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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 103-122
 Header Item Civil Service
 Header Item Health Services Staff
 Header Item Flood Prevention Measures
 Header Item Seirbhísí trí Ghaeilge
 Header Item Departmental Budgets
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Sports Capital Programme
 Header Item Ministerial Correspondence
 Header Item Sports Capital Programme
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Sports Funding
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Departmental Budgets
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1002 No. 6

First Page Previous Page Page of 110 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 103-122

Civil Service

 103. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath if there is an obligation on civil servants to supply their written name, as opposed to their initials, in correspondence with members of the public; if exemptions exist on security grounds pursuant to the Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour; the specific civil servants, grades and Departments and-or sections of Departments to which this exemption applies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43626/20]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath The Code of Standards states that Civil Servants should give their names to any member of the public with whom they are dealing, except where given a special exemption, for example, on security grounds and ensure that members of the public are dealt with in a respectful manner.

  (https://www.sipo.ie/acts-and-codes/codes-of-conduct/civil-servants/Civil-Service-Code-of-Standards.pdf).

  Special exemption groups are a matter for individual employers based on specific circumstances/requirements in their organisations.

  Additionally, guidelines for staff members related to correspondence are contained in each individual employer’s Customer Charter. The Customer Charter initiative was launched in December 2002. A Customer Charter is a short statement describing the level of service a customer can expect from a Government Department or Office. Under the initiative, each Government Department and Office is required to produce a Customer Charter and to report on performance against the service standards it sets out -

  https://www.gov.ie/en/policy-information/a2c52c-customer-charter-initiative-guidelines/.

Health Services Staff

 104. Deputy Bríd Smith Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath his plans to ensure pay restoration for section 39 workers in over 250 organisations who have not yet received pay restoration to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43648/20]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath Matters pertaining to Section 39 organisations fall within the remit of my colleague the Minister for Health.

Flood Prevention Measures

 105. Deputy Joe Carey Information on Joe Carey Zoom on Joe Carey asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath if he will consider introducing a scheme to facilitate the cleaning of rivers and water courses similar to the local improvement scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43742/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Patrick O'Donovan): Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan I am informed by the Commissioners of Public Works that the OPW is engaged in the delivery of the flood relief schemes that are contained in the flood Risk Management Plans developed under the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management Programme. In addition, the OPW is maintaining the Arterial Drainage Schemes and catchment drainage schemes designated under the Arterial Drainage Acts of 1945 and 1995 and carries out a programme of Arterial Drainage Maintenance to a total of 11,500 km of river channel and approximately 730 km of embankments.

Local flooding issues are a matter, in the first instance, for each Local Authority to investigate and address. All Local Authorities may carry out flood mitigation works, using either their own resources, or by applying for funding under the Office of Public Works (OPW) Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme. Under this scheme, applications are considered for projects that are estimated to cost not more than €750,000 in each instance. Funding of up to 90% of the cost is available for approved projects. Full details of this scheme are available on www.opw.ie.

I am currently considering what options are available to me in regard to this issue and it is my intention to engage with the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage with regard to central Government funding for Local Authorities for the maintenance of watercourses.

Seirbhísí trí Ghaeilge

 106. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Caiteachais Phoiblí agus Athchóirithe Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath cad iad na pleananna atá ag a Roinn chun seirbhísí faoina riar a chur ar fáil trí Ghaeilge, chun cur le líon na seirbhísí atá ar fáil trí Ghaeilge faoina riar, agus chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn, le linn 2021. [43870/20]

 107. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Caiteachais Phoiblí agus Athchóirithe Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath sonrú a dhéanamh ar gach post atá sainaitheanta mar phost a bhfuil riachtanas Gaeilge leis ina Roinn faoi láthair, líon na bhfostaithe ina Roinn a bhfuil cumas sa Ghaeilge acu, agus líon iomlán na bhfostaithe ina Roinn. [43871/20]

 108. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Caiteachais Phoiblí agus Athchóirithe Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath cad iad na fadhbanna is práinní i leith seirbhísí faoi riar a Roinne a sholáthar trí Ghaeilge sna ceantair Ghaeltachta, agus cad atá beartaithe aige chun iad a réiteach. [43872/20]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath Molaim Ceisteanna Dála 106, 107 and 108 a thabhairt le chéile.

