Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar
Gnáthamharc

Tuesday, 1 Jun 2021

Written Answers Nos. 286-312

Commemorative Events

Ceisteanna (286)

Patricia Ryan

Ceist:

286. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the funding available to local authorities for the national day of commemoration in July 2021. [29067/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

My role as Minister with responsibility for leading the coordination of the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 Programme is to help ensure that the events of this important and formative period in our history and related themes, are meaningfully, proportionately and sensitively remembered.

Throughout the Decade of Centenaries, our local authorities have encouraged and supported authentic historical exploration and respectful reflection about the multiple identities, traditions and perspectives that are part of the overall Irish historical experience.

  On 16 December 2020, I announced funding of €1.75 million for local authorities in 2021, to support their leading role in developing community-led commemorative activities, for the final phase of the Decade of Centenaries Programme.  This amounts to €50,000 for each local authority and an additional fund is also available to support local authorities who have further requirements in relation to specific community-led centenary events, or larger projects.  My Department has developed comprehensive guidance for the allocation of funding to assist local authorities, however, we do not direct them with regard to the allocation of funding for specific events.

  The annual National Day of Commemoration is held on the Sunday closest to the 11th July, the date on which, in 1921, the Anglo-Irish Truce was agreed. The event normally takes place in either the Royal Hospital Kilmainham or the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin and is led by An Taoiseach. In addition a number of regional commemoration ceremonies are held on the same day, in Cork, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, Sligo and Waterford.  If any local authority wishes to include initiatives to support or mark the national day of commemoration this year or any other key milestone in the Decade of Centenaries Programme, they may do so from their allocation or indeed funding from other sources they may have access to.

Sports Funding

Ceisteanna (287)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

287. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the status of an application by Cork County Council in partnership with a club (details supplied). [29135/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

The National Sports Policy published in 2018 provided for the establishment of a Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund (LSSIF). The National Development Plan provided a capital allocation of at least €100m over the period to 2027 for the fund. The aim of the scheme is to provide exchequer support for larger sports facility projects with at least €100m being made available over the period to 2027.

The first call for proposals under the fund closed for applications on 17th  April 2019.  Following a detailed assessment process approximately €86.4m has been awarded to 33 proposals and the priority in the short term is on advancing these projects.

An application was received from Cork County Council in respect of the project referred to by the Deputy but did not score sufficiently highly to be awarded a grant and the applicants were notified at the time. The total funding applied for under the scheme significantly exceeded the amount available to allocate. All applications under the LSSIF were assessed in accordance with the published scoring criteria with scores were awarded based on factors such as the priority given to the project by the relevant NGB and/or local authority, the level of funding being provided by the project sponsor and the likelihood of increasing sports participation.    

All unsuccessful applicants were given the opportunity to appeal the Department’s decision if it was felt that an error was made in the assessment process. No appeal was received in respect of the project referred to by the Deputy. 

It should be noted that a review of progress on the existing LSSIF grants is now underway. As part of this work the Department will be examining, inter alia, progress on all projects awarded funding to date. The scope for awarding new grants to projects which missed out under the first set of allocations will also be considered. This review is expected to be complete in the coming months.

National Orchestras

Ceisteanna (288)

Joe O'Brien

Ceist:

288. Deputy Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the status of the planned transition of the National Symphony Orchestra to the National Concert Hall; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29143/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

Following the publication of the report by RTÉ that it commissioned from independent consultants Helen Boaden and Mediatique on the RTÉ Orchestras entitled RTÉ Orchestras Ensuring a Sustainable Future, the Government  agreed in principle that the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra (RTÉ NSO) should come within the remit of the National Concert Hall (NCH). The Government  also authorised the initiation of discussions on the implementation of the recommendations of the report. 

The overall aim  of the Government decision in relation to the proposed transfer of the RTÉ NSO is to enable the orchestra to be established as a world class orchestra which would, with the NCH, provide a creative and imaginative programme strategy that would greatly enhance the offering of the combined organisation to the public.

As part of Budget 2021 an allocation of €8m has been made to the National Concert Hall to allow for the transfer of the National Symphony Orchestra from RTÉ. 

An Oversight Group has been established with a view to identifying and addressing the relevant issues to enable the successful transfer of the NSO from the remit of RTÉ to the remit of the NCH. The group has met on several occasions over the last number of years.  In addition, a Working Group, as a subset of the oversight group, has being examining the detailed issues involved in the proposed transfer of the orchestra.

