first class programme. [16486/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

23. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht further to Parliamentary Question No. 62 of 16 January 2019, the breakdown of sponsorship raised by Galway 2020 to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16598/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 12 and 23 together.

In December 2014, the Government decided that Ireland should exercise its right to nominate a European Capital of Culture for 2020 and committed in principle at that time to provide €15m to the selected project. Galway's designation as European Capital of Culture 2020, is a great honour for Ireland and a wonderful opportunity to strengthen and promote our culture nationally and internationally. It is particularly important in ever changing circumstances that Ireland uses this opportunity well to celebrate the creativity of Galway, on the periphery of Europe and mark Ireland's place in this important EU led celebrations of culture.

The Government's support of €15m represents the largest single contribution to the overall cost of Galway 2020 as the European Capital of Culture.  The Government's contribution is provided under the terms of a Performance Delivery Agreement setting out the respective roles and responsibilities of the Department and Galway 2020 in the provision and expenditure of the grant, the key deliverables and performance indicators attached to the drawdown of the grant. 

In addition to the funding being granted by my Department the other key partners are Galway City Council and Galway County Council who have guaranteed a minimum of €6m and €2m respectively. 

A full breakdown of Galway 2020’s income and expenditure is publicly available on the website and reported to my Department on a quarterly basis as part of our performance delivery agreement.

A large scale fundraising drive is underway.  Galway 2020’s fundraising team is engaging with local, national and international businesses very positively and effectively.  It is understood that the process to negotiate and agree packages with fundraising partners takes time to finalise for each individual business and Galway 2020 are of course anxious to ensure that both sides get the same level of satisfaction from the partnership.

As is normal for projects of this scale, it is envisaged that the fundraising drive will continue throughout 2019, into and during 2020, with funding realised throughout the entire duration of the project.

In line with the terms of the Performance Delivery Agreement, regular monitoring meetings are held between my Department, Galway 2020 and Galway City Council and Galway County Council, as the other main stakeholders,

Galway 2020’s ambition is to deliver an artistic and cultural programme that will exceed expectations and leave a lasting legacy for Galway city and county.  In January 2019, Artichoke, under the leadership of Helen Marriage was appointed to deliver the Creative Leadership role for the project.  Having masterminded many large and unique cultural events, spectacles and arts performances, this expertise and creativity will be brought to bear in an imaginative programme for Galway 2020.

As Galway 2020 is moving into the delivery phase of the Capital of Culture, it is signing contracts with organisations, artists and performers for the performances and events that they will hold under the overall delivery programme.  The programme continues to evolve as Galway 2020 has this week announced an exciting open call for communities to develop projects for inclusion in

the cultural programme for Galway 2020, European Capital of Culture. 

Funding of €200,000 will be awarded by Galway 2020 across the successful

community groups to create and deliver thrilling projects that could transform

their communities.  These projects will form will form an integral part of

the cultural programme for 2020

At an organisational level, a number of changes have taken place over the past year. The company is now led by Patricia Philbin, formerly of Galway City Council, who had a direct role in the bid book phase and recent appointments to the Board include Arthur Lappin as Chair. In addition, the securing of the cultural production company Artichoke. Artichoke who has a proven track record in programming, funding and audience development, has given the project important cultural leadership.  

While aspects of these changes gave rise to some local concerns during the initial bedding down stage, I believe that it is now timely for all to work within the timeframe to assist in delivering what is being designed an exciting and innovative programme for 2020 in Galway.

The first of the monitoring meetings was held with the company in February when officials from my Department met with the Chief Executives of Galway City Council and Galway County Council, and separately with the senior management team in Galway 2020 to discuss progress on all key aspects of the project. All parties are working together to achieve the best possible programme in 2020.

To date funding has been paid to Galway 2020 toward certified expenditure incurred on the research and development phase for 27 projects that will comprise the key deliverables under the culture programme for Galway 2020. This expenditure is in line with the terms of the performance delivery agreement, which aligns Department funding to the successful delivery of the cultural projects concerned.

It is proposed that the Government funding will be rolled out on the basis of €6 million in 2019   and the remainder of the Government committed funding will flow over 2020 and 2021. I believe this level of support with additional funding by other public and private partners will deliver an ambitious and exciting first-class programme for Galway 2020 as European Capital of Culture.

