State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Ceisteanna (246)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

246. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the pension entitlement of a person (details supplied); if a bilateral or other pension arrangement exists between Ireland and Lithuania which may address the issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38213/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

It is understood that the pensioner in question fell seriously ill while visiting her daughter who is residing in Ireland and that she now requires full-time care and attention.  Her daughter, who is providing full-time care and attention, initially qualified for Carer’s Benefit in June 2017 and following completion of the period of entitlement to that benefit, has qualified for Carer’s Allowance with effect from 6 June 2019.

It is not clear from the details provided whether the pensioner had been in receipt of a social security pension from the Lithuanian authorities at the time she came to Ireland.  If she is entitled to a contributory social security pension from the Lithuanian authorities, then this pension can be exported to Ireland in accordance to the EU rules on the coordination of social security systems.  However, if the person concerned was getting a non-contributory or means-tested social security pension from the Lithuanian authorities, this pension may not be exportable under the EU rules.  Instead, it would be subject to the national Lithuanian rules relating to the payment of such pensions while the person is abroad. 

If the pensioner in question has no other income or pension, she should apply for State Pension (Non-Contributory) while she continues to be resident in Ireland.  This pension is subject to a means-test.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Working Family Payment Eligibility

Ceisteanna (247)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

247. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the working family payment continues to remain payable in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38214/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Working Family Payment (formerly Family Income Supplement) is a weekly tax free payment which provides additional income support to employees on low earnings with children.

Working Family Payment for the person concerned will continue in payment until the  9 October 2019, when working family payment is due for renewal. A renewal form issued to the person concerned on 31 July 2019.  When the person concerned is returning the application form a fulltime education certificate should be provided from the college/university for the dependent daughter.

I trust this clarifies the matter.

Homeless Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (248)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

248. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 1947 and 1977 of 6 September 2019, if another approved housing body or other organisation has been in touch with his Department to date in 2019 through the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive to inquire in relation to funding under the capital assistance scheme or the capital advance leasing facility in respect of a building (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37968/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Further to my reply to Question Nos 1974 and 1977 of 6 September 2019, I can confirm that my Department has not received any correspondence from any other approved housing body or organisation in relation to funding under the capital assistance scheme or the capital advance leasing facility in respect of the property referred to by the Deputy.

Unfinished Housing Developments

Ceisteanna (249)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

249. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the reason an unfinished housing estate (details supplied) in County Kerry was not included in the 2013 list of unfinished housing estates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38103/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department conducted Unfinished Housing Developments surveys with assistance from all local authorities between 2010 and 2017. The initial and consequent surveys were focused on a particular period of time from 2007 onwards (during the economic downturn). A Progress Report was prepared each year based on the data and analysis from each survey. All reports and auxiliary data are available on my Department’s website at the following link:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/search/archived/current?query=unfinished%20housing .

Approximately 3,000 developments were surveyed in 2010.  Since then, as outlined in the 2017 Report, the number of unfinished housing developments reduced by 91% to 256 developments.  In addition, the 2017 Report shows that 74% of local authority areas now contain less than 10 unfinished developments, with four local authority areas having no occupied unfinished developments.

The Department’s Unfinished Housing Developments scheme is now closed and I have no current plans to allocate additional public funds in relation to unfinished developments.

In relation to the housing estate referenced, there is no record of it on the list of ‘unfinished’ estates within the aforementioned survey and it appears from consultation with Kerry County Council that the original planning application was submitted in 1997 with final approval granted in 1999 thereby predating the 2007 and onwards criteria for developments to be included in the Unfinished Housing Development Survey. Therefore, this particular development fell outside the remit of the 'unfinished housing developments survey' and consequently was not included in the 2013 list of unfinished housing estates.

For reference, a list of unfinished housing estates can also be found under the ‘unfinished’ tab layer on the MyPlan website available at the following link: www.myplan.ie .

Local authorities will continue to assess the best options for resolution of unfinished developments and/or developments that are to be taken in charge. In this regard, Kerry County Council are best placed to provide further guidance on the above specified development.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (250, 251)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

250. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of civil servants that have left and-or retired from his Department in the past ten years that were bound by a cooling-off period in respect of taking up new employment in the private sector by grade, year and sector the staff moved on to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38155/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

251. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of civil servants that have left and-or retired from his Department in the past ten years that were not bound by a cooling-off period in respect of taking up new employment in the private sector by grade, year, and sector the staff moved on to; the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38171/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 250 and 251 together.

The Regulation of Lobbying Act was enacted in 2015. Section 22 of the Act provides that specific categories of Designated Public Officials (“DPOs”) are subject to a one-year “cooling-off” period, during which they cannot engage in lobbying activities in specific circumstances, or be employed by, or provide services to, a person carrying on lobbying activities in specific circumstances.

The relevant DPOs for whom a “cooling-off” period applies are Ministers of the Government and Ministers of State, Special Advisers appointed under section 11 of the Public Services Management Act 1997 and public servants prescribed as a DPO by the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform under section 6(2) of the Regulation of Lobbying Act, such as Secretary General, Second Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Assistant Secretary or Director. A list of current DPOs is maintained on my Department's website and can be viewed at the following link : 

 https://www.housing.gov.ie/corporate/compliance/regulation-lobbying/regulation-lobbying-designated-public-officials.

