Dáil Éireann - Volume 567 - 22 May, 2003

Arts Bill 2002: Report and Final Stages.

  An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I wish to draw the attention of Members to an error on the amendment list of the Arts Bill 2002: The order of amendments Nos. 40 and 41 should be reversed that is, amendment No. 40 should be numbered No. 41 and amendment No. 41 should be numbered No. 40.

  Amendment No. 2 is an alternative to amendment No. 1 and the amendments may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

  Aengus Ó Snodaigh: I move amendment No. 1:

    In page 3, line 15, to delete “the Arts Act, 2002 ” and substitute “Acht an Ealaíon 2003”.

Is é atá mé ag iarraidh a dhéanamh ins an leasú seo ná tús áite a thabhairt i gcónaí do theideal Gaeilge Bhille, toisc gurb í an Ghaeilge príomh theanga na tíre, de réir an Bhunreachta. In aon Acht, fiú agus é i mBéarla, ba chóir go mbéadh teideal oifigiúil na reachtaíochta i nGaeilge. Is é ba chóir a bheith anseo ná An Acht Ealaíon 2003. Le tamall anuas tá an Ghaeilge ag dul siar ón áit cheart ar chóir a bheith aici maidir le páipéarachas, le stáiseanóireacht agus le haon rud eile a bhaineann leis an Stát chóras. Feicimid i gcónaí go mbíonn an teideal Gaeilge ar chomharthaí bóithre, mar shampla, níos lú ná an teideal Bhéarla nó gurb é an tarna teideal a léitear. Ní bhfaigheann an Ghaeilge tús áite ar chóir di a fháil de réir an Bhunreachta. Agus muid ag déileáil leis an mBille seo agus ag smaoineamh ar Bhille na dTeangacha Oifigúla, a bhéas os comhair na Dála i gceann cupla uair a chloig agus a thabharfaidh stádas cuí don nGaeilge sa Stát choras, ba chóir glacadh leis an leasú seo.

  Aontaím lena bhfuil molta i leasú a 2 ach b'fhéidir gur chóir Acht Chomhairle na nEalaíon 2003 a bheith ann seachas Arts Council Act 2003. Má fhéachtar ar an mBille atá os ár gcomhair feictear nach bhfuil sé ag déileáil leis na healaíona iontu féin. Níl i gceist ach conas an Chomhairle Ealaíon a bhunadh, conas í a ríarú, conas mar a chaitheann an chomhairle leis an Teach seo agus conas mar a chaitheann an t-Aire leis an gcomhairle. Beidh an chomhairle ag déileáil leis na healaíona, ar ndóigh, ach ní Bille chun cur chun [584]cinn na n-ealaíon atá anseo ach Bille chun comhairle nua a bunadh.

  Mr. Deenihan: We have arrived at Report Stage after a long, drawn-out period of consultation and the discussion of various reports, a long Second Stage in this House and a Committee Stage that took three days. The initial contents of the Bill have been watered down considerably. Various recommendations were made towards a new framework and a review of arts legislation in the discussion paper first published in 2000 that went out to all interest groups. The large number of recommendations and questions raised therein were certainly not included in this Bill.

  The report compiled by Theo Dorgan on the submissions received in response to Towards a New Framework for the Arts, which numbered in excess of 230; the report backed by PricewaterhouseCoopers on the strategic review of the arts plan 1995-98; The Creative Imperative: A Report on Support for the Individual Artist in Ireland; and a report on the music industry, together with a number of other reports, have all come together. We must consider this Bill on Irish arts legislation in that context as these reports prompted the former Minister to introduce it.

  Most of the recommendations contained in the various reports are not reflected at all in the Bill's contents. It is inaccurate to call it the Arts Bill 2002. It should be called the Arts Council Bill 2002 as it deals essentially with the workings of that organisation, its future relationship with the Minister and the abandonment, more or less, of the arm's length approach, except when it comes to grants – and there is even a question mark about that. It also deals to some extent with membership of the Arts Council, which I understand the Minister will be changing to 12 rather than eight, only five fewer than in the original Bill.

  The Bill does not really deal with anything else. The standing committees proposed, which some people regarded as innovative, have now been scrapped. We are left with special committees which the Arts Act 1973 could have allowed for. If this is to be a real Arts Act, it should include reference to the country's major cultural institutions, such as the National Concert Hall, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Theatre, the National Gallery, the Chester Beatty Library, the National Museum and the proposed new national centre for the performing arts, which will now probably not proceed. The Bill should have made more expansive reference to the Irish language. It certainly cannot be regarded as an Arts Act. It makes no mention whatsoever of the individual artist – surely any Arts Bill worthy of the name should make some provision for or reference to the individual artist.

  If one examines the previous two Acts, one sees that the present Bill does not differ greatly, apart from the issues of Arts Council membership and the arm's length approach. Let us look at legislation in other jurisdictions. The United Kingdom has the Arts Council of Great Britain [585]Acts 1946, 1967 and 1994. There is the Australia Council Act 1975, the Arts Council (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 and the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Act 1994. Other jurisdictions refer to this legislation as the Arts Council Acts. To have an accurate reflection of content in the title, this Bill should also be called the Arts Council Act.

  Former Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, reflecting on the Arts Act 1973, and expressing disappointment with its content, said that we needed a much more expansive piece of legislation to reflect the arts in this country. The arts in this country have certainly moved on a great deal over the past 30 years. Now, more than ever, we need the type of expansive legislation to which Mr. Haughey referred. I suggest to the Minister – he can accept this – that the Bill should be called the Arts Council Bill 2002 and the subsequent Act the Arts Council Act 2003.

  Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism (Mr. O'Donoghue): Ar an gcéad dul síos, caithfidh mé a rá go bhfuil an tAcht seo scríofa as Béarla, agus is í an chomhairle a fuair mé ná gur cheart go mbeadh an teideal as Béarla freisin. Caithfidh mé a rá freisin go mbeidh an tAcht féin ar fáil as Gaeilge chomh maith. Tá neart sa Bhille seo. Leathnaíonn sé na cumhachtaí a bheidh ag an Aire agus ag na comhairlí ar fud na tíre. Nuair a bheidh an Bille seo ar fáil mar Acht, is é mo thuairim féin go mbeimid in ann na healaíona in Éirinn a chur ar aghaidh agus a chur chun cinn.