A number of issues are currently being finalised and it is hoped that the transfer of the orchestra can be completed as early as possible in 2021.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Ceisteanna (289, 305)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

289. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if her attention has been drawn to a matter (details supplied) in relation to outdoor cinemas. [29195/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Steven Matthews

Ceist:

305. Deputy Steven Matthews asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if she will investigate the case of drive in movies (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29709/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 289 and 305 together.

I am pleased to advise that the Government has announced that cinemas, including drive-in cinemas can reopen from 7 June 2021.

Until then, Drive-in cinemas remain closed under the regulations currently in place under Section 31A of the Health Act 1947. Subject to the prevailing public health situation, the Government has been delivering a phased easing of public health restrictions over the period since April this year.  The Government has been keeping the situation under review with a view to continuing to reopen sectors, services and activities as the public health situation allows.  The public health advice prepared by the National Public Health Emergency Team is considered as part of the Government’s decision-making process. Once the Government has taken its decision, the Minister for Health prepares regulations under the Section 31A of the Health Act 1947 .  

As has been the case at each stage of the easing of restrictions, the set of measures introduced is intended to incrementally re-open the country while minimising the risks of transmission in alignment with risk levels. The Government is conscious of the impact of any and all restrictions across every sector and fully aware of the challenges individuals and businesses continue to face. The intention is to make steady progress with the reopening of society and the economy while avoiding a further wave of disease and re-imposition of restrictions.

I am pleased that Government was in a position to revisit the position in relation to cinemas, drive-in cinemas and theatres when it met on Friday 28 May and I look forward to the re-opening of these important cultural facilities from 7 June.  

Údarás na Gaeltachta

Ceisteanna (290)

Mairéad Farrell

Ceist:

290. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Mairéad Farrell den Aire Turasóireachta, Cultúir, Ealaíon, Gaeltachta, Spóirt agus Meán i bhfianaise an ceadúnas dobharshaothraithe sliogéisc atá ag Údarás na Gaeltachta do Chuan na Beirtrí Buí agus Cuan Chill Chiaráin i gConamara a bheith in ainm an Údaráis le dhá bhliain anuas, cén plean oibre atá curtha i bhfeidhm agus cé na hacmhainní atá á gcur ar fáil le hathbheochan a dhéanamh ar thionscal na hiascaireachta sliogéisc sa cheantar; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [29200/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

Tá sé tugtha le fios dom ag Údarás na Gaeltachta gur cheannaigh siad na cearta iascaireachta ar Chuan Chill Chiaráin agus Cuan na Beirtrí Buí ó Ghael Linn ag deireadh na seachtóidí/tús na n-ochtóidí. Ó shin i leith bhí na cearta seo ar léas do Chomharchumann Sliogéisc Chonamara Teo.  chun forbairt a dhéanamh ar na beirtreacha agus chun go mbeadh siad in ann an t-iascach sliogéisc a bhainistiú ar son bhaill an chomharchumainn.

D'iarr Comharchumann Sliogéisc Chonamara Teo ar Údarás na Gaeltachta an ceadúnas dobharshaothraithe a thógáil ar lámh in 2018 de bharr dúshláin inmheánacha a bhí ag an gComharchumann ag an am.

Tá Údarás na Gaeltachta i mbun comhoibriú leanúnach le Comharchumann Sliogéisc Chonamara Teo. ó shin i leith chun struchtúr na heagraíochta a threisiú agus athnuachan a dhéanamh ar phlean agus straitéis forbartha don earnáil sliogéisc i gCuan Chill Chiaráin agus i gCuan na Beirtrí Buí. Cuirtear deontas reáchtála ar fáil don Chomharchumann, ar aon dul leis na hEagrais Forbartha Pobail Ghaeltachta eile. Cuireann an deontas reáchtála ar chumas an Chomharchumainn bainisteoir a fhostú chun tabhairt faoi obair laethúil agus forbartha.

Tá tacaíocht díreach á tabhairt ag an Údarás don chomharchumann ar chúrsaí bainistíochta agus rialachais, agus ar chothú nasc agus deiseanna le heagraíochtaí mara agus oideachais. Tá nasc cruthaithe le Foras na Mara agus le taighdeoirí in ollscoileanna éagsúla chun saineolas eolaíoch a chur ar fáil don eagras maidir le suirbhéireacht agus forbairt stoic.

