Heritage Projects

Ceisteanna (6)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

6. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the important cultural and heritage projects of 2019; the extent to which she expects these and other projects to progress in 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52084/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (6 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Culture)

This question seeks to identify the most prominent cultural and heritage projects of 2019.

I thank the Deputy for his question. Under Project Ireland 2040, €1.188 million in capital expenditure has been allocated to my Department. Of this, €460 million has been allocated to the redevelopment of our national cultural institutions. Progress has been made in delivery of this ambitious investment programme. Already this year my Department has supported the completion of the first phase of the redevelopment of the National Library of Ireland. The second phase will continue in 2020. In partnership with the Office of Public Works, OPW, the planning phase of the National Archives of Ireland project has also been completed. This will see the capacity of the institution increase significantly as well as meeting modern archival standards. In 2020 the tender will be awarded for the construction elements of this project.

Work is continuing with the other national cultural institutions and the Office of Public Works to progress the other projects included in the investment programme. These are currently being appraised and planned in accordance with the requirements of the public spending code. In 2019 I approved several preliminary appraisals for these projects and it is my intention to see these projects complete the business case phase in 2020.

My Department is also investing €265 million in culture and creativity. September 2019 saw the launch of a significant programme of events under our Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture programme. Another flagship project within this investment strand is the Beyond 2022 project, which I launched with An Taoiseach last week and which will see the important records of the 1922 Public Records Office digitally recreated. My Department is also delivering several regionally-focused investment schemes to enhance cultural facilities across the country.

As part of our €285 million heritage investment programme, 2019 has seen my Department support a wide range of important built heritage restoration and maintenance projects across the country under both the historic structures fund and the built heritage investment scheme. We will continue these vital supports in 2020. Just last month I announced total funding of up to €4.3 million for the coming year.

Regarding natural heritage, my Department is progressing a broad range of projects and programmes which protect our unique landscapes and enhance all our well-being through our national parks and nature reserves. This year saw a significant programme of trails upgrades across this network. We will continue and expand this programme to further enhance our visitor facilities in 2020. In line with this Government's commitment to climate action, my Department is also working towards a major expansion of our peatlands restoration programme in 2020 and beyond. We are also working with the Heritage Council, Waterways Ireland, Screen Ireland, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Fáilte Ireland and local authorities on a broad range of projects, programmes and schemes to enhance our culture and heritage.

I thank the Minister for her very comprehensive reply. By way of a supplementary question I would like to ask the extent to which she and her Department monitor the various projects with a view to maximising their impact and appeal from the points of view of tourism, education, school tours and instilling in the new generation the importance of relating to their history and heritage.

We keep a very close eye on the benefit of our projects in the culture and heritage section as well as those pertaining to Gaeltacht matters under the management of the Minister of State, Deputy Kyne. They are constantly monitored to ensure that we are providing adequate facilities, that we are ahead of our game and that we are in touch with what tourists want to see and enjoy. There have been some interesting projects in Kildare in the last several years as part of the built heritage investment scheme and the historic structures fund. Applications can be made under the new schemes for Kildare no later than 31 January in the case of the built heritage investment scheme and 14 February 2020 in the case of the historic structures fund.

I thank the Minister for the broad scale of her projects. I would like to ask if she has identified suitable projects throughout the country which might have a major beneficial impact on the local community and the nation as a whole.

I thank the Deputy. The local authorities are closely involved with the Department's work and receive funding for heritage and cultural projects which can be applied for under various schemes. We will be funding up to 500 projects under the built heritage investment scheme, which is currently open for applications through the local authorities. We are also funding heritage-led regeneration projects, which will benefit six other towns under the historic towns initiative. This will be done in collaboration with the Heritage Council. That is also currently open for applications.

Next year we will publish the new national heritage plan. We will hold a heritage forum in Dublin Castle in May 2020. We will run a public consultation process for a new national policy on architecture in early 2020 and progress the drafting of this policy by the year's end. We will also progress objectives on the climate change adaptation sectoral plan for built and archaeological heritage. It is of supreme importance that we protect what is already in situ and under our control for future generations. We will obviously support the OPW in conservation projects around our national monuments and historic properties. We will also publish two more surveys as part of the national inventory of architectural heritage, Dublin phase 15 and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown phase 4.

Seirbhísí trí Ghaeilge

Question No. 8 replied to with Written Answers.

Ceisteanna (7)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

7. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aindrias Moynihan den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cé mhéad oifigigh óige atá ag freastal ar na ceantair Ghaeltachta éagsúla; an bhfuil siad lánaimseartha nó páirtaimseartha; an bhfuil folúntais ann; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [52144/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (7 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Culture)

Tá ról an-tábhachtach ag oifigigh óige i ngach pobal ar fud na tíre. Sna Gaeltachtaí, tá ról breise acu toisc go bhfuil teanga agus cultúr le tabhairt chun cinn chun glúine nua. Mar sin, teastaíonn uaim a chinntiú go bhfuil oifigeach óige ar fáil sna pobail Ghaeltachta éagsúla go léir ar fud na tíre agus go bhfuil an córas ag feidhmiú.

