Culture Policy

Ceisteanna (369)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

369. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht the amount spent to date on the Galway 2020 project; the amount that was taxpayers' money; her plans to proceed with Galway 2020 in light of the difficulties faced by the project due to Covid-19 disruptions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27090/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Media)

The Government commitment of €15 million to Galway 2020 remains in place with a total of €9,967,838 spent to date.

On 10 July last, following consideration and review, I approved a reimagined cultural programme for Galway 2020, which is based on the projects from Galway’s original winning bid to become Ireland’s 2020 European Capital of Culture. This reimagined programme includes more than 350 Irish artists working on the delivery of a range of projects covering the broad spectrum of art forms and addressing the varied sectors of society, including children, youth and older people, traveller community, people with intellectual and sensory disabilities and hospital patients.

All projects are subject to full adherence to public health restrictions arising from the impact of COVID-19, and a number of projects are now focusing on a digital delivery.

Irish Language

Ceisteanna (370)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

370. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht if the imbalance in funding for the Irish language will start to be reversed in budget 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27122/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Media)

As the Deputy will be aware, it is through the annual budgetary and estimates process that Exchequer funding is allocated to my Department and indeed to all Government Departments and agencies. In this context, the Deputy will understand the 2021 allocation for Irish Language and Gaeltacht organisations, including Údarás na Gaeltachta, is currently being considered as part of this process.

My Department continues to increase funding to support the Irish Language as resources allow. The Revised Estimates Volumes for the Public Service, published earlier this year by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, outlines total funding of €58m for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands included in Programme C of my Department's Vote for 2020. This significant exchequer allocation represents an increase on the €55.5m allocation in 2019.

Since then, in light of the impact of Covid-19 on our society and economy, the Government has provided additional funding and supports to the Department and the Irish language and Gaeltacht sector, through targeted national and sectoral measures.

For example, the July Jobs Stimulus package includes a significant additional capital allocation of €8m for Údarás na Gaeltachta in order to enable it to undertake essential upgrades to existing building stock and water treatment facilities, thereby facilitating the marketing of currently dormant factory spaces for modern job-creation projects.

This will create 40-50 new construction jobs across Gaeltacht communities in the short-term while the re-developed building stock will support the longer-term creation of 320 new jobs in the Gaeltacht, in Údarás na Gaeltachta client-companies.

Coupled with the additional funding of €250,000 being provided to Ealaín na Gaeltachta in support of the traditional arts in school settings and the overarching language planning process in Gaeltacht regions, this specific additional investment will further assist in underpinning the language in Gaeltacht regions.

The Programme for Government acknowledges the importance of the Irish language as the first language of the State, as a living language and as a vital component of the heritage of this island, and I will be underlining this commitment in all discussions in relation to policy and funding to support the Irish language.

Radio Broadcasting

Ceisteanna (371)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

371. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht when funding will be approved and actioned to make a radio station (details supplied) available on the FM wavelength. [27277/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Media)

While my Department provides funding to Raidió Rí Rá, I have no role regarding the issuing of radio licenses, this is a function carried out by the BAI as the independent regulator whose remit and obligations are set out in the Broadcasting Act 2009.

Culture Policy

Ceisteanna (372)

Patricia Ryan

Ceist:

372. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht if she will make provision for a cultúrlann in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27336/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Media)

As the Deputy may be aware, a specific commitment has been made in the Programme for Government to "promote the development of Irish Language Centres in Dublin and across the country, for a community-based approach to Irish-language promotion."

This commitment builds on those previously given in the Government’s Action Plan 2018-2022 for the Irish-language (actions 4.12 and 4.13 specifically) and the National Development Plan 2018-2027 (Project Ireland 2040) in respect of Irish language centres.

On a practical level, my Department supports the development of Irish-language centres through the Irish language Support Schemes (Capital Programme), with an allocation of €632,000 for 2020.

Community-based committees or organisations who operate through Irish outside the Gaeltacht, may make an application under this scheme. Funding can be provided to assist with building or refurbishing Irish-language centres, with the purchase of buildings for use as Irish-language centres and with the purchase of equipment for such centres.

