National Biodiversity Plan

Ceisteanna (25)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

25. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to support nature and biodiversity on a cross-Government basis despite recently cutting funding for the National Biodiversity Data Centre; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16712/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The National Biodiversity Data Centre is operated on contract under the aegis of  the Heritage Council and my Department supports it in two ways; through the annual funding of the Heritage Council and through project specific funding, which is being maintained at last year’s level, provided from the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department.  I have not cut funding for the Centre.

My Department collaborates closely with many Government Departments and agencies in relation to nature and biodiversity. The overarching strategy is set out in the National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017-2021. To further the implementation of the Plan, and to mainstream biodiversity within national policy, an interdepartmental Biodiversity Working Group was established in 2012 drawn from 18 Government Departments and Agencies. Members have responsibilities for sectors where activities can have a direct impact on biodiversity or where there are opportunities for changes in the management of environmental resources that can support biodiversity policy formation. These sectors include strategic and land use planning, agriculture and forestry, marine and freshwater fisheries, the management and monitoring of water and environmental quality, and the provision of transport and energy infrastructure. In addition, there are Government Departments or Agencies with responsibility for sectors where there are opportunities for synergies between biodiversity protection and community development, education or health.

This work of this  group is  reviewed by senior officials who meet periodically. 

My Department collaborates with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in regard to agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture and will be focusing on the next Common Agriculture Policy in the coming weeks and months.  Much of the biodiversity-related expenditure in the State is delivered through agri-environment schemes and the European Innovation Partnership operated by that Department.

At the recent National Biodiversity Conference I announced the "seeds for nature" a set of new commitments from Departments, agencies, State -owned companies and private business. 

Hare Coursing Data

Ceisteanna (26)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

26. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of hares captured for coursing for the 2018-2019 season; the number that have run courses to date in this season; the number pinned; the number examined by a vet; the number requiring treatment; the number euthanised; the number that died from injuries and natural causes, respectively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16489/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The information requested by the Deputy for the 2018/19 season, which would be provided to my Department by the Irish Coursing Club (ICC), is not yet available as the ICC are still compiling the data for the 2018/19 season which ended at the end of February this year. However, figures available for the 2017/18 season provided by the ICC indicate that some 5,044 hares were captured for coursing meetings, 5,017 hares were coursed, 177 hares pinned and 27 hares died during coursing meetings either through injuries, natural causes or were euthanised. Information on the number of hares examined by a veterinary surgeon or the number requiring treatment are available on individual veterinary and conservation ranger reports in respect of 2017/18 season which are published on the website of the National Parks and at https://www.npws.ie/licences/hare-coursing. Some of these reports for the 2018/19 season for a number of meetings are also available on the NPWS website.

Commemorative Events

Ceisteanna (27)

Colm Brophy

Ceist:

27. Deputy Colm Brophy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the details of the support being provided to local authorities under the community strand of the commemorative programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16665/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My objective in approaching the development of the State Commemorative Programme for the years from 2019 to 2023 is to ensure that, in remembering this complex period in our history, which includes the Struggle for Independence, the Civil War, the Foundation of the State, and Partition, we promote a deeper understanding of the significance of these events, which accepts that the shared historical experience of those years gave rise to very different narratives and memories. 

My aim is to provide a supportive structure that ensures that these, often deeply personal, events are remembered at county and community level in a respectful, measured, and non-partisan manner. I believe that local authorities have a significant role in encouraging appropriate and authentic citizen engagement, debate, and analysis, which is sensitive to the local context.

Under the Community Strand of the commemorative programme for the coming period, I am encouraging a collaborative approach - similar to that adopted for the 1916 centenary commemorations - between the State, local authority network and community organisations.

