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 Header Item Natural Heritage Areas Designation (Continued)
 Header Item National Library

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 833 No. 3

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Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Sadly, there is no system in place as yet. The Minister has advertised that there is a system in place, but that is not the case. Apparently, he has written to thousands of people, but a system has still not been established. That is a failure on his part. The same mistakes are being made in the bogs the Minister is considering excluding and those he intends to include. In Carricknaughton near Athlone, pasture land is going to be included in one of these areas and the person who owns it will be obliged to obtain permission to use it.

I take the opportunity to make a point on a particular matter which may not be raised in the House today. I condemn whoever was responsible for shooting a white-tailed eagle in County Tipperary. Many turf cutters and I are of the view that those involved are gurriers. What they did was shameful.

Deputy Jimmy Deenihan: Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan I am not aware of any pasture land being included in turf-cutting areas. The Deputy referred to permits and advice being made available. I take what he said very seriously and will address the matter immediately. This is a very important and sensitive matter. As Minister, I am responsible for ensuring both European and national laws are enforced and the Deputy is representing his constituency. We are, therefore, approaching the matter from different angles. However, there is a system in place and its existence must be made known. In addition, the service must also be available. I will ensure this is the case and will follow up on the matter immediately.

I join the Deputy in condemning the people who ruthlessly shot the white-tailed eagle in County Tipperary. We are trying to repopulate the country with eagles.

Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan We are united on this one.

Deputy Jimmy Deenihan: Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan I welcome what the Deputy said about this matter.

  Question No. 4 answered with Question No. 2.

National Library

 5. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the amount of funding allocated to the National Library of Ireland, NLI, in each of the past ten years, including 2014; if he will provide details of any representations made to him by the management of the NLI outlining the severity of the situation which obtains there at present; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [10698/14]

Deputy Catherine Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy A number of staff from the National Library of Ireland came before the Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht recently and I tabled this question as a consequence of what they had to say. Only 1% of the holdings of the National Library of Ireland are conserved to international standards. When members of the committee teased out the matter further with their guests, it emerged that the situation in preserving the National Library of Ireland's stock was precarious.

Deputy Jimmy Deenihan: Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan On a general note, the Deputy will be aware that all of the national cultural institutions, including the National Library of Ireland, have unavoidably suffered significant cuts in their allocations in recent years. This is an unpleasant reality with which every publicly funded body has had to deal with during the economic crisis of the past few years. The Government has done its utmost to minimise budget cuts for the cultural institutions, in so far as was possible, while being cognisant of competing demands on the public finances. The stark reality is that in the current funding environment institutions have had to make difficult choices when prioritising the spending of their allocations.

  The National Library of Ireland and its board are statutorily independent under the National Cultural Institutions Act 1997. It is the statutory responsibility of the board to determine the priorities for the institution based on the resources available to it and the need to ensure the conservation and protection of its collections. I assure the Deputy of the Government's interest in and continuing support for our national cultural institutions. I remain hopeful that, notwithstanding the continuing pressure on the State's finances, it will prove possible in the coming years to ease the resource constraints. The funding to the National Library of Ireland since it became statutorily independent in 2005 is set out in the table that will be included in the Official Report. In the past two years the National Library of Ireland has managed its employment control framework in such a way as to yield some leeway in addressing resource issues. I have also made additional moneys available for its temporary exhibition programme and the development of the Heaney exhibition.

  My Department maintains ongoing contacts with the management of the National Library of Ireland on a wide range of issues. I stress, however, that day-to-day operations are a matter entirely for the board and the director of the library.

NATIONAL LIBRARY
YearCurrentCapitalTotal
2005€8,054,000€1,350,000€9,404,000
2006€9,067,000€2,350,000€11,417,000
2007€9,201,000€4,000,000€13,201,000
2008€9,752,000€2,250,000€12,002,000
2009€9,242,000€1,500,000€10,742,000
2010€7,848,000€1,500,000€9,348,000
2011€7,084,000€1,000,000€8,084,000
2012€6,620,000€500,000€7,120,000
2013€6,153,000€452,000€6,605,000
2014€5,912,000€428,000€6,340,000

Deputy Catherine Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy The National Library of Ireland appears to be in an impossible position and its resources seem to be stretched to the point where it has found it necessary to bring in outside experts on occasion. The overall figure for the cuts it has been obliged to absorb is somewhere in the region of 40%. It appears that a very low priority is being afforded to certain aspects of our cultural heritage. The National Library of Ireland and the National Archives of Ireland appear to be in the most serious of difficulties. Less than 100 years ago the Public Record Office of Ireland was set on fire and 700 years worth of records were lost. Will people 100 years from now ask questions about the point when the holdings of the National Library of Ireland came under threat? There is a serious possibility that irreparable damage is being done. More needs to be done as a matter of urgency.

Deputy Jimmy Deenihan: Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan Between 2007 and 2011 when I took office the allocation for the National Library of Ireland was reduced from €13.2 million to €8 million, a decrease of €5.117 million. Since I became Minister, the reduction has been €780,000. Last year we minimised the cut to the National Library of Ireland's funding. The figure in that regard was just €265,000. In the five years since 2010 the aggregate allocation to the library has been €38 million. In the same period a potential acquisitions fund of €30 million has been available to it and the other national cultural institutions under section 1003 of the Taxes Consolidation Act. The National Library of Ireland continues to receive substantial funding, particularly when one considers the challenges we face from an economic point of view. In 2012 it was hard-pressed to expend its entire allocation. I hope we will be able to restore its funding in the future. As I understand it, it is not in the position described by the Deputy.

Deputy Catherine Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy The National Library of Ireland also has a tourism function and has been stretching in order to provide a very good genealogy service, which is very much in demand. That is taking from the library's other work. That only 1% of its collections can be preserved to international standards, particularly as the country has such a rich heritage, is really shameful. I acknowledge that most of the reductions in the National Library of Ireland's funding happened prior to the Minister taking office. What is required is an assessment of what the library needs, at a very minimum, to conserve its collections in order that they will not become damaged beyond repair.

Deputy Jimmy Deenihan: Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan I share the Deputy's concern. Unfortunately, when the country had the necessary resources available to it, no one had either the vision or the commitment required to ensure the work to which the Deputy refers was done. That work should have been carried out, but this did not happen. I inherited a very challenging situation and was obliged to introduce cuts for all of the cultural institutions. Last year we gave preferential treatment to the library and, as a result, the cutback in its funding was less than 4%. We also provided additional funding for the Heaney archive. I am looking forward to engaging with the new director of the National Library of Ireland who is due to be appointed shortly and with its board to ensure some of the problems and challenges highlighted by the Deputy can be addressed.

I have been a supporter of the National Library of Ireland since I became a Member of the Oireachtas 30 years ago. I visit it regularly and support it in every way possible. As a result, I am very conscious of its value. I will be launching the "Inspiring Ireland" website during my visit to San Francisco for St. Patrick's Day.


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