Inland Waterways Maintenance

Ceisteanna (51)

James Lawless

Ceist:

51. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans for dredging or otherwise removing weed from the Royal and Grand canals, particularly through County Kildare, to enable boat, barge and canoe traffic and render same navigable to develop tourism and amenity prospects; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24097/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

Irish canals are unique aquatic ecosystems that are managed by Waterways Ireland to serve a multitude of recreational and amenity pursuits including navigation, angling, paddle sports, walking and nature study. 25 km of the Royal Canal and 86 km of the Grand Canal pass through Co Kildare.

Aquatic vegetation growing in the navigation channels of the Grand Canal and Royal Canal is not removed by dredging but is controlled by cutting with weed boat/weed harvester during the growing season (May to October), as resources permit and is currently on-going.

The growth (which increases with heat and water temperature) of aquatic vegetation occurs simultaneously along the 420km of navigable waterway in the Eastern Region and unfortunately it is not possible to cut all of it at the same time. In conjunction with this, the mechanical limits of weed cutting equipment can also cause delays in the length of navigable channel cleared which can upset the planned weed control programme for the remainder of the season. Biodiversity and ecology concerns need to be taken into account too.

Waterways Ireland is guided by its 3 year Aquatic Weed Management Plan (2017 to 2019) for the Grand and Royal Canals and is informed by operational needs and best international practice. The plan considers both protected and invasive aquatic weed species (IAS) and pays due cognisance to the need for biosecurity during all aquatic weed control operations, in order to minimise the spread of invasive alien species (IAS).

In 2018 Waterways Ireland in conjunction with Kildare County Council completed a scoping exercise of the tourism businesses and amenities of Co Kildare. Businesses in the county were invited to capacity building workshops to assist them in cross-selling, networking and building out their business to take advantage of the tourism opportunities the Royal Canal and associated products could provide. This work is continuing in 2019. On the Grand Canal work is at an early stage to begin the same process. Waterways Ireland promotes tourism along the waterways through a "Head into The Blue" strategic marketing campaign. Businesses engage with the campaign which rolls out across the island, North and South through the provision of offers. Businesses in Co. Kildare have participated in this campaign in 2019.

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (52)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

52. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the local festivals and summer schools she is supporting in County Sligo through the 2019 scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24265/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My Department ran a Small Scale Local Festivals and Summer Schools funding scheme, applications for which closed on 19th April 2019. €75,000 was allocated to this scheme with maximum funding of €5,000 available per applicant. Grants are awarded on a competitive assessment basis.

There as unprecedented demand for this scheme in 2019 with 109 applications received (there were 71 in 2018 and 20 in 2017, the latter being the first year of the scheme). Four applications were received from County Sligo.

It is my intention to announce the results of the 2019 Small Scale Local Festivals and Summer Schools Scheme in the coming week and details of allocations will be published thereafter on my Department's website at https://www.chg.gov.ie/arts/culture/grants-and-funding/small-scale-local-festivals-summer-schools/

Heritage Projects

Ceisteanna (53)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

53. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to create a specific funding scheme for community groups to assist them in the care, conservation and promotion of old graveyards and burial sites; and her views on whether community groups require more assistance to carry out this work. [24057/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

As Minister, I am the owner or guardian under the National Monuments Acts 1930-2014 of some 1,000 national monuments, including historic graveyards, located at 760 sites around the country. In all these cases, the Office of Public Works has statutory responsibility for the care and maintenance of these national monuments. Local authorities are responsible under the National Monuments Acts for maintaining national monuments of which they are owners or guardians.

Under the provisions of the National Monuments Acts, my Department has established and maintains the Record of Monuments and Places, which affords legal protection to all recorded archaeological sites and monuments in the State, including historic graveyards. The majority of historic graveyards are in local authority ownership, while a smaller number would be in privately owned.

Funding for local heritage projects is available through the LEADER programme and eligible proposals may include the conservation and repair of church ruins, mausolea, graveyards and graveyard boundary walls. My Department’s National Monuments Service has produced a guidance document “The Care and Conservation of Graveyards” which would be of assistance to community groups engaged in the type of project envisaged by the Deputy.

It would also be important to note that anyone proposing works to, at, or in the vicinity of a monument included in the Record of Monument and Places must give my Department two months prior notice of the works.

Invasive Plant Species

Ceisteanna (54)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

54. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the threat that invasive species are posing in County Louth; and the measures being taken to combat same. [24188/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My Department is responsible for the implementation of the Wildlife Acts and the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 477/2011), both of which prohibit the spreading of invasive species.

In law, control of invasive species is a matter in the first instance, for landowners. In this regard, my Department carries out considerable work on a national basis controlling invasive species in National Parks and Nature Reserves but has neither the legal ambit nor the resources required to extend such work into urban areas or the wider countryside, and is not in a position at present to provide dedicated funds for such work direct to landowners.

There is significant work, however, being carried out at present by a range of agencies in this area, including a number of local authorities. In addition, the Management of Invasive Alien Plant Species (IAPS), launched in 2016 and led by Transport Infrastructure Ireland, is a €5.5 million project aimed at managing invasive knotweed and other non-native invasive plant species on the national road network and its interactions with regional roads. The project involves collaboration with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS).

