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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 559-582
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Legislative Process
 Header Item Sports Funding
 Header Item Sports Funding
 Header Item Water Quality
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Film Industry
 Header Item Sports Events
 Header Item Capital Expenditure Programme
 Header Item Ministerial Meetings
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Tourism Promotion
 Header Item Tourism Project Funding
 Header Item Tourism Promotion
 Header Item Departmental Transport
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Media Pluralism
 Header Item Tourism Funding
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1005 No. 3
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 157 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 559-582

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 559. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin if she will provide the hospitality and tourism sector at least one month's notice for when they will be allowed to reopen; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14315/21]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin I am aware of the issues faced by the tourism and hospitality industry, including the difficulties posed by ongoing COVID-19-related restrictions, and understand why the tourism and hospitality sector would like greater notice of and certainty around reopening.  Nonetheless COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease, which spreads when individuals and groups come into close contact with one another, enabling the virus to move from one person to another.  The current public health advice is that it is too early to say how and when other restrictions might be eased given current uncertainties. 

In line with COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery Plan 2021 – The Path Ahead, the Government agreed that the public health restrictions will be subject to ongoing review taking account of the evolving epidemiological situation and available evidence in relation to vaccine deployment, uptake and effectiveness.  Government will meet in advance of 5th of April to review the level of restrictions for the following period.

  Question No. 560 answered with Question No. 554.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 561. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin the steps she is taking to ensure that one-off payments to support artists and support crews does not come from existing or announced arts funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14317/21]

 571. 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 reason music and entertainment workers and businesses with a turnover of less than €20,000 will not be eligible for the music and entertainment business assistance scheme. [15030/21]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin I propose to take Questions Nos. 561 and 571 together.

In Budget 2021, an amount of €50m was provided for the live entertainment sector.  Recently, I was pleased to announce the allocation of this funding by way of a suite of measures to support those in the live entertainment Sector. As part of this suite, an allocation of €25 million is being made available under the Live Performance Support Scheme 2021.  This scheme builds on the successful outcomes of the pilot Live Performance Support Scheme (LPSS) in 2020. The pilot LPSS was widely welcomed and very successful, with many artists, including lighting sound and  audiovisual creatives getting employment in the weeks running up to Christmas.  The main criticism was that many in the sector did not benefit from the scheme as the amount available was just €5m. Given that the new scheme amounts to five times the level of the pilot, I am confident that funding will now reach right across the live performance sector.  

An allocation of €14m will be made available for a new scheme to make a contribution to the overheads of businesses, specifically musicians and related crew, that have been significantly negatively affected by COVID-19 and that do not qualify for other business supports.  The main features of this new Music Entertainment Business Assistance Scheme (MEBAS) will see support offered by way of two levels of flat payments:

- €2,500 for businesses with a VAT-exclusive turnover of €20,000 - €100,000;

- €5,000 for businesses with a VAT-exclusive turnover in excess of €100,000.

Under the scheme, musicians, singers, lighting and sound crew and audio  equipment suppliers -  whether sole traders, partnerships or incorporated entities - operating exclusively within the commercial live entertainment sector will be eligible to apply. The scheme will open when the necessary administrative and IT systems are in place.  The eligibility threshold of €20,000 aims to strike an appropriate balance having regard to other available supports and the need to reach as many professional musicians and crew as possible.

Legislative Process

 562. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin the details of the process through which her Department drafts and produces legislation; if her Department outsources the drafting of legislation; if so, the Bills for which the drafting was outsourced since she took office; and the costs associated with the drafting of each Bill. [14429/21]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin The drafting of legislation in my Department is carried out in accordance with the procedures set in the Cabinet Handbook.  I am advised that, since its establishment,  my Department has not outsourced the drafting of any legislation and that accordingly no costs have been incurred in that regard.

  Question No. 563 answered with Question No. 554.

Sports Funding

 564. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin the status of a grant for a club (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14553/21]

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 and Equipment Programme is the primary vehicle for Government support for the development of sports and physical recreation facilities and the purchase of non-personal sports equipment throughout the country.

The 2020 round of the Sports Capital and Equipment Programme closed for applications on Monday 1st  March. By the closing date, 3,106 applications were submitted seeking over €200m in funding. This is the highest number of applications ever received.