  The advice I have received is that because the Bill is written in English, it is appropriate that its title be in English too. Additionally, I should say that the legislation will of course be available in Irish. The argument that the legislation itself deals only with the Arts Council is not correct. For example, the Minister's powers are laid out in this legislation. So too are the functions of local authorities in so far as they affect the arts. One must also remember that the legislation makes very definitive statements regarding the Minister's policy functions and his powers in that respect.

  It is also important that I point out that there is already legislation on our Statute Book dealing with the cultural institutions. Should it become necessary to make amendments to facilitate their further growth, it would be appropriate to enact legislation amending that. It would not be appropriate to introduce provisions in the Arts Bill dealing with the cultural institutions when they have legislation of their own.

  Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Níl mé chun am fhada a chaitheamh ag déileáil leis seo. Is é an teideal atá ar an mBille ná An Bille Ealaíon 2002, mar de ghnáth léitear an rud atá ar bharr an leathnaigh ar dtús. Sin an teideal ar chóir a bheith ann. Ba chóir dúinn tús a chur leis an gcleachtadh go mbeadh sé scríofa mar sin ins an Acht nuair a foilsíter é i mBéarla agus Arts Act 2003 i lúibiní in aice leis, má's gá.

[586]  Mr. Deenihan: Regarding local authorities, the Minister mentioned that there was provision in this Bill which was not in previous Bills. One of the features of the 1973 Bill was that the then Taoiseach, Mr. Cosgrave, introduced an amendment to the 1951 Act giving a role to local authorities in the promotion of the arts. It is already catered for in the 1973 Act. I agree with the Minister that if we want to roll out the arts to all parts of the country, local authorities are a very important vehicle and should be supported more, especially in terms of funding.

  The main provision in this Bill is the changing of the Minister's role in regard to the Arts Council. The membership of the Arts Council was supposed to be reduced to a small number. The standing committees which created so much controversy have all been changed. The thrust of the Bill is to move from a position where there was clear State support to one where there is an inference of State control. In regard to the future direction of the arts in this country, that is a dangerous departure. While I outlined on Committee Stage the various reasons I thought so and do not want to repeat myself here, that is my greatest reservation regarding this legislation.

  Question, “That the words proposed to be deleted stand”, put and declared carried.

  Amendment declared lost.

  Amendment No. 2 not moved.

  Acting Chairman: Amendments Nos. 3, 7, 9, 10 and 19 are related and may be taken together, by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

  Mr. O'Donoghue: I move amendment No. 3:

    In page 3, between lines 23 and 24, to insert the following:

      “ ‘Act of 2001' means the Local Government Act 2001;”.

Section 6 of the Bill provides that a local authority shall prepare and implement plans for the development of the arts and provide such financial or other assistance as it considers appropriate in relation to the arts within its functional area. The effect of this amendment is to provide that where the term “local authority” is used in the Bill, it shall mean city and county councils rather than all local authorities.

  The term “local authority” as defined in the Local Government Act 2001 extends to 114 local authorities, including former town commissioners and town councils. I am advised that it would not be appropriate to apply this provision to these smaller bodies which have more limited functions. Accordingly, it is proposed to amend this provision so that it applies to city councils and county councils only. These are the bodies which currently have a local arts function and engage arts officers.

[587]  Mr. Deenihan: From my experience, the town council in Listowel, which was in the news for different reasons recently, plays a very important role in regard to the arts. It has contributed considerably to the development of the arts in the town. For example, the St. John's arts and heritage centre was originally a council initiative. The Minister might clarify whether this amendment will rule out the involvement of a local town council such as Listowel's. Is this measure only for county and city councils such as those in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Galway? Will it take from towns such as Listowel which played such an important role in developing the arts?

  Listowel is just an example of what is happening in towns across the country. Local town councils could have an important influence on the promotion of the arts locally. The Minister should explain how town councils would be affected by this amendment in regard to their promotion of the arts.

  Mr. O'Donoghue: The legislation being presented will not in any way restrict town councils from carrying out certain functions in relation to the arts if they so wish. However, the legislation will limit the obligations under the legislation to the local authorities which I have mentioned. In other words, there will be an obligation under the legislation on local authorities, as defined, to prepare and implement the development of the arts within their functional areas and, in so doing, take account of the policies of the Government in regard to the arts. That obligation will apply to the local authorities, which are city and county councils rather than all local authorities.

  While the obligation will be confined, no restrictions are being placed on other local councils in terms of their desire to develop the arts. In that regard, I am well aware of the excellent work which has been carried out by Listowel urban council in relation to the arts over the years.

  Amendment put and declared carried.

  Acting Chairman (Mr. Sherlock): Amendment No. 4 arises from committee proceedings and amendments Nos. 5 and 6 are related. Amendments Nos. 4 to 6, inclusive, may be discussed together, by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

  Mr. Wall: I move amendment No. 4:

    In page 3, line 24, after “interpretative” to insert “theory, conception, process, practice or”.

The Labour Party put forward this amendment to ensure that theory is included in the interpretation of the Bill. My party feels that the present reading of the Bill is such that theory is not included, an aspect of the arts which must be addressed. While the parliamentary counsel clearly felt he had all angles covered regarding [588]this aspect, we do not agree. Theory has not been included and that must be addressed.

  I ask the Minister to accept the amendment. It is important in drafting the Bill that we give all aspects of the arts due recognition. That has not been done in regard to this section of the Bill. The Minister should accept the amendment to ensure that theory is included in this section.

  In proposing to delete “whether traditional or contemporary” in amendment No. 5, we are not trying to delete traditional arts from the Bill. It is too simplistic to define the arts as being either traditional or contemporary. There is a need to delete these words from the Bill because it should not contain a strict definition of contemporary or traditional arts. The Minister should consider deleting that aspect of the Bill.

  Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Beidh mé ag déileáil ar dtús le leasú a 5, atá molta agam féin, which seeks to delete “whether traditional or contemporary” from the Bill. The words are superfluous because the Bill defines the meaning of “arts”. I have brothers who play in a band called Kíla. There are those who would call it traditional while others would call it contemporary but under this definition they are either one or the other. There are many art forms which we cannot conveniently slot into traditional or contemporary and the Bill would be improved by the deletion of “whether traditional or contemporary”. That is not to say we are deleting traditional arts from the Bill. I am in favour of the new positions being adopted in the Bill which will ensure that traditional arts and, I hope, Irish language arts get the recognition they deserve and which they did not get over the past 30 years. The Arts Council gave financial support to traditional arts over the years which many people enjoy. The inclusion of this term does not help the definition required.