While my Department does not collect data from local authorities on the incidence of specific invasive species in their areas, information on the distribution of invasive species in Ireland is available on the invasive species section of the National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC) website at http://maps.biodiversityireland.ie.

Information on general management approaches to invasive plant species is available from the Invasive Species Ireland website:

http://invasivespeciesireland.com/toolkit/invasive-plant-management/

Finally, in 2018 my Department piloted a targeted grant scheme for local authorities to assist with the implementation of actions contained in the National Biodiversity Action Plan. This scheme included a funding stream to specifically target invasive alien species. The scheme has been rolled out again in 2019 with significantly increased funding and local authorities may include in their applications projects that target invasive alien species in their areas. The closing date for receipt of applications was 29th May 2019 and it is envisaged that grants will be allocated to local authorities in the coming weeks.

Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge

Ceisteanna (55)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

55. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cén dul chun cinn atá le déanamh i mbliana i bhfeidhmiú na Straitéise Fiche Bliain don Ghaeilge; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [24059/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

Is é an Plean Gníomhaíochta 2018-2022 a d’fhoilsigh mo Roinn i mí Meithimh 2018 an mapa bóthair atá leagtha amach chun cúram a dhéanamh d'fheidhmiú na Straitéíse 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge don tréimhse cúig bliana ó 2018 go dtí 2022.

Is ann a leagtar amach cad atá beartaithe a dhéanamh sa tréimhse sin chun tuilleadh cúraim a dhéanamh den Ghaeilge agus den Ghaeltacht mar a bhaineann sé leis na naoi réimse gnímh faoi leith atá luaite sa Straitéis.

Mar atá ráite agam go minic roimhe seo, ag croílár an Phlean Gníomhaíochta, tá na bearta comhaontaithe a leagtar amach ann. Tá breis agus 180 díobh ann, a chuirfear i bhfeidhm i gcomhar le os cionn 60 páirtí leasmhar. Leagtar an bhéim is mó ar an méid a dhéanfar go sonrach ar bhonn comhpháirtíochta thar 5 bliana. Tá tráthchlár ama luaite le gach beart agus luaitear chomh maith, ar ndóigh, na páirtithe a bheidh freagrach as na bearta a chur i bhfeidhm.

Tá Coiste Stiúrtha, atá freagrach as monatóireacht a dhéanamh ar chur i bhfeidhm agus ar dhul chun cinn an phlean bunaithe anois agus bhí trí chruinniú aige go dtí seo. Tá sé i gceist go dtiocfaidh an coiste le chéile ar bhonn rialta agus mar atá leagtha amach sa phlean, go bhfoilseofar tuairisc bhliantúil maidir le dul chun cinn, tar éis don tuairisc a bheith faofa ag an Rialtas. In thaobh sin, tá beartaithe go bhfoilseofar an chéad tuairisc bhliantúil i bhfómhar na bliana seo.

Mar léargas ar an dul chun cinn praiticiúil atá déanta maidir le cur chun feidhme an Phlean Gníomhaíochta agus na Straitéise, luafainn roinnt rudaí a leanas:

- Leanfaidh mo Roinn ag obair as lámh a chéile leis an Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna chun an Polasaí don Oideachas Gaeltachta 2017-2022 a chur chun cinn.

- Leanfar le cur i bhfeidhm an phróisis pleanála teanga mar a leagtar amach é faoi Acht na Gaeltachta 2012 atá faoi lán seoil faoi láthair. As an 26 Limistéar Pleanála Teanga atá ainmnithe sa Ghaeltacht, tá 14 plean teanga ceadaithe go dáta faoin bpróiseas. Mar thoradh ar sin, tá 11 Oifigeach Pleanála Teanga agus 3 Oifigeach Cúnta fostaithe sa Ghaeltacht chun na pleananna sin a chur i bhfeidhm. Tá súil ag mo Roinn go mbeidh suas le 23 plean in iomlán ceadaithe faoin bpróiseas faoi dheireadh na bliana. Ina thaobh sin, tá soláthar €550,000 breise ar fáil don phleanáil teanga do 2019, rud a fhágann go bhfuil €3.2m in iomlán ar fáil i mbliana.

- Tá buiséad iomlán caipitil de €9.7m curtha ar fáil ag mo Roinn d'Údarás na Gaeltachta in 2019 le hinfheistíocht a dhéanamh i mbonneagar fisiciúil fiontraíochta agus gnó sa Ghaeltacht.

- Tá €980,000 breise curtha ar fáil don Chlár Tacaíochtaí Pobail agus Teanga de chuid mo Roinne féin do 2019. Ciallóidh sé sin go bhfuil ciste breise ann chun cabhrú tuilleadh le gnóthaí teanga agus pobail sa Ghaeltacht i mbliana. Fágann sé seo go bhfuil soláthar iomlán de €9.692m ar fáil do 2019.

- Tá Coiste stiúrtha bunaithe ag an Roinn Leanaí agus Gnóthaí Óige chun maoirseacht a dhéanamh ar fheidhmiú plean cuimsitheach don earnáil luathoideachais Gaeilge.