Is Óige na Gaeltachta, faoi chúram Mhuintearas Teoranta, an eagraíocht a dhéanann forbairt ar sheirbhísí agus iad a chur chun cinn, trí mheán na Gaeilge, do dhaoine óga sa Ghaeltacht. Is fochuideachta de chuid Údarás na Gaeltachta é Muintearas teoranta. Sa chomhthéacs sin, tá Óige na Gaeltachta tiomanta chun réimse leathan seirbhísí tacaíochta a chur ar fáil do chlubanna óige, do ghrúpaí pobal agus d'eagraíochtaí deonacha a sholáthraíonn seirbhísí tábhachtacha do dhaoine óga sa Ghaeltacht. Ceann de bhunaidhmeanna Óige na Gaeltachta ná seirbhísí óige pobalbhunaithe atá dírithe ar pháistí idir seacht agus 18 a fheabhsú, agus úsáid na Gaeilge sna heagraíochtaí seo a chur chun cinn agus a mhéadú.

Ina thaobh sin, tá sé curtha in iúl ag Údarás na Gaeltachta go bhfuil bainisteoir óige lánaimseartha ag Óige na Gaeltachta, lonnaithe i gceanncheathrú Mhuintearas teoranta i dTír an Fhia, Contae na Gaillimhe. Ina theannta sin, tá oifigeach forbartha óige lánaimseartha lonnaithe ar an láthair chéanna, a fheidhmíonn i gceantair Chonnacht agus Laighean. Tuigim go bhfuil oifigeach forbartha óige lánaimseartha a fhreastalaíonn ar Dhún na nGall fostaithe ó mhí Lúnasa 2019, atá lonnaithe in oifig Mhuintearais i nGaoth Dobhair, Contae Dhún na nGall. Maidir le cúige Mumhan, tá oifigeach forbartha óige lánaimseartha fostaithe ó mhí na Samhna 2019, atá lonnaithe in oifigí Údarás na Gaeltachta i mBaile Mhic Íre, Maigh Chromtha, Contae Chorcaí.

Mar sin, tá bainisteoir amháin agus triúr oifigeach forbartha óige lánaimseartha fostaithe ag Óige na Gaeltachta. Tá cúigear oifigeach forbartha óige páirtaimseartha fostaithe ag an eagraíocht freisin - ceathrar lonnaithe i nGaeltacht na Gaillimhe agus duine amháin i nGaeltacht Dhún na nGall. Níl dabht ach go bhfuil forbairt mhór déanta ag Óige na Gaeltachta le tamall anuas ag forbairt clubanna óige, agus tá líon na gclubanna sin tar éis méadú ó 37 go 43, de réir na bhfigiúirí is déanaí ó Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Gabhaim buíochas leis an Aire Stáit. Tá sé soiléir ó na figiúirí sin go bhfuil bearnaí ann agus nach bhfreastalaítear ar phobail áirithe, mar iad siúd i gContae na Mí nó Contae Mhaigh Eo. Is léir go mbeidh brú ollmhór ar phé duine a fhreastalaíonn ar chúige Mhumhan, agus iad ag déileáil le gach rud idir Phort Láirge, Chiarraí agus Chontae an Chláir. Is ceantar mór fairsing é, agus is ceantar ollmhór é Dún na nGall freisin. Tá ról an-tábhachtach ag na daoine seo agus tá sé an-tábhachtach go bhfuil a ndóthain daoine ann agus foireann ar fáil chun freastal ar na pobail éagsúla.

Cloisimid i gcónaí go bhfuil Muintearas teoranta ag cur brú ar an údarás maidir le maoiniú. An bhfuil an tAire Stáit tar éis féachaint ar na figiúirí sin agus an bhfuil sé sásta go bhfuil go leor airgid ann? Ní bhfuair Údarás na Gaeltachta ach ardú beag i mbliana i gcomhair cúrsaí reatha. An bhfuil srian ann, nó an féidir an maoiniú sin a scaoileadh chun freastal ar na pobail Ghaeltachta ar fad ar fud na tíre?