  On amendment No. 6, there is a need for proper recognition of the Irish language to be specific. The practice by State boards etc. is to leave it to one side, exclude it or regard the Irish language as an afterthought. Is gá dúinn a bheith ag déanamh cinnte go bhfuil na dualgais atá ar aon eagras Stáit i leith na Gaeilge scríofa go soiléir in aon Acht a ritear, in aon reachtaíocht agus in aon dualgas a chuireann an Phairlimint seo ar a leithéid de eagras. Iarraim arís ar an Aire glacadh le leasú an Teachta Deenihan agus leis an leasú a mhol mé féin agus an Teachta Wall. Má déantar sin beidh Bille níos fearr againn agus míniú níos soiléire ann ar na healaíona tradisiúnta agus eile.

  Mr. Deenihan: I tabled this amendment on Committee Stage and the Minister responded by saying he was advised that the existing text already accommodated art forms and artists using Irish, English or any other language, hence there was no necessity to accept the amendment. Since then I have been advised by those who asked me to table the amendment that they were not happy with the explanation that it would not alter the [589]context of the Bill in any way. They asked me to resubmit the amendment and appeal to the Minister to allay their fears because those who are involved in promoting the Irish language at various levels have concerns about various aspects. As Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, they would like more clarity in respect of some of the definitions of the Irish language. The Minister now has an opportunity to allay those fears.

  In respect of the definition, on Committee Stage I mentioned that “new technologies” should be included after the word “dance”. I asked the Minster's officials to discuss the matter with the parliamentary counsel but I note it has not been included. I had expected an amendment from the Minister to that effect. With the widespread use of new technologies in music composition, for example, new technologies should be included in the definition. The Minister will have another opportunity when the Bill goes to the Seanad but I advise him to include “new technologies” now because of the changes in the whole approach to music composition. I ask him to seriously consider adding “new technologies” after “dance”, which would make the definition of the arts far more inclusive. Perhaps the Minister will refer to that in his reply.

  Mr. O'Shea: I support the amendments in the name of my colleague, Deputy Wall. To deal with amendment No. 5, there is a real problem with the term “traditional or contemporary” because the Bill does not seek to define what is traditional and contemporary. It would be extraordinarily difficult to do that. The way the definition is presented could be a hindrance in the future. It excludes the possibility of cross-over between contemporary and traditional, an area dealt with adequately by Deputy Ó Snodaigh in his contribution. It also excludes the development of new art forms. For instance, was Riverdance contemporary or traditional? Terminology is being included in the definition which introduces a lack of clarity to the existing definition.

  On amendment No. 4, in any definition of art we must provide for more than just expression. We should provide for theory, an important aspect of art. We want to include the words “theory, conception, process and practice” in the Bill. A substantial argument cannot be made against this amendment and I ask the Minister to explain the reason art can be described only as meaning any creative interpretative expression while excluding theory from that definition.

  In regard to the Fine Gael Party amendment in the name of Deputy Deenihan, the House will debate the Official Languages Bill later today. If, as the Minister has indicated, the position is that the official languages are included in the definition, I would be happy to accept it. Too much can be added to definitions and can lead to a lack of clarity or changes which are difficult to comprehend. Whereas amendment No. 4, tabled by the Labour Party, seeks to delete terminology and amendment No. 5 seeks to include further termin[590]ology, my consistent view has been that definitions should be kept as short as possible, while addressing all relevant issues.

  Mr. O'Donoghue: I am not in a position to accept these amendments. We have taken advice from the parliamentary counsel in regard to the wording in the legislation. I am strongly advised that the draft form before the Members is adequate to cover all art forms during the creative process and beyond. In addition, it is important to recognise that certain art forms are neither contemporary nor traditional but straddle both categories. By inserting this definition we have ensured that no art form is excluded. It is also important in that context that we do not confine the definition of an art form to the official languages of the State. We should make provision for increasing multi-culturalism and the likelihood that there will be art forms in other languages, which is precisely what the definition does in that it is sufficiently broad to encompass all art forms.

  On Deputy O'Shea's question regarding theory, it is clear theory must be expressed. In these circumstances, the definition set out in the legislation is adequate and I commend it to the House.

  Mr. Deenihan: I request the Minister to consider the contributions made by the three speakers in the context of the Irish language and its place in the Bill and that his officials consult the various agencies involved in the Irish language before the Bill moves to the Seanad, where there will be a further opportunity to amend it and return it to this House.

  Our concerns are genuine. The proposed amendments would not radically alter the Bill or reduce its effectiveness. They aim to improve the Bill and are not intended to be divisive. I appeal to the Minister to consult the various organisations and groups with an interest in the Irish language as he would discover that our proposals are not out of line as he appears to be suggesting, but would add to the Bill.

  Amendment put and declared lost.

  Aengus Ó Snodaigh: I move amendment No. 5:

    In page 3, lines 24 and 25, to delete “(whether traditional or contemporary)”.

  Question, “That the words proposed to be deleted stand”, put and declared carried.

  Amendment declared lost.

  Mr. Deenihan: I move amendment No. 6:

    In page 3, line 28, to delete “purposes;” and substitute “purposes, in either official language of the State;”.

  Question, “That the words proposed to be deleted stand”, put and declared carried.

[591]  Amendment declared lost.

  Mr. O'Donoghue: I move amendment No. 7:

    In page 3, between lines 28 and 29, to insert the following:

      “ ‘city council' has the same meaning as it has in the Act of 2001;”.

  Amendment put and declared carried.

  Aengus Ó Snodaigh: I move amendment No. 8:

    In page 3, line 29, to delete “Council” and substitute “An Chomhairle”.

Cosúil leis an samplaí a luaigh mé cheanna, sé teideal an eagrais ná An Chomhairle Ealaíon agus má tá teideal Gaelach ar rud, ba chóir sin a thabhairt dó. Má tá teideal Béarla air, glacaimid leis an teideal Béarla.

  Mr. O'Donoghue: Tá an tAcht scríofa as Béarla agus sí an chomhairle atá agam ná go mba cheart an rud é go mbeadh na tearmaí san Acht as Béarla freisin. Beidh an tAcht ar fáil as Gaeilge freisin.