It is, I believe, very fitting that local authorities have a leading role in supporting inclusive and meaningful community-led commemorations which remember all of the lives lost, augmented as appropriate with support from the State, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

In recognition of the very important role that local authorities have played to date, and will continue to have, my Department hosted a special Decade of Centenaries forum for the local authorities on 13th March 2019. This event offered an important and timely opportunity to share their learnings to date with each other and also their views on how they plan to navigate the period ahead. It was very positively received by the 30 local authorities that were represented. It is clear that local authorities have already given significant and thoughtful consideration as to how they will plan for commemorations at county and community level over the remainder of the Decade.  

This year, I approved a funding allocation of €10,000 for each local authority  and funding allocations over the coming years will be considered as part of the annual estimates budgetary processes.

Heritage Sites

Ceisteanna (28)

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

28. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of the possible purchase by the State of High Island; if a further assessment of this proposal has been undertaken; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16739/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

In the interests of the preservation, conservation, management and presentation of the built and archaeological heritage, my Department seeks to acquire certain heritage properties and monuments as resources and opportunities permit.  As set out previously for the Deputy, from time to time these may come onto the open market, may be bequeathed to the State or may be offered to it free of cost. In addition, lands surrounding or in proximity to national monuments or heritage properties in State care (i.e. incorporating the setting of the monuments/properties) often reside in private ownership. In certain cases, improved protection of the monument/property, or access to the monument/property, would be possible if the State was to acquire such additional lands. 

In all cases the Department examines the potential acquisition carefully, taking into account the conservation needs of the property and Value for Money principles. 

The national monuments in State care already number some one thousand sites at over 760 locations around the country and these command considerable resource commitments in terms of both funding and personnel allocation. In addition, there are in excess of 120,000 monuments listed in the Record of Monuments and Places that are not maintained by the State. Recorded monuments are protected under Section 12 of the 1994 National Monuments (Amendment) Act and two months’ notice is required to be given to my Department in advance of works at, or in their vicinity. 

The property at the location referred to by the Deputy contains a national monument in my ownership as Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The day-to-day care of the monument is undertaken by the Office of Public Works on behalf of, and in consultation with, my Department. The national monument is fully protected under the provisions of the National Monuments Acts, 1930-2014, and any works at or in its vicinity require Ministerial Consent under Section 14 of the 1930 Act. There are also a number of recorded monuments on the property in private ownership, which are also protected under national monuments legislation. 

My Department, in cooperation with the Office of Public Works, is only in a position to acquire, maintain, conserve and present to the public a limited number of properties and monuments. 

 It is not deemed prudent to publicly disclose interest or not in potential future acquisitions. 

Museum Projects

Ceisteanna (29)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

29. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to support a museum (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16716/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My Department operates a wide range of funding schemes across all areas of the Departments' remit, details of which are available on my Department's website at www.chg.gov.ie.

I am advised that no application for financial support has been received by my Department in respect of the matter referred to by the Deputy.

City of Culture Initiative

Ceisteanna (30)

Hildegarde Naughton

Ceist:

30. Deputy Hildegarde Naughton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of preparations for Galway as EU Capital of Culture in 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16676/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

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. Arthur Lappin has recently been appointed as Chair of the Board of Galway 2020 and Artichoke, under the leadership of Helen Marriage, was appointed in January 2019 to deliver the Creative Director role for the project.  Artichoke is well known globally  for the successful delivery of large-scale and unique cultural events and performances and has a proven track record in programming, funding and audience development. This expertise and creativity will be brought to bear in an imaginative programme for Galway 2020.

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that Galway 2020 has this week announced an exciting open call for communities to develop projects for 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 an integral part of the cultural programme for 2020.

The Government has committed €15 million towards the funding of Galway 2020 as European Capital of Culture.   The terms and conditions for the provision of the funding are set out in a performance delivery agreement between my Department and Galway 2020. The agreement addresses the roles and responsibilities of the Department and Galway 2020 in the provision and expenditure of the grant, as well as the key deliverables and performance indicators attached to the drawdown of the grant, and the monitoring and reporting arrangements in place.

On 31 January 2019, my Department received the first management and auditors’ report under the performance delivery agreement from Galway 2020, in advance of a monitoring meeting with the company the following week.