Tá dul chun cinn suntasach déanta agus mar a luaigh mé, tá cuid de na bearnaí líonta le cúpla mí anuas, ceantar an Teachta i gCorcaigh ina measc. Tá scéimeanna eile ar fáil agus tá ciste eile ag an Roinn chun tacú le cúrsaí óige agus daoine óga. Tá €7.37 milliún ar fáil in 2020 chun caitheamh ar thograí reatha, mar scéim na bhfoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge, scéim na gcúntóirí teanga, scéim na gcampaí samhraidh, agus cúnamh d’eagraíochtaí eile Gaeltachta mar Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, Coláiste UISCE, agus Oideas Gael. Ritheann mo Roinn a lán scéimeanna eile chun feidhmiú ar dhaoine óga agus cabhrú leo. Tá mé sásta go bhfuil dul chun cinn á dhéanamh agus go bhfuil cuid de na bearnaí líonta le cúpla mí anuas.

Fáiltím go bhfuil oifigeach roghnaithe agus tosaithe i gcúige Mumhan. Guímis gach deá-rath ar an obair agus go n-éireoidh go geal léi. Tá jab mór gnóthach amach roimpi.

Tá bearnaí sa chóras. Pléann Comhchoiste na Gaeilge, na Gaeltachta agus na nOileán leis na coistí pobail ar fud na tíre, agus arís agus arís eile tagann an cheist chun cinn maidir le riachtanais i gcomhair freastal ar phobail óige. Caithfear rudaí cosúil le hionaid bualadh isteach agus a leithéid a chur ar fáil sna ceantair éagsúla. Chun a leithéid de rud a chur i bhfeidhm, theastódh duine lánaimseartha sna ceantair éagsúla chun freastal ar na pobail sin. Níl aon oifigeach ainmnithe do phobail áirithe go fóill, agus tá bearnaí ann fós. Caithfear cinntiú go mbeidh oifigeach óige ar fáil do na pobail Ghaeltachta ar fud na tíre. Ní hamháin an freastal ar dhaoine óga atá i gceist, ach an obair bhreise ó thaobh cultúr agus teanga a thabhairt chun cinn chomh maith. Níor chóir scaoileadh leis an bhfreagracht sin.

Chuir muid acmhainní breise ar fáil d’Údarás na Gaeltachta le cúpla bliain anuas agus tá sé suas don údarás é sin a roinnt amach do na heagraíochtaí, mar Mhuintearas teoranta, atá ag freastal ar chúrsaí óige trasna na tíre. Déanfaidh an t-údarás cinneadh ó thaobh chuile Ghaeltacht.

Chuir an Teachta fáilte roimh an mhéid atá déanta i mbliana. Tá súil agam go bhfuil pleananna ag Muintearas teoranta breathnú ar na Gaeltachtaí eile, i Maigh Eo agus i gContae na Mí, an bhliain seo chugainn, nó go bhfuil pleananna aige chun na bearnaí sin a líonadh síos an bóthar. Tá dul chun cinn déanta le cúpla bliain anuas agus tá acmhainní curtha ar fáil ó thaobh rudaí eile i gcúrsaí na hóige. Tá mo Roinn ag cur seirbhísí ar fáil tríd an Údarás, Muintearas teoranta, agus trí na scéimeanna a ritheann siad.

We have done seven questions at six and a half minutes each, taking just over 45 minutes. We are 12 minutes behind schedule, because some Members refuse to accept the time constraints. Two Deputies will not have their pertinent and relevant questions answered because of that. I appeal to Deputies to follow procedure. They have 30 seconds to introduce their questions and the Minister has two minutes to reply. Deputies have one minute for a supplementary question, and the Minister also has one minute. There is then a final minute for another supplementary question, and a final minute for the Minister. The last thing I want to do is interrupt people, but we must be fair to all Members.

Question No. 8 replied to with Written Answers.

Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla

Ceisteanna (9)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

9. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Catherine Connolly den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cad é stádas Bhille na dteangacha oifigiúla (leasú), 2017; cén dáta a fhoilseofar an Bille; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [51989/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (8 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Culture)

Mar is eol don an Aire Stáit, tá dráma Bhille na dteangacha oifigiúla ar siúl ar feadh breis agus bliain anois. An bhféadfadh an tAire Stáit cinntiú go bhfoilseofar an Bille inniu?

Ar 10 Nollaig 2019, fuair mé cead ón Rialtas Bille na dteangacha oifigiúla (leasú) 2019 a fhoilsiú. Tá Oifig na mBillí ag déanamh na socruithe cuí anois chun é a fhoilsiú agus tuigtear dom go ndéanfar é seo go han-luath. Faraor, ní bheidh sé foilsithe inniu, ach beidh amárach.

Is é príomhchuspóir an Bhille Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 a leasú chun soláthar seirbhísí poiblí trí Ghaeilge a mhéadú agus a fheabhsú. Beidh sraith forálacha mar chuid lárnach de na hiarrachtaí seo agus é mar aidhm acu líon na gcainteoirí Gaeilge a earcaítear chuig an tseirbhís phoiblí a mhéadú. Féachfar, leis an mBille, cuspóir foriomlán a bhaint amach ionas gur cainteoirí Gaeilge iad 20% de na hearcaigh nua chuig an tseirbhís phoiblí, agus gur trí mheán na Gaeilge a oibreoidh gach oifig phoiblí atá suite i limistéir Ghaeltachta.