  Mar thoradh ar ról na Roinne, níl leibhéal ard de theagmháil ag an Roinn nó ní sholáthraíonn sí scéimeanna ná seirbhísí go díreach le daoine ón bpobal i gcoitinne nó daoine atá lonnaithe i gceantair Ghaeltachta. Mar sin, níl ról ar bith i mo Roinn atá sainaithinte mar ról ina bhfuil inniúlacht sa Ghaeilge de dhíth.

  Faoin bPlean Gníomhaíochta maidir le Seirbhísí ar Ardchaighdeán do Chustaiméirí agus faoin gCairt Chustaiméirí, déanann mo Roinn gach iarracht freastal ar dhaoine ar mian leo plé leis an Roinn trí Ghaeilge. Ar mhaithe le cinntiú go gcuirtear na seirbhísí sin ar fail ar bhonn leanúnach, tá bunachar ag an Roinn de hoifigigh atá in ann plé le custaiméirí trí Ghaeilge agus déantar measúnú ar an gcumas Gaeilge atá ag na hoifigigh nua nuair a thosaíonn siad leis an Roinn. Tá 8 baill foirne aitheanta ag an Roinn atá in ann seirbhísí trí Ghaeilge a chur ar fail agus sin 1.75% de bhaill foirne na Roinne. Tá 4 baill foirne nó 1.74% de bhaill foirne na hOifige aitheanta ag an Oifig um Sholáthar Rialtais, atá mar chuid den Roinn seo, atá in ann seirbhísí trí Ghaeilge a chur ar fail.

  Comhlíonann mo Roinn le Alt 10 Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla ina leagtar síos dualgas go mbeadh an Ráiteas Straitéise, an Tuarascáil Bhliaintúil, aon chuntas iniúchta nó ráiteas airgeadais, nó aon doiciméad ina leagtar amach tograí beartais phoiblí a fhoilsiú go comhuaineach as Gaeilge agus as Béarla. Tá ócáidí ann nuair a bhíonn raidhse mhór cáipéisí, agus is gá ansin ábhair a chur amach chuig aistritheoirí seachtracha freisin.

  Ag caint ar an Státseirbhís ar bhonn níos leithne, bhain go leor dúshlán le cainteoirí Gaeilge a earcú chun folúntais a líonadh sa Státseirbhís agus tá sé sin soiléir ó líon na ndaoine a chuireann isteach ar na comórtais sin. Chuir breis agus 15,000 isteach ar an gcomórtas deireanach do cheapachán mar Oifigeach Cléireachais ach níor chuir ach 250 isteach ar an gcomórtas do dhaoine le Gaeilge. Ar an mbealach céanna leis an gcomórtas do cheapachán mar Oifigeach Feidhmiúcháin, chuir 15,000 isteach ar an gcomórtas ach níor chuir ach 156 ar an gcomórtas do dhaoine le Gaeilge.

   Faoi láthair, tá ceithre chúrsa ar fail do bhaill foirne i mo Roinn agus sna ranna uile ó OneLearning, Ionad Forbartha agus Foghlama na Státseirbhíse. Tá na cúrsaí seo á gcur ar fáil ag Gaelchultúr agus na cáilíochtaí á mbronnadh acu ag leibhéal 3,4,5, agus 6 den Chreat Náisiúnta. Tá na cúrsaí seo ar fáil ón mbliain 2018 agus an aidhm a bhíonn leis an oiliúint ná cur ar chumas na rannpháirtithe seirbhís do chustaiméirí a chur ar fáil trí Ghaeilge nuair is gá. Mar atá leagtha síos sa Chlár Rialtais, rachaidh an Roinn i gcomhairle leis an haonaid oiliúna sa Státseirbhís lena fháil amach ar chóir cúrsa Gaeilge nua do thosaitheoirí a chur ar siúl do Státseirbhísigh.

Departmental Budgets

 109. Deputy Sean Sherlock Information on Sean Sherlock Zoom on Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the current budgets in his Department for social media advertising for 2021; and the campaigns behind each budget line in tabular form. [44027/20]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department does not operate specific budgets for social media advertising. The social media advertising costs predicted for my Department for 2021, at this point in time, are set out below. This position is subject to change during 2021.