  The scoring system and assessment procedures are currently being finalised and all applications, including the application referred to by the Deputy, will be assessed in accordance with these.  Given the large number of applications received this assessment process is likely to take several months.  As soon as this process is complete all applicants will be informed of the outcome of the assessment of their application.

Sports Funding

 565. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin the amount of funding and or grants provided by Sport Ireland to a club (details supplied) since its formation on an annual basis. [14555/21]

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 funded by my Department, is the statutory body with responsibility for the development of sport, increasing participation at all levels and raising standards, including the allocation of funding across its various programmes. Sport Ireland does not however, provide direct funding for clubs or individuals but instead channels the funding through the relevant National Governing Body.

In relation to my Department, the Sports Capital and Equipment Programme is the primary vehicle for Government support for the development of sports and physical recreation facilities and the purchase of non-personal sports equipment throughout the country. The club referred to by the Deputy, which I understand is newly formed, has not received funding under the scheme previously. It should be noted however that the 2020 round of the  Programme closed for applications on Monday 1st March and an application from the club has been received. By the closing date, 3,106 applications were submitted which is the highest number of applications ever received.  

The scoring system and assessment procedures are currently being finalised and all applications will be assessed in accordance with these.  Given the large number of applications received this assessment process is likely to take a number of months.  As soon as this process is complete all applicants, including the club referred to by the Deputy, will be informed of the outcome of the assessment of their application.

Water Quality

 566. Deputy Sorca Clarke Information on Sorca Clarke Zoom on Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin the measures that will be taken to maintain and improve the water quality as part of the Shannon tourism investment scheme. [14653/21]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin The Shannon Tourism Masterplan is a collaborative project involving Waterways Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and ten local authorities along the River Shannon and Shannon-Erne Waterway. 

Under the Masterplan, Fáilte Ireland will invest in the development of tourism infrastructure, products and experiences to help reposition the Shannon Region as a key tourism destination within Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.  I have referred the Deputy’s question to Fáilte Ireland to supply further information in relation to its plans for tourism investment in line with the Shannon Tourism Masterplan.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days. 

Other matters such as those referred to by the Deputy are not part of Fáilte Ireland's remit. In that regard, information on planned Waterways Ireland and/or local authority investment under this Masterplan is a matter for those public bodies.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 567. Deputy Chris Andrews Information on Chris Andrews Zoom on Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin when applicants for the tourism and business continuity scheme will be notified if they have been successful in their application for this grant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14665/21]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin The administration  of the Tourism Business Continuity Scheme is an operational matter for Fáilte Ireland. I have referred the Deputy's question to them for further details regarding the scheme.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Film Industry

 568. Deputy Richard O'Donoghue Information on Richard O'Donoghue Zoom on Richard O'Donoghue asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin if she will report on foreign production companies having an obligation to hire production and acting staff here given the financial exemptions they receive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14697/21]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin Section 481 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 and the Film Regulations 2019 made by the Revenue Commissioners on 27 March 2019, with the consent of the Ministers for Finance and Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media provide for corporation tax relief for the production of films by film production companies.  The relief is available to Irish based film production companies provided certain conditions, as laid out in statute and regulations, and as specified in the Certificate issued by the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media are met.

Tax relief under Section 481 relief is only available for the portion or element of the production of a film carried out in Ireland.

In 2019 Ireland became one of the first countries in Europe to have skills development linked to the qualification for the available film and TV tax credit.  Screen Skills Ireland is the skills development unit within Screen Ireland, and it provides continuing training and career development opportunities for professionals working in the screen sectors.

Sports Events

 569. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin her views on spectators attending European Championship matches in a stadium (details supplied); and if her Department is engaging with an organisation in relation to this matter. [14728/21]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin Dublin is due to host four games in June this year as part of the UEFA 2020 Championships. When UEFA took the decision to postpone these championships last year, they sought confirmation from the governing authorities of the 12 host cities that they were willing and able to host in June and July of 2021. In April 2020, the Government reconfirmed the guarantees required and confirmed that Ireland would host the matches.

At the request of UEFA, Dublin’s hosting partners – the FAI, Dublin City Council, Aviva Stadium and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media – are examining possible scenarios for staging the games scheduled for Dublin in this COVID-19 environment.  We are in constant dialogue with UEFA and our intention is to work to finalise our best possible scenario consistent with public health guidelines over the coming weeks.