Tá sé i gceist coiste reachtúil, an coiste comhairleach um sheirbhísí Gaeilge, a bhunú chun tacú leis an obair seo. Leagtar amach feidhmeanna an choiste sa Bhille, lena n-áirítear plean náisiúnta a fhoilsiú ar mhaithe le soláthar seirbhísí poiblí trí mheán na Gaeilge a mhéadú.

Gné shuntasach eile den Bhille ná caighdeáin teanga a thabhairt isteach do chomhlachtaí poiblí agus iad a chur in ionad córas na scéimeanna teanga, chun go mbainfidh na comhlachtaí poiblí sin, ar mó an t-idirghníomhú a bhíonn acu leis an bpobal, caighdeáin níos airde Gaeilge amach.

Cuirfidh príomhfhorálacha eile iallach ar chomhlachtaí poiblí é a dhéanamh níos éasca do dhaoine a n-ainmneacha agus a seoltaí a úsáid i nGaeilge nuair a théann siad i dteagmháil le comhlachtaí poiblí. Chomh maith leis sin, ceanglófar ar gach comhlacht poiblí nua ainmneacha agus lógónna Gaeilge nó atá dátheangach a bheith acu.

Léiríonn an Bille seo tiomantas an Rialtais chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn. Tá muid ag iarraidh timpeallacht a chothú ina mbraitheann daoine muiníneach ag úsáid a gcuid Gaeilge, cuma cén leibhéal cumais atá acu.

Sílim gur céim mhór chun tosaigh an Bille seo chun cuidiú leis an sprioc seo a bhaint amach.

Gabhaim míle buíochas leis an Aire Stáit. Faraor, leanann an dráma ar aghaidh. Níl an Bille le foilsiú inniu ach go luath - amárach nó an tseachtain seo chugainn. Tuigim go bhfuil a lán oibre déanta ag an Aire Stáit agus go n-oibríonn sé go crua ach d'fhoilsigh an coiste ár dtuarascáil i mBealtaine 2018. Roimhe sin, foilsíodh tuarascáil i mí Eanáir 2015. Tá sé soiléir le fada an lá go bhfuil gá le hAcht nua. Tá sé soiléir le fada an lá go bhfuil teipthe go huile agus go hiomlán ag na scéimeanna teanga agus go bhfuil gá le beart práinneach a dhéanamh ó thaobh na Gaeilge de. An féidir leis an Aire Stáit a rá an mbeidh an Bille foilsithe amárach? Cén uair a thiocfaidh an Bille os comhair na Dála? An mbeidh sé os comhair na Dála an tseachtain seo chugainn?

Ó thaobh an eolais atá agam, beidh an Bille foilsithe amárach. Is é an plean atá againn, ón gcruinniú a bhí ag an gCoiste Gnó ar maidin, ná tús a chur leis an Dara Céim den Bhille an tseachtain seo chugainn, ag tosú ar 9.30 a.m. maidin Dé Céadaoin. B'fhéidir go mbeidh muid ag teacht ar ais i mí Eanáir chun an Dara Céim a chríochnú. Beimid ag cur tús leis an Dara Céim an tseachtain seo chugainn. Tá a fhios agam an frustrachas atá ar an Teachta agus urlabhraithe eile don Ghaeilge agus don Ghaeltacht agus an bhrú a chur siad orm, ar fheidhmeannaigh mo Roinne, agus ar an Taoiseach le déanaí. Táimid ag teacht chun deireadh an chéad chéim den phróiseas. Beidh an Bille foilsithe amárach.

Fós tá beagáinín neamhchinnteacht i gceist. Táim ag glacadh leis go mbeidh sé foilsithe amárach agus go mbeidh sé os comhair na Dála an tseachtain seo chugainn don Dara Céim. Tá ráflaí ann go bhfuil an Bille thar a bheith lag. Níl mé róthógtha le ráflaí ach táim ag éisteacht le daoine ar an talamh. Ní raibh muid ró-uaillmhianach nuair a d'fhoilsigh muid an tuarascáil. Chuir muid béim ar an ngéarchéim atá ann ó thaobh na Gaeilge agus ar an ngá le beart a dhéanamh agus le spriocamanna. Luaigh an tAire Stáit an 20%. Tá sé sin, ar a laghad, ag teastáil ach tá sé ag teastáil laistigh de thréimhse áirithe gairid. Is cuma liom an mbeidh dhá bhliain, trí bliana nó cúig bliana i gceist ach caithfidh go mbeidh spriocdháta agus spriocamanna sa Bhille chun aitheantas a thabhairt don ghéarchéim a bhfuil muid ag iarraidh déileáil leis. An féidir leis an Aire Stáit a chinntiú go bhfuil, ar a laghad, spriocdháta sa Bhille?