Title of Social Media Campaign Expected Cost of Campaign
Advertising an Administrative Officer (AO) recruitment campaign. €600

Covid-19 Pandemic

 110. Deputy Michael Creed Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin if consideration has been given to relaxing the Covid-19 regulations as they apply to events (details supplied). [43672/20]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin On 27 November the Government agreed the approach for easing restrictions, including a phased move to Level 3 nationally, with a number of exceptions in place for the Christmas period. The exceptions for the Christmas period are designed to support people to have a meaningful Christmas, albeit different to other years. The main objective is to stay safe and keep the COVID-19 numbers down so that we can maintain the lowest possible level of restrictions into the New Year.

  In line with the Plan for Living with COVID-19 the Government has, in recent months, framed restrictions to account for periods where there is low incidence of the disease, with isolated clusters and low community transmission, through to situations where there is high or rapidly increasing incidence, widespread community transmission and the pandemic is escalating rapidly in Ireland and globally. Throughout this period the Government has made special provision for weddings in view of the importance of these occasions to couples and the level of planning that is involved for couples and their families.

  In certain settings, such as weddings, higher noise levels due to music, can force people into close proximity, requiring them to raise their voices or shout to communicate thus increasing the risk of spreading virus to others. Such activity presents a higher risk of transmission of Covid-19. Accordingly the Government has decided that no live or loud music is permitted at weddings and this is reflected in Fáilte Ireland's current guidelines.

  I understand the difficulties these restrictions pose for couples on their special day and the impact on musicians and bands. The public health measures put in place at any point in time is subject to ongoing review of the trajectory of the virus.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 111. Deputy Pat Buckley Information on Pat Buckley Zoom on Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin if her attention has been drawn to the ban on live music at weddings under new Fáilte Ireland guidelines for level 3; if her attention has been drawn to the further difficulties this is causing for those working as musicians and-or in bands; and if she has considered additional supports for businesses and self-employed persons in the music industry. [44004/20]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin On 27 November the Government agreed the approach for easing restrictions, including a phased move to Level 3 nationally, with a number of exceptions in place for the Christmas period. The exceptions for the Christmas period are designed to support people to have a meaningful Christmas, albeit different to other years. The main objective is to stay safe and keep the COVID-19 numbers down so that we can maintain the lowest possible level of restrictions into the New Year.

  In line with the Plan for Living with COVID-19 the Government has, in recent months, framed restrictions to account for periods where there is low incidence of the disease, with isolated clusters and low community transmission, through to situations where there is high or rapidly increasing incidence, widespread community transmission and the pandemic is escalating rapidly in Ireland and globally. Throughout this period the Government has made special provision for weddings in view of the importance of these occasions to couples and the level of planning that is involved for couples and their families.

  In certain settings, such as weddings, higher noise levels due to music, can force people into close proximity, requiring them to raise their voices or shout to communicate thus increasing the risk of spreading virus to others. Such activity presents a higher risk of transmission of Covid-19. Accordingly, the Government decided that no live or loud music is permitted at weddings and this is reflected in Fáilte Ireland's current guidelines.

  I understand the difficulties these restrictions pose for couples on their special day and the impact on musicians and bands. A range of measures was announced as part of Budget 2021 to support the arts and culture sectors and in particular the music and entertainment sectors. In Ireland, the Government provides primary support for the arts, including the music sector, through the Arts Council. Government funding to the Arts Council in 2021 will amount to €130m which is an increase of 62% over the amount initially allocated for 2020. Much of this funding is being allocated to the music sector, including to many who have never before received funding from the Council.

  In addition to the significant increase in Arts Council funding, the Government has allocated €50 million specifically for live entertainment in 2021 and this will include measures for the commercial entertainment sector. Officials in my Department are engaged in a consultation process to allow stakeholders have an input into how this funding will be disbursed. The operation of the pilot Live Performance Support Scheme, which operated during the autumn and will shortly be completed, will provide insights for the allocation of the funding next year.

  The response to and the demand for the Music Industry Stimulus Package and the pilot Live Performance Support Scheme, which was far in excess of what was anticipated, will also inform the Department in this regard.