- Tá mo Roinn ag dréachtú Bille na dTeangacha Oifigiúla (Leasú) i gcomhair le hOifig an Ard-Aighne faoi láthair.

- Tá súil ag mo Roinn an Plean Digiteach don Ghaeilge a fhoilsiú go luath.

- Táthar ag leanúint leis an obair leis na hinstitiúidí ábhartha san AE chun tacú le deireadh a chur leis an maolú don Ghaeilge san Aontas Eorpach faoi 2021.

Is léir, mar sin, go bhfuil dul chun cinn súntasach idir lámha agus go bhfuil céimeanna móra á nglacadh i rith an ama chun a chinntiú go bhfuil an státchóras ag déanamh a chion chun cúram a dhéanamh den Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge.

Film Industry Tax Reliefs

Ceisteanna (56)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

56. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of plans for the regional uplift element of section 481 relief; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24330/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

Section 481 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides a 32% payable credit for eligible expenditure on film production in Ireland. It is available to Irish and international film production companies that are resident in the State or in a European Economic Area State and carry on business in the State through a branch or subsidiary.

In addition to extending the credit's end date from 2020 to 2024, Finance Bill 2018 provided for a short-term, tapered regional uplift, commencing at 5%, for productions being made in areas designated under the State aid regional guidelines. As the film tax relief is a State Aid, the regional uplift was announced subject to EU State aid approval.

The process of notifying the EU of the regional uplift is under way and is being dealt with by the Department of Finance. It is currently not possible to give a definitive timeline as to when this process will be completed.

Arts Funding

Ceisteanna (57)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

57. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if her attention has been drawn to the number of artist studios and creative community spaces that are at risk of closing down due to increased costs in commercial rents; her plans to ensure affordable spaces for artists and exhibitions in view of the contention that creative spaces are necessary in order for an arts culture to thrive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24279/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I am acutely aware of the issue regarding the provision of affordable studio space, particularly as a result of the changing property market. My Department has had discussions with the Arts Council, the Office of Public Works and some local authorities to consider possible short-term and longer-term approaches to the issue, both in relation to specific issues in Dublin and to wider national approaches. In that regard my Department, in conjunction with Dublin City Council, has agreed in principle to make up to €3m available towards artists workspaces in Dublin. There are certain sites in the city currently being examined for their suitability in this regard by the City Council. This level of investment will greatly benefit the artists in this area and address the deficit in artist workspaces in Dublin City.

Under the recent Arts and Culture Capital Scheme 2016-2018 funding of €10.214 million was awarded by my Department to a total of 134 arts organisations around the country. The list of all successful projects under this Scheme is available on my Department’s website. I would like to state that these allocations included over €900,000 in funding for projects involving artist's studios and creative spaces.

In addition, as part of the Government’s initiative on the North East Inner City, my Department awarded a grant of €35,000 in 2016 to Fire Station Artists' Studios, Buckingham Street, to assist in providing additional studio space in conjunction with Dublin City Council.

The Arts Council operates a number of schemes and initiatives have been established for the particular support of visual arts, including the Visual Artists Workspace Scheme. This scheme is funded by the Arts Council and is administered on its behalf by Visual Artists Ireland. I understand that under the scheme, Visual Artists Ireland invites applications for grants of up to a maximum of €40,000 (current funding) towards running costs such as light, heat, rent, artists’ development programmes, administration and/or appropriate salary costs. A proportion of support up to a maximum of 20% of the total request may be directed toward essential maintenance and equipment expenditure.

The purpose of the Visual Artists Workspace Scheme is to support artists’ workspaces throughout the country to provide the best possible working environment for visual artists and, where feasible, to enable a level of subsidy for the artists working in these spaces. I understand that the Arts Council announced grant awards totalling €221,000 in 2018 covering up to 19 different locations and 700 visual artists, further details can be accessed on the Arts Council newsletter at the following link:

http://www.artscouncil.ie/News/Arts-Council-to-fund-workspaces-around-Ireland-for-hundreds-of-artists-in-2018/

The Arts Council, which is independent in its funding decisions under the Arts Act 2003, operates the scheme within a published 10 year strategic framework entitled Making Great Art Work as well as its published Visual Arts Policy & Strategy and others. Further information on the scheme as well as the Arts Council policies which support this scheme can be accessed on the Arts Council website at the following links: http://www.artscouncil.ie/Arts-in-Ireland/Visual-arts/; http://www.artscouncil.ie/Funds/Visual-artists-workspace-scheme//

Practical information in relation to the Visual Artists Workspace Scheme may be accessed on the Visual Artists Ireland website at the following link:

https://visualartists.ie/advocacy-advice-membership-services/visual-artists-workspace-scheme/.

Wildlife Protection

Ceisteanna (58)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

58. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she will request the national biodiversity centre to cease listing specific locations including grid references of sightings of protected birds and animals, particularly species targeted and persecuted by coursers, hunters and shooters such as hares, badgers, deer, otters, pine martens and so on; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24078/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC) is funded in the main by Heritage Council. It is also supported by my Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service which work closely with the NBDC on a range of issues, supplying it with very large volumes of data and working, for examples, around invasive alien species and biodiversity awareness.