The purpose of the capital assistance provided under this fund is to strengthen the Irish-language as a community and family language in accordance with the objectives of the Gaeltacht Act 2012 and the 20 Year Strategy for Irish 2010-2030.

I understand from my officials that, while they recently sent out an application form for the scheme to a community-based group in Kildare, they have not received an application for a Cultúrlann in the county. Should an application be made, it will be processed in the normal way, in accordance with the conditions of the scheme.

Further information about this scheme is available on my Department’s website.

Sports Facilities

Ceisteanna (373)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

373. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht if funding will be provided to a voluntary organisation (details supplied) in respect of the ongoing costs of providing a sports and recreation facility; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27339/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Media)

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on Ireland's sport and leisure sector. I regret that the necessary public health restrictions have presented serious challenges the operators of sports and recration facilities. I agree with the Deputy that these facilities are hugely valuable to communities throughout the country and play a major role in supporting people's health and wellbeing. I am pleased that in Levels 2 and 3 of the Resilience and Recovery Plan, all gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools are permitted to open. I hope that they will continue to serve their communities through the winter months.

As part of the July Jobs Stimulus, I announced a special fund of €2.5 million to support the reopening of publicly accessible swimming pools in recognition of the particular challenges pool operators face in reopening to the public. This funding will be administered by Sport Ireland. A grant scheme is currently being drafted. Full details of the scheme and the application process will be announced shortly.

Archaeological Sites

Ceisteanna (374)

Réada Cronin

Ceist:

374. Deputy Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage when archaeological excavations will begin on the lands at Killlhill, Kill, County Kildare recently approved for residential development by An Bord Pleanála; if he is satisfied with the reduction of the perimeter buffer from 150 m to 10 m; if his attention has been drawn to the heritage and or archaeological justification for that reduction; if he is satisfied with same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26302/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The archaeological monument most directly associated with the development site in this case is included in the Record of Monuments and Places (“RMP”) established under section 12 of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1994.  While the published RMP for each county provides illustrative guidance of the area and scale of listed monuments, it also clarifies that the “circles and boxes around the recorded monuments and places are intended to show them but not to define their exact extent”. It is also the case that section 12 of the 1994 Act does not include provision for the establishment of buffer zones within which development is precluded.  

An archaeological monument to the southeast of the development site is also subject to a Preservation Order under the National Monuments Acts. However, as with the RMP, neither does the placing of a Preservation Order on a monument create a buffer zone that would preclude development taking place.  

The position therefore is that no particular buffer zones have been established within the framework of the applicable legislation protecting relevant monuments in this case. The archaeological recommendations issued by the National Monuments Service, as statutory consultee under the Planning Acts, in relation to the proposed development would, of course, have taken full account of the presence of those monuments. It would also have had due regard to the location and context of the site, which is directly adjacent to existing housing estates extending eastwards from the town in question. It would be appropriate for related archaeological advice to acknowledge the nature and setting of the area which is suburban rather than rural in character.

The commencement of archaeological excavations on the development site would be a matter for the owner in accordance with the terms of the planning permission granted by An Bord Pleanála and the requirements of the National Monuments Acts. I understand that my Department is not yet in receipt of any related application under those Acts.

Special Protection Areas

Ceisteanna (375)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

375. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he is satisfied regarding the way the management plan is progressing for the special protection area and the special area of conservation at the Gearagh, County Cork; the next stage of the process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26485/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In response to a question on this matter from the Deputy last March, the then Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht advised that “At the request of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, my Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) completed and published detailed site-specific conservation objectives for the Gearagh SAC (000108) in September 2016. 

A management plan scoping exercise was undertaken by ESB International on behalf of the ESB (who are the main landowner) in 2016/2017. The NPWS took part in the stakeholder group that contributed to the report produced as a result of that exercise.”  

Owing to the constraints and exigencies arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, it has not been possible to pursue the matter further at this time. The Department will seek an update on progress in the coming weeks.