Tá ceist an-ghairid agam. Fáiltím go mbeidh an Bille foilsithe amárach, ar deireadh thiar thall. Cén fáth nach bhfuil sé foilsithe inniu? Cad é an mhoill? An mbeidh an Bille foilsithe as Gaeilge amháin nó le meabhrán as Gaeilge amháin? Foilsítear Billí eile i dteanga amháin. An mbeidh sé aistrithe go Béarla? An é sin an mhoill atá ann?

Bhí mé i dteagmháil le m'oifigigh ar maidin. Is é Tithe an Oireachtais a fhoilsíonn Billí. Tagann an Bille ó Oifig an Ard-Aighne. Bhí teagmháil idir Tithe an Oireachtais, Oifig an Ard-Aighne agus mo Roinn. Táim dóchasach go bhfoilseofar an Bille amárach. Teastaítear an Bille sa teanga náisiúnta sa chéad áit ach teastaítear leagan Béarla freisin. Níl Gaeilge ag chuile dhuine sa Teach agus caithfimid seans a thabhairt do chuile dhuine é a léamh chun go mbeidh tuiscint acu ar na pleananna atá againn.

Ó thaobh sonraí an Bhille, beidh chuile dhuine in ann é a léamh thar an deireadh seachtaine. Níl spriocam luaite sa Bhille. Táim in ann é sin a rá. Sílim go mbeidh sin á phlé againn ar an Dara Céim agus sa choiste Oireachtais. Rachaimid tríd agus chasfaimid le heagraíochtaí ó thaobh na ceiste sin. Ní aontóidh chuile dhuine sa tír leis an sprioc de 20%. Caithfimid smaoineamh ar na rudaí sin agus an rud ceart a dhéanamh ó thaobh an rud atá muid ag iarraidh a dhéanamh, is é sin, níos mó daoine le Gaeilge a fháil sa tseirbhís phoiblí. Sílim go bhfuil ceart ag daoine seirbhísí a fháil trí mheán na Gaeilge sa Ghaeltacht agus taobh amuigh di.

In line with Standing Order 40, Deputy Durkan has been granted permission to ask Question No. 10 on behalf of Deputy Heydon. The Chair will allow that. With regard to Question No. 8, however, I had no request from Deputy Naughton or any officer of the House to allow Deputy Durkan to ask it. Therefore, I am not allowing him to do so but he may now proceed with Question No. 10, in the name of Deputy Heydon.

Heritage Projects

Ceisteanna (10)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

10. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the funding available for built heritage projects in County Kildare in 2020; the drawdown of funds for such projects in 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51904/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (6 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Culture)

This question seeks to ascertain the funding available for the built heritage projects throughout County Kildare that have requested funding, and the extent to which it has been drawn down.

It is fitting that Deputy Durkan is taking Deputy Heydon's question because they share the same county.

My Department provides financial support for the protection of heritage buildings and historic structures through two grant schemes - the built heritage investment scheme, BHIS, and the historic structures fund, HSF - which are generally administered by the local authorities. On 14 November, I launched the 2020 BHIS and the HSF and announced combined funding of almost €4.3 million.

Applications under the BHIS are assessed by the local authorities and awarded funding with the approval of my Department. Kildare County Council has been allocated €79,000 under the 2020 BHIS, the same amount as was allocated and drawn down in 2019.

There is no specific county allocation for the HSF. Applications are short-listed by local authorities and then assessed by a panel of experts, including officials of my Department. In 2019, three projects were put forward to the Department for consideration. Following assessment, one project, Newbridge College clock tower, Junior House, was approved, to the value of €25,000. This has been drawn down.

Both the BHIS and the HSF are administered by the local authorities and are now open for applications until 31 January 2020. Full details of the schemes are on my Department's website.

On 28 November, I announced funding of €1 million for the historic towns initiative, which my Department runs in conjunction with the Heritage Council. The initiative is a fund for the heritage-led regeneration of historic towns with an indicative minimum population of 1,500. This initiative is now open for applications and would, of course, include many Kildare towns. Projects under the historic towns initiative vary greatly from town to town but have to date included the upgrading of historic shop fronts as well as the regeneration of built heritage sites.

I assure the Minister we have an abundance of suitable heritage and built heritage sites throughout County Kildare, north, south and central. I thank her for her detailed reply.

Is the existing funding still available and can it be increased to accommodate further enthusiasm for making applications under the various headings referred to?