Readily available data on the distribution of Irish species is considered a significant aid to the full consideration of nature and biodiversity in policies and programmes at many levels of administration. The creation of a national biodiversity database and mapping system was intended to address this particular need so that decision making across sectors can more readily incorporate the needs for the conservation of species and account for impacts on biodiversity.

Already the usage of the National Biodiversity Data Centre’s Mapping System demonstrates that information on protected, threatened and invasive species is increasingly being used to inform decisions in relation to planning, on individual site level but also through EIAs and Appropriate Assessments.

The National Biodiversity Data Centre operates Ireland’s citizen science portal which provides a facility for members of the public to engage in biodiversity recording by submitting sightings of wildlife and to map these sightings. This portal has received a high level of engagement by the general public, with almost 12,000 people submitting records, generating almost 430,000 observations of more than 8,600 different species.

Any data submitted through this system are licensed for publication under the Creative Common with Attribution (CC-BY) license. The data are then freely available for use by others, provided they are correctly attributed. This is a commonly used license for publishing data and conforms to the Irish Government’s open data policy.

The National Biodiversity Data Centre does, however, have a strong duty of care to ensure that the provision of open data does not significantly increase the risk to the conservation of species. To this end, the Data Centre constantly reviews its operations and takes on board advice from partner organisations, in particular my Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service, on issues where it is prudent not to disclose specific location information on threatened or protected species. Situations are reviewed on a case by case basis, and safeguards are already in place to protect some of the most vulnerable species.

Measures have been taken not to disclose detailed location information for a number of species, including Freshwater Pearl Mussel, Killarney Fern, Irish hare, all bat roosts, White-tailed sea eagle, Golden Eagle, Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Peregrine and Merlin.

Údarás na Gaeltachta

Ceisteanna (59)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

59. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Dara Calleary den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil sí sásta leis na hullmhúcháin atá déanta don Bhreatimeacht chun go mbeidh cliant chuideachtaí an Údaráis ábalta dul i ngleic leis an mBreatimeacht. [24268/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

Dírím aird an Teachta ar an bhfreagra a thug mé ar Cheist Dála Uimhir 3 ar an 21 Feabhra 2019 maidir leis an ábhar seo. Mar a thug mé le fios sa bhfreagra sin, ar mhaithe le haon ábhar imní maidir leis an mBreatimeacht a chíoradh leo, tá teagmháil leanúnach ar bun ag Údarás na Gaeltachta lena chuid cliantchomhlachtaí le tacú leo agus le n-iad a spreagadh le hanailís a dhéanamh ar thacaíochtaí margaíochta agus forbairtí straitéiseacha ar a ngnó. Tuigtear dom sa chomhthéacs seo gur eagraigh an tÚdarás seimineáir agus seisiúin eolais dá gcuid féin ar an mBreatimeacht ar mhaithe le cur ar shúile na gcomhlachtaí an tábhacht a bhaineann le bheith ullamh ina leith. Ina theannta sin, tuigtear dom go mbíonn an tÚdarás páirteach in ócáidí faisnéise faoin ábhar a bhíonn á reáchtáil ag gníomhaireachtaí stáit eile lena n-áirítear Fiontar Éireann.

Sa bhreis air sin uile, tá curtha in iúl ag an Údarás go bhfuil siad ag comhoibriú le gníomhaireachtaí Stáit eile i ndáil le cur chuige comhordaithe maidir leis an mBreatimeacht agus go bhfuil siad i mbun an scéim tacaíochta agus comhairleoireachta Bí Réidh a riar dá chuid cliantchomhlachtaí.

In éindí leis an scéim "Bí Réidh" , cuirtear scéimeanna tacaíochta eile ar shúile comhlachtaí maidir le feabhas a chur ar ghnéithe sonracha dá ngnó.

Ar chomhairle na Roinne Fiontraíochta, Gnó agus Nuálaíochta, rinne Údarás na Gaeltachta anailís ar leochaileacht comhlachtaí Gaeltachta do thionchar an Bhreatimeachta ag tús an bliana seo agus chuaigh feidhmeannaigh an Údaráis i dteagmháil in athuair le comhlachtaí a raibh ard-scór acu san anailís sin agus leis na comhlachtaí sin atá ag brath ar an Ríocht Aontaithe mar phríomhmhargadh, ach go háirithe. Mar thoradh ar an anailís seo, léirítear go bhfuil suas le 25 comhlacht ann a bhféadfadh Breatimeacht neamheagraithe tionchar níos suntasaí ná a chéile a imirt orthu. Chun aghaidh a thabhairt air seo, tá straitéis aonarach ábhartha á réiteach agus á cur i bhfeidhm i gcomhair le bainistíocht na gcomhlachtaí sin. Tá comhlachtaí eile aitheanta chomh maith a mbeidh tionchar mór ag an mBreatimeacht orthu i dtaobh easpórtála, conarthaí trádála, athruithe airgeadais, táillí ar tháirgí, rialacha custaim nua srl de.