 The cooling-off period is a statutory requirement and applies for the full one-year term unless the relevant DPO applies to the Standards in Public Office Commission for consent to waive or reduce their cooling-off period. It is the responsibility of the relevant DPO to seek consent prior to taking up an offer of employment (or to provide services). Statistics on the number of applications for consent under section 22 of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 are included in the annual Regulation of Lobbying report published by the Standards in Public Office Commission.

The Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour sets out further guidance on the acceptance of outside appointments and of consultancy engagement following resignation or retirement (Section 20). Civil Servants who hold positions which are “designated positions” for the purposes of the Ethics Acts shall not, within twelve months of resigning or retiring from the service, accept an offer of appointment from an employer outside the Civil Service or accept an engagement in a particular consultancy project where the nature and terms of such appointment or engagement could lead to a conflict of interest, without first obtaining approval from the appropriate authority. Officers below Assistant Secretary level must apply to the Secretary General or Head of Office in which they are serving, or have last served before retirement or resignation. Officers at and above Assistant Secretary level must apply to the Outside Appointments Board.

One DPO, a former Special Adviser, applied to the Standards in Public Office Commission in April 2017, under Section 22 of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015, for a waiver of the "cooling off period" in order to take up a post in public relations.

Building Energy Rating Compliance

Ceisteanna (252)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

252. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the policy in relation to standard BER ratings for new social housing units; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38186/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

New social housing, in common with all new dwellings, must comply with building regulations and current regulations require a typical dwelling to have a Building Energy Rating (BER) of A3.  Some 98% of all new dwellings are built to this standard. The Nearly Zero Energy Building (NZEB) performance for new dwellings represents an improvement in energy and carbon dioxide emissions performance of 70% over 2005 standards and requires renewables on all new dwellings. This is typically equivalent to a BER of A2. These regulations were published in May 2019 and will apply to all new dwellings from 1 November 2019.

Local Authority Housing Standards

Ceisteanna (253)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

253. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the policy in relation to the use of fossil fuel burning boiler systems in new build local authority housing units; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38187/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In line with Part L of the Building Regulations, the use of fossil fuel (e.g. gas) boilers is permitted in new social housing with a photovoltaic installation to achieve compliance with Part L 2019. Alternatively, heat pumps or district heating may be used where appropriate. Oil boilers with photovoltaic may be acceptable, subject to specific conditions and where cost effective relative to renewable heating systems. The use of solid fossil fuel boilers is not supported in new social housing dwellings, given the focus on better air quality, the health of occupants, and the need to reduce carbon emissions and the cost of construction and maintenance.

With the introduction of Nearly Zero Energy Building Regulations for new dwellings from 1 Nov 2019, it is expected that the use of renewable heating systems will continue to increase in the specifications for all new dwellings, including social housing homes.

Local Authority Housing Maintenance

Ceisteanna (254)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

254. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if approval will issue without delay for housing projects (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38189/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The management and maintenance of local authority housing stock, including pre-letting repairs to vacant properties, the implementation of planned maintenance programmes and carrying out of responsive repairs, are matters for each individual local authority under the Housing Act 1966.  Local authorities return vacant properties to use through their own resources, but my Department also provides some level of exchequer support under the voids programme, for properties that require significant investment prior to re-letting.    

Cavan County Council originally submitted 5 properties for inclusion in the 2019 voids programme for which funding was approved, subject to the provision of pre and post-works BER Assessments. Last week, the Council submitted a proposal seeking funding for a further 23 homes under the voids programme. This is currently being reviewed and a decision will be notified to the Council as soon as possible.

While my Department will examine further proposals that Cavan County Council is making under the voids programme, it would be of concern if there is any reduction in the Council's own budget and capacity to maintain their own stock and fund more standard re-lets. The support of Councillors to make adequate budgetary provision for this important work is a key element in ensuring that local authorities can re-let social homes as soon as possible to those on their waiting lists.

Social and Affordable Housing Data

Ceisteanna (255, 256, 257)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

255. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of single stage approval process applications for social housing projects received per annum since its inception by county; the number approved by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38199/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

256. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the value threshold of the single stage approval process applications for social housing projects; his plans to review the threshold level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38200/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

257. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to review the four stage approval process for social housing projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38201/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 255 to 257, inclusive, together.

There are currently 36 local authority social housing construction projects that have been or are being advanced through the single-stage approval process, which covers projects with an all-in budget up to €2 million and up to 15 homes. The breakdown of these projects by local authority and year received, is set out in the following table. All projects have been approved, apart from 6 received recently, which are shown below as '2019 Project Applications' and which are now being assessed.

LA

2016

2017

2018

2019

Projects Approved

2019

Project Applications

Carlow

 

 

3

5

 

Clare

 

 

 

2

1

Cork County

 

 

1

3

2

Kerry

 

 

1

4

 

Kilkenny

 

 

1

2

 

Laois

 

 

3

 

 

Louth

1

 

 

 

3

Mayo

 

 

1

5

 

Meath

 

1

1

 

 

Sligo

 

 

1

 

 

Tipperary

 

 

 

1

 

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is currently leading a review on the Public Spending Code (PSC). This is the critical framework for the control and governance of all public expenditure activities and it, in turn, determines the approach for publicly-funded construction projects which is set out in the Government’s Capital Works Management Framework (CWMF), the objectives of which are to ensure cost certainty, value for money and financial accountability.