  There are a number of financial supports, training and guidance in place by Government to help business mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and work safely. Details of these can be accessed at the following link:

  https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/

Covid-19 Pandemic

 112. Deputy James Lawless Information on James Lawless Zoom on James Lawless asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin if the recent sport expert group amendment to the guidance under level 3 restrictions to allow golfers to participate in activities in their clubs even if they are located across a county border is extended to and includes target shooting clubs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43628/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Jack Chambers): Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers The Government recognises the importance of a broader resumption of sport for both children and adults. In that context, my Department and Sport Ireland are engaging with the various sporting bodies to inform a review of the measures currently in place for sporting activity, which will be considered by Government early in the New Year.

In the current Level 3 restrictions, which will continue until 18 December, the Government are asking everyone to stay within their county apart from work, education, medical and other essential purposes, if appropriate. Travel for sports training or exercise is not considered an essential purpose so we would ask people not to travel outside their county to participate in golf, target shooting or other sporting activities at this time.

The Government fully acknowledges the benefits of sport and physical activity for people’s mental and physical wellbeing and has done its utmost to facilitate sport as much as it can within the confines imposed by the public health situation, which remains a serious and ongoing threat to people’s lives.

Sports Capital Programme

 113. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin her views on a matter regarding a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43642/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Jack Chambers): Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers The Sports Capital & Equipment Programme (SCEP) as operated by my Department provides grants to assist in the development or refurbishment of sports facilities and the provision of sports equipment.

  One of the Programme’s main objectives is to help maximise participation in sport and physical recreation. A new round of the Programme is now open for applications and the detailed Guide to Making an Application is available at the following link:-

  https://www.gov.ie/en/service/d13385-sports-capital-programme/#how-to-make-an-application

  This Guide sets out, inter alia, the type of projects funded under the scheme.

  While the school referred to by the Deputy may apply for funding jointly with a local sports club or organisation, funding the refurbishment of a room and the purchase of equipment for computer programming would not be eligible for this grant programme.

Ministerial Correspondence

 114. Deputy Joe Carey Information on Joe Carey Zoom on Joe Carey asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin if matters raised in correspondence (details supplied) will be addressed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43647/20]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin The delay in the reply to the Deputy's correspondence is regretted. A response to the correspondence will issue today.

Sports Capital Programme

 115. Deputy Joe Carey Information on Joe Carey Zoom on Joe Carey asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin further to Parliamentary Question No. 239 of 8 December 2020, if the payment of a sports capital grant application (details supplied) will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43735/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Jack Chambers): Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers The club referred to by the Deputy have now provided the Department with all of the information required to formally approve their Sports Capital Programme grant. My officials are currently processing the request for payment and this will issue as soon as possible.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 116. Deputy John Lahart Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin if her attention has been drawn to the difficulties faced by swimming pools that rely heavily on the offer of swimming classes due to Covid-19 restrictions; her plans to lift the restriction on swimming classes early in 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43745/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Jack Chambers): Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers I am aware of the difficulties to which the Deputy refers.

I have recently written to all National Governing Bodies of Sport, including Swim Ireland, indicating the Government's concern to ensure that sport can continue to play the maximum possible role in sustaining people’s physical and mental wellbeing and consequently their general morale. In that context, the Government has asked my Department and Sport Ireland to engage urgently over the coming weeks with the sporting bodies to consider all available evidence and data for the purposes of informing the development of tailored proposals and approaches for future mitigation measures. It is envisaged that, depending on the prevalence of the virus, such proposals would enable the Government to review and potentially adapt the suite of public health measures currently applying to sport and exercise activities such as swimming.

I have asked the sporting bodies to make written submissions to Sport Ireland and I would anticipate in that context the receipt of a submission concerning the return of swimming classes. It is my intention that the outcome of the current consultation with the sporting bodies would be considered by Government early in the New Year.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 117. Deputy Paul Murphy Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 232 and 248 of 8 December 2020, if her Department will issue an official statement or circular clarifying the situation. [43755/20]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin On 1 December, the country moved to a modified Level 3 of the Government's Plan for living with COVID-19. Under these restrictions, all dance and exercise classes remain suspended. There is, however, provision for individual and one-to-one instruction at this level. This guidance applies to sport, exercise and dance. While dance studios are therefore closed at Level 3, they can provide facilities for use in individual dance practice or dance training.

  The Arts Council is in the process of preparing guidance on individual dance practice/training which will be available shortly. In the meantime, Sport Ireland guidance for individual training should be referred to in these cases which can be accessed at the following link:

  https://www.sportireland.ie/covid19/individual-and-indoor-training.