  Aengus Snodaigh: Dá mbeadh téarma Fraincíse mar theideal ar an eagras, bheadh sé os ár gcomhair i bhFraincís. Sa chás seo, is é teideal an eagrais ná An Chomhairle Ealaíon agus dá bhrí sin, an t-athrú atá i gceist agam ná sin a bheith mar teideal sa Bhille. Más gá go mbeadh sé in aice leis, ba chóir go mbeadh Arts Council i lúibíní mar is teideal eagrais é agus ní chóir an polasaí a bheith againn gach uile teideall nó ainm a aistriú go dtí an teanga ina scríobhtar an Bille. Ní aistrítear m'ainm féin go Béarla agus ní bheadh sé béasach athrú a dhéanamh. Ní thugtar ach Córas Iompar Éireann ar CIÉ, ní aistrítear an teidil go Béarla. Aithrítear i gcás an ESB agus ní thuigim cén fáth mar Bord Soláthar Leictreachais an t-ainm oifigiúil atá air. Tá polasaí Stáit i gceist anseo – áit ar féidir linn tús áite a thabhairt don Ghaeilge agus measaim gur chóir sin a dhéanamh.

  Question, “That the words proposed to be deleted stand”, put and declared carried.

  Amendment declared lost.

  Mr. O'Donoghue: I move amendment No. 9:

    In page 3, between lines 29 and 30, to insert the following:

      “ ‘county council' has the same meaning as it has in the Act of 2001;”.

  Amendment put and declared carried.

  Mr. O'Donoghue: I move amendment No. 10:

    In page 4, to delete lines 4 and 5 and substitute the following:

      “ ‘local authority' means–

[592]        (a) a city council, or

        (b) a county council;”.

  Amendment put and declared carried.

  Acting Chairman: Amendment No. 11. Amendment No. 12 is an alternative. Amendments Nos. 11 and 12 may be discussed together by agreement.

  Aengus Ó Snodaigh: I move amendment No. 11:

    In page 5, line 4, after “arts” to insert “in both official languages of the State”.

Tá an leasú seo ceangailte le leasaithe a bhí os ár gcomhair roimhe seo. Is é an rud a deir an Bille ná go ndéanfaidh an t-Aire na healaíona a gcur chun cinn laistigh den Stát agus lasmuigh de. Táimid ag iarraidh go mbeadh dualgas ar leith ar an Aire, sa chás seo, na healaíona traidisiúnta agus ealaíona na linne seo a gcur chun cinn ins an dá theanga oifigiúla. Tá chomhionannas don dá theanga, ar a laghad, i gceist ins an cur chun cinn seo. Chuirfeadh seo leis an seasamh atá ag an nGaeilge agus ag na healaíona Gaeilge agus léireodh sé, go háirithe lasmuigh den Stát, go bhfuilimid bródúil as ár dteanga agus nach teanga den dara grád í.

  Ba cheart go mbeadh billeoga a chuireann na healaíona chun cinn ar fáil go héasca i nGaeilge. Tá roinnt eagrais Stáit a dhéanann sin agus is féidir teacht, go han-tapaidh, ar bhilleoga Gaeilge ar ghnéithe den Stát chóras nó de pholasaí an Stáit. I gcásanna eile ní féidir teacht ar litríocht dhá theangach agus ní bhíonn deis an Ghaeilge a cloisint nuair atá na healaíona á gcur chun cinn thar lear nó sa tír seo fiú. Déantar an dochar is mó ó thaobh pholasaí an Stáit i leith na Gaeilge nuair nach bhfuil sí curtha chun cinn ar chomhchéim i ngach uile bhealach. Tá deis againn anois é a cheangal isteach san mBille seo go mbeidh dualgas ar an Aire an Ghaeilge a cur chun cinn nuair atá sé nó sí ag cur na healaíona chun cinn. Bedh dualgas ar an Aire an Béarla a chur chun cinn chomh maith, ar ndóigh, mar tá dhá theanga oifigiúla againn. Is é polasaí an Stáit an dátheangachas a chur chun cinn sa Stát.

  Ba chóir don Aire glacadh leis an leasú seo, más féidir in aon chor é. Tá na scríbhinní a tháinig ón Roinn Sláinte agus Leanaí le déanaí, mar shampla, go hiomlán i mBéarla. Tá an páipéarachas atá ag the General Medical Services Division of the Department of Health and Children go hiomlán i mBéarla, cé go bhfuil sin go hiomlán i gcoinne pholasaí gach Rialtais a bhí ag an Stát seo ariamh. Tá an rud céanna fíor maidir leis an Eastern Regional Health Authority. Ní hamháin nach bhfuil an teideal Gaeilge ar aon tomhas leis an mBéarla ach níl sé ann ar chor ar bith. Tá mé ag amharc anois ar litir a tháinig chugam féin ach tá an seoladh agus gach uile rud i mBéarla. Sin an sort ruda a bhfuil mé ag iarraidh a dhéanamh cinnte de nach dtarlódh sé amach anseo. Bíodh an Ghaeilge agus an Béarla comhionann, ar a [593]laghad, ins an mbealach a chuirtear na healaíona chun cinn.

  Mr. Deenihan: I outlined the reasons the amendment should be included when I dealt with amendment No. 6. The Irish language is part of the ongoing organic development of the arts in this country. The Irish language is part of artistic innovation and growth in the Gaeltacht areas. Interest in the Irish language among Irish communities across the world is growing. It is now common to have Irish language classes in places such as New York, Boston and Chicago. It is important to specify that when the Minister is promoting arts both inside and outside the State both official languages should be used on all promotional material. I do not see any reason the Minister cannot accept my amendment and that proposed by Deputy Ó Snodaigh.

  Mr. O'Shea: I understand where both Deputies are coming from as regards the two amendments. Amendment No. 12 states “both inside the State and outside it”. If the Minister of the day was not fluent in the Irish language, unlike the current Minister, and wanted to promote Ireland when he or she was overseas, it could lead to translation difficulties. It could cause problems if the Minister of the day could not converse in Irish. If the Minister of the day wanted to write to the Bolshoi Ballet, for example, to invite it to come here for a State visit, should he or she issue the invitation in the Irish language, the English language or in both? If it was written in the Irish language, how would that help to promote it? There are non-State bodies in many of the arts areas. Their ability to provide translators would be limited and costly. I see merit in letting other nations know that we cherish the Irish language and that we want to promote it. We want to extend the use of the Irish language throughout the country and we want to strengthen our Gaeltacht areas. There is merit in trying to raise the status of the Irish language, both inside the EU and further afield.