Social housing construction projects, whether implemented via the single stage or four stage process, must comply with the CWMF and the PSC, similar to publicly-funded construction projects in other sectors. When the PSC review is complete, my Department will be in a position to consider its implications, if any, for social housing projects. 

In concentrating the 9 review stages of the CWMF to 4 for most social housing construction projects, as well as operating a single stage process for projects up to €2 million, my Department has already streamlined the approval arrangements, while still ensuring appropriate oversight and control arrangements in relation to public funds.  

It is also the case that most of the time required to advance social housing construction projects to site arise from local authority activities such as design, planning, procurement and engagement with contractors. The time involved in approving projects is a small element only of the overall period for advancing the projects.

Anti-Social Behaviour

Ceisteanna (258)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

258. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to bring forward legislation to allow councils to conduct antisocial behaviour checks on HAP tenants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38203/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In order for a household to qualify for the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme, the household must first be assessed as eligible for social housing support by their local authority. Any household assessed as eligible for social housing is immediately eligible for HAP. 

The application form for social housing support, prescribed by the Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011, requires applicants to provide details of any convictions under a number of specified statutes relating to anti-social behaviour and public order offences.

In respect of the HAP scheme, under section 45(6) of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014, local authorities may refuse to provide, or cease providing, housing assistance in respect of a qualified household where the local authority considers that any household member is or has been engaged in anti-social behaviour.

Similarly, under this section, the local authority may also refuse to permit a person who proposes to take up or resume residence or enter or be in a dwelling the subject of housing assistance where the local authority considers that the person is or has been engaged in anti-social behaviour.

Under HAP, a tenant sources their own accommodation in the private rented market. The tenancy agreement is between the tenant and the landlord and is governed by the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 (as amended). The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) was established as an independent statutory body under the Act to operate a national tenancy registration system and to facilitate the resolution of disputes between landlords and tenants.

National Concert Hall

Ceisteanna (259)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

259. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the amount of capital and current funding her Department has provided to the National Concert Hall in 2018 and 2019, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37980/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The following table sets out the annual funding that has been allocated to the National Concert Hall in 2018 and 2019:

Year

Current

Capital

Total

2018

€2,569,000

€260,000

€2,829,000

2019

€2,788,000

€260,000

€3,048,000

In addition under Project 2040 –"Investment in our Culture, Language & Heritage 2018-2027" the Government intends to invest €460 million in significant capital projects in our National Cultural Institutions over the next 10 years. A total investment of €78 million is planned for the redevelopment of the National Concert Hall over this period.

National Parks and Wildlife Service

Ceisteanna (260, 261)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

260. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if the National Parks and Wildlife Service require planning permission for salmon conservation fund projects (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37990/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

261. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason the National Parks and Wildlife Service require planning permission for salmon conservation fund projects (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37991/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 260 and 261 together.

Ireland is bound by the EU Habitats and Birds Directives, as transposed into National law by the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats Regulations) 2011. As such, Ireland has designated 439 sites as special areas of conservation (SACs) under the Habitats Directive and classified 154 sites as special protection areas (SPAs) under the Birds Directive. Under national legislation, SACs and SPAs are collectively termed ‘European sites’.

To protect the habitats and species in the European sites for which they are designated, and to avoid accidental or deliberate damage in these sites, it is necessary to have in place a system by which potentially damaging activities require consent before they can be carried out.

‘Activities Requiring Consent’ are specific activities which must not be carried out on a European site unless prior consent is given by me, as Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, or by another relevant public authority. This safeguard ensures that the potential effects of the activity on the European site are assessed before works are carried out. Also that consent is granted only after having determined that the activity will not adversely affect the integrity of the European Site.

The Salmon Conservation Fund is an initiative of Inland Fisheries Ireland, launched in 2007, in order to fund rehabilitation, protection and conservation projects, all of which must focus on salmon. The fund was expanded in 2019 to include sea trout.

If a project under this fund (or indeed any other project) is to take place within a European Site and includes activities which are listed as Activities Requiring Consent for that European Site, then my prior consent, or that of another relevant authority, is required before the activity is carried out.

In some cases, planning permission may be required for activities that are listed as ‘exempted development’ under the Planning and Development Regulations. This occurs in cases where I have received an application to carry out an activity requiring consent on a European Site but, following screening for appropriate assessment of the activity by officials of my Department, it is determined that the activity is likely to have a significant effect on a European Site and therefore requires a full appropriate assessment. In such cases the ‘exempted development’ status of the activity is dis-applied and planning permission under the Planning and Development Acts is required.

With regard to the specific cases referred to by the Deputy, the staff of my Department considered an application for an Activity Requiring Consent for one of these cases, and following consideration of the potential implications for the Special Area of Conservation in which the project was located, my staff recommended that the local group involved should contact the County Council Planning Department in order to determine if Planning Permission was required.

Hare Coursing Regulation

Ceisteanna (262)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

262. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if full protection will be granted to the Irish hare; if all forms of hare hunting and coursing will be banned; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38000/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

EU Directive 92/43/EEC (the Habitats Directive) requires Ireland to make a detailed report every six years on the conservation status of all listed species, including the hare. Ireland’s most recent report in 2019 included a comprehensive assessment of the range, population status, habitat and threats for the Irish hare. The report can be downloaded at https://www.npws.ie/publications/article-17-reports/article-17-reports-2019.

The 2019 report states that the Hare is found throughout the country from coastal habitats to upland heath and bog. The Hare is widespread and common in Ireland with a broad habitat niche and its overall conservation status at that time was assessed as favourable.