Capital Expenditure Programme

 570. Deputy Richard Bruton Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin the five most recent significant capital projects in the major functional responsibilities of her Department which have required her sanction; the time which elapsed between the initial submission of the proposal for consideration until the construction commenced; the significant elements making up this period; the time spent in assessment prior to approval in the planning process; the time spent in assessment prior to approval in the procurement process of contractors; and the way this duration compared with the targeted time to delivery set out at the outset of the process. [14787/21]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin My Department's investment programme under the National Development Plan is set out in its sectoral plan "Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage – 2018 to 2027" and also includes elements of the "Linking People and Places" plan of the former Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.  The Department's investment programme includes capital projects, capital programmes and capital grant schemes.

  Major capital projects for which the Department is the approving authority are appraised, planned, implemented and evaluated in line with the revised Public Spending Code which includes the preparation of a Strategic Assessment Report, a Preliminary Business Case and Final Business Case and which require my sanction at key decision gates. Additionally, projects also have to adhere to the requirements of the Capital Works Management Framework (CWMF).

  The majority of my Department’s major capital projects, as distinct from capital programmes and grant schemes, fall within an ambitious €460 million programme of redevelopment and renovation of our National Cultural Institutions (NCIs). Considerable work has been undertaken to date in partnership with the NCIs themselves and with the OPW in advancing the NCI projects through the appraisal and design/planning stages as required under the Public Spending Code and CWMF. Other flagship projects include the development of a flagship Irish language and cultural centre in Dublin city centre and the redevelopment of the Royal Irish Academy of Music, in partnership with the Department of Education.  

  The five most recent significant capital projects which have received my, or my predecessor’s sanction under the Public Spending Code are set out below.  It should be noted that the process for appraising these projects includes extensive investigative and remedial works which will help shape and determine the final outcome.  All investigative and construction works are of course contingent on COVID-19 public health restrictions and guidelines currently in place.

Project Project Stage Most recent approval date Next Stage
National Archives Final Business Case March 2021 Construction
National Gallery of Ireland – Phase 4(a) Design/Planning November 2020 Final Business Case
Crawford Art Gallery Design/Planning September 2020 Final Business Case
Chester Beatty Library Preliminary Business Case July 2020 Design/Planning
National Concert Hall Preliminary Business Case March 2020 Design/Planning


  Work is also underway in respect of developing the design for the redevelopment of the West Wing of the National Library of Ireland, following the recent completion of the first phase of the project which saw the relocation of the collection to a new, state of the art book repository on the Kildare Street campus, and on the Preliminary Business Cases for the redevelopment of the Natural History Museum and the Abbey Theatre.

  Given the historic nature of the NCI buildings, their importance as major heritage and cultural assets, their status - in most cases - as protected structures, the deputy will appreciate that any interventions have to adhere to the highest national and international standards. This is reinforced by the various new processes introduced as part of the revised Public Spending Code which involves extensive consideration of all aspects of development.  This has meant more time than originally anticipated to deliver these projects but it is intended that they will continue to advance quickly through the remaining Public Spending Code stages over the next year.

  Question No. 571 answered with Question No. 561.

Ministerial Meetings

 572. 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 all meetings and events she has attended from 1 November 2020 to date and those attended by the Minister of State from 31 January 2021 to date; and if she plans to ensure the Ministerial diaries are made public on a regular basis. [15031/21]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin I can advise that my diary and my colleague, the Minister for State, Jack Chambers, T.D., diary are generally published quarterly.  However, arrangements have been made to publish up-dates of my diary on my  Department’s website, as of Monday 22nd March, 2021, with information inclusive of the dates to which you refer.

  Please see link here https://www.gov.ie/en/organisation-information/6e364-ministers-diaries/

  With regard to my colleague, Minister of State, Jack Chambers, T.D., given that his diary arrangements are done in conjunction with the Department of An Taoiseach the follow up-date to his diary  is provided in the table below.