Preparations for Galway as European Capital of Culture 2020 are progressing apace. I understand that the Galway 2020 team is working hard to deliver an artistic and cultural programme that will exceed expectations and leave a lasting legacy for the city and county of Galway and Ireland.

Ireland is not unique in having personnel changes during the planning and delivery phase of a European Capital of Culture. What is important now that structures and personnel are in place, is that the public funding commitment to Galway 2020 is used to maximum impact to show globally that Galway and Ireland are a place of creativity, innovation and an exciting programme is on offer for all to experience.

Wildlife Control

Ceisteanna (13)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

13. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if licences have been granted for the capture of hares on lands owned by Coillte. [16710/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My Department issued one permit in 2012 under the Wildlife Acts to Coillte to remove a maximum of tens hares from their lands in Co Carlow as they were causing damage to red oak trees.    The hares were captured by means of nets and released back into the wild onto lands in agreement with officials of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department.   

 This permit was granted under section 42 of the Wildlife Acts which offers a facility whereby a person can obtain a permit, on a case by case basis, to prevent serious damage caused by individual species on specific lands. Permissions are only issued where there is evidence of such damage.  Such applications are considered very carefully, are evidence based, and involve scientific input, as appropriate  The vast majority of these permits are issued for deer species.

I have no evidence to suggest that hares have been captured on Coillte lands for hare coursing meetings.  The licence that my Department issues to the Irish Coursing Club to capture hares specifies that landowner permission is required of the owner or occupier of the land in question.  I am not aware if Coillte, or any other State body for that matter, would have given permission to coursing clubs to capture hares on their lands for use at coursing meetings.

I would add that in 2014 members of a coursing club were found by officials of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Departmental capturing hares on Departmental lands in Boora, Co. Offaly without the Department’s permission. My Department took prosecutions against a number of club individuals and a number of them were subsequently fined in court.    

I am aware that the Deputy has raised the issue of the monitoring of coursing meetings on a number of occasions. Officials of the National Parks and Wildlife Services of my Department have monitored some thirty five coursing events during the 2018/19 season which ended at the end of February.  During the previous 2017/18 season, 35 coursing events were monitored while during the 2016/17 season a total of 17 coursing events were monitored by my Department. Veterinary surgeons of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food also monitor meetings.

Built Heritage Investment Scheme

Ceisteanna (14)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

14. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she will provide a summary of the level of interest in the built heritage investment scheme and historic structures fund in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16673/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My Department provides financial support for the protection of heritage buildings and historic structures through the Built Heritage Investment Scheme (BHIS) and the Historic Structures Fund (HSF), formerly the Structures at Risk Fund (SRF), which are administered by local authorities.

On 28 March I announced funding of €4.3m for 478 projects under these schemes. Details of these projects are available on my Department's website and on local authority websites. 

The Built Heritage Investment Scheme is designed to leverage private capital for investment in a significant number of labour-intensive, small scale conservation projects across the country and to support the employment of skilled and experienced conservation professionals, craftspeople and tradespersons in the repair of the historic built environment. The scheme helps with the repair and conservation of structures that are protected under the Planning and Development Acts or within Architectural Conservation Areas. It is administered by local authorities.

Under the Built Heritage Investment Scheme, local authorities assess the applications before sending them to my Department for approval. My Department does not request the total number of applications received by the local authority. In 2019, 13 projects proposed by Kildare County Council were approved under Built Heritage Investment Scheme to the value of €79,000, an increase of 58% over 2018.  

Built Heritage Investment Scheme – Kildare 2019  

   Name and Address of Structure      

   Grant  

  

   

Church of Ireland Kilberry

€7,000

St. Michael's Church, Athy

€7,000

Johnstown Graveyard & Church, Johnstown

€5,000

An tSeanchill, Donaghcumper, Celbridge

€3,000

Church of the Holy Saviour Narraghmore

€5,000

Ard Na Gréine, Canal View, Sallins

€7,000

7 Canning Place, Newbridge

€8,000

Leixlip Boathouse, Leixlip

€8,000

Pebble Hill House, Maynooth

€7,000

Riverstown House, Kildangan

€10,000

Grattan Vault, Tea Lane Graveyard, Celbridge

€3,000

Mill Cottage, Millicent Sth, Sallins

€4,000

Thatch cottage Tomastown

€5,000

Total

€79,000

The Historic Structures Fund is for conservation works to heritage structures, in both private and public ownership. The primary focus of the Historic Structures Fund is on conservation and enhancement of historic structures and buildings for the benefit of communities and the public. The fund is generally administered through the local authorities who prepare a shortlist of applications and each one can send a maximum of three private and one public project forward for assessment by my Department.