  The Bill states that the Minister “shall promote the arts both inside the State and outside the State”. That is a little strong for what could be practically and reasonably done by a Minister in terms of promoting the arts outside the State and communicating in the Irish language. I do not have any hard view on it. I see both the plus and the minus side. In the context of the Official Languages Bill, which we will discuss later, certain responsibilities and duties will be placed upon the Arts Council. It will have to provide an Irish language service, as will the Minister's Department. I am not sure the amendments proposed here are practical or that their strict implementation will help the Irish language in any significant way.

  Mr. O'Donoghue: Faoin mBille seo, beimid in ann ealaíona na hÉireann a gcur ar aghaidh agus a gcur chun cinn, cé acu teanga a bheidh in úsáid. [594]Beimid in ann é sin a dhéanamh, ní hamháin sa bhaile ach thar lear freisin.

  Under the provisions of the legislation as it currently exists it will be possible to accommodate arts and art forms, irrespective of whether the art concerned is expressed in English, Irish or any other language. The reason the legislation is so broad in this context is to ensure that people who speak neither language will have their art forms recognised as well.

  We all acknowledge that it is possible for an art form to be expressed in French, Russian or Chinese in as much as it is possible for it to be expressed in English and Irish. Naturally, we try to encourage the Irish language. In that context there will be legislation discussed later in the House and there is other legislation dealing with that. We are trying to be all-embracing in terms of the art forms which will be recognised. It is desirable that we proceed on that basis as to do otherwise would be restrictive.

  Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Níl mé ag iarraidh constaic a cur os comhair an Aire, os comhair ealaíontóirí nó os comhair aon rud chuirfeadh ealaíona na hÉireann chun cinn. Is é an gnáth leithscéal a chloistear nuair a déantar iarracht an Ghaeilge a cur chun cinn, tús áite a thabhairt di nó cothramas, fiú, a chothú go bhfuil deacrachtaí leis. Glacaim go bhfuil deacrachtaí leis ach caithfear teacht thar na deacrachtaí sin má táimid sásta obair de réir an bhriathair. Is é an polasaí atá ag an Stát ná dátheangachas. Mar sin, níl na leasaithe seo ag teacht salach ar aon pholasaí atá ag an Rialtas nó a bhí ag aon Rialtas cheana.

  Other countries can manage to promote their arts in several languages. They do not have the difficulties mentioned or if they do they overcome them. In Brussels recently I visited the museum of comics which promotes an art form the Belgians have mastered. All the signage in the museum was in two languages, neither of which I could understand. However I could understand the art form. Because it is art I could interpret it. Nobody is asking that a sculpture be in Irish or English. However, if we are to produce material promoting a sculpture, a sculpture symposium or whatever, it should be promoted in both languages.

  There was a question in regard to a Minister who might not have expertise in Irish or the fluency this Minister has. We are not asking anybody to do the unthinkable. Press releases are issued in English at the moment. There is nothing stopping a Government press office or Minister from issuing the press release simultaneously in Irish.

  Every exhibition, concert etc. being promoted by the Government or the Minister can have its promotional material in Irish and English. This is not impossible. Anybody who visits Canada can see that. There they have English and French on every item. There is no problem doing it there or in Belgium. In many African countries the promotional literature is in three languages. If we are [595]serious about making sure that everybody on this island, and those abroad interested in Irish arts, understand that we come from a rich culture grounded in the Irish language—

  An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy's two minutes have expired. He will have the right to come back and reply finally.

  Mr. O'Shea: In dealing with these amendments it strikes me that under the provisions of the Official Languages Bill there will be a responsibility on the various Departments, including the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism, to come up with a scheme, and return it to the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, in regard to how the Department intends to respond to its responsibilities under the Act. I understand the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs will provide guidelines for the Departments. Is the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism prepared to give an undertaking now that the issue which is the substance of these two amendments will be taken into consideration when he provides his scheme to the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs?

  Mr. Deenihan: I remind the Minister that many of our indigenous performers use Irish as a medium in sean nós singing, storytelling, drama and literature. Also, a number of our crafts people are from Gaeltacht areas. There is a need, because of the enormous potential the arts and the Irish language have for the future development of the arts here, for an expression of that in this Bill. If the Minister is not prepared to accept these amendments, which as I explained previously do not alter the context or direction of the Bill, he is reneging on that commitment. I ask him to revisit this question. I am sure then that following advice from his officials he will come round to the view of Deputies on this side of the House.

[596]  Mr. O'Donoghue: Is iontach on rud é go bhfuil na Teachtaí ag caint ar theanga na hÉireann a fheabhsú agus a chur chun cinn. Tá Aire eile ann, áfach, chun sin a dhéanamh go ginearálta agus tá Bille eile ann, Bille na dTeangacha Oifigiúla, agus bheadh an Bille sin os comhair an Tí go luath.

  Another Minister has introduced a Bill to deal with the need to ensure the Irish language flowers. While that is not covered by this legislation, I have an abiding interest in the language. The legislation provides for accommodation of art forms in whatever language. There are art forms for which no language is used. For example, no language is used in mime, and sign language is also used regularly. It is important that the legislation is all-embracing in so far as the expression of art is concerned. It would be wrong and self-defeating if I were to bring about a scenario that would restrict rather than expand the accommodation of art forms. This legislation is about expansion and accommodation, not restriction.

  Aengus Ó Snodaigh: The Minister referred to the promotion of mime and sign language. The amendment specifically states “shall promote the arts”. Nobody is being asked to do the impossible. Where no language is involved, neither of the official languages can be promoted. We should not be dependent on schemes to be introduced under the Official Languages (Equality) Bill 2002, given that they might never see the light of day because they do not have to be implemented as soon as the legislation is passed.

  There is an opportunity under this legislation for the Minister to set an example for other Ministers to follow. This refers to a simple function of the Minister. Irish should have the same standing as English and it should be promoted on an equal basis. It would be a pity if the standard, which was not complied with by the Arts Council up to now, was not set down in the legislation. The Minister would set an example to the council if he were to accept the amendment.

  Amendment put.

    Allen, Bernard.

    Breen, Pat.

    Broughan, Thomas P.

    Connaughton, Paul.

    Connolly, Paudge.

    Coveney, Simon.

    Cowley, Jerry.

    Crowe, Seán.

    Deasy, John.