In addition to the reporting requirements of the EU Habitats Directive, data on the distribution of the hare is being collected continuously by the National Biodiversity Data Centre and the recent Atlas of Mammals in Ireland 2010-2015 provided a summary of the species’ range, demonstrating that it remains widespread across the country.

My Department commissioned a new assessment of the status of hare’s population in Ireland which took place using camera traps, over the winter of 2018/2019, before RHD2 was known to occur in the wild in Ireland. I hope that this report will be available for publication next month.

Given the outbreak of the RHD2 virus which was first confirmed in the wild in Ireland only last month and based on what we have been able to establish in that period, RHD2 appears to be relatively widespread. The virus is known to be highly contagious and easily spread and environmental contamination presents significant difficulties in terms of any biosecurity responses. I made the decision last month to suspend the licences issued to the Irish Coursing Club on behalf of its affiliated clubs to capture and tag hares for the 2019/20 hare coursing season which were due to come into effect on 10 August until a clearer understanding of the extent, spread and implications of the RHD2 virus emerges. I am keeping this mater under continuous review. I am reflecting too on the implication of this disease for the upcoming open season and I will make a decision in that regard shortly.

Wildlife Protection

Ceisteanna (263)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

263. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which corncrake numbers still exist at specific sites nationally; the preservation actions in place or proposed in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38003/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

Although the global population is considered stable, in Ireland the Corncrake is a species of high conservation concern in Ireland  due to long-term declines. The population of Corncrakes in Ireland has been monitored annually since 1993 (by recording how many male birds are calling at night-time) and is critically low, with 151 calling males recorded in 2018. Donegal remains the national stronghold, with 90 confirmed calling males. West Connacht, which comprises the western seaboards of counties Mayo and Galway, held 59 males. Two calling males were recorded in  Co. Sligo.

Restoration of the Corncrake population is an important component of my Department’s overall work on species protection. Measures to protect the Corncrake include the designation of 9 Special Areas of Protection (SPAs) for the protection of breeding corncrake populations in Ireland. The offshore islands, particularly off Donegal, are of critical importance.  Conservation measures in 2018 included habitat management and the administration of grant schemes to promote beneficial land management for the species.

The National Parks & Wildlife Service Farm Plan Scheme for Corncrakes offers incentives to landowners to create and manage habitat for Corncrakes. Landowners nominate plots they would like to work on and receive payment for habitat creation and putting management measures in place for Corncrake. In 2018, there were 10 farmers in the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme delivering 63.52ha of habitat for Corncrake.

The NPWS also operates the Corncrake Grant Scheme, where landowners who have Corncrake calling on or near their land receive a grant for adopting Corncrake friendly mowing practices. In 2018, 125 participants entered the Corncrake Grant Scheme (CGS), covering an area 352.78ha nationally.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine operates a Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environmental (GLAS) Corncrake Measure, which aims to create and maintain cover and nesting shelter for Corncrakes during breeding season (April to September).  Farmers undertaking the measure are required to commit to provision of early cover dominated by broad-leaved plant species e.g. Iris or nettle, and grazing, mowing, topping and/or other field operations requiring the use of machinery are not permitted from 10 March to 10 August annually.

In 2018, there were 64 GLAS participants with 209ha of land planned for delivering Corncrake habitat.

Following decades of decline, the breeding population of corncrakes has stabilised, albeit at low numbers. My Department will continue to work with farmers and landowners towards the conservation of this species in Ireland and I look forward to seeing improved population numbers as a result of these measures.

Wildlife Protection

Ceisteanna (264)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

264. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of red grouse still in existence here; the extent to which preservation or restoration provisions are made or can be made in this respect; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38004/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The Red Grouse is a species found only in Ireland and Scotland that lives entirely on heather moorland and bogs. In recent decades, it has suffered from the continued decline of its habitats and the condition and extent of our bogs. Red Grouse require large areas of natural and semi-natural habitat; the destruction and fragmentation of these habitats have been identified as major threats to Red Grouse populations. 

The last comprehensive survey was carried out in 2006/2008, which found just under 2,000 breeding pairs of Red Grouse in Ireland. Since 1980, the population is considered to have declined by up to 40%. Additionally, there has been a decline of over 50% in their breeding range from 1972 to 2018. 

In 2012, the NPWS carried out survey of Red Grouse in the Owenduff/Nephin Complex Special Protection Area (SPA) in County Mayo, an SPA which had previous declines in grouse populations due to changes in habitat quality and extent, largely caused by overgrazing.  This survey showed the population had almost doubled since an earlier survey in 2002.  This increase in grouse numbers is attributed to beneficial management of the land  in the intervening period. Off-wintering of livestock from 2006 has allowed an improvement in the habitat condition within the Owenduff/Nephin SPA.

A Red Grouse Species Action Plan (https://www.npws.ie/sites/default/files/publications/pdf/2013_RedGrouse_SAP.pdf) was completed in 2013 by the National Red Grouse Steering Committee, supported by my Department.  This national plan sets out the background to the species decline, the challenges facing conservation efforts, the pressures the population is under and a framework for action to deliver conservation measures for Red Grouse in Ireland. 

Since the plan was published, there have been a range of positive conservation measures undertaken to maintain and improve the existing habitat for Red Grouse and to support breeding pairs, through habitat management and other measures. These measures have been particularly successful where farmers, hunters and ecologists have cooperated together.