Grants under Stream One of the Historic Structures Fund are for amounts of between €15,000 and €50,000. Under Stream Two a small number of larger grants, up to €200,000, was also available for historic structures in private and public ownership. 

Kildare County Council indicated they had received 9 applications under the Historic Structures Fund in 2019, of which 3 were put forward to the Department for consideration. Following assessment, one project, Newbridge College Clock Town (Junior House) was approved in County Kildare to the value of €25,000.

Arts Council

Ceisteanna (15)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

15. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when the arrangements to appoint a new chair to the Arts Council of Ireland will be completed; the number of other vacancies on the council; and when she plans to fill same. [16717/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The Public Appointments Service operates a dedicated website, www.stateboards.ie, through which it advertises vacancies on State Boards. Since this website was set up in 2014, with the exception of certain statutorily defined appointments, it has consistently been used by my Department to identify suitably qualified members of the public who are interested in serving on boards under my remit. The overall process is coordinated between the Public Appointments Service and the State Board Liaison Officer for my Department

All appointments to Boards under the remit of my Department including the Arts Council are managed through the Public Appointments Service process. At present there is a total of four vacancies on the Arts Council which includes the Chair.

The position of Chair of the Arts Council was advertised on the State boards' website seeking expressions of interest for the Chair of the Arts Council with a closing date of 14 March. Following advice from the Public Appointments Service, the closing date was extended to 29 March. In accordance with the State Boards Appointment Process, the Public Appointments Service will convene an assessment panel to consider and assess the expressions of interest received. The role of the assessment panel is to prepare a list of suitable candidates for the appointing Minister. 

When I receive the panel's report of its deliberations from the Public Appointments Service, I will select for appointment, the candidate I deem to be the most suitable. Once I appoint a candidate and make the appointment, the Public Appointments Service is notified of the decision and all applicants are notified of the outcome. I expect that the process will be concluded shortly.

Following the appointment of the Chair, my Department will prepare an information booklet for the filling of the remaining three vacancies on the Arts Council.

Film Industry

Ceisteanna (16)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

16. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if her attention has been drawn to a protest (details supplied) and proposals for further escalated actions by film industry workers; and the action she will take to ensure industrial peace. [16483/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I am aware of reports of the protest to which the Deputy refers.

It is important to note that employees in every industry and sector are entitled to all existing legal protections of employment law and the film industry is not exempt. The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018, which was signed into law by the President in December, should improve the situation of insecurity and unpredictability of working hours for employees on insecure contracts and those working variable hours.

It provides for a requirement that employers provide employees with certain terms of employment within a certain period after commencing employment; to impose sanctions for certain offences; to further provide for a minimum payment due to employees in certain circumstances; to prohibit contracts specifying zero as the contract hours in certain circumstances and to provide for the introduction of banded contract hours; to further provide for prohibition of penalisation and for those purposes to amend the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 and the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997; to amend the Workplace Relations Act 2015; and to provide for related matters.

The Finance Act 2018 made changes to Section 481 the film tax relief and the Revenue Commissioners made the Film Regulations 2019 to give effect to these changes on 27 March 2019. The new Regulations include a signed undertaking in respect of quality employment which requires both the producer company and the qualifying company to comply with all obligations in the field of environmental, social and employment law. The producer company and the qualifying company must be responsible for compliance with all statutory requirements of an employer, have in place written policies and procedures in on Grievances, Discipline and Dignity at work (including harassment, bullying and equal opportunity). The companies are also required to provide details of any Work Place Relations Commission decisions aligned with confirmation that any findings against the companies have been followed or an explanation where the finding has not been followed.

My Department will continue to work through the Audiovisual High Level Steering Group to address issues raised in the audiovisual industry, and to support the industry and the people who work in it.

Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla

Ceisteanna (17)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

17. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Catherine Connolly den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cad é stádas Bhille na dTeangacha Oifigiúla (Leasú); cén dáta a fhoilseofar an Bille; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [16595/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

Mar chúlra, is iarracht í an Bhille seo, trí na ceannteidil éagsúla, an timpeallacht a chruthú ina mbeidh ról níos lárnaí ag an teanga in obair an Stáit, go mbeidh an teanga níos feiceálaí agus go mbeidh fáil níos leithne ar sheirbhísí trí Ghaeilge. 

Agus an Bille á thabhairt chun cinn, cuireadh tréimhse comhairliúcháin ar bun leis na bpáirtithe leasmhara. Leagadh na Ceannteidil faoi bhráid Chomhchoiste na Gaeilge, na Gaeltachta agus na hOileáin agus foilsíodh tuarascáil ag eascairt as an bpróiseas seo roimh samhraidh 2018. Tá an tuarascáil sin scrúdaithe anois ag mo Roinn i gcomhthéacs dréachtú an Bhille. 

Beidh sé mar ollchuspóir sa Bhille go mbeidh 20% de na daoine nua a earcaítear don tseirbhís phoiblí inniúil sa Ghaeilge, go mbeidh gach oifig phoiblí atá lonnaithe sa Ghaeltacht ag feidhmiú trí Ghaeilge agus go mbeidh comhlachtaí poiblí in ann freastal ar an éileamh ón bpobal ar sheirbhísí trí Ghaeilge. Is í an earcaíocht croí-lár na ceiste agus táim dóchasach gur féidir tógáil, ar bhonn chéimiúil, ar líon na bhfostaithe le Gaeilge sa Statchóras agus, ag eascairt as sin, go mbeifear in ann feabhas a chur ar sholáthar seirbhísí trí Ghaeilge, mar is cóir.

Tá oifigigh mo Roinne ag obair faoi láthair i gcomhar le hOifig an Ard-Aighne chun Bille na dTeangacha Oifigiúla (Leasú) a dhréachtú. Tá an Bille san áireamh i gClár Reachtaíochta an Rialtais le foilsiú roimh an samhradh agus tá mé tiomanta chun é sin a dhéanamh.

Film Industry

Ceisteanna (18)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

18. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht further to Parliamentary Question No. 19 of 21 February 2019, if she will report on the membership and work programme of the Audiovisual High Level Steering Group; her views on the way in which the group will help to resolve the ongoing disputes and issues across the film industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16761/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The Government established an Audiovisual High Level Steering Group to implement the Audiovisual Action Plan which was published in June 2018. The Group has met five times to date and provides for a whole-of-Government approach to the audiovisual industry with representatives from all Government Departments and State Agencies that have an involvement with the audiovisual industry as follows:

- Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht;

- Department of Finance;

- Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment;

- Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation;

- Department of Education and Skills;

- Revenue Commissioners;

- Screen Ireland;

- Broadcasting Authority of Ireland;

- IDA; and

- Enterprise Ireland.

The Steering Group is working to implement the actions which are detailed in the Audiovisual Action Plan. An annual progress report will be prepared over the coming months. 

The Audiovisual Group does not have a role in the resolution of disputes. The State has formal institutional arrangements for the resolution of disputes in all industries and the audiovisual industry is also subject to these arrangements which consist of the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court.

The Finance Act 2018 made changes to Section 481 the film tax relief and the Revenue Commissioners made the Film Regulations 2019 to give effect to these changes on 27 March 2019. The new Regulations include a signed undertaking in respect of quality employment which requires both the producer company and the qualifying company to comply with all obligations in the field of environmental, social and employment law. The producer company and the qualifying company must be responsible for compliance with all statutory requirements of an employer, have in place written policies and procedures in on Grievances, Discipline and Dignity at work (including harassment, bullying and equal opportunity). The companies are also required to provide details of any Work Place Relations Commission decisions aligned with confirmation that any findings against the companies have been followed or an explanation where the finding has not been followed.

My Department will continue to work through the Audiovisual High Level Steering Group to address issues raised in the audiovisual industry, and to support the industry and the people who work in it.

Abbey Theatre

Ceisteanna (19)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

19. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she has engaged with representatives of a theatre (details supplied) with regard to reports of three complaints made by staff; if she is satisfied that these matters are being addressed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16753/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

Any complaints which could be presumed to be those referred to by the Deputy relating to the organisation to which she refers, are a matter for that organisation in the first instance. It would be inappropriate for me to comment in any way on individual cases that may exist.