Aire Dáta Cur síos
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 4 Feabhra, 2021 Cruinniú le oifigigh na Roinne agus an FAI
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 4 Feabhra, 2021 Cruinniú le Sport Ireland agus oifigigh na Roinne
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 5 Feabhra, 2021 Cruinniú le oifigigh na Roinne le Oifigigh Pleanála Teanga chun Bille na dTeangacha Oifigiúla (Leasú) a phlé
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 5 Feabhra, 2021 Cruinniú le Tuismitheoirí na Gaeltachta
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 8 Feabhra, 2021 Cruinniú le oifigigh na Roinne agus Friends of Irish Athletics
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 8 Feabhra, 2021 Cruinniú le oifigigh na Roinne agus IRFU
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 8 Feabhra, 2021 Cruinniú le oifigigh na Roinne agus GAA, Camogie & LGFA
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 8 Feabhra, 2021 Cruinniú le oifigigh na Roinne & Olympic Federation of Ireland
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 9 Feabhra, 2021 Cruinniú leis an Aire Coveney
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 9 Feabhra, 2021 Cruinniú leis na hAirí Martin, Chambers agus Oifigigh na Roinne
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 10 Feabhra, 2021 Cruinniú le C.R.O.
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 11 Feabhra, 2021 Cruinniú leis na hAirí Martin, Chambers agus oifigigh na Roinne ar an Ráiteas Stráitéise ar taobh an Ghaeltacht de
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 11 Feabhra, 2021 Cruinniú leis na hAirí Martin, Chambers agus oifigigh na Roinne ar an Ráiteas Stráitéise ar taobh Spórt
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 15 Feabhra, 2021 Cruinniú le toscaireacht faoi Hallaí Pobail Chonamara
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 15 Feabhra, 2021 Cruinniú le Glór nan Gael
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 18 Feabhra, 2021 Cruinniú leis na hAirí agus an Bórd Bainistíochta
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 19 Feabhra, 2021 Griangraf le Sport Ireland
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 19 Feabhra, 2021 Taifead físeáin do Conradh na Gaeilge
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 24 Feabhra, 2021 Cruinniú leis an tAire James Browne ar cearrbhachás sa Spórt
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 26 Feabhra, 2021 Cruinniú le oifigigh na Roinne ar an Plean Forbartha Náisiúnta
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 26 Feabhra, 2021 Cruinniú le Paralympics Ireland
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 1 Márta, 2021 Fóram bliantúil ‘Federation of Irish Sport’
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 1 Márta, 2021 Cruinniú le Sport Ireland
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 3 Márta, 2021 Raiteas ar an nGaeilge agus ar an nGaeltacht sa Dáil i rith Seachtain na Gaeilge
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 4 Márta, 2021 Girls Get Active – grianghraf
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 4 Márta, 2021 Taifeadh físeáin le haghaidh Seachtain na Gaeilge
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 4 Márta, 2021 Cruinniú leis an AS agus ‘Young Voices on Sport’ comhairliúcháin
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 5 Márta, 2021 Comhdháil Óstaí na Rí maidir le deiseanna fostaíochta mar dhlítheangeolaithe leis an AE
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 8 Márta, 2021 Webinar do Sport Ireland – Women in Sport
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 8 Márta, 2021 Cruinniú le Sport Ireland
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 8 Márta, 2021 Raiteas ar an nGaeilge sa Seanad
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 9 Márta, 2021 Cruinniú leis an AS agus Conradh na Gaeilge
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 9 Márta, 2021 Cruinniú leis an AS, oifigigh agus ‘Kildare/Meath and Waterford GAA’
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 9 Márta, 2021 Cruinniú leis an AS, oifigigh faoi US College Football Classic 5 year series
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 10 Márta, 2021 Cruinniú leis na hAirí Chambers agus Byrne agus institúidí AE i rith Seachtain na Gaeilge
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 11 Márta, 2021 Cruinniú leis na hAirí agus an Bórd Bainistíochta
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 12 Márta, 2021 Cruinniú le muintir Ciarraí Theas faoi cursaí oidheachas sa Ghaeltacht (SnaG)
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 12 Márta, 2021 Cruinniú le muintir Chiarraí Theas faoi cursaí Pobail agus Teanga sa Ghaeltacht (SnaG)
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 12 Márta, 2021 Cruinniú le muintir Chiarraí Theas faoi cursaí Spóirt sa Ghaeltacht
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 15 Márta, 2021 Cruinniú leis an AS Chambers agus foireann Abair.ie (SnaG)
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 15 Márta, 2021 Seisiúin cheoil leis an AS Chambers agus déagóirí ó Scoil na Crannóige, Ghaoth Dobhair (SnaG)
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 16 Márta, 2021 Cruinniú leis an AS, oifigigh agus Federation of Irish Sport
Minister of State Jack Chambers T.D. 16 Márta, 2021 Cruinniú leis an AS, oifigigh na Roinne agus foireann Techspace (SnaG)

Covid-19 Pandemic

 573. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin if she has conducted a risk assessment and/or received updated advice regarding the resumption of indoor non-contact training and non-contact indoor sports and or activities and dancing classes for amateur teams and persons. [15055/21]

 574. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin if she has conducted a risk assessment and/or received updated advice regarding the resumption of outdoor non-contact training and non-contact outdoor sports and/or activities for amateur teams and persons; if the return to sport expert group and Sport Ireland have reported to her in respect of their review of national governing bodies of sport submissions; and if she will publish its report. [15056/21]

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 propose to take Questions Nos. 573 and 574 together.