Chuige sin, tá Údarás na Gaeltachta agus Comharchumann Sliogéisc Chonamara Teo lárnach i dtogra Eorpach, InEVal, atá ag breathnú ar na féidearthachtaí crosán mara, atá ag cur as don stoc sa Bheirtreach Buí, a úsáid chun tairgí nua a chruthú.

De bharr an dlúthchomhoibrithe, tá Comharchumann Sliogéisc Chonamara Teo anois ag feidhmiú ar an mbunús go bhfuil eolas á bhailiú go laethúil chun gur féidir cinntí a dhéanamh faoi thodhchaí an chomharchumainn atá bunaithe ar fhíricí chomh maith le suirbhéanna bliantúla agus monatóireacht níos fearr atá á déanamh ar fás stoc sa chuan.

Ó thaobh cúrsaí caomhnaithe stoc de, is é Comharchumann Sliogéisc Chonamara Teo. atá ina bhun agus cuirtear cuóta i bhfeidhm maidir leis an líon tonnaí gur féidir a iascach in aon séasúr amháin chomh maith le coinníoll maidir le saghas agus méid an tsliogéisc gur féidir a ghabháil. Is é an comharchumann a shocraíonn na laethanta iasccaireachta agus na cuótaí laethúla do na hiascairí chomh maith.

Ar iarratas ón gcomharchumann, tá Údarás na Gaeltachta ag obair go dlúth leo agus tá gach atá ar bun dírithe ar an iascaireacht agus an stoc a chaomhnú agus a láidriú ar mhaithe leis an gceantar Gaeltachta máguaird.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (291)

Cormac Devlin

Ceist:

291. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the details of all meetings she has had with her officials to deal with the future of the circus industry here; the details of support provided to the sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29251/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

Circus has a long tradition in Ireland, incorporating classical or traditional circus and contemporary circus. Both strands are valued artistically, with classical circus having a long working history in Ireland, while contemporary circus practice is relatively new. The Arts Act 2003 cites circus as one of nine art forms. As an art form, circus attracts high audience numbers each year including many rural audiences and members of new communities.

The live events sector has been impacted by Covid-19. There were some drive-in traditional circuses last year, which shows once again the innovation of the arts sector. Government support for circus as an art form is channelled through the Arts Council.  Primary support for the arts, including circus, is delivered through the Arts Council which is a statutory agency under the Arts Act 2003. Funding for the Arts Council has increased steadily in recent years, reaching a record level of €130 million this year. Under the Arts Act 2003, the Arts Council is independent in its funding decisions.

The tables below show the Arts Council support for circus and for traditional circus.

Table 1: Arts Council total allocation to Circus, Street Arts and Spectacle 2019 – 2021

Description

2019

2020

2021

Strategic Funding

€748,651

€748,650

€1,107,000

Arts Grants Funding

€176,000

€236,000

€359,500

Projects

€154,100

€175,889

€330,000

Bursaries

€45,500

€337,313

€431,080

Commissions

€0

€64,000

€0

Totals

€1,124,251

€1,561,852

€2,227,580

Change

39%

43%

Table 2: Arts Council allocation to Traditional Circus 2020

Duffy’s Circus Awarded:  2020 - Arts Grant Funding - Circus

€59,000.00

Circus Gerbola Awarded: 2020 - Capacity Building Support Scheme - Circus

€17,400.00

The strategic context for the Council's support of circus and all other art forms is set out in its strategy Making Great Art Work: Arts Council Strategy 2016-2025.  The Arts Council supports both strands of circus and, through direct support and strategic intervention, engages with the sector to assist individuals and organisations to develop high-quality performance and participatory work. Circus is supported by the Arts Council by way of grants under a range of categories including bursary, strategic funding, project awards and touring and dissemination awards.  There were very significant increases in supports provided for the circus in 2020 and 2021, with over €2.2 million allocated to circus, street arts and spectacle in 2021. The council makes awards to circus organisations and to individual circus artists. In 2020, many circus artists also qualified for the council’s Covid-19 crisis response award.  Details of all grants are available on the Arts Council’s website.

While there are enterprise supports available for businesses and individuals impacted by Covid-19, these are matters for my colleague, the Tánaiste, in his role as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, as are the criteria for their eligibility. The Government has worked to support businesses through this difficult time with a comprehensive range of measures for firms of all sizes. The measures include the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), the Small Business Assistance Scheme for COVID (SBASC), low-cost loans, the deferral and warehousing of tax liabilities, the waiver of commercial rates the Sustaining Enterprise Fund and a reduced VAT rate from 13.5% to 9% for the hospitality and tourism sector to help businesses in the entertainment, tourism and hospitality sectors.