Tuigtear dom chomh maith go bhfuil an tÚdarás i dteagmháil le Corparáid Baincéireachta Straitéiseach na hÉireann agus go bhfuil faisnéis maidir leis na scéimeanna Iasachta atá á riar ag an eagraíocht sin á scaipeadh ar a gcuid cliantchomhlachtaí.

Ní call a rá chomh maith go mbíonn Údarás na Gaeltachta ag obair as lámh a chéile le Fiontraíocht Éireann chun a chinntiú go bhfuil an tacaíocht atá ar fáil maidir le Scéim Iasachta na Breatimeachta ar fáil do chomhlachtaí Gaeltachta.

Sa chomhthéacs sin, is fiú a lua go bhfuil Meamram Comhthuisceana i bhfeidhm le tamall de bhlianta anuas idir Údarás na Gaeltachta agus Fiontraíocht Éireann, rud a chinntíonn go bhfuil fáil ag comhlachtaí Gaeltachta ar scéimeanna éagsúla tacaíochta a chuireann Fiontraíocht Éireann ar fáil ar fud na tíre. De thoradh seo agus, go deimhin, an comhoibriú leanúnach atá idir an dá eagraíocht, táim sásta go mbeidh fáil ag cliantchomhlachtaí Údarás na Gaeltachta ar na deiseanna agus na hacmhainní céanna atá ar fáil do chomhlachtaí atá faoi scáth Fhiontraíocht Éireann.

Ar bhonn praicticiúil, is fiú dom a chur in iúl don Teach seo gur aontaigh Údarás na Gaeltachta comhaontú ceangal cómhalartach Oifigí Gnó le Cumainn Tráchtála na hAlban ag deireadh 2018 faoina a mbunófar oifigí trádála cómhalartacha chun tacú le comhlachtaí i nGaeltacht na hÉireann agus in Albain agus chun infheistíocht agus deiseanna trádála a éascú. Feidhmeoidh an socrú seo mar acmhainn luachmhar d’fhiontair bheaga agus mheánmhéide atá ag iarraidh a bpáirtíocht idirnáisiúnta gnó-go-gnó a leathnú.

Ar deireadh, níl dabht ach gur dúshlán substaintiúil a bheadh i mBreatimeacht neamheagraithe don Ghaeltacht agus don tír ar fad. Sin ráite tá mise mar Aire Stáit don Ghaeltacht sásta leis na hullmhúcháin atá déanta agus á ndéanamh ag Údarás na Gaeltachta don Bhreatimeacht. Go deimhin, táim cinnte go bhfuil gach céim gur féidir á tógáil ag an Údarás chun a chinntiú go bhfuil ar chumas na gcliantchomhlachtaí is leochailí atá acu iad féin a réiteach agus go bhfuil fáil acu ar gach tacaíocht atá ar fáil.

An Coimisinéir Teanga

Ceisteanna (60)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

60. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Dara Calleary den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cad a cheapann sí faoi Thuarascáil Bhliantúil 2018 an Choimisinéara Teanga. [24267/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

Mar is iondúil, d'fhoilsigh an Coimisinéir Teanga tuarascáil bhliantúil an-chuimsitheach a léiríonn an réimse leathan oibre atá ar siúl ag a oifig agus a thábhachtaí is atá an obair sin do phobal na Gaeilge.

Tharraing an Coimisinéir aird ar leith ar nithe áirithe, eadhon:

Ceannteidil Bhille na dTeangacha Oifigiúla (Leasú) a foilsíodh in 2017

Léirigh sé díomá nach raibh na leasuithe don Acht mar Bhille foilsithe go fóill. Chuir sé fáilte roimh an mholadh ón Chomhchoiste don Ghaeilge, an Ghaeltacht agus na hOileáin, go mbeadh Gaeilge ag 20% d'iontrálaithe nua sa státseirbhís. Mhol sé fosta córas nua caighdeáin teanga in áit scéimeanna teanga. Dhearbhaigh sé go raibh pleanáil mar is cóir de dhíth chun tosaíochtaí a aithint maidir le soláthar seirbhísí poiblí trí Ghaeilge.

Bliain na Gaeilge 2018

Mhol sé na himeachtaí a bhí ar siúl mar chuid de Bhliain na Gaeilge 2018.

Imscrúduithe.

I measc na n-ocht n-imscrúdú a rinneadh i rith 2018 bhí ceann suntasach maidir le RTÉ. Dúirt an Coimisinéir go raibh níos lú ná 1% de chraoltaí Gaeilge ar RTÉ ainneoin an dualgas atá ar an chomhlacht réimse cuimsitheach cláracha Gaeilge a chur ar fáil. Bhain imscrúdú eile le Comhairle Chontae na Gaillimha agus úsáid na Gaeilge ar na meáin shóisialta.

Gearáin

Cé gur fhan an líon gearán seasmhach (634) ó 2017, tháinig méadú ar an líon gearán a bhain le deacrachtaí ainmneacha agus nó seoltaí i nGaeilge a úsáid agus daoine ag plé le háisíneachtaí stáit.

Córas nua monatóireachta

Tugadh córas úr monatóireachta isteach in 2018 le níos mó béime ar obair iniúchta, bunaithe ar théamaí éagsúla.

Scéimeanna Teanga

Nótáil an Coimisinéir Teanga gur aontaíodh 132 scéim teanga faoi dheireadh na bliana.