The management report sets out the progress made by Galway 2020 in recent months, including the appointment of a new Chief Executive, the appointment of new board members, board and audit committee meetings held, the periodic reviews of risks undertaken, progress on the development of the cultural programme including the European dimension, community engagement, staffing, and the development of the partnership and monitoring and evaluation programmes.

The auditors’ report verified the payments reviewed and confirmed that Galway 2020 has followed best practice in transparency, accountability and securing value for money. The reports were discussed further at the monitoring meeting between officials from my Department and Galway 2020.

I am satisfied that Galway 2020 is progressing well with developing an imaginative and effective Capital of Culture programme and look forward to a successful and impactful year that will serve to further highlight the vibrant and diverse cultural offering both in Galway and in Ireland as a whole.

Architectural Heritage

Ceisteanna (31)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

31. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her views on the adequacy of procedures for identifying and protecting architectural heritage; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16715/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My functions as Minister with regard to the protection of our architectural heritage are set out in the Planning and Development Acts, as are the responsibilities of local authorities and owners. Part IV of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, gives primary responsibility to planning authorities to identify and protect the architectural heritage by including particular structures on the Record of Protected Structures (RPS).  

With regard to procedures for identifying architectural heritage, the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH) was established by the Architectural Heritage (National Inventory) and Historic Monuments (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1999. Its purpose is to identify, record, and evaluate the post-1700 architectural heritage of Ireland as an aid in its protection. 

As Minister, I can make recommendations to planning authorities for buildings and structures to be included on the Record of Protected Structures and these recommendations arise from the survey of the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH). Inclusion on the RPS places a duty of care on the owners and occupiers of protected structures and also gives planning authorities powers to deal with development proposals affecting them and to seek to safeguard their future. However, the final decision as to inclusion of a building or structure on the RPS remains a reserved function of the relevant planning authority. 

In respect of procedures for the protection of our architectural heritage, my Department provides financial support for the protection of heritage buildings and historic structures through a number of schemes which are generally administered by local authorities.

The Built Heritage Investment Scheme is a scheme for the repair and conservation of protected structures on the local authority Record of Protected Structures. It is designed to leverage private capital for investment in small scale conservation projects across the country and to support the employment of skilled conservation professionals and tradespeople. I have allocated funding of €2.5m in total for this Scheme in 2019.  

 The Historic Structures Fund (formerly the Structures at Risk 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 and the allocation for 2019 is €1.824 m.

Details of the projects approved under both funding schemes are published on my Department’s website and on local authority websites.

In terms of future funding, Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage 2018 – 2027 represents a major capital investment scheme of €1.2 billion in funding over the next 10 years, as part of Project Ireland 2040. This plan will see increased investment in protecting and celebrating our built heritage across the country. More details on the commencement and completion dates for projects and programmes, as well as the timing of the expenditure in relation to them, will emerge as we go through the process of appraisal and planning as required under the Public Spending Code. 

Film Industry Tax Reliefs

Ceisteanna (32)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

32. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her views on whether delays by the Revenue Commissioners in issuing guidelines for the new regime of film tax breaks could deter film productions from locating here and damager the industry in general; and if she has had communications from the industry and with the Minister for Finance or the Revenue Commissioners to end the logjam created by the delay in publishing guidelines. [16487/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The Finance Act 2018 introduced a number of changes to Section 481, the film tax relief which include changes to the administration of the scheme designed to speed-up the time required to decide on applications for the relief as well as an extension of the relief to 31 December 2024 and a higher rate of relief for certain productions outside the Dublin Wicklow region known as the regional uplift.

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the Film Regulations 2019 were published on 27 March 2019 along with the new Application Form and Guidelines Note on the website of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht https://www.chg.gov.ie/arts/creative-arts/projects-and-programmes/film/

The other changes  are changes to the relief itself. As  the film tax relief is a State Aid, the consent of the European Commission is required. A formal notification has been made to the Commission and a decision is awaited.

Queries relating to the Revenue Commissioners should be directed to my colleague the Minister for Finance.