Sports Funding

Ceisteanna (292)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

292. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media when she expects to announce the awards under the sports capital scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29252/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

The Sports Capital and Equipment Programme is the primary vehicle for Government support for the development of sports and physical recreation facilities and the purchase of non-personal sports equipment throughout the country.

The 2020 round of the Sports Capital and Equipment Programme closed for applications on Monday 1st March. By the closing date, 3,106 applications were submitted seeking over €200m in funding. This is the highest number of applications ever received.

The scoring system and assessment procedures have been finalised and all applications are being assessed in accordance with these.  Given the large number of applications received this assessment process is likely to take a number of months.  As soon as this process is complete all applicants will be informed of the outcome of the assessment of their application. 

Data Protection

Ceisteanna (293)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

293. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the nature of the data breaches experienced by her Department since 2018. [29317/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question No. 349 of 18th May in which details of data breaches for the requested time period were provided.

As previously advised, the majority of breaches experienced were deemed to be of zero or low risk, and were therefore not required to be reported to the Data Protection Commission.  All breaches were managed internally with steps taken to ensure that similar breaches would not reoccur.

Those breaches that met the threshold to be referred to the Data Protection Commission were quickly resolved to the satisfaction of that office.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Ceisteanna (294)

Paul Donnelly

Ceist:

294. Deputy Paul Donnelly asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if she has spoken formally with her UK counterpart to date in 2021. [29330/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

While I exchanged correspondence with Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP, Secretary of State at the Department of Culture, Media & Sport  following my appointment in 2020, I have not as yet had any formal personal engagement with the Secretary of State.

I can confirm to the Deputy, however,  that officials of my Department are in ongoing contact with their UK counterparts in relation to matters of mutual interest across the range of my Department’s remit.

As the deputy is aware my Department is responsible for two of the North-South implementation bodies Tourism Ireland and An Foras Teanga.  I met with Minister Diane Dodds MLA at the NSMC held in July 2020.  Minister Dodds and I also attended an online sectoral NSMC meeting on Tourism in November, while Minister of State Jack Chambers  T.D. met with Minister Carál Ní Chuilín MLA  an online sectoral NSMC meeting on Language bodies in November.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Ceisteanna (295)

Chris Andrews

Ceist:

295. Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if a stadium (details supplied) is considered an enclosed stadium under the current Covid-19 restrictions; if spectators are currently allowed watch sports taking place in this facility; if not, when they will be allowed; and the number to be allowed. [29358/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

Minister Martin and I announced on Friday 28 May that we will begin to trial the safe return of spectators to sporting events in June and July. Cultural events will also be trialled. The announcement follows a decision by Government to allow for the further easing of restrictions in line with public health guidance. In total, 15 sporting events across Gaelic games, rugby, football, golf and athletics have been targeted for the period from 11 June to 10 July.

These pilot events will allow for sports organisations to test necessary control and other measures in stadia across a range of areas.

The trial events are spread across five different sports and in venues located around the country and include the national athletics championships at the Morton Stadium in Santry.

The intention is that the pilots will pave the way more matches, games and other sporting events to be attended by spectators further into July and August with capacity increasing throughout the summer.

Details on the 15 initial trial events can be found at the following link:

www.gov.ie/en/press-release/dcd5c-series-of-outdoor-pilot-sport-events-announced-to-allow-for-the-safe-return-of-spectators/  

In addition to the trial events, the Government also announced on 28 May that from 7 June numbers permitted at organised outdoor events can increase to a maximum of 100 for the majority of venues, with a maximum of 200 for outdoor stadia/venues where there is a minimum capacity of 5,000.

Departmental Schemes

Ceisteanna (296)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

296. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media when the music entertainment business assistance scheme will open for applications. [29494/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

As part of a suite of ongoing supports for the culture sector, I made an allocation of €14 million to a Music Entertainment Business Assistance Scheme to contribute towards the ongoing overheads of businesses, specifically musicians and related crew, that have been significantly negatively affected by COVID-19 and that do not qualify for other business supports.  Under the scheme, businesses including musicians, singers, lighting and sound crew and audio  equipment suppliers - whether sole traders, partnerships or incorporated entities - operating exclusively within the commercial live entertainment sector will be eligible to apply. This scheme has been developed following consultation with the sector and will be managed directly by my Department. The Scheme will open for applications on 9 June 2021. 