Is fiú don Teachta a nótáil go bhfuil oifigigh mo Roinne ag obair faoi láthair i gcomhar le hOifig an Ard-Aighne chun Bille na dTeangacha Oifigiúla (Leasú) a dhréachtú. Mar chuid thábhachtach den leasú ar an Acht, tá sé i gceist aird a thabhairt ar an ábhar atá luaite ag an Choimisinéir.

Mar chúlra, is iarracht é an Bille 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.

Tá sé i gceist sa Bhille foráil a dhéanamh a chinnteofar go n-éascóidh comhlachtaí poiblí úsáid ainmneacha agus seoltaí sa dá theanga oifigiúil, lena n-áirítear úsáid an tsínidh fhada agus sloinnte níos faide a éascú.

Táthar ag súil go rachaidh na forálacha agus na céimeanna eile atá á nglacadh sa Bhille Leasaithe maidir le caighdeáin teanga agus earcaíocht don státchóras cuid mhaith i ngleic leis na deacrachtaí atá ardaithe ag an gCoimisinéir Teanga ina Thuarascáil Bhliantúil.

Na hOileáin amach ón gCósta

Ceisteanna (61)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Ceist:

61. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil sé i gceist aici maoiniú a sholáthar d'oileáin i nDún na nGall maidir le bóithre poiblí ar na hoileáin éagsúla; an ndeimhneoidh sí go bhfuil allúntas leagtha amach i mbuiséad na Roinne i mbliana ina leith sin; an mbeidh allúntas breise ar fáil d'oileáin i mbuiséad 2019; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [24053/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

Tá an cheist maidir le Clár Mionoibreacha 2019 do na hOileáin á scrúdú ag oifigigh mo Roinne faoi láthair i gcomhthéacs an tsoláthair airgid atá ar fáil le caitheamh ar thograí oileánda i mbliana agus na n-éileamh éagsúla ar an soláthar sin.

Waterways Ireland Funding

Ceisteanna (62)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

62. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the level of capital funding provided to Waterways Ireland in 2018; the expenditure to the end of 2018; the capital funding provided for 2019; if additional capital projects will be undertaken in 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24060/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My Department provided € 5,180,000 of capital funding to Waterways Ireland in 2018 which includes the €1,600,000 allocated specifically for the Meelick Weir project.

In 2018, Waterways Ireland focused on delivering its core activities and maintaining front line services. The total capital expenditure to the end of 2018 for Waterways Ireland was €7,767,000. Of this amount, €2,587,000 was contributed from Waterways Ireland’s Reserves which are the accumulation of proceeds from disposal of property and receipts from third party funded projects and are used to fund additional works.

The projects undertaken by Waterways Ireland in 2018 comprised a wide diversity of works. For example, €1,605,934 was allocated for maintenance of plant and machinery on the waterways. These are essential to the smooth operation and upkeep of the waterways.

€1,133,846 was spent on part of the Ulster Canal restoration project with work to extend navigation on the Erne System to Castlesaunderson and new bridge completed at Derrykerrib, and work to deliver the 22km Ulster Canal towpath development from Smithborough, Co. Monaghan to Middletown, Co. Armagh.

The continued management and development of Blueways throughout the navigations was also a priority for the Organisation in 2018.

A key goal for Waterways Ireland in 2018 was to increase the use of the inland waterways. The number of registered users at the end of December 2018 was 15,539 with 95% of waters navigable during the boating season (mid-March to October).

In 2019, my Department provided € 4,380,000 of capital funding to Waterways Ireland. Total anticipated capital expenditure as per the Organisation’s Business plan is €8,480,000. The remaining expenditure will be funded from Waterways Ireland Reserve account.

Some of the projects planned for this year include repair to Meelick Weir on the Shannon navigation, development projects such as the completion of a new work depot in Rooskey to facilitate operations along the North Shannon, dredging areas on the Shannon-Erne Waterway and River Erne to maintain a navigable channel, repair/refurbishment of all landing and amenity jetties across the Eastern Region and the manufacture and repair of key lock gates.

Arts Promotion

Ceisteanna (63)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

63. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she will consider establishing an expansive nationwide public programme to employ artists and creative workers to work in schools and communities, particularly with young persons, in exchange for a living income; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24234/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

Primary support for the Arts and Artists in the State 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.

Through the Creative Ireland Programme, my Department is assisting in the delivery of additional resources to the sector, for example, through the Creative Youth Programme and the Culture and Creativity Strategies delivered by local authorities. These programmes provide fantastic opportunities to artists, and other creatives, to develop their networks and to increase opportunities.

For example, Creative Schools, a flagship project of the Creative Youth Plan, enables each participating school to access a Creative Associate who is essential in embedding inspirational and sustainable creative practices in teaching and learning. These Creative Associates are a mixture of practising artists, arts practitioners and teachers with an understanding of creativity and its potential to transform the lives of children and young people. For the first tranche of 150 schools in the pilot, 49 Creative Associates were appointed by the Arts Council - while a further cohort of Creative Associates are to be appointed shortly to assist the second tranche of 150 schools entering the project this September.

