Speech by Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, at the opening of the Creative Ireland Forum


Taoiseach, Commissioner,  members of the Oireachtas, ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to welcome you to the first Creative Ireland Forum here in the wonderful St. Patrick’s Hall in Dublin Castle – in such surroundings, you can really feel the impact of culture and creativity at play.

Tugann Fóram an lae inniu deis iontach domsa mar Aire nua Cutúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta blaiseadh a fháil den dea-obair atá bainte amach ag Clár Éire Ildánach le bliain anuas.

Tugann Clár Éire Ildánach deis iontach dúinn ceiliúradh a dhéanamh ar ár gcruthaíocht agus ar ár gcultúr agus tá mé ag súil go mór le h-éifeacht an Chláir a threisiú an bhliain seo chugainn.

As a new Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht it is great to see first-hand how the Creative Ireland Programme  has impacted  over the last year and where it can make a difference as we bring the Programme forward into its second year and beyond.

I would like to welcome Commissioner Navracsics to Ireland – while it’s his first visit in an official capacity I do know that he attended the All-Ireland hurling final in 2015 so the Forum has quite a lot to live up to in the excitement stakes but we’ll do our best!

The Creative Ireland Programme is a whole of Government initiative which grew out of the success of the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme which saw an extraordinary public response to the Centenary right across the country.  There were thousands of events at home and abroad – largely culture-based – and unprecedented public participation.

That experience brought us together in a shared reflection on identity, culture and citizenship  – which combined history with arts, heritage and language. This is something Commissioner, that I know interests you greatly.  Our children and young people in particular responded in the most creative ways imaginable.

There have been some real successes for the Creative Ireland Programme and its key partners.

Just last week we launched Creative Youth, a plan to enable the creative potential of every child and young person – a collaborative effort between my own Department, the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Arts Council.  Minister Bruton will elaborate on this later.

Our local authority network of Culture Teams are perhaps the most important partners we have in the process. I would really like to welcome them all here today.  You are the ones who are really enabling cultural participation and creativity at grassroots level and I thank you for your commitment to this process.

At its core, however, the Creative Ireland Programme is a wellbeing strategy whereby our lives are enriched through culture and creativity. We can explore today how to embed this strategy in all our public policies and really put those words into concrete, tangible actions.

I am really looking forward to hearing how creativity can positively impact on health outcomes – which is a particular focus today.  I am also looking forward to hearing to how we better support and build our creative industries.

I would like to also mention the European Year of Cultural Heritage which Commissioner Navracsics will speak about later. Our cultural heritage forms an integral part of the fabric of our lives and wider society. It is made up of our built and natural surroundings, our literature, art, and crafts, the stories we tell, the food we eat, our language, the songs we sing and the films we watch. Cultural heritage underpins the  understanding of who we are which in turn informs our own unique creativity.  Next year we will support our communities in their engagement with and appreciation of Ireland’s cultural heritage as part of our shared European heritage. This shared heritage is even more striking in the context of our nearest neighbour exiting the EU.

Talking about Ireland’s cultural heritage I was delighted with the announcement last week that Uilleann Piping had been inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This is a wonderful affirmation of the value of one of the most distinct musical forms to be found anywhere in the world – music which instantly transports you back to Ireland no matter where you are.  I’m really looking forward to the performance later on by Maitiú Ó Casaide and I hope you enjoy it too.

Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil cuid mhór de chairde Éire Ildánach anseo inniu.  Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil libh go léir as bhur fuinneamh agus díograis. Is dúshlán mór dúinn é Clár Éire Ildánach a chur i bhfeidhm ar fud na tíre. Ach is fiú go mór é.

Mar a deir an seanfhocal – ní neart go cur le chéile!

Finally, I know many of our Creative Ireland partners are here today, representatives of the National Cultural Institutions, our Departmental colleagues across Government, the Arts Council, the Heritage Council and our local government Network – among others.  I would like to thank all of you for your commitment, energy and enthusiasm.  New projects such as the Creative Ireland Programme can be challenging at the start but I think we are well on the road to real collaborative working and I hope we can build on this.

I’d like to leave you with a short video which highlights some of the key achievements.

Go raibh maith agaibh go léir.

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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