Gaeltacht Scholarships

Ceisteanna (879)

John Curran

Ceist:

879. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of scholarships provided to secondary school students wishing to attend the Gaeltacht during the school summer holidays in each of the years 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; the schools that participated in a scholarship programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29812/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The Deputy  may be aware that my Department provides a subvention  - via Scéim na bhFoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge (the Irish Language Learners' Scheme) aimed at indirectly subventing the cost of attending any one of the Gaeltacht Irish summer colleges recognised under the scheme.

In 2018 approximately 26,000 students (both at post-primary and third-level) availed of this subvention to the value of €4.2m of exchequer funding in 2018 - is payable under the terms of the scheme to qualifying households (of which there are approx. 700), who provide accommodation to attending students.

The Deputy may also be aware that that earlier this year, I announced  the provision of a new scholarship fund: DEIS Gaeltachta, worth €50,000, to enable 50 students attending DEIS post-primary schools – to attend Irish college during the summer. This is the first time that such a measure has been initiated  by my Department. The measure represents the outworking of the commitment made under action 2.16 of the Government’s Plean Gníomhaíochta 2018-2022 don Ghaeilge (Irish Language Action Plan 2018-2022) , which was published in June 2018 following Government approval and is being implemented on an ongoing basis by relevant stakeholders including my Department.

The scholarship fund is being  administered nationally by the Galway and Roscommon Education and Training Board (GRETB) in conjunction with the Department. As a result of this practical measure, 50 students, who may not have this opportunity otherwise,  are being provided with the opportunity to attend Irish summer college and avail of the language learning and enrichment opportunities this presents. I understand that the scholarship fund has been fully subscribed for this year. 

In addition, and in overall support of providing learning opportunities for second-level students, my department  provides  specific grant-aid under the scheme by way of a further measure called: ÁRANN Gaeltachta. Under this measure  - which is in operation since 2007, specific grant-aid is provided  to qualifying households on the Aran Islands who provide accommodation for students attending one of the three island-based post-primary schools for an entire school-year. 40 students availed of the measure in 2017, while 30 students per year have availed of the measure in the intervening period - in line with the maximum number allocated under the terms of  the measure. 

I might also mention that I recently announced  the provision of a new fund worth €250,000 which will facilitate new opportunities for third-level students to spend three months in the Gaeltacht. Under ERASMUS Gaeltachta, a subsidy worth €17 per day will be provided to enable third-level institutions to offer a semester in the Gaeltacht to their students. Similar to the other aforementioned measures, this subsidy is payable to those providing accommodation under the terms of Scéim na bhFoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge. The fund is expected to accommodate up to 175 students and represents progress in relation to measures 2.13, 2.15 and 2.19 of the Action Plan. 

In the interest of completeness, I should say  that I am aware that scholarships are provided by various Irish language, cultural and sports organisations, as well as by several local authorities. I am also aware that some of the Irish colleges themselves offer part scholarships to students.

I am satisfied that these measures provide significant language-learning opportunities for young people; have the same or similar effect as scholarships; align with the key principles of social inclusion - as relevant; and generate substantial down-stream economic benefits for Gaeltacht regions.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (880)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

880. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the amount spent on tribunals, commissions of investigation and statutory inquiries in each of the years 2009 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by inquiry, tribunal or commission; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29830/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I am advised that no expenditure has been incurred by my Department in respect of  tribunals, commissions of investigation or statutory inquiries as described by the Deputy during the period specified.

Departmental Staff Recruitment

Ceisteanna (881)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

881. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the estimated cost of recruiting 30 additional district conservation officers and 30 additional wildlife inspectors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29892/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I am advised that, based on current pay levels, the estimated cost of recruiting an additional 30 full-time District Conservation Officers and an addition 30 full-time Wildlife Inspectors would be €2,393,391 per annum.

Heritage Council Funding

Ceisteanna (882)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

882. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the estimated cost of increasing the budget for the Heritage Council by 6.5%; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29893/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I was pleased to announce increased funding of €6.588m for the Heritage Council in 2019, compared to €6.377m in 2018, an increase of 3.3%. The funding to be provided to the Heritage Council in 2020 will be decided in the context of the annual estimates cycle, which is currently underway, having regard to available finance and competing demands.

The cost of increasing the Heritage Council’s budget by 6.5% would be €428,220.

The voted funding allocation to the Heritage Council each year is published in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s Revised Estimates Volume. The amounts allocated since 2015 are set out in the following table.

Year 

Total

(€m)

 2019

6,588

2018

6,377

2017

6,254

2016

5,243

2015

4,743

Climate Change Policy

Ceisteanna (883)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

883. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if her Department has ceased the purchase and use of single-use plastics; the public bodies and agencies under her remit to which she has issued an instruction to cease the purchase and use of single-use plastics; when the instruction issued; the bodies which have confirmed that they no longer purchase and use single-use plastics, respectively; the bodies which have not provided such confirmation to date; when they will confirm; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29981/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My Department has ceased the purchase and use of single-use plastics in accordance with the Government Decision announced by Minister Bruton in January.

The introduction of these measures under the Government's plan for the reduction of single-use plastics, the prevention of waste and green public procurement was advised to those bodies and agencies and bodies under the aegis of my Department during the week commencing 7th January.  In accordance with the plan they were required not to purchase single-use plastic beverage cups, cutlery or drinking straws after 31st March (except where public health or hygiene issues arise) and to report to me by the end of November on the measures they were taking to minimise waste generation and maximise recycling.

My Department will be in further liaison with those bodies under its remit in relation to progress achieved in advance of the end November reporting deadline on measures being taken to minimise waste generation and maximise recycling.  

The bodies and agencies under the remit of my Department are:

The Arts Council

The Chester Beatty Library

An Coimisinéir Teanga

The Crawford Art Gallery

An Foras Teanga

The Heritage Council

The Irish Film Board

The Irish Museum of Modern Art

The National Archives

The National Concert Hall

The National Gallery of Ireland

The National Library of Ireland

The National Museum of Ireland

Údarás na Gaeltachta

Waterways Ireland

Hen Harriers Threat Response Plan

Ceisteanna (884)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

884. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when the threat response plan for hen harrier areas will be completed; and her views on permitting afforestation in hen harrier areas. [30005/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The draft Hen Harrier Threat Response Plan is nearing completion and is currently being refined and updated as necessary in consultation with Departmental stakeholders. The Departments will meet with the Consultative Committee for the Threat Response Plan as soon as practical, and the plan will then go to public consultation.

Any afforestation proposals in Special Protection Areas designated under the EU Birds Directive require completion by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine of an Appropriate Assessment, in accordance with Article 6.3 of the EU Habitats Directive.  As per European Union Guidelines for State aid, any afforestation within the SPAs must be agreed in advance by the Competent Authority responsible for designating Natura sites, that is to say my Department.