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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 143 to 151
 Header Item Arts Council Funding
 Header Item National Parks and Wildlife Service Expenditure
 Header Item Natural Heritage Areas Review
 Header Item Ministerial Advisers Remuneration
 Header Item Arts Funding
 Header Item Tourism Policy
 Header Item Heritage Sites Issues
 Header Item Heritage Projects

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 784 No. 3

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Written Answers Nos. 143 to 151

Question No. 143 was answered with Question No. 28.

Arts Council Funding

 144. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan if he will acknowledge the role played by Siamsa Tíre, Tralee, County Kerry and ensure that there are no further cuts to the Arts Council budget; if he will acknowledge the benefit of the Arts to Tralee town and surrounding areas; if he will ensure that Siamsa Tíre is adequately funded in order that they can continue to run their vibrant and professional programme of events; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53280/12]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan Government policy on the arts is set out in the Programme for Government. As Minister responsible for the arts and culture sectors, I am committed to securing the best possible funding provision for them during my term of office.

  Government policy is to promote and strengthen the arts in all its forms, increase access to and participation in the arts, to make the arts an integral and valued part of our national life, and to maximise the potential for cultural tourism.

  I am very well aware of the important role played by Siamsa Tíre, Tralee, in promoting a varied arts and culture programme to those living locally, further afield and visitors to the Kerry area. Primary responsibility for the promotion of the arts at all levels throughout the country is devolved to the Arts Council, which, under the Arts Acts, is independent in its funding decisions. In 2012, the Arts Council received an allocation of over €63 million – a curbing of the budgetary decline of previous years. Under statute I may not intervene in its funding decisions.

  The Government appreciates the importance of the arts, culture and the creative industries to both our society and to our economy. I am fully aware of the challenges for those involved in the arts and culture sectors and of the tremendous work they are doing. I am committed to supporting the essential elements of the arts and culture sectors, within the available financial resources and in the light of the evolving budgetary and Estimates processes.

National Parks and Wildlife Service Expenditure

 145. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the amount of money that has been allocated to the National Parks and Wildlife Service to implement the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC since the start of implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53287/12]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan The designation, management and protection of sites under the Habitats Directive are core functions of my Department. Staff involved in implementing the Habitats Directive are also involved in implementing the Birds Directive and in delivering a wide range of services under the Wildlife Acts. They are, furthermore, involved in the management of National Parks, Nature Reserves and visitor centres. It is not possible to assign a particular cost to the implementation of the Habitats Directive on its own in isolation from the broad nature conservation functions of my Department. Costs in relation to specific programmes, such as the various turf compensation schemes, can be provided if requested.

While my Department has the lead role in relation to the implementation of the Habitats Directive in the State, significant funding is also provided through the Rural Development Programme which provides for a range of measures including payments in respect of designated areas under the Habitat Directive. The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has overall responsibility for the Rural Development Programme in Ireland.

Natural Heritage Areas Review

 146. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the timescale for the review of the national heritage areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53288/12]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan In May 2010, the then Government decided that turf-cutting should come to an end on all raised bog NHAs at the end of 2013. The Programme for Government undertook to review the situation with regard to NHAs and the future of turf-cutting on such sites will be considered as part of that review.

  It is intended that the review will be completed prior to the commencement of the 2014 turf-cutting season. The outcomes of the review and the proposed approach to the future of turf-cutting within these sites will be discussed as part of the Government’s ongoing dialogue with the European Commission regarding compliance with EU law in this area.

Ministerial Advisers Remuneration

 147. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the total number of Government special advisers employed, the total cost of employing these advisers and the cost of employing these advisers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53306/12]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan As I have previously advised the House in my replies to Questions Nos 916, 921 and 943 of 18 September 2012, I appointed Mr. James Kenny and Mr. Damien Garvey as special advisors with effect from 7 June 2011 and 2 April 2012, respectively.

  Both Mr. Kenny and Mr. Garvey were appointed at the first point of the Principal Officer Standard Scale, €80,051 per annum.

Mr. Kenny is currently on the second point of the Principal Officer Standard Scale, €83,337 per annum. As Mr. Kenny is in receipt of a public service pension, his salary has been abated to €41,502 per annum.