Departmental Reports

Ceisteanna (297)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

297. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media when the night-time economy taskforce will present its final report. [29495/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

The Taskforce is currently finalising its Report which I expect to receive in the coming days. I will be reflecting on the findings and bringing them to the attention of Government colleagues in the coming weeks, after which I intend to publish the report.

Island Communities

Ceisteanna (298)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

298. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the initiatives that have been undertaken by her Department to develop sustainable tourism practices on offshore islands; the consultation that has taken place between her Department and island communities on the development of island tourism; the role Fáilte Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta play in developing and marketing sustainable island tourism; and the research that has been undertaken by her Department on ensuring tourism is developed sustainably. [29545/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

I am well aware of the economic importance of tourism to our offshore islands and it is important that we strike a balance between the economic benefits and the need to protect and preserve these natural assets and the quality of life for their host communities.   

A Sustainable Tourism Working Group was established, under the Government's outgoing Tourism Policy Statement, which has set out the ambition that “Ireland will seek to be amongst the world-leaders in sustainable tourism practices” and in addition, accompanying Guiding Principles for Sustainable Tourism Development in Ireland. In order to maintain momentum on the sustainable tourism agenda, I reconvened the Sustainable Tourism Working Group early this year to complete the development of a suite of actions that promote sustainable tourism practices which can be implemented prior to a new policy being developed. The overall focus for these actions is to promote sustainable tourism practices in all locations throughout the country rather than in any specific region.

In line with the Programme for Government commitment, the development of a new national tourism policy, that mainstreams sustainability, will commence in the latter half of 2021 when the tourism sector starts to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. The development of this new policy will involve extensive consultation with the tourism industry and our communities to help set out a path for the coming years which will support a sustainable recovery and subsequent growth in the sector.

Central to developing a more resilient and sustainable tourism sector will be an increased focus on regional growth and season extension to deliver greater visitor dispersal throughout the country with a more even spread of demand across the year. I am very aware of the important role that Tourism plays as a driver of rural economies and I am committed to a continued focus on the potential of tourism to facilitate the development of our islands.

In regard to the Deputy's specific question about the role Fáilte Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta play in developing and marketing sustainable island tourism, these are operational matters for the agencies. I have requested the information from the agencies and I will forward it on the Deputy in accordance with timelines set out Standing Orders.  

Covid-19 Pandemic

Ceisteanna (299)

Holly Cairns

Ceist:

299. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the consideration being given to allowing fully vaccinated persons dining indoors in restaurants and cafés during the summer; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29588/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

Last Friday, 28 June 2021, in light of the continuing significant progress in the vaccination programme and the developing public health situation, the Government announced the next phases in the easing of public health restrictions for June and into early July.

With specific regard to the Deputy’s query and subject to maintaining progress with the virus, I am happy to confirm that, subject to the evolution of the public health situation, it is intended that indoor services in cafés, restaurants and bars will resume from 5 July for all patrons.

Departmental Reports

Ceisteanna (300)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

300. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if a copy of a report (details supplied) has been published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29590/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

The report mentioned by the Deputy is an audit of the organisation’s governance and financial administration which was commissioned by Sport Ireland in 2017. I am informed by Sport Ireland that the report has not been published but that the organisation in question has been furnished with a copy of the report.

The purpose of such reports is to provide an assessment of the governance arrangements and financial control framework within an organisation. The selection of an organisation for audit review is informed by numerous factors including the level of grant funding awarded and the strategic significance of the sport. I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that the success and effectiveness of Sport Ireland’s internal audit programme depends on the frankness and candour of those who participate and engage with the process. As such, there is an expectation of a degree of confidentiality with the process and the routine publication of reports could ultimately undermine engagement with the process.

Sports Funding

Ceisteanna (301)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

301. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the funding allocated to an association (details supplied) since 2017 to date; the conditions attached to this funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29591/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

Sport Ireland, which is funded by my Department, is the statutory body with responsibility for the development of sport, increasing participation at all levels and raising standards. This includes the allocation of funding to sporting organisations across a variety of funding schemes.  I have referred the Deputy's question to Sport Ireland for direct reply in relation to the funding allocated to the organisation mentioned by the Deputy from 2017 to date and the conditions attaching to same. I would ask the Deputy to inform my office if a reply is not received within 10 working days. 