Natural Heritage Areas

Ceisteanna (376)

Holly Cairns

Ceist:

376. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if Toon Wood, Macroom, County Cork will be designated as a natural heritage area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26553/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I refer to the reply to Question No. 422 of 30 July 2020. 

The role for the National Parks and Wildlife Service in this matter is to continue to provide expert support to the EPA and the Forest Service in delivering their statutory functions in relation to woodlands, and to consider Toon Wood as an NHA to protect the remaining woodland and woodland areas on the site that can be recovered in the future. 

It is intended to review the adequacy of the coverage of the woodland pNHA network, and takes steps,  as necessary,  to ensure that ecologically important woodlands are legally protected.

National Parks

Ceisteanna (377)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

377. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the up-to-date position in respect of a project (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27028/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I refer  to the reply to Question No. 114 of 23 July 2020. The National Parks and Wildlife Service secured €500K under the Outdoor Recreational Infrastructure Scheme towards improving public access, including the provision of new parking facilities at the site in question. Works are currently underway and are expected to be completed before year end (weather permitting).

Housing Policy

Ceisteanna (378)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

378. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the degree to which he expects to be in a position to assist the public housing capital programme with particular reference to meeting targets in 2020 and subsequent years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27258/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I am engaging with my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform as part of the budgetary process, including ensuring that we have sufficient capital, and current, budgets to meet the targets, and most importantly the need arising for households in 2021 and beyond.

Of course, the term public capital housing programme is not reflective of the full breadth of social housing delivery activity, which has evolved significantly over the past 20 years or so. The scale of housing needed now, following the economic downturn and consequential curtailment of supply, means that we must deploy multiple programmes, using a blend of capital and current funding, to meet the immediate, mid-term and long-term needs of households.

Next year, the target is to deliver over 12,000 long-term housing supports for families and individuals. This will include building by local authorities on local authority land, local authorities working with developers to provide housing where demand is high and land is neither available or active, approved housing bodies delivering new build at scale, public private partnerships delivering social homes, Part V, acquisitions and leasing.

Since 2013, the capital investment in housing has increased from just under €300m to the over €1.5bn available in 2020. By using blended delivery, we maximise the output for that investment.

Home Loan Scheme

Ceisteanna (379)

Seán Canney

Ceist:

379. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his plans to expand the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme to include the refurbishment costs in addition to the capital costs of the house; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27130/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Following a review of the two existing local authority home loan schemes, the House Purchase Loan and the Home Choice Loan, a new loan offering was introduced, from 1 February 2018, known as the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan.  In line with the previous schemes, the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan is designed to enable credit worthy first time buyers to access sustainable mortgage lending to purchase new or second-hand properties in a suitable price range, or to self build; it does not include undertaking renovation projects.  I have no plans to change this requirement at present.

Fire Stations

Ceisteanna (380)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

380. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the status of a project (details supplied); when funding will be sanctioned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26347/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The provision of a fire service in its functional area, including the establishment and maintenance of a fire brigade, the assessment of fire cover needs and the provision of fire station premises, is a statutory function of individual fire authorities under the Fire Services Acts, 1981 and 2003.  My Department supports the fire authorities through setting general policy, providing a central training programme, issuing guidance on operational and other related matters and providing capital funding for equipment and priority infrastructural projects.

In February 2016, my Department announced a five-year Fire Services Capital Programme with an allocation of €40 million, based on an annual €8 million allocation, to be used for the purchase of fire appliances and specialist equipment, building or upgrading of prioritised Fire Stations, an upgrade of the Communications and Mobilisation system and improvements to Training Centres.

The five-year programme proposed the construction/refurbishment of twenty six fire stations. This included sixteen new builds and ten upgrade/refurbishment projects. 

A new fire station at Crossmolina is provided for in this Capital Programme. Mayo County Council has indicated that Crossmolina is their number one fire station priority. The Council submitted an outline design and cost plan for a new station to my Department in December 2019. The Council completed a tender process in August 2020, and submitted the tender report and cost plan to my Department two weeks ago. This is currently under review and my Department will continue to work with Mayo County Council to progress this project. 