The funding cannot be increased for next year but I appreciate the Deputy's interest in it. There is €79,000 in the fund. In 2019, there were a number of grants for Kildare under the BHIS. The recipients were Church of Ireland, Kilberry; St. Michael's Church, Athy; Johnstown graveyard and church; Sean Chill, Donaghcumper, Celbridge; Church of the Holy Saviour, Narraghmore; Ard Na Gréine, Canal View, Sallins; 7 Canning Place, Newbridge; Leixlip Boathouse, Leixlip; Pebble Hill House, Maynooth; Riverstown House, Kildangan; Grattan Vault, Celbridge; Mill Cottage, Sallins; and the thatched cottage in Thomastown. I announced the BHIS and HSF on 14 November 2019. They will operate again in 2020, with total funding of up to €4.3 million across the country.

I fully support and encourage the Minister to proceed in that general direction in the hope there will be an increase in the number of applications under the various headings for the coming year and that she will find it possible to extend the fund in every way possible to cover the important historic and heritage venues all over the county.

These have played a major role in our nation's history. They include the building in which we sit, Leinster House, as well as Carton House and various other houses throughout County Kildare.

As I mentioned regarding climate action, it is important that we protect our archaeological and built heritage. Many people are not aware that it will be affected by climate change. The heritage section of my Department is very aware of that, however. We are also fund up to 500 projects under the built heritage grant scheme, which will be open through the local authorities in 2020. In addition, we will publish the national heritage plan and hold a heritage forum in Dublin Castle. We will continue to support the Office of Public Works, with which we work closely in tandem in respect of conservation projects at our national monuments and historical properties. Blueways are of great interest in County Kildare, in particular the Barrow blueway, which will be funded and will bring significant economic and social benefits to the county. There is much support in Kildare for the project and we are very pleased to bring it forward under the remit of Waterways Ireland.

Departmental Advertising Data

Ceisteanna (11)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

11. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the amount spent in 2019 on social media and digital advertising; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52153/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (6 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Culture)

I would like to know the amount of money spent by her Department on social media and digital advertising. I ask the Minister to make a statement on the issue.

I am advised by my Department that the expenditure on social media and digital advertising engaged in by my Department to date in 2019 is €79,673, which relates primarily to the Creative Ireland programme, in addition to spending by Culture Ireland. This figure does not include the social media costs for the promotion of Cruinniú na nÓg, for which a detailed breakdown is not yet available. The Creative Ireland programme, with which Deputy Smyth is familiar, is a culture-based programme designed to promote individual, community and national well-being. The vision of the programme is that every person in Ireland should have the opportunity to realise his or her full creative potential. As such, a comprehensive and multi-platform information and citizen engagement campaign is in place to build awareness and understanding of the programme's aims and objectives. These are to enable the creative potential of every child; enable creativity in every community; invest in our creative and cultural infrastructure; and develop Ireland as a centre of creative excellence and as a creative and cultural nation. We also want to encourage participation in cultural and creative activities, with a particular focus on Cruinniú na nÓg, a festival for children and young people, which was held in June this year, as well as to support, enable and achieve maximum citizen engagement. To do this, it is essential for the programme to use a diverse range of communication channels and platforms to inform, encourage and promote participation in creative activities, as these are vital to our individual and societal well-being.

Expenditure in 2019 to date included €76,506 for social media content, including research, image sourcing, short films and scheduling of social media posts. Under Global Ireland 2025, the Government's strategy to increase the impact of Ireland's global footprint, a conference was organised by Culture Ireland on 24 January 2019 to explore how best to promote Ireland's culture worldwide.

That figure of €76,000 is staggering and, as the Minister said, it does not include costs associated with Cruinniú na nÓg. I have no doubt the figure for promotion by the Department using social media will exceed €100,000. It goes without saying that social media has an important role to play in highlighting the cultural, creative and artistic heritage activities taking place throughout the country. We all know and accept that. There has, however, been controversy regarding how much the Department is spending on social media, particularly during the first year of the Creative Ireland programme. I have been at the roadshows, which place great emphasis on media, digital media and filming. I question that.

I ask the Minister to give us a breakdown of the spending and to what exactly what it relates. I have received information in respect of spending through a request under the Freedom of Information Act, and the table provided to me shows that, from January to July 2019, bigO media provided social media services and was paid an average of more than €6,000 per month. Thereafter, TWB provided social media services to the Department and was paid an average of more than €8,000 per month. The Minister can correct me if I am wrong, but these payments seem to be for the operation of the Department's Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. Do these costs include the promotion of social media content?

To be clear, the Department has developed its own social media platforms to showcase its work. This is separate from the work undertaken by Creative Ireland and Culture Ireland. Returning to Deputy Smyth's comment regarding Creative Ireland, more money was spent in the first year to create awareness of Creative Ireland in general. However, spending has tapered off significantly since then.