In relation to support for capital projects, €512,000 has been allocated since 2017 to the Association referenced by the Deputy. Of that allocation, €212,000 has been allocated via the Sports Capital and Equipment Programme and €300,000 via the Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund.

The Sports Capital and Equipment Programme is the primary vehicle for Government support for the development of sports and physical recreation facilities and the purchase of non-personal sports equipment throughout the country. The Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund provides Exchequer support for larger sports facility projects.

My Department corresponded directly with the Association in respect of all allocations under the SCEP and LSSIF and those communications addressed the terms and conditions that must be met prior to formal approval of the grants.

Sports Funding

Ceisteanna (302)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

302. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the funding issued to an association (details supplied) under the Covid sport resilience fund in 2020 and 2021; the conditions attached to this funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29592/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

A Covid-19 funding package of €85 million was provided in 2020 to support the sport sector. This significant investment benefited all levels of the sport sector, including thousands of grassroots clubs across the country, and provided some certainty for sporting organisations in their planning for 2021.

In total, €725,000 was allocated to the association mentioned by the Deputy, comprising €225,000 under the NGB Resilience Fund and €500,000 under the Sports Club Resilience Fund.

A  full breakdown of the funding provided to individual sporting organisations in November and December 2020 is available on Sport Ireland's website at the following links: 

www.sportireland.ie/sites/default/files/media/document/2020-11/sport-ireland-covid-19-funding-annoucement-breakdown.pdf

www.sportireland.ie/news/eu58-million-in-covid-19-supplementary-funding-for-sport

The funding criteria for each of the grant schemes was established by Sport Ireland and the funding guidelines were issued by Sport Ireland directly to National Governing Bodies and Local Sports Partnerships.  As the conditions attached to the funding are a matter for Sport Ireland, I am arranging for Sport Ireland to provide the Deputy with a detailed reply on the criteria used in the allocation of the Covid-19 grant funding to the association.  I would ask the Deputy to inform my office if a reply is not received within 10 working days.

No decisions have yet been made in relation to Covid-19 funding support for the sport sector for this year.  Sport Ireland is in ongoing communication with the National Governing Bodies of Sport and is assessing the financial needs of the sector. In addition, I am engaging with NGBs both bilaterally and through the Covid-19 Sports Monitoring Group with regard to the supports required in the period ahead.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (303)

Michael Creed

Ceist:

303. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the situation regarding eligibility by guesthouse and bed and breakfast owners for grant aid for outdoor seating to facilitate summer dining in a Covid-19 context; if she will waive the requirement for a VAT registration number in such circumstances given that many of these operators are very small seasonal businesses and are not registered for VAT; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29599/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

The development and administration of the Outdoor Dining Enhancement Scheme - including decisions relating to eligibility, such as those referenced by the Deputy - are operational matters for Fáilte Ireland.  Accordingly, I have referred this question to the agency for direct response to the Deputy.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Protected Disclosures

Question No. 305 answered with Question No. 289.

Ceisteanna (304)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

304. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the number of protected disclosures made to her Department in each of the past five years and to date in 2021. [29643/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

As required under Section 22 of the Protected Disclosure Act 2014 my Department publishes an annual report setting out the number of protected disclosures made to it in the course of the immediately preceding year and certain other information relating to any such protected disclosures.  

These reports contain the further detail sought by the Deputy.  The 2019 report is available on the Department's page on the gov.ie website (www.gov.ie/en/organisation-information/58aa8-disclosure-of-wrongdoing-in-the-workplace/), and the 2020 report is being prepared for publication at present.  Reports for the years 2015-2018 are available at  wayback.archive-it.org/org-1444/20201009111625/https://www.chg.gov.ie/about/policy-on-disclosure-of-wrongdoing-in-the-workplace/ which can be accessed through the Department's page on the gov.ie website

I can confirm to the Deputy that no protected disclosures have been received  from officials within my Department or from  any retired officials of my Department during the period in question.

For the Deputy's convenience, I can also confirm that both submissions that were accepted as constituting Protected Disclosures, were processed in accordance with my Department's Policy on Disclosure of Wrongdoing in the Workplace and that in neither case was evidence identified of any wrongdoing having occurred.

A summary of the submissions made to my Department under the Protected Disclosures Act since 2015 is set out in the table below. 