In order to maximise the available Capital Programme funding, my Department re-assesses the status of projects in the Programme on an annual basis, and some flexibility is normally available to advance projects that are ready and that offer best value-for-money taking account of the state of readiness of projects more generally. 

A new capital programme for the period 2021-2025 is currently being finalised. Following extensive engagement with fire authorities a number of proposals for station works etc. have been received. The proposals will be evaluated and prioritised on the basis of the:

- Area Risk Categorisation of the fire station (population, fire risks, etc.)

- Established Health and Safety needs and

- State of development of the project (is site acquired, etc.?) 

 In recognition of the current economic situation faced by the State as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the speed and extent to which proposed expenditure can stimulate local economies will also be a key consideration in the first few years of the new programme.

I hope to be in a position to make an announcement regarding this new programme in the near future, and my Department will continue to work with Mayo County Council to progress the Crossmolina fire station project.

Pyrite Incidence

Ceisteanna (381)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

381. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the reason houses that are not principal private residences are excluded from the mica pyrite scheme; if they were excluded in previous pyrite compensation schemes; and if the matter will be reviewed. [26348/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In relation to the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant scheme, Regulations under sections 2 and 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1979 provide for a grant scheme of financial assistance to support affected homeowners in the counties of Donegal and Mayo to carry out the necessary remediation works to dwellings that have been damaged due to defective concrete blocks, entitled Dwellings Damaged by the Use of Defective Concrete Blocks in Construction (Remediation) (Financial Assistance) Regulations 2020 (S.I. No. 25 of 2020).

The Regulations, which provide the legal framework for the grant scheme of financial assistance, came into operation on 31 January 2020. The scheme is targeted at assisting a group of homeowners in the counties of Donegal and Mayo, who have no other practicable options to access redress for their home. The dwelling must be a homeowner’s principal private residence, that is, a house or apartment which an individual owns and occupies as his or her only or main residence. As of now, I have no plans to review the matter.

Separately, the Pyrite Resolution Act 2013 provides the statutory framework for the establishment of the Pyrite Resolution Board (PRB) and for the making of a pyrite remediation scheme to be implemented by the PRB with support from the Housing Agency.  A person who is the owner or joint owner of a dwelling that complies with the eligibility criteria, may apply to the PRB for one dwelling only to be included in the scheme.

Social and Affordable Housing

Ceisteanna (382)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

382. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage when the quarter 2 2020 social housing pipeline report will be published. [26571/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department publishes comprehensive statistics on a quarterly basis. Social housing delivery data gathering and collation was impacted by COVID-19, where the focus for local authorities was on maintaining the essential housing services.

The data collection and collation process has resumed and the social housing statistics for Q1/Q2 2020 together with the Quarter 2 Social Housing Construction Status Report which provides the updated build pipeline will now be published in due course.

Social and Affordable Housing

Ceisteanna (383)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

383. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if the quarter 2 2020 social housing pipeline report will include the number of projects that will fall under the new one-stage approvals process; and the number of units that will be delivered by the fast-tracked projects. [26572/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The revised ceiling on the Single-Stage Approval Process for local authority social housing Capital Construction Projects increased from €2m to €6m in September 2020. 

Quarter 2 2020 covers the period to end June, therefore the increased ceiling for single stage construction projects was not applicable at that time and will not be detailed in the Construction Status Report.

 Going forward this will be updated as new projects are added.

Local Authority Staff

Ceisteanna (384)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

384. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the additional staffing resources requested from his Department by county and city councils nationally in each of the years 2016 to 2019, inclusive; the number that were granted in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26595/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The information requested is set out in the Table below. The figures for 2016, 2017 and 2018 give the total number of all approved staffing resources by each local authority, i.e. not just additional staffing resources as my Department did not record the requests for staffing sanctions by the particular category "additional staffing resources" at that time. The 2019 figures provide the figure for additional staffing resources only (as requested) by each local authority.

