My Department's role in relation to tourism lies primarily in the area of developing national tourism policy, while our tourism agencies – Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland – have operational responsibility for the implementation of this policy. Although it provides funding to Fáilte Ireland for investment in festivals and participative events, my Department has no role in the administration of related funding programmes. These are operational matters for Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority.
With regard to tourism agency initiatives relating to Halloween/Samhain, the most recent key development has been the creation of a new three-day festival, Púca, which I launched this year with the aim of positioning Ireland internationally as the home of Halloween. Developed by Fáilte Ireland in partnership with Meath and Louth County Councils and promoted overseas by Tourism Ireland, the Púca festival comprises of multiple events in three towns in these two counties. It builds on an existing community celebration in Meath and leverages the strong historic, prehistoric, archaeological and mythical connections of that specific geographical area to ancient Celtic traditions around Samhain.
I would expect that any plans to expand this festival to other locations would have regard to factors such as authentic connection to Samhain, international visitor demand, cost benefit analysis, access and accommodation capacity among other factors.
I welcome the recent cooperation between Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland on the "Taste the Island" initiative which highlights the many unique and exciting ways holidaymakers in Ireland can enjoy local produce and food and drink experiences.