National Parks

Ceisteanna (33)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

33. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if an assessment has been undertaken into the cause and extent of damage caused by recent fires in Killarney National Park. [16741/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I would like to take this opportunity to put on official record my thanks to both the Kerry Fire Service and the staff from my Department's National Park and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in Killarney, and of course all the volunteers who came to our assistance on Friday evening and Saturday morning 29 and 30 March who worked tirelessly through the night to quench the fire at Torc Mountain. Preliminary mapping by NPWS staff has shown that that in excess of 70 hectares (175 acres) of priority habitat has been extensively damaged by this fire, as well as having severe localised impact on flora and fauna. The cause of the fire is still under investigation and the NPWS will be following up with authorities including the Kerry Fire Services to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the blaze. As the fire spread on Torc Mountain East to South, parts of the boardwalk have also been damaged and consequently the walk had to be closed temporarily while the route is assessed and repaired. Parts of the boardwalk will need to be replaced including some wire netting and sleepers.

As you are aware, significant environmental damage can be caused by illegal burning. Wild fires are not a natural phenomenon in Ireland and can have a local impact on species that cannot escape, or that lose breeding habitat as a result. Such impacts are generally fairly short term, but could be very serious for species that are already in decline, such as curlew. Some plant and moss species  may be lost  or greatly reduced. UK research showed that where scrub such as gorse is burned it can have a lasting impact on soils and cause increased erosion which can in turn impact on rivers through increasing siltation of the water, especially if this burning happens repeatedly.

My Department and I condemn the spate of wildfires in recent years and would appeal to members of the public to be conscious of the dangers posed by fire on open ground. Even planned and/or "controlled" burning can get out of hand very quickly, so it is critically important that every member of society realises the damage that can be caused to property and, indeed, the health and welfare of family, neighbours and the wider community, and the responding emergency services. The main source of wild fires is thought to be the deliberate starting of fires without concern for the consequences. Aside from such malicious activities, one of the main challenges is to encourage members of the public, (including landowners, farmers and recreational users of publicly accessible land), to act responsibly at all times, to be mindful of their own safety and the safety of others, to be mindful of the need to protect property, both publicly owned and privately owned and to appreciate the value of our natural heritage, particularly in our National Parks, Nature Reserves and Designated (Natura 2000) Sites.

In conclusion, I would again appeal to all members of the public to be conscious of the danger posed by fire - any fire - but particularly a fire on open ground which can very quickly get out of control.  We have all seen how homes and lives can be threatened and we can also see the damage to the landscape and to valuable habitats caused by uncontrolled fires.

National Concert Hall

Ceisteanna (34)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

34. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the progress of the transfer of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra following the publication of RTÉ Orchestras: Ensuring a Sustainable Future; the specific actions that have been undertaken to consult members of the orchestra; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16756/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

Following the publication of the report by RTÉ that it commissioned from independent consultants Helen Boaden and Mediatique on the RTÉ Orchestras entitled RTÉ Orchestras Ensuring a Sustainable Future, the Government  agreed in principle that the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra (RTÉ NSO) should come within the remit of the National Concert Hall (NCH). The Government  also authorised the initiation of discussions on the implementation of the recommendations of the report. 

The overall aim of the Government decision in relation to the proposed transfer of the RTÉ NSO is to enable the orchestra to be established as a world class orchestra which would, with the NCH, provide a creative and imaginative programme strategy that would greatly enhance the offering of the combined organisation to the public.

An Oversight Group and Working Group have been established with formal terms of reference, with a view to identifying and addressing the relevant issues to be addressed to enable the successful transfer of the NSO from the remit of RTÉ to the remit of the NCH.  

The work of the Oversight Group is continuing.  The Group has met on a number of occasions and has agreed on the importance of a proper communication process between the Oversight and Working Group and representatives, members and support staff of the NSO,  to ensure that the orchestra is informed on a timely basis about all aspects of the proposed transfer of the NSO, and can input to the process. In this regard, a meeting has already been held with representatives of the NSO to update them on developments to date.  It is intended to arrange another meeting shortly with representatives of the NSO for a further update. 