  While these measures mean that individual activities can take place, individual training and one-to-one instruction should not be viewed as a way on reintroducing organised dance classes which are specifically precluded under the current public health measures.

  The Government is aware of the vital role that exercise and culture have played throughout the pandemic in contributing many benefits to the physical and mental wellbeing of people.

Sports Funding

 118. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú Information on Ruairí Ó Murchú Zoom on Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin the current financial supports available to a business (details supplied) that operates in this jurisdiction but whose headquarters are in Northern Ireland. [43763/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Jack Chambers): Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers Sport Ireland, which is the funded by my Department, is the statutory body with responsibility for the development of sport, including the allocation of funding across a range of sport programmes. Sport Ireland allocates funding through the National Governing Bodies of Sport, the network of Local Sports Partnership and other sporting organisations.

  Sport Ireland does not provide funding support to commercial gyms and businesses, such as that mentioned by the Deputy.

  Business support measures are a matter for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 119. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin if her attention has been drawn to the fact that developing sports currently without national governing body status from Sport Ireland cannot conduct training due to Covid-19 restrictions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43913/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Jack Chambers): Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers The recognition process for achieving the status of a National Governing Body for a sport in Ireland is a matter solely for Sport Ireland, which has the legislative responsibility for the development of sport in Ireland pursuant to the Sport Ireland Act 2015. There are over 60 recognised National Governing Bodies which have each demonstrated their capacity to organise competitions in their respective codes and to implement policies for health and safety, safeguarding and other matters. These cover a broad range of sports from field sports, Olympic disciplines and minority sports. There are also a number of sporting bodies which are currently working towards recognition, with the support of Sport Ireland.

The Government fully acknowledges the benefits of sport and physical activity for people’s mental and physical wellbeing and has done its utmost to facilitate sport as much as it can within the confines imposed by the public health situation, which remains a serious and ongoing threat to people’s lives. On behalf of the Return to Sport Expert Group, Sport Ireland has issued practical guidance for the sports and physical activity sector, which is available on its website. Detailed operating protocols aligned with public health advice are a prerequisite for the safe return for all sports. It is also essential that these protocols are underpinned by robust compliance and monitoring structures and processes to ensure effective and consistent compliance and adherence with their requirements, a function which is being fulfilled by the National Governing Bodies under the supervision of Sport Ireland.

Departmental Budgets

 120. Deputy Sean Sherlock Information on Sean Sherlock Zoom on Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin the current budgets in her Department for social media advertising for 2021; and the campaigns behind each budget line in tabular form. [44031/20]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin Communication with the public is of significant importance to my Department given the nature of its work. The key mission of the Department's is to:

- Support the tourism industry in increasing revenue and employment through enhancing competitiveness and through marketing and product development;

- Promote, nurture and develop Ireland's culture and arts;

- Support and promote the use of the Irish language and to facilitate the development of the Gaeltacht;

- Contribute to a healthier and more active society by promoting sports participation, and by supporting high performance and the provision of facilities;

- Develop broadcasting and media policy, including online safety legislation, and to provide oversight of the BAI, RTÉ and TG4.

Effective communication with the public and stakeholders is essential in achieving these goals. The Department uses social media to promote the wide range of schemes and programmes operated under the auspices of the Department.

It is expected that the Creative Ireland Programme will deploy a modest amount of social media advertising in 2021. The Creative Ireland Programme is an all-of-government programme led by the Department and designed to promote individual, community and national wellbeing. Its core proposition is that personal and collective participation in creative activity drives significant implications for individual and societal wellbeing and achievement. The engagement of citizens and communities through the development of engaging content to foreground and amplify the value and potential of creative engagement for the public is an essential element of this work. On an annual basis, the Programme deploys social media advertising in relation to Cruinniú na nÓg and in relation to any additional relevant issues that may emerge during the year. At this time, the expectation is that this will also be the case during 2021.

The Department currently has no other plans for social media advertising in 2021. Value for money is always an important consideration for my Department when assessing expenditure of this nature.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 121. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin the details of the guidance received by Fáilte Ireland in prohibiting live music or dancing at weddings; the person, body or Department that issued the guidance; if consideration will be given to allowing wedding bands and artists to perform as restrictions ease; and her plans to provide support to wedding bands and wedding entertainers struggling to survive through the Christmas period. [44081/20]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin On 27 November the Government agreed the approach for easing restrictions, including a phased move to Level 3 nationally, with a number of exceptions in place for the Christmas period. The exceptions for the Christmas period are designed to support people to have a meaningful Christmas, albeit different to other years. The main objective is to stay safe and keep the COVID-19 numbers down so that we can maintain the lowest possible level of restrictions into the New Year.