Other Creative Ireland Programmes which may provide employment opportunities for artists include:

- Creative Clusters which are funded by the Department of Education and Skills – engaged 18 facilitators to work with 23 clusters and schools were given funding to implement their plans, which could include engaging artists.

- Teacher/Artist Programme (T/AP) - through which teachers are paired with artists to receive practical and creative methodologies to engage with learning outcomes in their classrooms. To date 206 artists have been engaged in the T/AP programme, while an additional 80 positions will be available in 2019.

- Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT) – A major focus of the JCT programme has been Arts in Junior Cycle, with a focus on English, Visual Arts and Music. Many artists and arts organisations have been engaged as facilitators throughout the country during the roll out of these programmes.

In 2019, Under Pillar 2 – ‘Creative Communities’, a total of €3m has been allocated to the 31 local authorities (approx. €96,000 each) to enable them support an extensive programme of activities, events and initiatives in their area. Last year, this enabled over 1200 projects to be funded nationally, including arts projects, grant schemes, concerts, exhibitions, festivals, outreach projects and workshops among other activities. They covered topics such as archaeology, architecture, biodiversity, crafts, heritage, dance, film, history, literature, music, photography, poetry, storytelling, theatre and the visual arts. There are increased opportunities for artists and creative professionals at local level as a result

Arts Funding

Ceisteanna (64)

James Browne

Ceist:

64. 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. [24055/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The Creative Ireland Programme is a culture-based programme led by my Department designed to promote individual, community and national wellbeing. Its core proposition is that participation in cultural activity drives personal and collective creativity, with significant implications for individual and societal wellbeing and achievement.

Under Pillar 2 - 'Enabling Creativity in Every Community' of the Programme, in 2019, my Department allocated a sum of €2m and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government allocated a sum of €1m to all 31 local authorities (€96,000 each approximately) to enable them support an extensive programme of activities, events and initiatives in each county.

Projects funded include arts projects, grant schemes, concerts, conferences, exhibitions, festivals, outreach projects, publications, research programmes, and workshops among other activities. They cover topics such as archaeology, architecture, biodiversity, crafts, heritage, dance, film, history, literature, music, photography, poetry, storytelling, theatre and the visual arts.

Wexford County Council have been allocated €96,000 in this context and are developing a range of programmes and initiatives across the county. Some examples include the Chime Bar Sculpture project, Moving Images and Moving Under Skies Projects.

In addition to this funding, €15k has been allocated to Wexford County Council for the implementation of Cruinniú na nÓg - the national day of creativity for children and young people which is taking place across the country on 15th June 2019. Key highlights include Nutty Scientist Creative Workshops, Collaborative Art Workshops and Move Maker Workshops. Details of the full programme can be accessed through the following link https://cruinniu.creativeireland.gov.ie/events/location/wexford/

It should also be noted that under the recent Arts and Culture Capital Scheme 2016-201, Wexford County Council were successful and were allocated up to €1m towards an enhancement and development project at Wexford Arts Centre.

In addition to significant annual funding from the Arts Council to Wexford Opera Festival amounting to €1.45 million in 2019, my Department has provided capital grants to the Festival for work to the National Opera House. A total of €150,000 was paid in 2018 with a further grant of €1m allocated.

Commemorative Events

Ceisteanna (65)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

65. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the State commemorative events under the decade of centenaries she will organise and attend in the next 12 months. [24256/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My objective in approaching the development of the State Commemorative Programme for the years from 2019 – 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. It will also take account of sensitivities across communities in Northern Ireland and continue to recognise that very different perspectives persist on many of these events.

The commemorative programme will be respectful, measured, inclusive, and authentic, and will comprise four broad thematic strands:

- A State Ceremonial Strand which will comprise a limited number of State-led commemorations focusing on themes of remembrance and reconciliation and on the commemoration of all of those who suffered and who lost their lives during this period.

- An Historical Strand which will comprise a rich and diverse range of activities designed to encourage authentic historical enquiry about this period and promote the use of primary archival sources. Initiatives will be developed in collaboration with State partners, National Cultural Institutions, institutions of learning and other stakeholders.

- A Community Strand, which will involve a collaborative approach – similar to that adopted for the 1916 centenary commemorations – between the State, local authority network and community organisations, including in Northern Ireland where appropriate.

- The Creative Imagination Strand, which will continue to encourage artistic and creative expression in remembrance of the significant historical events of the period from 1919 to 1923 and all of those who lost their lives.

One of my key priorities over the coming months is to advance plans under each of the four strands and build collaborative relationships with key stakeholders, with a particular focus on local authority engagement. In bringing forward plans to mark the significant historical events that took place between 1919 - 1923, my approach will continue to be informed and supported by the Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations and developed in consultation with the All-Party Consultation Group on Commemorations. As matters stand, and in line with the advice of the Expert Advisory Group, there are no State-led commemorative events envisaged for the period to end-June 2020 (12 months time) under the Decade of Centenaries initiative.