Architectural Heritage

Ceisteanna (35)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

35. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which progress has been made to protect listed buildings and sites of cultural and heritage interest deemed to be at risk; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16697/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My functions as Minister with regard to the protection of our architectural heritage are set out in the Planning and Development Acts, as are the responsibilities of local authorities and owners.

The Planning and Development Acts give primary responsibility to planning authorities to identify and protect our architectural heritage by including structures on the relevant local authority’s Record of Protected Structures.  Inclusion on the Record of Protected Structures places a duty of care on the owners and occupiers of protected structures and also gives planning authorities powers to deal with development proposals affecting them and to seek to safeguard their future.

The decision as to whether a building is placed on, or removed from the Record of Protected Structures is a reserved function of the relevant local authority. My Department does not keep a record of derelict or semi-derelict sites across the country, nor does it keep heritage sites under review generally, except where these sites are national monuments in State care or otherwise part of the historic national heritage estate which is managed by the Office of Public Works.

As Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, I am the owner or guardian of almost 1000 national monuments in State care right across the country, ranging from prehistoric burial monuments to medieval fortifications and religious sites. Sites in my ownership or guardianship are maintained by the Office of Public Works. Conservation matters in relation to these sites are managed through regular liaison between the OPW and my Department, identifying condition issues and proposing appropriate conservation actions, carried out under consent where relevant.

My Department also provides funding to the OPW to assist in the conservation and presentation of historic buildings and national monuments in State ownership.  As in previous years, in cooperation with its Office of Public Works and local authority partners, my Department’s National Monuments Service will also make available such funding as may be required over the course of 2019 in relation to the discharge of my functions as Minister under the National Monuments Acts, 1930-2014, to support rescue excavations and post excavation research at archaeological sites where there is an urgent risk to such being irreparably lost or damaged.

My Department provides financial support for the protection of heritage buildings and historic structures through a number of schemes which are generally administered by local authorities.

The Built Heritage Investment Scheme is a scheme for the repair and conservation of protected structures on the local authority Record of Protected Structures. It is designed to leverage private capital for investment in small scale conservation projects across the country and to support the employment of skilled conservation professionals and tradespeople. I have allocated funding of €2.5m in total for this Scheme in 2019.  

The Historic Structures Fund (formerly the Structures at Risk 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 and the allocation for 2019 is €1.824 m.

Details of the projects approved under both funding schemes are published on my Department’s website and on local authority websites.

In terms of future funding, Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage 2018 – 2027 represents a major capital investment scheme of €1.2 billion in funding over the next 10 years, as part of Project Ireland 2040. This plan will see increased investment in protecting and celebrating our built heritage across the country. More details on the commencement and completion dates for projects and programmes, as well as the timing of the expenditure in relation to them, will emerge as we go through the process of appraisal and planning as required under the Public Spending Code.

The Heritage Council, which my Department funds, also provides grants for the protection and preservation of the built heritage.  It is primarily a matter for the Heritage Council to decide how its funding should be allocated across the range of research, education and conservation programmes it supports.  Grant schemes are advertised by the Heritage Council on its website www.heritagecouncil.ie.

Built Heritage Investment Scheme

Ceisteanna (36)

Noel Rock

Ceist:

36. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the level of interest shown in the north-west areas of Dublin city in the built heritage investment scheme and historic structures fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16635/19]

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 in 2019. Details of these projects and the funding 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 Act 2000 (as amended) or within Architectural Conservation Areas. It is administered by local authorities.

The maximum grant under BHIS is €15,000. The allocation for 2019 is €2.5m. The minimum offered to each local authority in 2019 was €60,000. Not all local authorities accepted the full amount offered.

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, 55 projects proposed by Dublin City Council, including 9 in the north-west area of Dublin, were approved under BHIS to the value of €308,000, an increase of 3% over 2018.  