Local Authority

2016

2017

2018

2019

Carlow

6

18

27

16

Cavan

21

11

13

0

Clare

43

22

37

22

Cork City

34

12

38

18

Cork County

102

97

32

1

Donegal

12

27

34

58

Dublin City

203

47

63

54

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown

35

16

29

27

Fingal

18

24

51

29

Galway City

4

8

32

51

Galway County

21

22

35

8

Kerry

2

20

12

5

Kildare

98

98

64

29

Kilkenny

36

9

17

10

Laois

25

31

36

19

Leitrim

9

12

11

3

Limerick City & Co

54

55

63

58

Longford

26

12

17

20

Louth

9

5

15

4

Mayo

56

28

19

2

Meath

20

9

4

0

Monaghan

12

10

13

2

Offaly

14

12

17

21

Roscommon

3

3

6

0

Sligo

83

84

101

23

South Dublin

17

23

8

10

Tipperary

18

43

34

9

Waterford City & Co

11

28

14

21

Westmeath

18

20

28

17

Wexford

33

51

10

11

Wicklow

24

7

21

8

Housing Provision

Ceisteanna (385)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

385. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his plans for a facility (details supplied) in County Kerry for social, voluntary and temporary accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26605/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

It is a matter for individual housing authorities to bring forward project proposals to my Department for funding to deliver additional social housing stock under various initiatives.  No proposal has been submitted by Kerry County Council to my Department in relation to provision of social, voluntary or temporary homeless emergency accommodation at the property referenced.

Electoral Process

Ceisteanna (386)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

386. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he plans to amend section 62 of the Electoral Act 1992, which was found to be incompatible with Article 16.3.2 of the Constitution during the 2020 general election 2020, when the death of a candidate in the Tipperary constituency required the signing of a special difficulty order to allow the election to proceed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26756/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Programme for Government - Our Shared Future sets out a range of commitments in relation to electoral reform.  My Department is currently advancing this electoral reform agenda and this will include bringing forward legislative proposals where necessary. The issues that arose in relation to the operation of section 62 of the Electoral Act 1992 at the Dáil election in February 2020 are being considered in this context.

Register of Electors

Ceisteanna (387)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

387. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his plans to amend and reform the register of electors to reduce the incidences of duplication on same and to ensure that electors are not incorrectly removed from the register; if he plans to link the register with PPS numbers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26757/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Programme for Government – Our Shared Future – includes a number of commitments in relation to the registration of electors including the creation of a rolling register; the use of PPSNs to verify identity; simplified forms and the roll out of optional online registration. Together, these reforms will simplify and streamline the entire process of registration making it easier for people to register to vote and update their details. 

The use of the PPSN in the context of the register will contribute to the ability of registration authorities to maintain accurate and complete electoral registers by ensuring that each person's record can be uniquely identified, thereby enabling improved management of duplicates and ensuring that changes are made to the correct record.    

Work is currently underway in my Department to progress these reforms.

Architectural Heritage

Ceisteanna (388)

Chris Andrews

Ceist:

388. Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his views on the designation of a historic site (details supplied) as a protected structure; if he will recommend the listing of the site on Dublin City Council’s record of protected structures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26763/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I am informed that the inclusion of the site mentioned on the Council’s Record of Protected Structures (RPS) is presently a matter under consideration by Dublin City Council and as such is a matter for the local authority itself.  Part IV of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, gives primary responsibility to local authorities to identify and protect the architectural heritage by including particular structures on the Record of Protected Structures (RPS). Inclusion on the RPS places a duty of care on the owners and occupiers of protected structures and also gives planning authorities powers to deal with any development proposals affecting them.

In this case, the building itself forms part of a site in respect of which a Strategic Housing Development application was submitted to An Bord Pleanála for approval earlier this year and in respect of which my Department provided its observations as a statutory consultee under the Planning and Development Acts. I understand that the Bord has made a determination on that application and further comment by me in that regard would not be appropriate.