On the Department's social media use, greater use is being made of the Department's Twitter account, which has grown strongly, with 8,346 followers at the end of November. A Facebook account was launched in mid-May of this year and has 2,368 followers. The Department also has an Instagram account, which was launched in mid-May and now has 1,521 followers. These accounts have been developed at no cost. The social media presence and its management are undertaken by the Department's in-house communications and press office team, which has five staff who also look after the traditional press office duties. Content is also supplied by staff across the Department who are engaged in the day-to-day work of the culture, heritage and Gaeltacht divisions.

The Minister's answer raises the question as to why an expense has been incurred in contracting in external companies. If we look at the social media output of the Department in November, Instagram had four posts, Twitter had 15 tweets, 11 retweets and one comment, six replies to tweets and seven retweets. There were five posts on Facebook from original content and two posts highlighting articles. That is a small number of posts and a low level of activity for one month. I have no doubt that a professional level of skill is needed for creating online content. I have my own Twitter and Facebook accounts. The Department should undertake these activities in-house and should not need outside companies. I ask the Minister to comment.

I have already addressed that. As I mentioned, these accounts have been developed at no cost. The social media presence and its management are undertaken by the Department's in-house communications and press office team of five staff. They also look after the traditional press office duties. Regarding social media, I am not an expert, although I have someone separately in my own sphere who does my social media, but the issue is quality not quantity. Stating how many posts there have been is not relevant to engagement or reach. It is always about quality and not just constantly putting up different posts.

The use of social media, however, is of importance to the Department given the nature of its work. The mission of the Department is to promote, nurture and develop Ireland's arts, culture and heritage, to support and promote the use of the Irish language and to facilitate the development of the Gaeltacht and the islands. Social media gives us an opportunity to offer a unique window into the richness and variety of our culture and gives easy access to information on galleries, museums and events taking place locally. On heritage, social media helps to give the public knowledge and opportunities to experience our nature parks and our nature resources and waterways. It also builds awareness and knowledge of our national heritage and biodiversity and raises the appreciation of the Irish language.

Turf Cutting

Question No. 13 replied to with Written Answers.

Ceisteanna (12)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

12. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of the relocation of turf cutters; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51119/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (6 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Culture)

I know this is an issue close to the Acting Chairman's heart. In 1996, the then Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Michael D. Higgins, signed into law the designation of bogs which led to the ban on turf cutting. Some 23 years later, only 9% of those who sought to be relocated have been relocated. A massive 70% of those turf cutters who sought relocation are still without any plan to provide them with an alternative turf bank.

Deputy Naughten and the Acting Chairman have significant experience in this particular area.

Significant efforts have been made by the State to resolve the issue of the protection of Ireland's raised bog special areas of conservation and natural heritage areas within the framework of the EU habitats directive, including the establishment of a long-term compensation scheme for affected turf cutters.

The cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme was established in 2011 for active turf cutters arising from the cessation of turf cutting on raised bog special areas of conservation. It was extended in 2014 to include natural heritage areas. This scheme is applicable to turf cutters who have been affected by the designation of raised bogs as special areas of conservation and natural heritage areas and who fulfil the qualifying criteria of the scheme. It comprises a payment of €1,500 per annum, index-linked for 15 years, or relocation, where feasible, to a non-designated bog, together with a legal agreement payment of €500.

Up to 2,569 applicants are regularly receiving compensation under the scheme. Of these, 263 have applied for and are awaiting relocation to a non-designated bog. The relocation of turf cutters to a non-designated bog is not always straightforward. Notwithstanding this, progress in relocation has been achieved in several cases. Some 72 turf cutters from 11 different raised bog designated areas have been relocated to non-designated bogs. A further four relocation sites in counties Galway, Roscommon and Westmeath which could accommodate up to 55 turf cutters have been developed by the Department. These are due to be operational from 2020. Relocation sites for a further six special areas of conservation have been identified by the Department and are at various stages of development. These could accommodate a further 50 turf cutters. All of these sites together could accommodate almost 180 of the 263 cutters who expressed a relocation interest. The Department is still investigating suitable relocation sites for seven raised bog special areas of conservation.

In addition, within the framework of the National Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation Management Plan 2017-2022, the Department is considering the available options in terms of relocation and the provisions of the habitats directive to provide for turf cutting in certain areas of raised bog special areas of conservation. Some 14 sites are under consideration for the possible application of Article 6 of the directive.

While I accept significant efforts have been made to protect bogs, with all due respect, the reality is that little effort has been made to date in actually relocating turf cutters. This is the first test of the just transition programme. At the formation of the Government in May 2016, 68 turf cutters were being accommodated with alternative sites. To date, 72 have been relocated. That is one turf cutter for every year since the Government was formed. Does the Minister believe it is good enough that only four additional families have been relocated over the past four years?

Deputy Naughten referred to the just transition programme. He is familiar with it from his former ministerial portfolio. As part of this programme, on Monday, 11 November, I visited the midlands and met stakeholders, together with the Deputy and the Acting Chairman.