The nine projects funded in north-west Dublin under the BHIS are as follows:

- St. Columba's Church, 87 Iona Road, Dublin 9 - €5,500;

- St. Mobhi's Church of Ireland, Church Avenue, Glasnevin, Dublin 9 - €2,500;

- 131 North Circular Road, Dublin 7 - €5,500;

- St. Peter's National School, Phibsborough, Dublin 7 - €7,000;

- 343 North Circular Road, Dublin 7 - €2,500;

- 41 Montpelier Hill, Arbour Hill, Dublin 7 - €7,000;

- Gate Lodge/Coachhouse, Prospect Square, Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin 9 - €5,500;

- Church of St. John the Baptist, Church Avenue, Drumcondra, Dublin 9 - €7,500; and

- St. Columba's National School, Iona Road, Glasnevin, Dublin 9 - €2,500.

The Historic Structures Fund (formerly the Structures at Risk 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 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 HSF 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. Four awards totalling €440,000 were made, of which €240,000 will be spent this year.

Dublin City Council indicated they had received 16 applications under HSF in 2019, of which 6 were put forward to my Department for consideration. A further application was made directly to my Department. Following assessment, 5 projects, including one in the north-west area of Dublin, were approved to the value of €331,000.

The project funded under the HSF for north-west Dublin was: Drumcondra House, DCU All Hallows Campus, Drumcondra, Dublin 9. It received €15,000.

Imeachtaí Cultúrtha

Ceisteanna (37)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

37. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Catherine Connolly den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cad é clár na n-imeachtaí teanga-lárnaithe atá beartaithe ag Gaillimh 2020; an bhfuil an tOifigeach Cumarsáide Gaeilge fostaithe; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [16597/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

Ag céim na tairisceana ar Phríomhchathair Chultúir na hEorpa, d’aithin Gaillimh an teanga ar cheann de thrí phríomhthéama. Sa leabhar tairisceana, Making Waves, deirtear gurb í Gaillimh tobar na Gaeilge agus gurb í Cathair na Gaillimhe an chéad chathair in Éirinn a ainmníodh mar chathair dhátheangach. I measc oidhreacht Ghaillimh 2020 a luaitear sa leabhar tairisceana tá:

- Méadú ar an líon daoine a bheidh ag labhairt na Gaeilge ina saol laethúil agus

- Méadú ar tuiscint ar an tionchar dearfach a bhaineann le dhátheangachas.

Tá ríméad orm a thabhairt le fios don Teachta go bhfuil Oifigeach Gaeilge earcaithe ag Gaillimh 2020 agus gur thosaigh an té sin i mbun oibre an 1 Aibreán 2019 chun maith a dhéanamh d’aidhmeanna Ghaillimh 2020 i leith na Gaeilge mar ghné thábhachtach den chlár.

Air Services Provision

Ceisteanna (38)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

38. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to include air services to Inishbofin as part of the tender process for services to the Aran Islands in 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16495/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My Department is currently working towards the publication of tender documents for a Public Service Obligation air service for the Aran Islands which would commence in the autumn of 2019.  Aviation consultants have been engaged to assist with this process.  My Department has no plans to include an air service for Inishbofin as part of that process. 

In relation to Public Service Obligation air services, it must be borne in mind that Member States of the EU may only impose such services with the prior consent of the EU.  No such consent has been sought in relation to Inishbofin. 

The Deputy should be aware that arrangements are being made by my Department to transfer a small section of the Inishbofin site to the HSE for the construction of a new health centre for the island community, while the facility at Cleggan is being provided to the Coast Guard for use as a landing base serving the west coast.  Neither of these new facilities will, I should add, in any way prejudice the future use of either site for the provision of air services between Inishbofin and the mainland.

Built Heritage Investment Scheme Funding

Ceisteanna (39)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

39. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to assist owners of registered protected structures who wish to preserve their properties but are unable to do so as heritage works cost approximately 1.75 times more than standard repair works; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16714/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My functions as Minister with regard to the protection of our architectural heritage are set out in the Planning and Development Acts, as are the responsibilities of local authorities and owners.

