11/07/2014 Statement by Jimmy Deenihan T.D., outgoing Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Statement by Jimmy Deenihan T.D., outgoing Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Friday, 11 July, 2014:
It has been a great honour and a privilege to serve as Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht since 2011. I would like to thank An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, for asking me to serve around the Cabinet table.
This Government came to power at a time when the country was facing an unparalleled economic crisis. However, I can testify that within the Government, the Fine Gael and Labour parties made every decision with a view to restoring Irish economic sovereignty. I feel that much has been achieved in these past three years.
Arts and Culture
Over this period, I have been proud to progress a number of very important initiatives in the arts. The arts help to foster creativity, they challenge us, and they teach us about ourselves, which is the principal reason why I and the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn, drove the ‘Arts in Education Charter’.
I was delighted to set in train the drawing up of a National Culture Policy, which will lay down the aims of the Government in the area of culture, for the period up until 2025.
I am proud of the series of reforms to cultural institutions that my Department has brought forward since I took office. The reforms have already brought value for the taxpayer, with institutions sharing common services like marketing and human resources. I was happy to secure the funding needed to allow the €26m refurbishment of the National Gallery, now in its 150th year, to proceed. Funding was also secured to allow the phased development of the National Concert Hall to begin next year.
I am pleased with the success of the National City of Culture programme in Limerick, which has played host to many acclaimed events and has embraced the historic designation with pride.
I have strongly encouraged funding through philanthropy. While public funding will remain the bedrock of how we support art, culture, film and heritage, I firmly believe that we should continue to add to that through sponsorship and philanthropy.
The National Archives are the custodians of our national memory, and I was very pleased to ensure that a worldwide audience can now benefit from their newly digitised collections. Online access to the 1901 and 1911 censuses has been hugely important. I am also happy that funding is secured for the first phase of the refurbishment of the National Archives HQ at Bishop Street, Dublin, to proceed in 2015.
The promotion of film in Ireland has been a major focus throughout my term in office. I was delighted that, following consultations with the Minister for Finance, the Irish tax incentive for film and television, ‘Section 481’, was extended to 2020 and its current value was increased from 28% to 32% of qualifying expenditure from 2015. This gave a great deal of security to the Irish audio-visual sector and had led to an almost 25% increase in total production investment in film and audio-visual production in Ireland.
As Minister with responsibility for leading the Commemorations and Decade of Centenaries Programme, I initiated a comprehensive programme of commemorative events relating to that tumultuous decade that shaped modern Ireland. I wish to thank the Oireachtas All-Party Consultation Group on Commemorations and the Expert Advisory Group on Commemorations for their hard work and wish them every success with their ongoing activities.
I believe that the decision I made in relation to Moore Street will secure the future of one of the most important sites in modern Irish history. Together with the interpretive centre planned for the GPO, the Moore Street commemorative centre will provide a key focal point for our commemoration of the events, the people, and the sacrifices they made in 1916. I was also delighted that the Bank of Ireland responded to my initiative to provide space at College Green in Dublin for a new Cultural and Heritage Centre.
Great progress has been made in implementing the 20-year Strategy for Irish, particularly with the enactment of the Gaeltacht Act 2012.
Since taking office in 2011, I have led my Department in managing the extremely challenging issue of turf-cutting on Ireland’s designated raised bogs – Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) – and succeeded in keeping Ireland out of the EU Court of Justice, while putting in place a significant compensation arrangement for those affected by turf-cutting cessation. The issue of managing peatlands also needed strategic vision. I was proud to deliver in January of this year, Ireland’s first draft National Peatlands Strategy.
On the broader issue of Ireland’s landscape, I secured Government approval for a pioneering draft National Landscape Strategy – the first ever such strategy- which will allow for greater awareness, protection and consistency around issues of Irish landscape.
The past and the future
These past three years I have been privileged to have the support of my officials in the Department who have provided me with sound advice and guidance and who have worked diligently in implementing new reforms and policies. I would like to thank them for their commitment and hard work over the years. I would also like to acknowledge the ongoing support of Minister of State Dinny McGinley. And I would like to sincerely thank my wife Mary, my family, friends, supporters and staff for their encouragement throughout my tenure as Minister.
I wish my successor, Heather Humphreys, the best of luck in the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and to assure her of my full support. I now look forward to working with the global Irish Diaspora in my new role as Minister of State in the Taoiseach’s Office.