    Durkan, Bernard J.

    English, Damien.

    Enright, Olwyn.

    Ferris, Martin.

    Gogarty, Paul.

    Gormley, John.

    Harkin, Marian.

    Hayes, Tom.

    Healy, Seamus.

    Hogan, Phil.

    Kehoe, Paul.

    Kenny, Enda.

    Lynch, Kathleen.

    McCormack, Padraic.

    McGinley, Dinny.

    McGrath, Finian.

    Mitchell, Olivia.

    Murphy, Gerard.

    Naughten, Denis.

    Neville, Dan.

    Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.

    Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.

    O'Dowd, Fergus.

    O'Shea, Brian.

    O'Sullivan, Jan.

    Penrose, Willie.

    Ring, Michael.

    Ryan, Eamon.

    Sargent, Trevor.

    Shortall, Róisín.

    Stagg, Emmet.

    Stanton, David.

    Timmins, Billy.

    Twomey, Liam.

    Upton, Mary.

    Wall, Jack.

[597]

Níl

    Ahern, Dermot.

    Ahern, Noel.

    Andrews, Barry.

    Brady, Johnny.

    Brady, Martin.

    Browne, John.

    Callanan, Joe.

    Carty, John.

    Collins, Michael.

    Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.

    Cowen, Brian.

    Davern, Noel.

    Dempsey, Noel.

    Dempsey, Tony.

    Devins, Jimmy.

    Ellis, John.

    Fahey, Frank.

    Finneran, Michael.

    Fitzpatrick, Dermot.

    Fleming, Seán.

    Glennon, Jim.

    Grealish, Noel.

    Hanafin, Mary.

    Haughey, Seán.

    Hoctor, Máire.

    Jacob, Joe.

    Keaveney, Cecilia.

    Kelleher, Billy.

    Kelly, Peter.

    Kirk, Seamus.

[598]    Kitt, Tom.

    Lenihan, Brian.

    Lenihan, Conor.

    McCreevy, Charlie.

    McEllistrim, Thomas.

    McGuinness, John.

    Moloney, John.

    Moynihan, Donal.

    Moynihan, Michael.

    Nolan, M. J.

    Ó Cuív, Éamon.

    Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.

    O'Connor, Charlie.

    O'Donnell, Liz.

    O'Donoghue, John.

    O'Donovan, Denis.

    O'Flynn, Noel.

    O'Keeffe, Batt.

    O'Keeffe, Ned.

    Parlon, Tom.

    Power, Seán.

    Ryan, Eoin.

    Sexton, Mae.

    Smith, Brendan.

    Smith, Michael.

    Treacy, Noel.

    Walsh, Joe.

    Wilkinson, Ollie.

    Woods, Michael.

    Wright, G. V.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Ó Snodaigh and Durkan; Níl, Deputies Hanafin and Kelleher.

  Amendment declared lost.

  Amendment No. 12 not moved.

  An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Amendments Nos. 14, 15 and 16 are consequential to amendment No. 13 and amendments No. 17 and 18 are related. Thus, amendments Nos. 13 to 18, inclusive, may be taken together by agreement. I call Deputy Deenihan to move amendment No. 13.

  Mr. Deenihan: Amendment No. 13 does not really relate to the other amendments and, with the agreement of the House, I would prefer to deal with that amendment on its own.

  An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: We will take amendment No. 13 on its own.

  Mr. Deenihan: I move amendment No. 13:

    In page 5, to delete lines 11 to 14 and substitute the following:

      “(3) In order to give effect to consultations under subsection (2) of this section, there shall be established a permanent inter-departmental review group comprising representatives of the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism, the Department of Education and Science, the Department of the Environment and Local Government, the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and the Department of Finance, as well as such other public bodies as the Minister may from time to time determine, whose functions shall be to monitor the implementation and effectiveness of arts policy generally, subject to detailed terms of reference to be provided by the Minister, and who shall publish an annual report setting out their findings in relation thereto.”.

To strengthen the Bill and make it more effective, this provision is very important. After section 5(2)(b) of the Bill, it is very important to insert this provision. Section 5(2)(b) provides that the Minister may, in the performance of his or her functions under this section, consult such Ministers of the Government, public bodies or other persons as he or she considers appropriate.

  Officials in the different Departments may consult each other in a bilateral way and Ministers meet at Cabinet or may use other means of communication. However, the issue of consultation needs to be given far more permanency, which is the reason I tabled this amendment. I am suggesting that here should be established:

    A permanent inter-departmental review group comprising representatives of the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism, the Department of Education and Science, the Department of the Environment and Local Government, the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and the Department of Finance, as well as such other public bodies as the Minister may from time to time determine, whose functions shall be to monitor the implementation and effectiveness of arts policy generally, subject to detailed [599]terms of reference to be provided by the Minister, and who shall publish an annual report setting out their findings in relation thereto.

In addition to the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism a number of Departments have a critical role to play in the promotion of the arts here. Submission 221 in the Dorgan report made by Ciarán Benson stated:

    Ireland is relatively advanced in the way that the arts are already integrated into the remit of so many Government Departments. To a greater or lesser degree there is perhaps a role here for the Department in convening a cross-department discussion group or some such body with a view to harmonising and expanding this provision.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers report stated that unless there is such a body here, only if support were given at the highest level of Government would the type of change required actually happen. It also suggested a similar type of structure.

  I know we will have an opportunity to discuss the arts and education later. The Department of Education and Science has a very important role in the development of the arts here. A number of studies over the years have shown a significant lack of music education in our primary and post-primary schools. I will quote some statistics on that later.

  In this Bill the Minister is stressing the important role of local authorities. Given its responsibility in providing funding for local authorities, the Department of the Environment and Local Government has a considerable input into the development of the arts. The Department of Foreign Affairs has its own cultural relations committee. Will that continue to rest in the Department of Foreign Affairs if the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism will be promoting the arts abroad? What will be the Minister's relationship with the cultural relations committee of the Department of Foreign Affairs? Will there be an overlap or if the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism is promoting the arts abroad will that be through the cultural relations committee?

  The Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources has responsibility for broadcasting which is so important for the arts. The provision for the arts and our national broadcaster is essential for the arts. Individually and collectively the future of the arts rests in other Departments as well as the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism. The Minister should consider this proposal seriously.