There are more than 45,000 protected structures spread across all 31 local authority areas in the country. The Planning and Development Acts give primary responsibility to planning authorities to identify and protect architectural heritage by including structures on the relevant local authority’s Record of Protected Structures.  Inclusion in the Record of Protected Structures places a duty of care on the owners and occupiers of protected structures and also gives planning authorities powers to deal with development proposals affecting them and to seek to safeguard their future.

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 this year 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.

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 HSF 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. 

The Heritage Council, which my Department funds, also provides grants for the protection and preservation of the built heritage. It is primarily a matter for the Heritage Council to decide how its funding should be allocated across the range of research, education and conservation programmes it supports.  Further information about its Grant schemes is available from the Heritage Council and on its website www.heritagecouncil.ie.

In terms of future funding, Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage 2018 – 2027 represents a major capital investment scheme of €1.2 billion in funding over the next 10 years, as part of Project Ireland 2040. This plan will see increased investment in protecting and celebrating our heritage across the country. More details on the commencement and completion dates for projects and programmes, as well as the timing of the expenditure in relation to them, will emerge as we go through the process of appraisal and planning as required under the Public Spending Code.

Deer Hunting

Ceisteanna (40)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

40. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if her attention has been drawn to the fact that locals and tourists were denied access to a large part of the Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park, Altnaboy, County Mayo until noon each day between 21 December 2018 and 7 January 2019 to facilitate legitimate deer hunting; the nature and purpose of the hunting; the persons or bodies who carried it out; and the number of animals killed. [16675/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I am aware that the Wild Nephin-Ballycroy National Park was temporarily closed for a short period over a number of mornings in late December 2018 and early January 2019. As you will appreciate, while the state owns the lands making up the National Park, some of these holdings include areas where shooting and fishing rights are in the ownership of third parties. In common with all landowners in the country, the state must respect these pre-existing property rights. 

The Deer hunting in question occurred in the area of Altnabrockey and Muinguell, Bellacorick. A third party owns a significant area of shooting and fishing rights in the townlands of Altnabrockey and Muinguell, including the state owned properties and where the Western Way walking route is passing through.

The regional staff of Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park received a notice from this third party, advising that a written permission had been given to a deer hunter to shoot deer over the area of land mentioned above. There was further contact from the deer hunter who provided the regional staff with the information on the dates and times of his deer hunt.  

National Parks and Wildlife Staff posted notices at all access points advising the public of the activities taking place for a certain period in the mornings only. 

Wild deer in the State are protected under the Wildlife Acts, however, there is an annual open season during which deer can be legally shot under licence. The open season for deer operates generally from 1st September to the last day of February, depending on the species and gender of deer.

The Department appreciates that temporary closures of this kind might be inconvenient for the public. Representatives of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department plan to hold a meeting with the aforementioned third party, with the aim to reach a mutually acceptable management agreement for any such deer hunting in the future.

National Parks and Wildlife Service Remit

Ceisteanna (41)

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

41. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the role the National Parks and Wildlife Service has in the designation of national parks. [16740/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

There are six National Parks in Ireland. The IUCN, also known as the World Conservation Union which is affiliated to the United Nations, is the international authority which sets the criteria for the protected areas of the world. As far as the National Parks are concerned, in 1969, the IUCN established three characteristics which an area should share in order to be considered a National Park.

All of Ireland's six National Parks are managed as Category II National Parks under the criteria set out by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Under this Category, ownership and management should normally be by the highest competent authority of the State.

Accordingly, all National Parks in Ireland are fully owned and managed by the State through the National Parks and Wildlife Service Division (NPWS) of my Department. It is the policy of the Department to abide by the criteria and standards for the National Parks laid down by the IUCN.

The National Parks in Ireland are managed under several pieces of enabling primary and secondary legislation. .