  In line with the Plan for Living with COVID-19 the Government has, in recent months, framed restrictions to account for periods where there is low incidence of the disease, with isolated clusters and low community transmission, through to situations where there is high or rapidly increasing incidence, widespread community transmission and the pandemic is escalating rapidly in Ireland and globally. Throughout this period the Government has made special provision for weddings in view of the importance of these occasions to couples and the level of planning that is involved for couples and their families.

  In certain settings, such as weddings, higher noise levels due to music can force people into close proximity, requiring them to raise their voices or shout to communicate thus increasing the risk of spreading virus to others. Such activity presents a higher risk of transmission of Covid-19. Accordingly the Government has decided that no live or loud music is permitted at weddings and this is reflected in Fáilte Ireland's current guidelines. The details of these additional restrictions agreed by Government were communicated to Fáilte Ireland by my Department. The public health measures put in place at any point in time is subject to ongoing review of the trajectory of the virus.

  I understand the difficulties these restrictions pose for couples on their special day and the impact on musicians and bands. A range of measures was announced as part of Budget 2021 to support the arts and culture sectors and in particular the music and entertainment sectors. In Ireland, the Government provides primary support for the arts, including the music sector, through the Arts Council. Government funding to the Arts Council in 2021 will amount to €130m which is an increase of 62% over the amount initially allocated for 2020. Much of this funding is being allocated to the music sector, including to many who have never before received funding from the Council.

  In addition to the significant increase in Arts Council funding, the Government has allocated €50 million specifically for live entertainment in 2021 and this will include measures for the commercial entertainment sector. Officials in my Department are engaged in a consultation process to allow stakeholders have an input into how this funding will be disbursed. The operation of the pilot Live Performance Support Scheme, which operated during the autumn and will shortly be completed, will provide insights for the allocation of the funding next year.

  The response to and the demand for the Music Industry Stimulus Package and the pilot Live Performance Support Scheme, which was far in excess of what was anticipated, will also inform the Department in this regard.

  There are a number of financial supports, training and guidance in place by Government to help business mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and work safely. Details of these can be accessed at the following link: https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/

Covid-19 Pandemic

 122. Deputy Duncan Smith Information on Duncan Smith Zoom on Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin if she will consider allowing live music at locations hosting weddings under the guidelines of Fáilte Ireland given the Covid-19 training of many of these performers and that such live music was allowed under the previous level 3. [44108/20]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin On 27 November the Government agreed the approach for easing restrictions, including a phased move to Level 3 nationally, with a number of exceptions in place for the Christmas period. The exceptions for the Christmas period are designed to support people to have a meaningful Christmas, albeit different to other years. The main objective is to stay safe and keep the COVID-19 numbers down so that we can maintain the lowest possible level of restrictions into the New Year. While weddings with up to 25 guests are permitted additional restrictions include no live music.

  In line with the Plan for Living with COVID-19 the Government has, in recent months, framed restrictions to account for periods where there is low incidence of the disease, with isolated clusters and low community transmission, through to situations where there is high or rapidly increasing incidence, widespread community transmission and the pandemic is escalating rapidly in Ireland and globally. Throughout this period the Government has made special provision for weddings in view of the importance of these occasions to couples and the level of planning that is involved for couples and their families.

  Each level of the Plan for Living with Covid-19 contains a range of measures which are intended, collectively, to contribute to lowering risk of transmission in alignment with the risk level at that time. The risk level at this time has meant that some activities have not been permitted such as live music at weddings. I understand the difficulties these restrictions pose for couples on their special day and the impact on musicians and bands. However in certain settings, such as weddings, higher noise levels due to music can force people into close proximity, requiring them to raise their voices or shout to communicate thus increasing the risk of spreading virus to others. Such activity presents a higher risk of transmission of Covid-19. Accordingly, the Government has decided that no live or loud music is permitted at weddings and this is reflected in Fáilte Ireland's current guidelines.


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