Arts Funding

 148. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the extent to which he or his Department or the appropriate bodies under the aegis of his Department have received communication from various arts and or heritage groups throughout the country seeking financial or other assistance towards projects outstanding for a period of longer than three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53362/12]

 152. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the number and location of arts projects directly assisted by his Department or by bodies under his Department’s aegis in each of the past three years to date; the extent to which he expects to be in a position to meet such requirements in the coming years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53366/12]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan I propose to take Questions Nos. 148 and 152 together.

  As the Deputy is aware, primary responsibility for funding for the arts rests with the Arts Council. The Council is independent in its decision-making process. Details of the Council's successful applicants are available on the Council's website at www.artscouncil.ie, as well as the decision-making panel and statistics on applications. The Council's 2012 allocation of €63.241 million will allow it to maximise its continuing support for its clients in the arts.

  The Government's policy on the arts is to promote and strengthen the arts in all its forms, to increase access to and participation in the arts and to make the arts an integral and valued part of our national life. I am continuing to work towards this goal with my Department and the agencies within its remit and I remain committed to securing the best possible level of funding for the arts sector.

In addition, my Department through its Culture Ireland Division, supports Irish arts worldwide by creating and supporting opportunities for Irish artists and companies to present and promote their work at strategic international festivals and venues, presenting outstanding Irish creative work to international audiences through showcases at key global arts events including the Edinburgh Festivals and Venice Biennales, as well as through special initiatives such as the recently concluded Imagine Ireland initiative in the United States. Details of those awarded grants so far in 2012 are available on the Department's website www.ahg.gov.ie  .

Last May I was pleased to launch the Philanthropy Leverage Initiative. This initiative, established with funding of €230,000 for 2012, is designed to encourage philanthropic sponsorship and endowment funding of the arts from private sources. The scheme aims to promote support for the arts from private sources and to unlock two to five times the funding put up by the taxpayer. The Philanthropy Leverage Initiative has provided an incentive to arts organisations to proactively seek new and multi-annual relationships with sponsors which deliver private sector financial support, thereby increasing overall funding available to the arts. Applications for the initiative were made across projects of varying scale, geography and art forms. Details of awards made under this initiative are available on my Department's website. The Leverage Initiative will run in parallel with a second initiative – the Philanthropy Capacity Building Initiative – which is operated by the Arts Council.

  As the Deputy is aware, I wrote to him on 25 April 2012 setting out details of all arts bodies and/or groups that received funding since 1 June 2011, the amount of the funding provided and the purpose of the funding. I also supplied details of all funding provided by Culture Ireland to organisations from June 2011 to then. In addition, I forwarded details received from the Arts Council of all funding provided by it to arts practitioners, arts groups and venues in 2011 and 2012. I am arranging to have this information updated and will forward it to the Deputy as soon as possible.

  The State appreciates and values the contribution the arts sector makes to the internationally renowned artistic reputation of this country. Within the current economic constraints, that investment in the arts, culture and creative sectors is more important than ever, having regard to the employment intensity of the sector. In the context of the 2013 Estimates, I will, of course, be endeavouring to maximise continuing Government support for the arts.

  My Department receives submissions regularly from heritage organisations seeking financial and other assistance towards heritage related projects. Each request is reviewed by my Department on a case by case basis and those projects deemed suitable are supported within available budgets and resources, or redirected to a more appropriate heritage body. In addition, the Heritage Council, which my Department funds, accepts applications under its heritage grants programme for consideration. It is a matter for the council to allocate funding under these schemes.

Tourism Policy

 149. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan his plans and those of subsidiary bodies under the aegis of his Department to boost the tourism sector in the coming three years with particular reference to the use of arts and heritage as a means of economic recovery; the extent to which an examination has been carried out of the various aspects of the industry most likely to be in a position to respond to such initiatives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53363/12]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan The Deputy will appreciate that tourism policy is primarily the responsibility of my colleague, Mr. Leo Varadkar, TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.

  Of course, my Department and the institutions which it funds continue to work closely with the tourism agencies, at home and abroad, to promote cultural tourism. In that context, there are a number of stand-out initiatives and a whole host of ongoing events of note, especially Culture Night. In 2012, Culture Night took place on September 21st in a record 30 towns and cities throughout the island of Ireland, showcasing the best of our artistic and cultural heritage and facilities. It is estimated that upwards of 200,000 participated in the event in 2012, with over 150 cultural venues in Dublin alone welcoming visitors until late in the evening.