No new National Parks have been designated recently. However, my Department makes strategic land purchases from time to time in order to consolidate and enhance its sites. In 2016 my Department completed the purchase of 5,000 hectares of lands in Glenasmole which were added to Wicklow Mountains National Park, expanding the total size of this National Park to some 22,000 hectares. In late 2017 my Department announced the expansion of Ballycroy National Park to include the area known as Wild Nephin, expanding the total size of the National Park to over 15,000 hectares.

Film Industry

Ceisteanna (42)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

42. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if her attention has been drawn to allegations of the blacklisting of workers in the film industry who have raised questions about employment rights and the abuse of public funding in the industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16757/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

All workers in the arts and film industries are covered by the same legal protections afforded by employment law as is the case with all other industries. 

The position of Employees insecure contracts and those working variable hours should face an improved situation with the passage of new legislation in December by my colleague the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection.  The legislation introduces 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.  

In the case of workers in the film industry, I am pleased that the recently introduced Film Regulations 2019 require applicants for Section 481 tax relief to sign an undertaking that they will provide quality employment, and training and skills development opportunities and that they will comply with all applicable laws. 

In their  appearance at the Joint Committee for Employment Affairs where issues around false employment were discussed last November, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection spoke of  their  month-long media campaign on false self-employment and the service provided by that Department.  The campaign directed people to a dedicated page on its website (www.welfare.ie/employmentstatus) which includes information on the tests used to determine employment status and how to request a formal determination from the Department as well as information about and contacts for the Workplace Relations Commission and Revenue.  Further details of the discussion can be accessed on the Oireachtas website.

Marine Institute

Ceisteanna (43)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

43. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the person or body responsible for conducting post-mortems on whales found dead on beaches; if an analysis has been conducted as to the cause of the recent spate of deaths; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16742/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

There is no legal responsibility assigned to a body for conducting post-mortems on large whales found dead on Irish coasts. Such strandings are infrequent, are logistically problematic and post mortems require particular expertise which is not normally available in Ireland. My Department is not the body responsible for the conduct of such post mortems.

I understand, however, that a programme is operated by the Marine Institute, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group and the Regional Veterinary Laboratory of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to carry out post mortems on a number of dolphins and porpoises each year. This work is co-funded with the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

Employment Rights

Ceisteanna (44)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

44. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the measures she plans to take to improve income and employment security for workers who work in theatres, films and the arts in general; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16758/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I am aware of the challenges referred to in the question and I am continuing to deliver additional supports to the arts and culture sectors including the film sector in line with Government commitments, as evidenced in Budget 2019. 

Primary support for the arts is delivered through the Arts Council. Funding for the Arts Council has increased in recent years and now stands at €75 million in 2019, and increase of some €6.8m or 10% over 2018. The Arts Council, which is independent in its funding decisions under the Arts Act 2003, operates within a published 10 year strategic framework entitled Making Great Art Work. This strategy prioritises support for artists throughout their careers, by the involvement of many agencies in cultural provision, by the impact of the arts on the creative economy, and by the depth and breadth of people's engagement with the arts. The Arts Council now include as an assessment criterion, an organisation’s policy on the remuneration of artists. This aims to ensure that organisations in receipt of Arts Council funding should offer fair and equitable remuneration to artists.

With regard to legal protections for workers in the arts and film industries, it is important to note that employees in every industry and sector are entitled to all existing legal protections. The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018, which was passed in December, addresses insecurity and unpredictability of working hours for employees on insecure contracts and those working variable hours. The Act 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; and to amend the Workplace Relations Act 2015.  

In the case of workers in the film industry, I am pleased that the recently introduced Film Regulations 2019 require applicants for Section 481 tax relief to sign an undertaking that they will provide quality employment, and training and skills development opportunities and that they will comply with all applicable laws. 

In appearing before the Joint Committee for Employment Affairs where issues around false employment were discussed last November, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection spoke of a month-long media campaign on false self-employment and the service provided by that Department. The campaign directed people to a dedicated page on its website (www.welfare.ie/employmentstatus) which includes information on the tests used to determine employment status and how to request a formal determination from the Department as well as information about and contacts for the Workplace Relations Commission and Revenue.