The national Species Action Plan lists a number of locally-led management projects such as the Ballydangan Bog Red Grouse Project, Co. Roscommon, which started in 2009 and which supports active management of grouse habitat which has also benefitted other threatened species including breeding Curlew.

Cultural Policy

Question No. 266 answered with Question No. 31.

Ceisteanna (265)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

265. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the degree to which she is actively involved in supporting cultural events at various locations nationally directly or through bodies under her aegis in each of the past two years to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38006/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

While it would be a significant underrating to provide the Deputy with full details of all cultural events in which my Department is directly involved, It is my hope that the reply that follows will provide sufficient information regarding some of my Department's output in this area.  More details of are available on my Department's website at https://www.chg.gov.ie/

In addition to activities funded by my Department, events are also arranged by individual National Cultural Institutions and bodies under the aegis of my Department. These are  day-to-day matters for each specific body in which I do not have an operational role. 

Culture Night

My Department is also responsible for Culture Night, organised in conjunction with local authorities and partners.

Culture Night has grown from a relatively small scale cultural event staged only in Dublin in 2006 to the significant national cultural event it now is, with over 400,000 people visiting Museums, galleries, historic houses, artists’ studios and cultural centres across the country on the night. In 2018, 1,606 venues across the island of Ireland participated in Culture Night, with an attendance of 420,000.  Events are run in partnership with local authorities. It is anticipated that 2019 will be a bigger event again and full details of events are available at www.culturenight.ie

Details of other projects and events previously funded directly can be seen at  https://www.chg.gov.ie/arts/culture/grants-and-funding/cultural-projects-funding/

Creative Ireland

Through the Creative Ireland Programme, my Department provides significant support to local authorities to enable them curate a programme of local events and activities each year.  This year, as in 2018, my Department allocated a sum of €2m (along with €1m allocated by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government) to all 31 local authorities – or €96,000 each approximately – to enable them support an extensive programme of activities, events and initiatives.  As well as this core support for local Creative Ireland programmes, each local authority is also provided with additional funding to support activities on Cruinniú na nÓg – the national day of creativity for children and young people which takes place in June.  This year each local authority was provided with €15,000 (and in the case of each of the four Dublin local authorities, a sum of €75,000 reflecting their larger populations) to activate Cruinniú na nÓg in their respective administrative areas.

Cumulatively, the above funding streams supported over 1200 projects nationally in 2018 and it is expected they will fund a similar amount of projects this year - to date 780 Cruinniú na nÓg projects alone were funded this year. The types of projects supported 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. Further information is available on https://www.creativeireland.gov.ie/en/creative-communities

Small Scale Local Festivals and Summer Schools Scheme

Department this year ran the Small Scale Local Festivals and Summer Schools fund for which the closing date for applications was 19th April.  A total of €111,000 was allocated to 50 events under this scheme in 2019, with a maximum funding of €5,000 per grant available through a competitive application process.

Full details of this scheme are available at https://www.chg.gov.ie/arts/culture/grants-and-funding/small-scale-local-festivals-summer-schools/. It is currently envisaged that this funding scheme will run again in 2020, subject to available funding.  In this context, it may be useful to monitor the Department website next year and apply upon the announcement of the scheme. 

The Arts Council provides financial supports many multidisciplinary arts festivals, where  those festivals have  programmes across different artforms, including literature, music, street arts, theatre, visual arts and different areas of arts practice.  The Festivals Investment Scheme operated by the Arts Council  will open for applications on 15th October for events that will take place between July and December 2020.  These applications close on Thursday 14th November and details may be found at http://www.artscouncil.ie/Funds/Festivals-Investment-Scheme/.

  Cooperation with Northern Ireland Scheme 

Eighteen projects are benefitting from funding under my Department's 2019 Cooperation with Northern Ireland Scheme  Projects range from exhibitions, workshops and cultural events and involve bodies on both sides of the border cooperating in a cultural context.  

Some examples of the projects being funded include the Smashing Times Theatre & Film Company which are producing an arts-based project using creative processes of theatre, film and new digital technologies to promote peace building and positive community relations between people and traditions in Northern Ireland and on the island of Ireland today.

Further details of these allocations can be seen at https://www.chg.gov.ie/arts/culture/grants-and-funding/co-operation-with-northern-Ireland/   

Commemorations

The State Ceremonial strand of the commemorative programme for the remainder of the Decade of Centenaries (2019 – 2023) will be augmented with a rich diversity of commemorative activities designed to encourage authentic historical enquiry about this period and broad public engagement.  Initiatives will be developed in collaboration with a range of State partners, including the National Cultural Institutions, (institutions of learning, local authorities, creative communities, trade unions and other stakeholders). 

The National Cultural Institutions will have a significant role in creating opportunities for people of all ages and traditions to explore and reflect upon this divisive period in our history.  In its Second Statement of Principles, published in 2017, the Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations recommended that 'the opportunity to encourage scholarship at national and local level must be used as fully as possible, with particular emphasis on archival investment and development.  The Group recommended also that we ensure that 'Irish cultural institutions that house material most relevant to the period ... continue to play a central role in exploring and explaining the history of the period'.

