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Financial Resolution No. 15: General (Resumed) (Continued)

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 785 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy John Halligan: Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan] Within a number of years, perhaps before the three remaining years of the Government are up, the Labour Party Deputies will be put out of office and reduced to having a paltry number of seats, and rightly so.

During our lives we all make personal and individual choices, and there are choices to be made in every given situation. A swathe of people in the country rely on others to make choices for them because they are economically unsound through no fault of their own. They have been buried in bad debt and have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. All of these people are put on social welfare and bring with them mortgage, car and credit union arrears. They all rely on someone to make choices for them and they need compassion when these choices are being made. They need people to tell them they will show compassion and help them, and not leave them go hungry, send a child to school without proper footwear, sit in a house with no heating or wonder on Thursday whether they will have money to buy food at the weekend. This is when governments, and those of us on the left, when we have the opportunity to do so, are supposed to step up to the plate and look after those who need our help. What has the Government done? It has abandoned them, and this will never be forgiven.

The Labour Party Deputies have fallen into a false sense of security if they think things will get better in time for the budget after next. By then they will have done irreparable damage to hundreds of thousands of people in the State. They will have been complicit with the bankers who have sent people to their deaths and to absolute despair. A total of 450,000 people in the country suffer from depression, which is one of the highest percentages per population in Europe. The Government is complicit with this, and shame on it. These are not my words, they are those of a GP who spoke at my meeting on Monday about people who have attended his constituency office and clinic, some of whom have killed themselves. The Government is complicit in this. It has let down the ordinary everyday average people who wanted it to make a choice for them because they cannot do so. The Government Deputies will pay a heavy price for this.

This morning I received an e-mail from a girl called Jean who stated she could have cried when she heard the details of the budget because the Government is bringing our people to their knees. She is a lone parent with a mortgage who works part-time but also attends college part-time, for which she pays. This year she approached the Society of St. Vincent De Paul to help her with her college fees, having never thought she would be in such a situation. She stated she does not know where she will find the money to put food on the table from week to week or to bring her children to the doctor if they get sick. She stated she is embarrassed to find herself in this position as she has always kept her head above water and tried to pay her bills, but she is slowly sinking. This sums up what the Government is doing to people in Ireland. All of these people will remember what the Government has done and they will make the Deputies pay for it.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan I am pleased to have this opportunity to outline to the Dáil the principal features of the 2013 Estimates for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. I echo the comments of my colleagues, the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Howlin, who outlined the full package of budgetary measures yesterday. Ireland is making steady progress, but we still have a long way to go. The Government is prepared to travel the distance that remains to reach a sound and stable economic position. The Department will play its part in making that journey.

  In this context, gross funding for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht will be €252.4 million in 2013 with an allocation for current expenditure of €215.3 million and a capital allocation of €37.095 million. A further €8.1 million, comprising €7.183 million in current funding and €905,000 in capital funding, is provided through Vote 34 for the National Gallery. This brings total funding for 2013 to €222.4 million in current spending and €38 million in capital. Within this funding allocation, the Department will oversee the conservation, preservation, protection, development and presentation of Ireland's heritage and culture. The Department will also promote the Irish language, support the Gaeltacht and assist the sustainable development of island communities.

  Funding for 2013 will be reduced by approximately €10 million in current and €6 million in capital on the 2012 figures. As Members will appreciate, as a consequence of the significant fiscal deficit facing the country, we just do not have the same level of resources available to fund this work as we had in previous years. However, the Department will work hard to ensure the best possible use is made of the available funding.

  Approximately €125.4 million, or 50% of the Department's resources, will be allocated to the Department's arts, culture and film programmes in 2013. Funding for the arts, culture and film represents a significant contribution not only to sustaining the arts and national cultural institutions but also to the economically important cultural tourism sector. My key focus for the arts and culture is to protect jobs and stimulate creativity. Of this total, €60.7 million will be allocated for the Arts Council for 2013 from current, capital and European Presidency funding. This is the maximum possible funding I can allocate to the Arts Council for next year, and is below the average reduction I have had to apply across the board in the Department. This will allow the council to continue to support arts organisations of varying sizes - from national bodies such as the Abbey Theatre to small, locally based groups - across a broad range of individual art forms and arts practices.

  It is worth noting that between 2007 and 2011, funding to the Arts Council declined by almost 22%, from €83 million to more than €65 million. Since becoming Minister I have also had to reduce funding to the council, but I have worked to slow this decline as much as possible. This year, funding to the Arts Council was 2.9% lower than in 2011, the smallest year on year reduction since 2008. Next year, the reduction will be approximately 4% below the average reduction I have had to apply in other areas of the Department.

  The 2013 allocation is also an acknowledgement by the Government of the contribution of the arts in the generation of employment in communities. The arts are the bedrock of many communities and also play a real role in Ireland's cultural tourism offering. I have worked hard to minimise the level of reduction in funding to the Arts Council for 2013.

  Within the arts and culture envelope, I will hold current funding to the National Archives at its 2012 level of €1 million. This is to assist in the ongoing work of the archives, which is of great importance, and also to recognise the role of the archives in the current commemorative programme. With regard to national cultural institutions, the priority in 2013 will be to keep venues open and to maintain as far as possible front of house services to the public to ensure what they offer to the public continues to draw large numbers of people, including overseas and domestic tourists. Funding of approximately €11.3 million will be allocated to the group of cultural institutions comprising IMMA, the Chester Beatty Library, the National Concert Hall and the Crawford Gallery. Approximately €3.9 million will be allocated to regional museums, galleries and cultural centres. Approximately €11.9 million will be allocated to the National Museum of Ireland and €6.7 million allocated to the National Library of Ireland.

  The rate of reduction in the core funding for the Department's Culture Ireland programme has been arrested.

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