  Arising from discussions at the Dublin Castle Global Irish Economic Forum on the most appropriate way to increase the impact and popularity of Culture Night and beyond, it is proposed to designate St Patrick's Day as the International Day of Irish Culture, thereby building on solid foundations already in place. Discussions are ongoing with all relevant stakeholders as to the exact format and scope of such an event, which will depend also on the amount of funding that is available. I also propose to deepen the engagement with Music Day, held this year on 21 June, and create a further cultural pivot point at a key moment during the year. In that way, there will be three main national cultural focus points throughout the year - St Patrick’s Day in Spring, Music Day at Midsummer and Culture Night in the Autumn.

  The National Cultural Institutions and other cultural venues supported by my Department play a very significant role in Ireland's cultural tourism product. In 2011, there were over 3.6 million visitors to such institutions and venues. At the moment, they and the Arts Council are being activated to support both The Gathering and our upcoming EU Presidency Cultural programme. Indeed, the National Museum alone surpassed 1 million visitors for the year last week.

  While the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, and the agencies under its remit, have primary responsibility for the promotion of Ireland generally as an attractive visitor location, heritage sites, including national parks and national monuments, feature strongly in much of this promotion. In addition, my Department through, for example, the provision of important heritage inventories, the funding for the conservation and presentation of the built heritage and through support for the Heritage Council, assists in promoting greater appreciation and understanding of Ireland’s heritage as a valuable amenity for residents and visitors alike. My Department is also directly involved in developing heritage initiatives with Fáilte Ireland, the Heritage Council and other organisations. I am confident that these and other initiatives will contribute to the quality of the national heritage tourism product, economic recovery and job creation.

  Cultural and heritage tourism is one of the most important elements of Ireland’s tourism product and heritage properties, including those in State care, are an important element of that attraction. My Department is, therefore, focusing on working creatively across Government and with partner bodies, such as the Heritage Council, the Irish Heritage Trust, Fáilte Ireland, the LEADER Programme and other heritage interests, in seeking to ensure that resources are directed towards the heritage sector.

  The Heritage Council, which is funded by my Department, recently commissioned the report Economic Value of Ireland’s Historic Environment. This report, published in May 2012, provides comprehensive evidence-based data that supports and enhances our innate understanding of the importance of our built heritage. The Report establishes that heritage conservation and tourism has very significant economic value and that Ireland’s historic environment supports over 35,000 jobs and contributes in the order of €1.5 billion to the national economy. It values the economic impact of Ireland’s historic environment/built heritage on the tourism sector through visitor expenditure at €700 million Gross Value Added (GVA). The report indicates that capital investment in built heritage conservation provides significant employment in the construction industry and is of major benefit to the national economy.

  My Department is also currently engaged in developing a specific heritage-led Historic Towns Initiative in collaboration with Fáilte Ireland and the Heritage Council. My primary objective with this initiative is to ensure that the participating towns have access to and an understanding of appropriate guidance to assist them in best conserving their heritage assets and, in so doing, underpin the sustainability of their community and local economy. It is my hope that meeting these goals will also, by extension, significantly enhance the visitor experience in these towns, thus helping to maximise the potential positive contribution of tourism to each of these towns and their respective hinterlands. It is intended that the initiative will be piloted in three towns in Ireland in 2013.

  The arts and culture sectors continue to offer vital opportunities for the provision of important cultural, social and employment benefits to communities throughout the country. The nature of employment within the arts sector encompasses a very wide range of activities. The Government appreciates and values the contribution the arts sector makes to the internationally renowned artistic reputation of this country. Within the current economic constraints, investment in the arts, culture and creative sectors is more important than ever, having regard to the employment intensity of the sector.