I would like to point out that Boards of organisations have a duty to ensure that their bodies comply with statutory requirements and to ensure that their staff can work in a safe, dignified and respectful environment free from bullying and harassment. The governance of publicly funded theatres, as with all bodies, is a matter for the Board of the theatres themselves.

I have worked together with officials in my Department, the Arts Council and leading members of theatre organisations since my appointment as Minister to encourage a safe and respectful environment in all cultural organisations. My Department also liaises with the Arts Council in relation to the provision of training to cultural organisations and arts centres around the country through a series of regional information days.

I have repeatedly stated that everyone, regardless of their job, is entitled to work in an atmosphere in which respect, dignity, fairness and equality are very much the norm. I have also reaffirmed my continued commitment to measures aimed at eliminating workplace harassment in the arts and culture sector

My Department has also provided boards under the aegis of my Department with corporate governance training to fulfil their functions more effectively, and to support them in ensuring that policies in relation to equality and respect in the workforce operate effectively in line with best practice. Some of these actions include:

Arranging separate dedicated Governance workshops for board members and senior staff with a particular emphasis on issues relating to bullying, abuse of power and sexual harassment in the workplace;

Working on a collaborative basis with the Arts Council to make similar training available to other cultural organisations and arts centres around the country at a series of regional information days; and

Highlighting to bodies reporting to the Department the nature of their legal obligations, by seeking assurances of their compliance with obligations under employment legislation.

Arts Council Funding

Ceisteanna (20)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

20. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the position with regard to the funding of a festival (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16755/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My Department has not been formally approached by the Lughnasa FrielFest in the context of the provision of funding. However, my Department operates a Small Festivals and Summer Schools Scheme which is currently open for applications at https://www.chg.gov.ie/arts/culture/grants-and-funding/small-scale-local-festivals-summer-schools/. The maximum funding available under the Scheme is €5,000 and the closing date for receipt of applications is Friday 19th April.

The Scheme is designed to support local cultural festivals and summer schools which are not in receipt of other central Government monies and which may not be eligible under funding criteria for larger scale events supported by Fáilte Ireland, the Arts Council and similar bodies.

The Festivals Investment Scheme operated by the Arts Council is also currently open for applications for events that will take place between January and June 2020. These applications close on Thursday 9th May and details may be found at http://www.artscouncil.ie/Funds/Festivals-Investment-Scheme/.

Arts Funding

Ceisteanna (21)

James Browne

Ceist:

21. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to fund arts projects in County Wexford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16490/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

In the context of funding for arts projects in County, Wexford County Council are being allocated €96,750 under the Creative Ireland Programme in 2019 to support a series of initiatives over the course of 2019 that reflect the strategic priorities outlined in their own Cultural and Creativity Strategy (available online). However they retain full discretion in relation to what projects to fund. In addition, €15,000 is being allocated to Wexford County Council to support the delivery of a specific programme of events for Cruinniú na nÓg 2019 will take place on 15 June 2019.

I have also approved a funding allocation of €10,000 for Wexford County Council in 2019 under the Decade of Centenaries programme.  This funding is provided to support local authorities in 1) responding to the themes of the State commemorative programme for 2019; and 2) in developing inclusive, appropriate and citizen-focused initiatives, to encourage people of all ages to explore the diverse aspects of the political, historical, social and cultural context of that period. 

Wexford County Council are also eligible for funding for Culture Night. Applications are currently open and the Department is in ongoing communication with the Council in this regard (the Council received €6,250 in 2018 for Culture Night activities).

My Department also operates a number of funding schemes for arts projects, including the Small Festivals and Summer Schools Scheme and the Cooperation with Northern Ireland Scheme which are currently open for applications - details of the Schemes may be found at https://www.chg.gov.ie/arts/culture/grants-and-funding/.

Finally, my Department has allocated capital funding of €1m to the National Opera House in Wexford and €1m allocated to the Wexford Art Centre.

Film Industry Tax Reliefs

Question No. 23 answered with Question No. 12.

Ceisteanna (22)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

22. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she will report on preparations within her Department to implement new regulations for section 481 tax relief; if officials within her Department are conducting talks with officials in the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners; the timeline for the introduction of new regulations; the preparedness within her Department to receive applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16752/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The Finance Act 2018 introduced a number of changes to the film tax relief which included changes to the administration of the scheme designed to speed-up the time required to decide on applications for the relief.  The Film Regulations 2019 were made by the Revenue Commissioners on 27 March 2019 and provide for the implementation of this change.  