On 21 January the centenary of the convening of the First Dáil was commemorated, with a diverse programme, including a ceremonial event, led by the Houses of the Oireachtas. On 20th January, I represented the Government at a community-led commemoration to mark the centenary of the Soloheadbeg Ambush. I approved a grant allocation of €10,000 to assist Tipperary County Council in supporting the local commemorative committee and wider community in developing their plans for this event, in recognition of the significance of the Soloheadbeg Ambush as the generally accepted first action in the Struggle for Independence.

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. My aim is to provide a supportive structure that ensures that the, often deeply personal, historical events are remembered at county and community level in a respectful, measured, and non-partisan manner

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.

Earlier this year, I approved a funding allocation of €10,000 for each local authority to support their commemorative programming in 2019. 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 authorities on 13th March. This event offered an important and timely opportunity to share their learnings to date with each other and also share their views on how they plan to navigate the period ahead. Funding allocations for local authorities over the coming years will be considered as part of the annual estimates budgetary processes.

I am aware that local authorities have already given significant and thoughtful consideration as to how they will plan for commemorations at county and community level in 2019 and over the remainder of the Decade and the authorities have shared their plans for 2019 with my Department.

Arts and Culture Capital Scheme

Ceisteanna (66)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

66. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of the engagement between her Department and Cork County Council regarding repairs to a theatre (details supplied) and the shortfall in funding for the project; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24334/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The recent Arts and Culture Capital Scheme 2016 - 2018 is focused on the refurbishment and enhancement of the existing stock of arts and culture facilities throughout the country. This is the most significant investment in cultural infrastructure in a decade with funding provided to a range of facilities, including arts centres, theatres, galleries and museums, as well as artists’ studios and creative spaces. A substantial grant was allocated to the facility to which the Deputy refers.

As I have previously informed the Deputy in May, due to the very exceptional circumstances in the case, my Department was supportive of assisting with the reconstruction of this building under the above mentioned Scheme. In this regard, my Department offered to provide funding of up to €250,000 to assist with the restoration and enhancement, in principle, to Cork County Council, pending clarity on all reinstatement issues including the contribution from insurances and subject to the acceptance by the Council of the conditions attached to this funding.

However, I understand that the County Council's re-instatement proposal is significantly more ambitious than the available finance, and in this regard, there may also be other options open to the Council to close the funding gap. At present, while there has been further engagement between my Department and Cork County Council on the challenge presented by the funding gap, the matter remains under examination and the Council is continuing to explore options to restore the facility for the people of Macroom and surrounding areas.

Project Ireland 2040 has given explicit recognition to the importance of our culture, language and heritage. Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage 2018-2027 sets out the Government’s objectives for capital investment in Ireland’s culture, language and heritage. The plan sets out significant investment on a phased basis over the next 10 years including €40m to secure existing investment in arts and culture infrastructure nationwide and ensure a regional balance. This level of investment will ensure the upkeep of regional infrastructure right across the country.

The Arts and Culture Capital Scheme is making a huge difference to many individual organisations and my Department is already seeing good outcomes and receiving positive feedback. My Department is currently giving consideration to new round of grant funding for Arts and Cultural Capital to be announced in the near future.

Invasive Plant Species

Ceisteanna (67)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

67. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her views on whether more can be done to highlight the invasive species in Ireland projects and the need for collaborative approaches between communities, local authorities and State bodies to stem the advance of many of those species. [24257/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My Department is responsible for the implementation of the Wildlife Acts and the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 477/2011), both of which prohibit the spreading of invasive species. Work is also underway in my Department to implement the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation (No. 1143/2014) in the national context and legislation to do this is at an advanced draft stage.

Under the current legislative framework, responsibility for invasive alien species rests, in the first instance, with landowners. There is significant work, however, being carried out at present by a range of agencies in this area, including a number of local authorities. In addition, the Management of Invasive Alien Plant Species (IAPS), launched in 2016 and led by Transport Infrastructure Ireland, is a €5.5 million project aimed at managing invasive knotweed and other non-native invasive plant species on the national road network and its interactions with regional roads. The project involves collaboration with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS).

Eradication of invasive alien species, once they become established, is usually difficult to achieve and resources are best used to promote awareness, prevent introduction of invasive alien species and, where a species has established itself, put in place effective and appropriate management measures to mitigate the effects of the species on native habitats and species.

Raising awareness of invasive alien species and the threat that they pose to native biodiversity is an important component of my Department's work in this area. In 2018, a new stream of grant funding for local authorities was piloted. This funding is to assist local authorities to support projects that tie in with actions contained in the National Biodiversity Action Plan, including those that target invasive alien species in their area. I have increased significantly the funding available for this grant scheme in 2019 and details of grants awarded will be notified to applicants in the coming weeks.

My Department also supports, through funding provided by the Heritage Council, an Invasive Species Officer post in the National Biodiversity Data Centre. This post provides expert support to the work carried out by my Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service by, inter alia, gathering, collating and publishing data on incidences of invasive alien species across the country; collating data on work by public bodies and communities on control of invasive species; raising awareness of the threats posed by invasive alien species in general; and targeted awareness in response to specific invasive alien species issues. The NBDC Invasive Species Officer also participates in a joint Invasive Species Week initiative each year with authorities in the UK which aims to raise awareness of invasive species issues of common concern in these islands, particularly those that have a North-South dimension.