  There are other examples of this type of interdepartmental structure that can work quite effectively and I am now giving the Minister the opportunity to accept such a structure. It is quite apparent that Departments do not work closely together. There is very little contact between Departments. At times there is even lack of communications between Ministers, as evidenced in what has been happening in the last week, with [600]one Minister not knowing what another is doing. If we have to depend on bilateral communication between Departments, we will not achieve the full potential for the development of the arts.

  Mr. O'Donoghue: There are well established mechanisms for Ministers and Departments to consult with each other and some of these structures are quite formalised. I do not believe adopting Deputy Deenihan's proposal would do anything for the arts in Ireland and would be unworkable in practice. The cultural relations committee, which was under the Department of Foreign Affairs, is now part of the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism.

  Mr. Deenihan: This Bill will give the Minister the power to set up a number of special committees. When doing so he should consider establishing one of those committees along the lines I propose here. I understand there will, for example, be a special committee on education. He should consider the interdepartmental approach.

  The Department of Finance has a very important role in the promotion of the arts in various ways, particularly through the Office of Public Works, and also as the provider of funding to the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism. If this type of structure were in place, the Department of the Environment and Local Government would have been much more sensitive towards the provision of funding for the arts in 2003 when it reduced the budget by 8% resulting in a large number of productions being put on ice with consequent loss of jobs and even leading to the closure of some centres around the country. If this type of structure were in place, the Department of Finance and officialdom would be far more sensitive to funding for the arts and there would be considerably more communication between all Departments and the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism.

  We must look at the arts in a broader way rather than just compartmentalising them and identifying only the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism with the arts. I am sure the Minister will agree there is an opportunity to capitalise on the vast potential for the promotion of the arts across the various Departments. I am convinced the structure I am proposing would work if property driven. It would be of considerable assistance to the Minister and of benefit in developing of the arts. The Minister strongly opposed this amendment on Committee Stage and clearly will not accept it now. However, when he considers the special committees, which we will discuss later, he should consider this kind of structure.

  Question, “That the words proposed to be deleted stand”, put and declared carried.

  Amendment declared lost.

  An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Amendments [601]Nos. 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 are related and may be taken together by agreement.

  Mr. Deenihan: I move amendment No. 14:

    In page 5, lines 15 and 16, to delete “A direction under this section may include a requirement that the Council” and substitute “The Minister may direct the Council to”.

This relates to what I said earlier about one of the major changes in the Bill. The Minister has given himself far more power to get involved in the day-to-day running of the Arts Council. If one looks at our history of arts legislation, previous Ministers and Taoisigh stated clearly that they favoured the arm's length approach. They were concerned at all times that the Arts Council would be seen as an independent agency and a kind of buffer between politics and artists and arts organisations. The Bill will change that relationship and that is not a good departure.

  I said at the outset that it is important the Government is there to provide resources and finance but should not direct policy or decide who gets the money. I realise there is a provision in the Bill ensuring the Arts Council will still be free to decide who gets grants but the Minister has indicated to a number of organisations that he is prepared to direct it to ring-fence money for a particular organisation. He should expand on that rumour.

  The Arts Council, for all its flaws and deficiencies, has been quite successful over the years but the Bill provides for future Ministers being able to influence policy or take a hands-on approach to the activities of the Arts Council. This amendment and others are intended to ensure the independence of the Arts Council is maintained and that the arm's length approach is accepted and enshrined in legislation. We can then continue to develop the arts in Ireland in a non-political way. The Minister may say this is difficult but the Bill means there will be more political interference in the arts in the future than heretofore.

  Mr. Wall: Since I entered the House no Bill has been the cause of more representations than this one. Obviously there is a need for transparency for all the directives from the Minister of the day to the Arts Council. Those must be documented. It is great to see such interest in the arts, as was seen in the number of representations we got and continue to get. Those people should be able to see the directives the Minister gives to the Arts Council. Such directives should come before the Oireachtas for discussion and then those interested in the arts can see them.

  Deputy Deenihan is right in suggesting that as it stands, the Bill will mean a greater degree of political interference than heretofore, which is regrettable. Given the amount of interest among people in developing the arts, traditional and contemporary, there should be no such political interference in the work of the Arts Council and [602]the development of our arts. We are lucky to have those arts to develop and the Minister should consider my amendment in this regard.

  It is important the House has the opportunity to assess any such directives. Many parliamentary questions are returned unanswered to Deputies because the Minister in question has no responsibility to the House regarding the question. If we do not act on this matter we will add more frustration to the situation regarding parliamentary questions. We do not have a mechanism available to us to relay information to our constituents because Ministers state they have no responsibility to the House on certain topics or agencies. We must stop that and put a mechanism in place to ensure such directives are part of the business of the House and therefore subject to scrutiny by Members.

  I hope the Minister looks at this issue in that light – that it is a mechanism which allows Deputies to investigate ministerial directives to the Arts Council. We can then relay that information to the many interested sectors of the arts community. There should be no grey area here; a Minister should not be able to give directives to the Arts Council without a facility for the public to question those directives through their public representatives.

  Mr. O'Donoghue: Amendments Nos. 15, 16 and 17 relate to, and seek in various ways to limit, the proposal in the Bill that the Minister is empowered to direct the Arts Council to comply with polices of the Government. As I explained in some detail on Committee Stage, it is entirely reasonable that the relevant Minister or the Government is empowered to direct the Arts Council to comply with relevant policies. There is a fundamental principle here, which is that spending of public money should be accounted for to the people from whom this money is taken in taxation. This must happen through the democratic process.

  Despite some suggestions to the contrary, I do not accept that allowing the Government, which provides funding for arts, to make broad policies regarding the use of these funds in some way involves inappropriate influence on the arts. No one is suggesting that I, any other Minister or any other Government should be able to tell artists what they should produce, what the subject matter should be, what interpretation they should apply or that any political bias or view should advantage artists in terms of funding. There is nothing in the Bill which comes anywhere near any of these things and, indeed, by giving statutory status to the arm's length principle, we are copper-fastening the independence of the council in individual funding decisions. Based on the above, I cannot accept these amendments.

  Amendments Nos. 14 and 18 appear to be an attempt to improve the legal construction of the Bill. However, the existing construction is based on the advice of the parliamentary counsel and I cannot see any clear basis for disputing his [603]judgment. I cannot, therefore, accept these amendments.