Insofar as risk assessment and advice is concerned, the position is as advised previously to the Deputy. The Expert Group on Return to Sport, which is chaired by my Department, provides relevant advice to the sporting bodies to inform their own risk assessment, and the majority of sporting bodies have put in place appropriate COVID-19 protocols to mitigate the risk of transmission at training and competitive events. NPHET provides broad public health advice to Government in relation to the overall Covid-19 response, which is then considered by Government. 

In relation to the resumption of sporting activity, the Government has agreed that the current public health restrictions on sport and exercise will remain in place until 5 April. The current epidemiological situation is such that it does not permit Government consideration at this time of the resumption of sporting activity. The Government's clear message at the present time is for people to stay in their homes, unless necessary for those essential reasons set out in the public health regulations.

In the context of the recent publication of the COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery Plan 2021 – The Path Ahead, the Government has agreed that the public health restrictions will be subject to ongoing review taking account of the evolving epidemiological situation and available evidence in relation to vaccine deployment, uptake and effectiveness. The public health advice is that it is too early to say how and when other restrictions should be eased given current uncertainties. Government will meet in advance of the 5th of April to review the level of restrictions. The focus of the assessment, based on the public health advice, will be on achieving the following before any significant easing of measures is contemplated:

1. Disease prevalence (case numbers/incidence) is brought to much lower levels that can be managed and controlled by public health and that the reproduction number (“R” number) is such that we can be confident that we can continue to suppress the disease e.g. at or below 1.

2. Hospital and critical care occupancy are reduced to low levels to protect the health service and allow for the safe resumption of non-COVID-19 care.

3. Ongoing and steady progress on the vaccination programme such that the most vulnerable are protected through vaccination.

4. Emerging information on variants of concern.

Any easing of measures should be slow and gradual with sufficient time between phases to assess impact and to respond if the epidemiological situation was to deteriorate. It will take account of emerging international and national evidence and experience and with a specific focus on supporting mental health and wellbeing. The Government has agreed that the following areas may be considered if the situation improves sufficiently:

- Some easing of restrictions on outdoor activities and meetings beyond 1 other household.

- Consideration of extending the current 5km limit.

- Staggered start of easing of other areas of activity with a focus on outdoor activities including sport and some areas of construction.

The process of evaluating the 44 submissions made by National Governing Bodies of sport in response to my invitation ongoing. Minister Martin and I are continuing our engagement with Sport Ireland and the sporting bodies with a view to bringing proposals at the appropriate time for consideration by Government, in consultation with NPHET and the public health authorities.

Tourism Promotion

 575. 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 the position regarding plans by Fáilte Ireland for the marketing and branding of Killarney, County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15060/21]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin The matter raised by the Deputy is an operational matter for Fáilte Ireland. I have referred the Deputy's question to them for further details.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Tourism Project Funding

 576. 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 when she expects Fáilte Ireland’s platforms for growth capital funding recipients to be announced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15061/21]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin Platforms for Growth is Fáilte Ireland's platform-based approach to large-scale capital investment in tourism product, and targets investment in line with specific "platforms" identified as a priority for tourists on the basis of research and insights.

As the administration of this scheme is an operational matter for Fáilte Ireland, I have referred the Deputy’s question to the agency for direct response to the Deputy with further information in respect of any forthcoming funding announcements.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Tourism Promotion

 577. 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 the status of the destination town initiative in respect of Tralee, County Kerry; the breakdown of expenditure in Tralee under the initiative to date; the future schedule for Tralee under the initiative; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15062/21]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin Fáilte Ireland’s Destination Towns initiative is a capital investment scheme for Local Authorities to enhance public spaces in developed and emerging tourism destinations in a way that will engage tourists and enhance their experience. 