Our National Cultural Institutions have an important role as custodians of our history and culture.  By conserving, protecting and sharing their extensive collections of authentic archive material, layers of meaning are added to the historical events that took place.  One such example is the National Library's latest cultural digitisation project – Towards a Republic – which runs over the remainder of the Decade of Centenaries and will see the digitisation of some of the personal papers of the signatories of the Treaty in preparation for the centenary of the foundation of the State.  A wealth of new material will be made freely accessible, including the personal papers of John Devoy, Arthur Griffith, Rosamond Jacob, Annie O’Farrelly, John Redmond and the Sheehy Skeffingtons, amongst many others.  These will provide invaluable and new insights into the political, social and cultural context of the period.

Question No. 266 answered with Question No. 31.

Arts Funding

Ceisteanna (267)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

267. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which she has provided financial support to the arts nationally in the past three years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38008/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The allocations across my Department are published in the Revised Estimates Volume at www.per.gov.ie. My Department secured additional funding of over €36 million in 2019, an increase of 12% on the 2018 allocation and allowing for total expenditure of some €339 million on culture, language and heritage in 2019. As part of that overall funding I am glad to advise the Deputy that budget figures announced over the last three years in respect of my Department   has seen increased financial provision for the arts as  it relates to the Arts Council, Screen Ireland and National Cultural Institutions outlined in the following table.  

 2017

Current

Capital

Total

%

Arts Council

65057

93

65150

52%

Screen Ireland

3786

12702

16488

13%

NCIs

39068

3712

42780

34%

Total

107911

16507

124418

 

2018 

Current

Capital

Total

%

Arts Council

67920

293

68213

52%

Screen Ireland

3820

14202

18022

14%

NCIs

41625

3712

45337

34%

Total

113365

18207

131572

 

 2019

Current

Capital

Total

%

Arts Council

73957

1045

75002

53%

Screen Ireland

3840

16200

20040

14%

NCIs

43771

3712

47483

33%

Total

121568

20957

142525

  

The additional funding of over €36 million for my Department in 2019 included €21 million in capital expenditure.  This included Arts and culture funding up by €22.6m or 13.5% – comprising €10.6m (7.7%) increase in current funding and €12m (or 14%) in capital. Also included in this was Arts Council funding which was increased by up by 10% to €75m as well as an additional €2 million for Screen Ireland.

Project Ireland 2040 is the Government’s long-term overarching strategy to make Ireland a better country for its entire people. The plan changes how investment is made in public infrastructure in Ireland, moving away from the approach of the past, which saw public investment spread too thinly and investment decisions that didn’t align with a well-thought-out and defined strategy. Alongside the development of physical infrastructure, Project Ireland 2040 supports business and communities across all of Ireland in realising their potential.

 €1.2 billion as part of Project Ireland 2040 is broken down as follows:

- €460 million for our National Cultural Institutions.

- €265 million for cultural and creativity investment programme

- €285 million for natural and built heritage

- €178 million for the Gaeltacht. The Irish language and the islands.

 A Cultural and Creativity investment programme comprising €265 million will be closely aligned with the cultural infrastructure, creative communities and creative industries pillars of the Creative Ireland Programme.

- €200 million will be invested in our vibrant media production and audio visual industries which will have a positive impact  right across the country

- A €40 million programme of investing in cultural infrastructure across all regions will see support for the maintenance and development of regional arts centres, theatres, regional museums, galleries, archives, multi-use facilities, artist studios etc.

- A €10 million national digitisation investment programme will see national collections digitised over the course of the plan supporting the conservation,  preservation and dissemination of the  national collections;

- Galway as EU Capital of Culture will receive €15 million funding for its cultural programme under the Plan.

Film Industry

Ceisteanna (268, 269)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

268. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which she continues to support the film industry with particular reference to the need to encourage the use of Ireland as a favoured location; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38009/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

269. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which she has identified development goals for the film industry here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38010/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 268 and 269 together.

As set out in the Government’s ‘Global Ireland 2025’ initiative, which was launched last year, film is a high-impact way of promoting Ireland on the global stage.  Screen Ireland is the national development agency for Irish film making and the Irish film, television and animation industry.   Its statutory remit is to assist and encourage the making of film in the State and the development of a film industry in Ireland.  Screen Ireland supports writers, directors and production companies across these sectors by providing investment loans for the development, production and distribution of film, television and animation projects. It has a vision for a vibrant, creative and sustainable Irish film, television and animation industry, with diverse voices, talent and opportunities which speaks to and connects Irish film culture with audiences at home and abroad.

Screen Ireland also works in conjunction with the enterprise agencies to support the development of the film sector to make a substantial contribution to inward investment. It promotes Ireland as a location for international production by providing advice and support for international companies seeking to locate production activity to Ireland, organising inward and outward trade missions on an annual basis and working in partnership with EU counterparts on co-productions. In April 2018, I joined with the Taoiseach and Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, in launching my Department’s capital investment plan: 'Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage 2018 - 2027’. This plan incorporated an amount of €200m to be invested in media production and the audiovisual industry over the next 10 years and represented a first step in the Government’s ambitions to enable Ireland to become a global hub for the production of film, TV drama and animation. The investment will be delivered through Screen Ireland whose budget for 2019 was increased to €20 million.

