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 Header Item Schools Building Projects (Continued)
 Header Item Arts Funding

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 943 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton] As of today, the Department reports that the existing schools in the neighbourhood, of which there are nine, have the capacity to meet the immediate demand for places so there is not a plan for a commitment to a construction project in this area at present.

Deputy Dessie Ellis: Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis In the course of the local area plan consultation, people were asked to identify the problems in the area and everyone pointed to the lack of a community centre and education facilities, among other issues which I outlined. The situation is not good enough. This is a vast area and people are being told there is capacity at the other end of Finglas to deal with the population needs. The population is rising and more houses and apartments are being built.

I note what the Minister said about how he calculates what is needed in the area in terms of the building of schools but I do not accept it. There is an opportunity to build a multidenominational Irish or other school in the area. Such a school is badly needed. The area is vast and the public transport linkages are very poor and people must travel a distance to bring their children to school.

I urge the Minister to talk to the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Deputy Coveney. It is not good enough to build residential developments and not to put infrastructural facilities in place. I accept that the responsibility of the Minister, Deputy Bruton, is education, but I would be grateful if he could ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government to examine the issue with his officials and convey to the local authority in question, Fingal County Council, that in future, it must ensure proper facilities are put in place. Those facilities include schools. There is a need for schools in the area as there is a growth in population and more housing schemes are coming on-stream. There will be a deficit of school places in the future and the Minister must make provision for that. It is all well and good looking at statistics but when one is on the ground one sees the need and people tell us they need the facilities.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I understand the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Deputy Coveney, is currently consulting on a spatial strategy that considers the type of issues raised by Deputy Ellis, such as how we plan for growth in communities and ensure we do not have overpopulation in some areas and the run-down of facilities in others. There is an opportunity for that much broader point to be presented to the Minister in a very coherent way by the Deputy and the community he represents. I will convey the Deputy's concerns to the Minister, Deputy Coveney.

From an educational point of view, I am working hard to provide seats for 20,000 students every year based on proven need where existing schools simply do not have enough provision. The provision of 20,000 places exhausts 80% of the budget so it leaves me with very little scope for expansion beyond that. I am working hard to ensure that whenever a child comes out of preschool that there is a place for him or her. We do not build schools in advance on the basis that an area will have 10,000 houses in 20 years' time and we should start building the school now.

Deputy Dessie Ellis: Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis We should do that.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton That is not the way it is done in the Department. We build on a just-in-time basis, to use the related commercial term for the way school facilities are delivered, and that exhausts our resources.

I assure the Deputy that we will examine planning in the area based on need and we will examine the demographic trends, the trends in preschools serving the area and assessing where that is heading and if there is a need for which we must begin to plan.

Arts Funding

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan I thank the Ceann Comhairle for affording me the opportunity to raise this issue, which is a very important matter locally. I thank the Minister for coming into the House to reply to the debate.

The matter I raise refers to The Moat Club in Naas, County Kildare, which is famous for its traditional fostering of the arts in drama and music and also for the number of people it has assisted, promoted and attracted to its facilities over the years. The centre is renowned locally and nationally for the quality and professionalism of its performances.

Like all voluntary organisations, The Moat Club has ongoing funding needs, and in order to comply with health and safety requirements and to ensure patrons, staff and all associated with it are in a safe environment, the club made an application to the Minister for grant aid in the current year. Unfortunately, due to a number of issues that were beyond my control and that of most others, the club did not qualify for funding. An application had been made for in excess of €180,000 and it was a huge blow to the club that it did not get it, given that it was relying on the funding to continue its performances in the future, to keep the quality and standards high, and to ensure that it operated in a safe environment. However, that was not to be but that is another story. The show goes on and we must find ways and means to ensure the club operates in a safe environment.

The Minister has access to some funding later in the year which could possibly facilitate groups and organisations such as The Moat Club in Naas. It would be money well spent. I ask the Minister to favourably consider an application from the club for funding when the time comes. The town and its environs suffered considerably during the downturn in the economy and it is taking somewhat longer to recover than some of the other towns in the area. In those circumstances, it is of particular importance that we would apply ourselves to the best of our ability to try to ensure that the funding required by the club, or at least most of it, might be made available to it in the shortest possible time.

The club is a local community organisation that has put on shows for generations. It has won awards at national and international level and people of international stature perform at the club. I refer, for example, to Celine Byrne, Rebecca Storm, Tommy Fleming, John Kenny and Mary McEvoy, Ballet Ireland, Neil Delamere and Pat Shortt, who have all performed there with distinction. A total of 23,000 people go through the doors to support those performances on an annual basis. The club provides five to six shows every year and it is renowned for the quality of the performances. The Minister knows the story and I urge her to bear it in mind when the time comes for the allocation of the remaining resources within the Department which could aptly be applied to this organisation.

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys I thank Deputy Durkan for raising this matter. The arts and culture capital scheme is the most significant investment in regional arts and cultural centres in a decade. This kind of investment goes to the very heart of what I am trying to achieve through Creative Ireland and the Action Plan for Rural Development. Creative Ireland aims to place culture and creativity at the heart of every community nationwide, while the rural action plan seeks to revitalise rural towns and villages through a range of investments and initiatives. The Creative Ireland programme places a focus on investing in our cultural infrastructure, because high quality infrastructure is critical for a vibrant arts and culture sector, which in turn underpins social cohesion and supports sustainable economic growth.

I have visited numerous arts and cultural centres in recent years, and it is abundantly clear to me that we are well served in terms of the number of centres nationwide. The main objective of the capital grants is to maintain and enhance the existing stock of arts and culture centres across the country, many of which need to be upgraded. In that regard, more than 85% of the investment is going to projects outside Dublin. The scheme was considerably over-subscribed. My Department received 106 applications in total under stream 1 and 2 requesting funding of just over €20 million. Detailed selection criteria and eligibility requirements were published in the guidelines of the scheme. There was a two-stage assessment process. The first stage involved all applications being reviewed on receipt to ensure eligibility. All eligible applications were then forwarded to an assessment panel which undertook the second stage of the assessment of the applications which advanced from stage one. The assessment panel reviewed each eligible application within the defined criteria and scored them accordingly. The recommendations were then forwarded to me for decision as set out in the published scheme conditions. Following the assessment process, 56 projects are being funded and will benefit from this capital investment, including theatres, heritage centres, galleries, archives, integrated arts centres, artist studios and creative and performance spaces.


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