As the administration of this scheme is an operational matter for Fáilte Ireland, I have referred the Deputy’s question to the agency to supply information in respect of Tralee.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Departmental Transport

 578. 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 the number of vehicles owned or leased and operated by her Department and agencies and semi-State companies under her remit broken down by the number of ICE and non-ICE vehicles and fuel category, that is, petrol, diesel, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric and so on; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15128/21]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin I am advised that  my Department does not operate any vehicles .

  The table below sets out the information requested in respect of  those vehicles operated by bodies under the aegis of my Department.

Agency Vehicles

(Petrol)
Vehicles

(Diesel)
Vehicles

(Hybrid)
Total Number of ICE Vehicles  Non ICE Vehicles

(All Electric)
Total Number of all Vehicles 
An Foras Teanga - 2 - - 2
Irish Museum of Modern Art 1 - - 1 - 1
National Gallery of Ireland - 1 - 1 - 1
RTÉ 19 87 - 106 - 106
Sport Ireland Facilities DAC* 13 - 15 2 17
TG4 - 2 3 5 - 5
Údarás na Gaeltachta - 6 - 6 - 6


  * Sport Ireland Facilities DAC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sport Ireland and is responsible for the day-to-day management and operation of the sporting facilities at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 579. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin if she will address the issues raised by a person (details supplied) regarding the need to protect the events industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15134/21]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin I am acutely aware of the challenges facing those who rely on live performance to sustain their livelihoods on foot of necessary public health restrictions. The Government's response to the impact of the pandemic on the sector and the economy generally is comprised of a broad range of supports delivered across a range of Departments.  The Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme  and the COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme form the principle elements of the Government's response.  The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment recently announced the Small Business Assistance Scheme for Covid (SBASC) as a further horizontal support across all sectors of the economy.  SMEs and Businesses in the non-funded live events sector are eligible to apply under this scheme.

  I was pleased to recently announce a new €50 million suite of additional measures to further support those in the Live Entertainment Sector. As part of this suite, an allocation of €25 million is being made available under the Live Performance Support Scheme 2021.  This scheme builds on the successful outcomes of the pilot Live Performance Support Scheme (LPSS) in 2020, which provided thousands of days of employment to hundreds of musicians, actors, crew and technicians in tandem with a pipeline of high quality on-line much needed entertainment for Irish audiences.

  The 2021 scheme is aimed at supporting employment and wellbeing opportunities across all genres and the continued production of high quality artistic output for the public. This scheme has been developed following consultation with the sector and will be managed directly by my Department.

  An allocation of €5 million will be made available to local authorities for live performances in summer 2021 to animate town centres, should public health considerations permit.  This will allow for the procurement by local authorities of performances by local performers.  Performances can be recorded or streamed if health restrictions prevent live events.  Local authorities will be encouraged to engage events companies to develop and deliver a programme of performances. 

  As a further support measure for those in the live entertainment industry, an allocation of €14m will be made available for a new scheme to make a contribution to the overheads of businesses, specifically musicians and related crew, that have been significantly negatively affected by COVID-19 and that do not qualify for other business supports.  The main features of this new Music Entertainment Business Assistance Scheme (MEBAS) will see support offered by way of two levels of flat payments:

  - €2,500 for businesses with a VAT-exclusive turnover of €20,000 - €100,000;

  - €5,000 for businesses with a VAT-exclusive turnover in excess of €100,000.

  Under the scheme, musicians, singers, lighting and sound crew and audio  equipment suppliers -  whether sole traders, partnerships or incorporated entities - operating exclusively within the commercial live entertainment sector will be eligible to apply. The scheme will open when the necessary administrative and IT systems are in place.

  €5 million will also be made available for a scheme of capital supports for the commercial live entertainment sector. This will be applied to supporting the installation of high quality recording and streaming facilities in venues through a competitive grant application process.

  Further information on the business and financial supports my colleague the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment has in place to help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis can be viewed at the following link https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/.

Media Pluralism

 580. Deputy Marian Harkin Information on Marian Harkin Zoom on Marian Harkin asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin if she will examine the concentration of local media ownership by a group (details supplied) which has resulted in layoffs of personnel vital to maintaining the content, quality and continuity of the newspapers involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15291/21]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin Under the Competition Act 2002 (as amended), proposed mergers or acquisitions meeting certain criteria must be notified to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, CCPC. The CCPC must then examine the notification and decide if the merger may proceed on competition grounds. Media mergers which have received the CCPC's determination to proceed must also be notified to me as Minister. 