Under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme, 150 qualifying applicants from counties Galway and Roscommon have applied for relocation to a non-designated bog within medium range. Up to 37 applicants from designated sites in these two counties have been relocated. One of the designated sites straddles counties Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon. In addition, a further three relocation sites for qualified applications from designated sites in counties Galway and Roscommon, which would accommodate up to 35 turf cutters, have been developed by the Department and are scheduled to be operational from next year.

Up to 61 families, 8% of the total, who expressed an interest in relocation have thrown in the towel as they have been waiting a long time. That is because of the failure to deliver on relocation alternatives for people. The result for those people is that they are now being penalised by the State. The State has failed to provide an alternative site. Now, it deducts from their compensation payment the cost of the turf delivered to them already. I believe that is wrong. Will the Minister treat these people fairly and pay them their just and fair compensation without any deductions? It might take some of the pressure off the relocation needed across this country.

I note the Deputy's comments. At all times we will try to treat people fairly and with just compensation. The scheme was established in 2011 for active turf cutters arising from the cessation of turf cutting on raised bog special areas of conservation and was extended in 2014 to include natural heritage areas. This scheme is applicable to turf cutters who have been affected by the designation of raised bogs as special areas of conservation, as well as natural heritage areas, and who fulfil the qualifying criteria of the scheme. It comprises a payment of €1,500 per annum, index-linked for 15 years, or relocation, where feasible, to a non-designated bog, together with a legal agreement payment of €500.

While these qualifying applicants are waiting for relocation sites to be investigated, they may, on an interim basis, opt for the annual payment of €1,500 or opt to receive an annual supply of up to 15 tonnes of cut turf delivered to their homes. Of the 2,569 applicants regularly receiving annual payments under the scheme, 263 have applied for relocation to a non-designated bog. There are other affected turf cutters who may qualify under the scheme but have not yet applied. It remains open for these turf cutters to apply and opt for relocation to a non-designated bog if they wish.

Question No. 13 replied to with Written Answers.

National Raised Bog Management Plan

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website

Ceisteanna (14)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

14. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans for the rehabilitation of bogs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51118/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (4 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Culture)

The Minister visited the midlands recently with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Bruton. One of the issues raised directly with her by union representatives, as well as by myself, Deputy Eugene Murphy and others, was the need to ensure local staff will be involved in any work on the rehabilitation of bogs. Will the Minister update me on what progress has been made to ensure that those staff losing their jobs in Bord na Móna will be involved in the rehabilitation of the bogs?

A key element of the National Raised Bog Special Areas of Conservation Management Plan 2017-2022, approved by the Government and published by my Department in December 2017, is to maintain active raised bog habitat and restore degraded raised bog habitat to active raised bog habitat. The national restoration programme for Ireland's raised bog special areas of conservation and natural heritage areas is contained within this plan. It was intended to restore all designated raised bogs within three cycles, with the first cycle operating for the duration of the management plan.

This programme can now be accelerated due to the announcement in budget 2020 of €5 million for peatlands restoration. This funding will allow for restoration measures to be undertaken on approximately 1,800 ha in 2020 on up to nine raised bog designated sites across seven counties and the installation of an eddy covariance flux tower on a representative bog to directly observe the exchanges of gas, energy, and momentum between the ecosystem and the atmosphere. The flux tower will directly measure the carbon, water, and heat flows between plant communities and the atmosphere.

Some 23 other raised bog designated sites have been identified for restoration works over the next number of years under the programme. Restoration plans for each of the 53 raised bog special areas of conservation have been drafted to be developed further in partnership with stakeholders including landowners and local communities. Site-specific restorations plans for the raised bog natural heritage areas are currently being developed by the Department using the most up-to-date scientific methodologies available and best practice models gained from other restoration projects.

I was in the midlands on 11 November, as was said earlier. We hope there will be 100 jobs created there. This has gone out to tender. There will be jobs like tree felling and scrub clearance, as well as for machine operators, engineers, hydrologists, ecologists and dam installers. Some of these are non-technical jobs for people who are not trained in those areas.

The announcement made regarding the closure of the two peat-fired power stations in the midlands is the equivalent of Google shutting up shop in Dublin. That shows the scale of the impact on the economy locally. We need assurance that we can create jobs locally in bog rehabilitation. I need an assurance from the Government that this will be made a priority and we will not see these jobs coming from other parts of the country.

Obviously, we cannot say if some of the workers can work for the National Parks and Wildlife Service on bog rehabilitation as the tender has not been completed yet. The contract for peatlands work will need to be awarded following a competitive tender process to be managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. There are a number of jobs there and Bord na Móna will need to apply like any other party. We hope it will be in a position to do so and that it will be successful in its application.

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.