Year

Submissions Received

Number accepted as a Protected Disclosure 

2015

0

0

2016

0

0

2017

1

1

2018

0

0

2019

2

1

2020

2

0

2021 (to date)

0

0

Question No. 305 answered with Question No. 289.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Ceisteanna (306)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

306. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if she will advise on a matter raised in correspondence (details supplied). [29731/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

According to the details provided by the Deputy, the event to which he refers is not a sporting activity conducted under the remit of a National Governing Body of Sport that is recognised by Sport Ireland.

As the event described would appear to be an organised outdoor event, I would refer the Deputy to the Government's recent announcement, which permits, from the 7th of June, 2021, the holding of outdoor events on the basis that the numbers in attendance at such events does not exceed 100 people for the majority of venues, with a maximum of 200 for outdoor venues with a minimum accredited capacity of 5,000.

The Government's decision to move ahead with the next stage of reopening the economy and society in line with Resilience and Recovery: The Path Ahead plan recognises the extraordinary efforts and support of the Irish people. To maintain momentum, it is essential that all concerned, including the participants and organisers of the event referred to by the Deputy, continue to follow the individual everyday measures in the public health guidelines in the coming weeks.

Legislative Programme

Ceisteanna (307)

Marian Harkin

Ceist:

307. Deputy Marian Harkin asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media her views on the call for critical changes to the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill 2019 to include the naming and establishing of an online safety commissioner and amending the Bill to include an individual complaints’ mechanism; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29732/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

The Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill will, among other things, establish a regulatory framework for online safety to be overseen by an Online Safety Commissioner as part of a wider Media Commission. The General Scheme of the Bill provides for the establishment of a multi-person Media Commission with up to 6 commissioners. It is intended that an Executive Chairperson and 3 commissioners, including an Online Safety Commissioner, will be appointed initially following a recruitment campaign by the Public Appointments Service.

The General Scheme provides that the Commission will delegate the performance of certain functional areas to individual commissioners and it's intended that the person recruited as the Online Safety Commissioner will be delegated the online safety related functions of the Commission. This approach was taken on foot of legal advice that specifying the exact role of each commissioner in the Bill would make it difficult to appoint additional commissioners to work on online safety in the future.

The goal of the regulatory framework for online safety will be to tackle the availability of defined categories of harmful online content through systemic oversight over how regulated online services deliver and moderate the user-generated content on their platforms. This is a risk based approach that is intended to drive towards the best possible outcomes for all users of online services.

While there is an appreciation of the desire for an individual complaints mechanism, there are serious doubts about the effectiveness of a statutory mechanism of this kind in the online safety space. There are a number of reasons for this, including that:

- requirements for fair procedures would not facilitate a swift resolution of individual issues, as it would be necessary to engage with the uploader of content as well as the complainant;

- the volume of online content, particularly as Ireland will be regulating Video Sharing Platform Services for the whole of the EU population of 450 million people, would overwhelm even the best resourced regulator

- referring complaints relating to individual items of content that are potentially criminal in nature to a civil regulator instead of An Garda Síochána would not be appropriate.

Among other things however, the Bill provides the Commission with the power to oblige designated online services to have effective complaints and appeals mechanisms in place and also the power to audit those mechanisms. This is part of the risk-based framework that will enable the Commission to seek the greatest degree of protection for all users through systemic oversight.

Individuals will always be able to bring issues to the attention of the Commission and the Commission will also have the power to order the removal of individual items of content in certain discrete instances. However, this will not be a formal complaints mechanism.

The Commission will also be empowered to set up a systemic complaints scheme to receive complaints from nominated bodies such as expert NGOs about trends in the prevalence of harmful online content and the effectiveness of measures taken by regulated online services to comply with their obligations. This will help to inform the Commission about what the prominent and emerging risks are at any point in time and inform the Commission's approach to making online safety codes and conducting audits and investigations.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Ceisteanna (308)

Chris Andrews

Ceist:

308. Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media when the plan for a return of spectators to sports grounds will be published; the trail event that will be held; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29747/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

Minister Martin and I announced on Friday 28 May that we will begin to trial the safe return of spectators to sporting events in June and July. Some cultural events will also be trialled. The announcement follows a decision by Government to allow for the further easing of restrictions in line with public health guidance. In total, 15 sporting events across Gaelic games, rugby, football, golf and athletics have been targeted for the period from 11 June to 10 July.

These pilot events will allow for sports organisations to test necessary control and other measures in stadia across a range of areas.

The trial events we have identified are spread across five different sports and in venues located around the country.