Government policy also supports the sector through Section 481 tax relief, international film co-production treaties, an annual international programme of Irish film festivals, and through engaging high-profile talent to project a positive image of Ireland and reflect Ireland as a creative place. Earlier this year, I was pleased to welcome EU Commission approval in respect of two aspects of Irelands tax credit: the extension of the Section 481 credit until 2024 provides certainty for film production companies on the future availability of the credit, ensuring the continued growth of our film industry. It is a key recommendation in the Audiovisual Action Plan, the industry-wide, long-term plan, under the Creative Ireland Programme. A further key measure under the Plan saw the introduction of the Regional Film Development Uplift which offers an additional tapered tax credit over a period of 4 years. This is an important step in support of this Government’s ambition to make Ireland a global hub for the production of Film, TV Drama and Animation in supporting creative talent in Ireland and helping to develop a vibrant creative audio-visual sector throughout the country.

I will continue to work to support the development and expansion of the film and television production sector. In that regard my Department will continue to work with Screen Ireland to ensure that Ireland is maximised as a location for both indigenous and international film production.

Cultural Policy

Ceisteanna (270)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

270. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which she has offered assistance towards specific developments in the arts such as music and drama events at local or community level; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38011/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

Support for the arts is a key focus of the supports provided by my Department and its agencies.  My Department is involved in a very wide range and cultural events numbering several thousand each year and I will try to give a flavour of these in this reply. 

Culture Night takes place tomorrow 20th September 2019 all over Ireland and it is run by my Department in conjunction with local authorities and other partners.   Culture Night is now in its 14th year.  It has grown from a relatively small scale cultural event staged only in Dublin in 2006 to the significant national cultural event it now is, with over 400,000 people visiting Museums, galleries, historic houses, artists’ studios and cultural centres across the country on the night. I myself was very impressed at the variety of events which I was able to attend including reading poetry in the Seanad Chamber, exploring artists' studios in Temple Bar and experiencing the crowds attending the RTÉ event at the National Museum in Collins Barracks.

In 2018, 1,606 venues across the island of Ireland participated in Culture Night, with an attendance of 420,000.  Events are run in partnership with local authorities. It is anticipated that 2019 will be a bigger event again and full details of events are available at www.culturenight.ie

The Creative Ireland Programme is now in its third year and it provides significant support to Local Authorities to enable them curate a programme of local events and activities each year.  This year, as in 2018, my Department allocated a sum of €2m to all 31 local authorities. The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government allocated a further €1m to the programme.  These monies enabled local authorities to support an extensive programme of activities, events and initiatives.  As well as this core support for local Creative Ireland programmes, each local authority is also provided with additional funding to support activities on Cruinniú na nÓg – the national day of creativity for children and young people which takes place in June.  This year each local authority was provided with €15,000 (and in the case of each of the four Dublin local authorities, a sum of €75,000 reflecting their larger populations) to activate Cruinniú na nÓg in their respective administrative areas.

Cumulatively, the above funding streams supported over 1,200 projects nationally in 2018 and it is expected they will fund a similar amount of projects this year - to date 780 Cruinniú na nÓg projects alone were funded this year. The types of projects supported include arts projects, grant schemes, concerts, conferences, exhibitions, festivals, outreach projects, publications, research programmes, and workshops among other activities. They cover topics such as dance, film, music, poetry, storytelling, theatre and the visual arts. Further information is available on https://www.creativeireland.gov.ie/en/creative-communities

Also under the Creative Ireland Programme, the Creative Youth Plan commits to specific actions to increase and enhance access to a range of creative and cultural activities and practices for young people, including drama and music. As part of this commitment, my colleague the Minister for Education and Skills has in 2019 increased funding to Music Generation aimed at a national roll-out of the programme, while only last month I announced the provision of funding to Youth Theatre Ireland to assist them in developing a bespoke training programme for youth theatre facilitators and the establishment of new theatre groups in 3 pilot areas.

Further details of the Strategic Plans, Reports and Research Papers and news relating to Creative Ireland including annual reports can be viewed on the Creative Ireland website www.creativeireland.gov.ie.  

In addition to the above, the following initiatives supported by my Department are targeted towards support for music.

- The National Folk Theatre, Siamsa Tíre receives annual funding from my Department, brings to life Irish folklore through music, song and dance.

- My Department provides funding for the purchase of equipment under the Music Capital Scheme to performing groups and individual talented musicians on an annual basis throughout the country.  The Scheme is managed by Music Network  on behalf of my Department.

- Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (CCÉ)   is the largest group involved in the preservation and promotion of Irish traditional music both at community and national level.  Annual funding is provided by my  Department  to CCÉ  for its work in the protection and promotion of Irish traditional music and culture They promote traditional music dance  in the following ways:

- Thousands of children and young people develop their musical performance (instrumentation and vocal) skills and appreciation skills at these mentored weekly classes, where the emphasis is oral transmission in an appropriate context. Over 1,500 Classes are delivered weekly in community settings.

- With over 400 branches, 18 centres, 7 Regional centres and 11 Outreach centres throughout Ireland, Britain, North America and worldwide, a wide variety of formal and informal performance opportunities are provided through the Comhaltas structures and Centres. Each Centre has a local performance group which provides appropriate opportunities for young traditional artists (aged 16 upwards) to participate in formal stage performances.

- Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann which is run by CCÉ, has record attendance of 500,000 annually with over 6,000 participating in its competitions.

The Department provides annual funding to the Cross-Border Orchestra Peace Proms in which 20,000 children from 250 schools across the island of Ireland participate. The Proms provide a vital platform for young people to showcase their musical talent.