Upon notification, a phase 1 examination of the merger is carried out by my Department. The purpose of the examination is to ensure that a notified media merger will not be contrary to the public interest in protecting the plurality of media in the State. Each merger is examined on its own merits in line with the relevant criteria set out in the Competition Act and the media mergers guidelines, both of which are available on my Department's website.

Following this examination, I have three options under the legislation, which are to allow the merger to proceed, to allow the merger to proceed with conditions or to ask the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, BAI, to conduct a more in-depth or phase 2 examination of the proposed merger. If the latter is the case, then the BAI will provide me with a report detailing its recommendations on the matter.

It is important to note that while the local/regional newspaper sector is a very important source of information for the public, it is one element of the overall media market in the State. The merger activity in this particular sub sector has had no significant impact to date on the overall diversity of news and current affairs content available to audiences. For each merger, I must assess the impact of the proposed transaction not only on the print sector, but also on the television, radio and internet media sectors as well.

Tourism Funding

 581. 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  if funding or grants are available to the owners of holiday parks, sites or facilities that provide services to mobile home owners; if consideration has been given to financial assistance for the sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15332/21]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin The July Stimulus and Budget 2021 provided a significant package of tax and fiscal measures to build the resilience of the economy and to help vulnerable but viable businesses across all sectors. In regard to tourism, these measures include:

- The first phase of  the Tourism Business Continuity Scheme was launched on 11th  February by Fáilte Ireland to help strategic tourism business survive the pandemic and drive recovery. The Scheme will contribute to the fixed costs of identified tourism businesses that are not eligible for CRSS to support their survival.  It will provide an equitable level of payment to the CRSS for qualifying businesses and the first phase will cover businesses such as tourism attractions, activity providers, and caravan and camping sites.

- A €26m adaptation fund for the tourism sector to adapt their premises to meet COVID-19 safety requirements. 

- In addition, the Government has introduced a number of horizontal measures that have been of assistance to the tourism sector including the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, the Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), tax warehousing, and the Commercial Rates waiver. 

The measures introduced have been critical in assisting tourism businesses to survive the hugely challenging situation brought about by the pandemic. Unfortunately, the evolution of the pandemic in Ireland and elsewhere has meant that our tourism sector has remained in survival mode.  

On 23 February the Government published COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021 The Path Ahead.  The Government also decided to support businesses, including tourism businesses, by extending the COVID Restrictions Support Scheme, the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme, and the current commercial rates waiver for a further three months.  The Pandemic Unemployment Payment was also extended until end-June.

The Government has also committed to publishing a National Economic Recovery Plan.  As part of the Plan the Government will consider more targeted measures to help re-boot those sectors, such as tourism, who will face particular challenges during the recovery phase when the economy reopens.

In regard to further information on supports for the tourism sector I have referred the Deputy's question to Fáilte Ireland for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 582. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin if her attention had been drawn to the fact that the cut-off date for certain Fáilte Ireland pandemic support schemes will fall at the end of March 2021; her plans to top up and or fund new schemes through Fáilte Ireland; and if she will address tourism sectors such as destination management companies and tour operators that may not be eligible for the Covid restrictions support scheme and/or COVID business aid scheme through her Department and or Fáilte Ireland. [15377/21]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin I understand that the Deputy is referring to the Tourism Business Continuity Scheme. The first phase closed for applications on 8th March and phase 2 will be launched shortly. The scheme is administered by Fáilte Ireland and I have referred the Deputy's question to Fáilte Ireland for further information on this scheme and  direct reply to the Deputy.  Please contact my private office if you have not received a reply within ten working days.

The Deputy will be aware that €10m was made available under the Ireland Based Inbound Agents Business Continuity Scheme, to assist Republic of Ireland based Inbound Tour Operators, Destination Management Companies and Professional Conference Organisers who package, sell and distribute Ireland’s tourism product overseas and who have suffered significant losses as a result of COVID-19.  This scheme closed for applications on 8th December, 2020 with all payments from the scheme completed by 29th January 2021.

The Government is committed to supporting tourism through this difficult period and to working towards reopening and recovery. As set out in "The Path Ahead", the Government will consider more targeted measures to help reboot those sectors, such as tourism, which will face particular challenges during the recovery phase when the economy reopens.


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