The intention is that the pilots will provide lessons for further phase of sporting events to be attended by spectators into July and August.

Details on the 15 initial trial events can be found at the following link:

www.gov.ie/en/press-release/dcd5c-series-of-outdoor-pilot-sport-events-announced-to-allow-for-the-safe-return-of-spectators/

Environmental Policy

Ceisteanna (309)

Holly Cairns

Ceist:

309. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the steps he is taking to fulfil the Programme for Government commitment to ensure that environmental marine conservation and pollution control measures are protected in bilateral relations. [29864/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

As the Minister responsible for the development and implementation of marine environmental policy and the safeguarding of our seas and ocean, I recognise that transboundary cooperation plays a significant role in marine conservation and prevention and elimination of pollution. 

Our primary mechanism for marine environment cooperation is through the European Union and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. This provides an on-going framework for cooperation between EU Member States to prevent pollution and to conserve the marine environment. 

The UK departure from the EU in January 2020 means that this avenue of cooperation is no longer available to us in bilateral relations with the UK. In this regard we cooperate with the UK through the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (The OSPAR Convention). OSPAR has 16 Contracting Parties who implement the Convention through the OSPAR Commission. The parties are Belgium, Denmark, European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and UK.

Through OSPAR and a pooled resource of experts, Ireland works bilaterally with the UK administrations to ensure conservation of marine ecosystems and the prevention and elimination of pollution. Ireland holds the Chair of the OSPAR Commission (2018-2021).

OSPAR has the competency to take action on the protection of biodiversity, prevention of pollution including hazardous substances, marine litter and noise and the regulation of human activity including offshore installations and radioactive discharges.  

Defective Building Materials

Ceisteanna (310)

Patricia Ryan

Ceist:

310. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he will deliver a 100% MICA redress scheme. [29057/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The current maximum grant amounts payable under the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant scheme were finalised in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. This process also took account of the comprehensive engagement that took place between my Department and both Donegal and Mayo County Councils, who operate and administer the scheme. 

The grant limits agreed on foot of this engagement ensures that the scheme can be budgeted for with the potential financial liability known at all times and also to ensure that the available budget can benefit the majority of properties and the maximum number of people.  

The scheme needs time to work and it is premature to consider making changes at this point. I am keeping progress under the scheme under review and engaging regularly directly with both local authorities and local action groups on the matter. 

Departmental Schemes

Ceisteanna (311)

Thomas Gould

Ceist:

311. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of Rebuilding Ireland home loan applications submitted and approved, respectively by quarter, month and local authority in 2020 and to date in 2021 in tabular form. [29119/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Housing Agency provides a central support service which assesses applications for the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan on behalf of local authorities and makes recommendations to the authorities to approve or refuse applications. Each local authority must have in place a credit committee and it is a matter for the committee to make the decision on applications for loans, in accordance with the regulations, having regard to the recommendations made by the Housing Agency.

The requested figures, as to the end of April 2021, from the Agency on the numbers of applications that it has assessed and recommended for approval for each local authority in 2020 and to date in 2021 by quarter, are included in the attached spreadsheet.

Statistics

The next stages in the process are approval and drawdown from the local authority. 

My Department regularly publishes information on the number and value of (i) local authority loan approvals and (ii) local authority loan drawdowns. Local authority approval means that an official letter of offer has been sent to a borrower (and therefore relates to a specific property and loan amount).

Figures for 2020 are available at the following link: www.gov.ie/en/collection/42d2f-local-authority-loan-activity/#local-authority-loans-approvedpaid this link will be updated as updated figures are published.

Water Pollution

Ceisteanna (312)

Neale Richmond

Ceist:

312. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he has considered implementing a daily sample testing of the Dublin Bay area bathing waters to ensure the waters are safe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29151/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I am very aware of the recent increase in people swimming in Dublin Bay.  In response, I have tasked the Bathing Water Expert Group with examining the frequency of bathing water monitoring and with developing measures to improve the availability of water quality results.  This will help safeguard people and improve information for everyone, especially people swimming outside of the current bathing season.

I have also requested that the Expert Group consider the issues related to changing the bathing water season, taking into account the current review by the European Commission of the Bathing Water Directive.

The Bathing Water Quality in Ireland 2020 report, which was recently published by the Environmental Protection Agency, shows that 96% of bathing waters met or exceeded the minimum required standard. This is up from 95% in 2019 and improvements in bathing water quality are welcome and necessary.

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