My Department ran the Small Scale Local Festivals and Summer Schools fund earlier this year under the scheme, a total of €111,000 was allocated to 50 events under this scheme in 2019, with a maximum funding of €5,000 per grant available through a competitive application process. Full details of this scheme are available at https://www.chg.gov.ie/arts/culture/grants-and-funding/small-scale-local-festivals-summer-schools/. It is currently envisaged that this funding scheme will run again in 2020, subject to available funding. Eighteen projects are benefitting from funding under my Department's 2019

Cooperation with Northern Ireland Scheme Projects range from exhibitions, workshops and cultural events and involve bodies on both sides of the border cooperating in a cultural context.  Some examples of the projects being funded include the Smashing Times Theatre & Film Company which is producing an arts-based project using creative processes of theatre, film and new digital technologies to promote peace building and positive community relations between people and traditions in Northern Ireland and on the island of Ireland today.

 Further details of allocations can be seen at https://www.chg.gov.ie/arts/culture/grants-and-funding/co-operation-with-northern-Ireland/   . Details of other projects and events previously funded directly can be seen at  https://www.chg.gov.ie/arts/culture/grants-and-funding/cultural-projects-funding/

 The Arts Council which is funded by my Department also has a number of schemes and initiatives around the support of music and drama. Details of these can be accessed on its website at the following link: www.artscouncil.ie. Funding for the Arts Council has increased in recent years and now stands at €75 million in 2019, an increase of €6.8m or 10% over 2018. Much of this is invested by the Council through its Strategic Funding programme which includes grants to key arts organisations across the country. Additional funding is invested in projects and programmes, including Arts Grant Funding, Project Awards, Open Call, and grants for hundreds of productions, touring and festivals nationwide and details can be viewed on the Arts Council's website on its funding webpages.

The Festivals Investment Scheme operated by the Arts Council will open for applications on 15th October for events that will take place between July and December 2020.  These applications close on Thursday 14th November and details may be found at http://www.artscouncil.ie/Funds/Festivals-Investment-Scheme/.

 The National Concert Hall (NCH) has a wide and varied programme for Musicians and Music Students that offers a variety of initiatives to develop young musicians as well as lifelong learning through engagement with people of all ages and all sectors of society.   Further details of these can be viewed in its website under its Learning and Participation webpage.

The State Ceremonial strand of the commemorative programme for the remainder of the Decade of Centenaries (2019 – 2023) will be augmented with a rich diversity of commemorative activities designed to encourage authentic historical enquiry about this period and broad public engagement.  Initiatives will be developed in collaboration with a range of State partners, including the National Cultural Institutions, (institutions of learning, local authorities, creative communities, trade unions and other stakeholders). 

 The National Cultural Institutions will have a significant role in creating opportunities for people of all ages and traditions to explore and reflect upon this divisive period in our history. Our National Cultural Institutions have an important role as custodians of our history and culture.  By conserving, protecting and sharing their extensive collections of authentic archive material, layers of meaning are added to the historical events that took place.  One such example is the National Library's latest cultural digitisation project – Towards a Republic – which runs over the remainder of the Decade of Centenaries and will see the digitisation of some of the personal papers of the signatories of the Treaty in preparation for the centenary of the foundation of the State

More details of are available on my Department's website at https://www.chg.gov.ie/.  It should be noted that events arranged by individual National Cultural Institutions and bodies under the aegis of my Department are a day-to-day matter for each specific body in which I do not have an operational role.

Built Heritage Investment Scheme

Ceisteanna (271)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

271. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which restoration and repairs have been initiated or are ongoing in respect of damaged historical buildings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38014/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My role with regard to the protection and management of our built heritage is set out in the provisions of relevant legislation, as are the roles of local authorities and the responsibilities of owners.

In this instance I understand that the Deputy is asking about supports provided by my Department for properties in private ownership. 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), administered by local authorities. Full details of the schemes, including projects being funded this year are available on my Department’s website and on the websites of individual local authorities.

On 28 March this year I announced funding of €4.3 million to 478 projects under these schemes and work on these projects is ongoing.

Under the Built Heritage Investment Scheme (BHIS) 2019 Kildare County Council was allocated €79,000 to support 13 projects as per the attached table.  Under the Historic Structures Fund 2019 Kildare County Council was allocated €25,000 to support a project at Newbridge College.

In the context of a particular building or historic structure, the best advice is generally to contact the Heritage Officer or Architectural Conservation Officer in the local authority who is well placed to advise on the various types of funding available to assist with its renovation or conservation.

Under the Built Heritage Investment Scheme (BHIS) 2019 Kildare County Council was allocated €79,000 to support 13 projects as follows:

BHIS, Kildare 2019

-

Project

Allocation

Church of Ireland Kilberry

€7,000

St. Michaels Church, Athy

€7,000

Johnstown Graveyard & Church, Johnstown

€5,000

Sean Chill, Donaghcumper, Celbridge

€3,000

Church of the Holy Saviour Narraghmore

€5,000

Ard Na Greine, Canal View, Sallins

€7,000

7 Canning Place, Newbridge

€8,000

Leixlip Boathouse, Leixlip

€8,000

Pebble Hill House, Maynooth

€7,000

Riverstown House, Kildangan

€10,000

Grattan Vault, Tea Lane Graveyard, Celbridge

€3,000

Mill Cottage, Millicent South, Sallins

€4,000

Thatch cottage Tomastown

€5,000

Total

€79,000