Heritage Sites Issues

 150. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the number of heritage sites or buildings throughout the country currently protected or in a maintenance programme; the number of any such locations or buildings deemed to be at risk for whatever reason; his plans if any to address such issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53364/12]

 153. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the number and location of ring forts/sites throughout the country that are currently open to the public or otherwise available for school visits or tourism purposes; the likely potential for future development in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53367/12]

 154. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the number and location of ring forts or other historical sites that have been excavated and are currently open to the public; the extent of any proposed future excavation for this purpose; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53368/12]

 155. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan if, in the course of Ireland Presidency of the EU Council, he intends to take the opportunity to improve, upgrade or refurbish heritage sites throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53369/12]

 158. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the top five sites of historical or heritage importance in each county; the manner in which these locations are currently utilised for the promotion and projection of the positive image for the country by whatever method; the estimated number of visitors to each site over the course of the past twelve months; the extent to which such numbers have fluctuated in the course of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53372/12]

 159. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the extent to which he and or his Department have identified heritage buildings or sites deemed to be at risk at specific or particular locations throughout the country; if he will identify the top twenty most vulnerable such locations; the action taken or likely to be taken to address any issues arising in the coming year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53373/12]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan I propose to take Questions Nos. 150, 153 to 155, inclusive, 158 and 159 together.

In the region of 120,000 monuments, mostly located on private lands, are protected under the National Monuments Acts. Many of these are ringforts. My Department does not have comprehensive information on the numbers of reports of actual damage or threats of damage to protected structures and sites but it does have a suite of tools, both legislative and advisory, at its disposal to address such reports, where and when they are received.

Given the total number of monument sites involved, it is not feasible to identify the position regarding public access in each case. However, the 757 national monument sites in my ownership or guardianship, of which 32 have been identified as ringforts, are, in general, freely accessible to the public, or where privately held, are accessible under local arrangements. National monuments in my ownership or guardianship are managed and maintained by the Office of Public Works on a day to day basis, including operation of Visitor Centres and the collation of data on visitor numbers.

Under the provisions of Part IV (Architectural Heritage) of the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2012, each planning authority is required to include in its development plan a Record of Protected Structures. The making of an addition to, or deletion from, a Record of Protected Structures is a reserved function of the planning authorities. Inclusion in the Record of Protected Structures places a duty of care on the owners and occupiers of protected structures and also gives planning authorities powers to deal with development proposals affecting them, seek to safeguard their future and serve notice to require works to be carried out in relation to endangerment of protected structures.

Section 59 of the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2011 provides for a planning authority to serve notice to require works to be carried out in relation to endangerment of such structures. On the basis of information submitted by the planning authorities to my Department, there were 19 such notices served in 2008, 27 in 2009, 10 in 2010 and a provisional figure of 2 in 2011.

My Department does not list historical or heritage structures in terms of top five per county.

In 2011 my Department set up an Expert Advisory Committee representing key stakeholders to review the operation of Part IV (Architectural Heritage) of the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2012. This review includes an examination of how the legislation is operating in practice regarding the protection and management of architectural heritage from a central and local government perspective and the need, in the light of current economic circumstances, to consider alternative ways of supporting the conservation of protected structures.

I am committed to working creatively across Government and with partner bodies, such as the Heritage Council, the Irish Heritage Trust, Fáilte Ireland, the Rural Development Programme (formerly LEADER) and other heritage interests, to ensure that all available supports are directed towards the heritage sector. In this context, my Department is actively promoting the role Ireland’s heritage has to play in making our country an attractive destination for sustainable tourism and inward investment, both in terms of the operation of Ireland’s national parks and nature reserves, and in terms of our unique built heritage.

Culture and heritage are important elements of Ireland’s tourism product, and heritage properties, including those in State care, are prominent tourism sites. At the National Ploughing Championship earlier this year, I formally launched new elements of my Department’s websites, www.archaeology.ie and www.buildingsofireland.ie, which will guide visitors to a selection of our national monuments and structures of architectural heritage interest. I intend to continue with such promotional measures in the future.

While funding for investment in heritage is particularly limited at present, my Department will continue to provide funding for the protection, conservation and development of our built and natural heritage, in so far as resources allow, and, when necessary, will intervene as provided by law to protect such sites.

Heritage Projects

 151. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the number and location of heritage restoration or other projects currently in hand or undertaken by his Department in each of the past four years to date; the number and location of any such projects currently of an urgent nature; the extent to which he expects to be in a position to positively respond in such cases in the next three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53365/12]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan My Department is currently collating information on built heritage projects directly supported by the Department over the past four years and will forward it directly to the Deputy as soon as it is available. The number of projects supported in future years will be dependent on the resources available to my Department.


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