Section 481 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, as amended by the Finance Act 2018, provides for the making of an application by a producer company directly to the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for a certificate stating that the film is to be treated as a qualifying film for the purpose of Section 481.  Applications were previously made directly to the Revenue Commissioners. 

An application for certification must be made in writing to the Minister at least 21 working days prior to the commencement of the Irish production. Applications should be made using the application form available on the website of the Department and guidance on completing the applications form is also available on the website

Where the Minister issues a certificate in relation to a qualifying film, and all the other provisions of Section 481 have been complied with, a producer company may make a claim to the Revenue Commissioners for the film corporation tax credit.

I am pleased to inform the Deputy the new arrangements are already fully operational in my Department which has already received an application and issued certification under the new regulations.

The Regulations, new Application Form and Guidelines are published on the website of my Department at https://www.chg.gov.ie/arts/creative-arts/projects-and-programmes/film/.

 In addition, my Department is providing a briefing to the audiovisual industry today in conjunction with the Revenue Commissioners. 

Question No. 23 answered with Question No. 12.

National Parks and Wildlife Service

Ceisteanna (24)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

24. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the resources provided to the National Parks and Wildlife Service for the conservation of the two biospheres here; the way in which the biospheres are protected; if the NPWS monitors planning applications and plans that may impact on the biospheres; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16488/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

Biospheres are internationally recognized for their natural resources and biodiversity, where nature and human activities connect. Yet, they are also actively managed to promote a balanced relationship between people and nature; conservation on the one hand, and sustainable economic development and human activity on the other hand. Another important goal of biospheres is promoting research and learning.

Biospheres or biosphere reserves were established under UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme launched in 1971. Places are awarded Biosphere Reserve Status by UNESCO but are managed in partnership by communities, NGOs and local and national governments.

The EuroMAB 2019 conference was hosted by Dublin Bay Biosphere from Tuesday 2nd April to Friday, 5th April.  This conference was a biennial four-day conference for stakeholders from 302 UNESCO Biospheres in 36 countries across Europe and North America.  The conference welcomed practitioners, managers, policy-makers, researchers, educators, ecologists, scientists, social entrepreneurs, creative and community leaders. Ireland sits on the Steering Group of the Man and Biosphere Programme, and is represented by Dublin Bay Biosphere.

To support sustainable development, UNESCO’s concept of a Biosphere has since evolved to include not just areas of ecological value but also the areas around them and the communities that live and work within these areas. Reflecting its significant environmental, economic, cultural and tourism importance.  

Ireland has two designated UNESCO Biospheres. These are Dublin Bay and Kerry Biosphere Reserve. They were originally designated in the early 1980s. The Department (represented by the National Parks and Wildlife Service) is the national focal point for Biospheres under UNESCO and is a partner to both Biospheres.

Development within Biospheres is subject to an existing comprehensive legislative and policy planning framework implemented by all levels of government.  Biospheres are an internationally recognised designation which does not alter these existing frameworks.  Biosphere Partnerships are not a planning reference body involved in land use planning deliberations or discussions.  While they remain neutral on individual developments, a Biosphere Partnership may make information available to inform evidence-based discussion, where appropriate. There are no additional planning burdens as a consequence of biosphere designations but in some cases areas are already designated as SAC/SPA and in the case of Kerry, contain National Park land so are already afforded protection. 

The original biosphere designation in Kerry centred on Killarney National Park. Since 2017 my Department has funded works within Killarney National Park in the region of over €1.5m and refurbished Killarney House and Gardens as an interpretative centre for the Core Area of the Biosphere. My Department is not the anchor component of the Dublin Bay Biosphere. It has  provided significant professional and expert support through the NPWS and it also provides small amounts of project funding from time to time. Circa €30K has been provided in the last two years.

Through its ten year capital plan for investment, Investing in Our Culture, Language and Heritage 2018 – 2027, my Department has committed to safeguarding our unique natural heritage and biodiversity and ensure a sustainable future.  We intend to celebrate and highlight Ireland’s remarkable heritage on the international stage through investment in the management of our UNESCO Biosphere reserves.