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 Header Item Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla (Continued)
 Header Item National Cultural Institutions

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 861 No. 1

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Deputy Michael P. Kitt: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Tá imní ar a lán daoine faoi seo. Bhí trí máirseáil i rith na bliana - i mBaile Átha Cliath, i mBéal Feirste agus i gConamara. Chailleamar an Coimisinéir Teanga agus dúirt an iar-Choimisinéir a lán rudaí faoin gceist seo. Bhí brait ag na mairseálacha seo ag rá go raibh daoine "dearg le fearg". Sin an teachtaireacht a bhí acu. Bhí siad ag caint mar gheall ar chothrom na féinne, mar cheap siad nach raibh cothrom na féinne don teanga ná do na daoine a bhí ag iarraidh gnó a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge. Maidir leis na ranna Rialtaise agus Feidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte, tá a lán daoine buartha mar nach bhfuil siad in ann freagra a fháil agus gnó a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge. Caithfimid níos mó a dhéanamh faoi sin.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh Beidh mé i dteangmháil leis na hoifigigh sinseartha agus na hAirí idir na ranna rialtais éagsúla chun daoine a bhogadh chun tosaigh sa scéim. Tá dualgas orainn an teanga a chur chun tosaigh sna ranna agus sna seirbhísí phoiblí timpeall na tíre. Is tús maith é 6% agus is dócha go mbeidh an tír in áit difriúil amach anseo. Is é an rud is tábhachtaí ná go mbeadh scéal difriúil agus dearfach ann. Aontaím nach bhfuil sé ceart nach mbeadh duine le Gaeilge acu ag freagairt an ghutháin sa Roinn sin nó i bhFeidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte. Is é sin an dúshlán atá romhainn anois. Is é an teachtaireacht atá agam do na daltaí sa bhunscoil agus sa mheánscoil, agus a dtuismitheoirí fosta, ná go mbeidh poist ar fáil nuair a bheidh an tír in áit difriúil agus beidh na ranna rialtais ag lorg daoine le Gaeilge chun obair sna ranna, sna comhairlí chontae, i bhFeidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte agus ar uile.

National Cultural Institutions

 93. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys her views on the current funding situation of the National Museum of Ireland; the way she will address the funding difficulties of this institution; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46806/14]

Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl This question was tabled in the context of the difficulties of the National Museum and the indication of its possible closure or introduction of charges. That came against a background of a 40% cut in funding over the past few years. Fair play to the Minister, I congratulate her on having secured the additional €2 million which hopefully will be used to the benefit of the cultural institutions.

Deputy Heather Humphreys: Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys I thank the Deputy for raising this issue. In the recent budget I was pleased to be able to maintain funding for 2015 for the national cultural institutions, including the National Museum, at the same level as 2014. This brought to an end the cycle of unavoidable cuts that have taken place at all of our national cultural institutions in recent years. I was, of course, aware of particular funding issues that continued to exist and I have been engaged in ongoing discussions with the chairpersons and senior management at several of our cultural institutions, including the National Museum, about addressing those challenges. I was delighted, therefore, to be able to announce last week that I have secured an agreement with the Minister for Public and Reform Expenditure, Deputy Brendan Howlin, to provide an additional €2 million in funding for the National Cultural Institutions as part of the Revised Estimates, to be published later this month.

The additional funding secured will be used to deal with several across the cultural institutions. I believe that it gives more certainty to the institutions and will allow them to continue to deliver on their core objectives, while attracting large numbers of people through their doors, including overseas and domestic tourists.

Our national cultural institutions are an essential component of our cultural fabric. Through their collections and exhibitions, they make a huge contribution to our society. I can assure the Deputy of the Government's interest in, and continuing support for, our national cultural institutions and I remain hopeful that, notwithstanding the continuing pressure on the State's finances, it will prove possible to ease the resource constraints on the institutions even further in the future.

Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I thank the Minister for her response which I welcome. It is positive. It begs the question whether this €2 million in funding will be secured in future. Will the Minister explain how she envisages the funding breaking down between the National Museum and the National Library? We are aware of the difficulties in the National Museum. There are serious difficulties too in the National Library where there has been an increase of 42% in visitors over the past 12 months, yet it has suffered even greater cuts than the museum, in the order of 44% in recent times. I heard the Minister refer in the national media to these institutions' becoming self financing, which some journalists think is desirable. Can she give us an undertaking that she is committed to the public's having free access to these vital resources which are owned by the people of Ireland?

Deputy Heather Humphreys: Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys I am very much of the opinion that they should continue to be open to the public free of charge. In England whenever they introduce charging into cultural institutions, the number of visitors drop by about 50%. I would not want that to happen here. That is why this additional funding is so important. I will publish a breakdown of the €2 million in due course. I intend to allocate funding to all of the cultural institutions and will decide in the coming weeks exactly how much will go to each institution. That has not been finalised. I have been talking to them, and on that basis, the allocations will be decided. The Department officials have been preparing proposals on the allocations in close consultation with the cultural institutions.

Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I understood that the National Museum required 650,000 to continue to operate as heretofore notwithstanding the constraints it is now under. I also understand that the National Library had indicated that it needed a 20% increase in its level of funding to be able to contain the additional pressure it is under due to the increased number of visitors. That is the extent of the commitment the Minister is being asked to make now. I very much welcome her statement that she shares our view that the public should have free access to these institutions. The institutions enrich Irish society. It is a great pleasure to stand outside this building and see the throngs of young people who visit these institutions daily. Long may that continue.

Deputy Heather Humphreys: Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys I agree with the Deputy. The museum has received almost 1 million visitors this year, which is a tremendous achievement. Things have been difficult for all of the cultural institutions, because their budgets were cut and this is the first time in six years there were no cuts. I pay tribute to the great work they do. I absolutely agree with the Deputy they make a huge contribution to our society, and attract visitors to the city and tourists to Ireland. The National Museum did indicate the figure the Deputy mentioned.

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