  It is the case that the Minister will be in a position to ensure Government policy is implemented. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If Ben Hur arrived in here on a chariot with Shakespeare at his side and asked me to change this provision, I would not do so. If politicians do not trust themselves, they cannot expect the public to trust them. In that respect, it is surely the function of a Government in any democracy to ensure that its policies are carried out.

  For many years – let me be quite plain about it – there has been no coherent policy on the traditional arts and they have been inadequately funded. It is of immense importance that there is a coherent strategy for the traditional arts and that this strategy is financed. It is incumbent on the Minister for arts of the day to ensure that sound Government policies are implemented. I make no apology to anyone for that.

  Mr. Deenihan: We all agree the traditional arts have been neglected. Of the total funding for the Arts Council, they got 1% in 2002. We need a policy for the traditional arts in the future but I do not see this Bill providing that opportunity. There is a contradiction in what the Minister said. On the one hand, he said the Government will assume an arm's length approach in regard to the provision of grants while, on the other hand, he, more or less, implied that he will direct the Arts Council to provide funding for the traditional arts. At this stage, he should declare that the arm's length approach in regard to the provision of grants by the Arts Council is gone.

  I am totally in favour of providing funding for the traditional arts, whether through the Arts Council or the Department. Most of my work is concerned with the promotion of the traditional arts. It is important the traditional arts are promoted and that organisations such as Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann are given more financial support from Government sources. It is a national movement and should be supported and funded.

  I am not discussing the question of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann or any other group, but the principle of State support and control. On Second Stage I mentioned how regimes in the last century manipulated the arts to further their own ideals. I am not saying it would happen in this country but it could. That is the reason the demarcation line should be kept. If the Arts Council is not working, we should improve it but that demarcation line between politics and the arts and decisions which affect individual artists should be kept. It has been emphasised since 1951. As I already mentioned, in history of the arts and in legislation on the arts, it has been emphasised again and again. It is important to keep that demarcation line.

  This section provides the Minister of the day with too much power for interference in the arts [604]and I think it will lead to a lot of conflict in the future. I am convinced there will be problems because of the additional rather extraordinary powers which this section will give to the Minister. It has nothing to do with funding for the traditional arts. A basic principle, enshrined in previous legislation, is being changed by this Bill.

  Mr. Wall: I find it difficult to understand the rigid position the Minister has taken in this regard. The amendment I tabled would publicise the directive which the Minister will give to the Arts Council, what the Minister is proposing and the way it will help to improve the arts. I find it difficult to understand why he will not provide a mechanism which would allow Members of the House to discuss the directive he will give to the Arts Council. That is the worrying aspect of it. When this legislation is enacted and the Minister of the day gives a directive to the Arts Council, there is no mechanism which would allow this House to discuss it. This seems to be a trend. Members who table parliamentary questions will know of the numbers referred back to them stating that the Minister has no responsibility for the matter. This is one of the most important Bills which will pass through the House, judging by the number of representations we have received, yet we are closing off an opportunity for this House to discuss the directives of the Minister. That is a worrying trend. We are ensuring that this House will not discuss something which has generated considerable interest in the past year and a half since this Bill was brought forward.

  I am concerned that the Minister will not bring forward some mechanism which would allow ministerial directives to be debated in the House. This is the House of Parliament in which we represent the people of our constituencies, although in this case we are representing a much broader constituency given the number of representations we have received. I am concerned that nothing has been done to put a mechanism in place to allow Members to discuss directives. We are closing off an opportunity for debate in this House on one of the most important legislative items which has arisen in my brief.

  Mr. Cassidy: Traditional arts represent one of our great natural resources. Irish traditional music is a trade name world-wide and very few countries have their native music as a trade name or have had such an ambassador as Irish music has been for the island of Ireland.

  The Arts Council's allocation of 1% of its budget towards the traditional arts is a disgrace. All 166 Members should send out a loud and clear message to the Arts Council that is to represent us for the next 12 months that what has happened in the past cannot be allowed to continue in the future.

  There was a reference to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, to which I feel very close. It was set up in my home town of Mullingar in 1951. Having been a musician before becoming a Member of [605]the Oireachtas, I note that the lack of funding and support by all Governments for Irish art in recent years has been nothing short of a disgrace. The amount of goodwill generated abroad by the playing of Irish music, be it that of the Chieftains or U2, is remarkable. No one has done more for the image of Ireland world-wide than traditional Irish artists.

  This Bill is coming to the House at the beginning of the term of a new Government and the Minister, Deputy O'Donoghue, has asked for support in respect of various parts and sections of it. I am prepared to give my full support to him because he understands the arts, perhaps because of where he comes from. His heart is in the right place. We can return to the House in the next year or year and a half to assess the pros and cons of the Arts Council's dealings with traditional arts in the next year.

  Acting Chairman: I hesitate to interrupt but we are dealing with an amendment.

  Mr. Cassidy: I am speaking on it.

  Acting Chairman: You are not but I will allow you some latitude.

  Mr. Cassidy: I am following on from the contribution of Deputy Wall.

  Acting Chairman: I can speak only for the time in which I am in the Chair.

  Mr. Cassidy: Coming from County Longford, the Chairman will note that the people from Mullingar, Longford and Galway, his current constituency, have made an unbelievable contribution to the arts. However, they got no support and it is about time we did what we should do and what we have to do. I ask all Members to afford the Minister the opportunity to prove his bona fides that Government policy will be the policy we will all want for the future.

  Consider what “Riverdance” and “Lord of the Dance” have done for the image of the young, new Ireland and for the perception of our culture and music. Nothing else could have surpassed the good they have done for the image of our country.

  I commend the Minister for bringing the Bill before the House. This year, we are giving our total support to the Arts Council but we are watching vigilantly to see how it will treat traditional arts. It has a major problem in that it is perceived to be elitist. I know the Minister would not want to be associated with that, nor would the Government in the future. The council has a problem to address and we will study its progress. If we had the support of the Arts Council, imagine what an allocation of 10% or 15% of its budget would do to assist traditional arts, given that we have seen what 1% can do.

  Mr. Deenihan: Those of us who come from counties where the traditional arts flourish agree [606]that traditional arts are not getting fair support. I blame the Government as much as the Arts Council. The Arts Council gets a certain sum of money and it is being torn and dragged by all sections for this funding. That it has allocated so little to the traditional arts in the past is an indictment of Governments and probably the members of the Arts Council as well. The board of the Arts Council obviously has to approve the grants allocated by the council.

  If past Governments had been concerned about the traditional arts, they would have intervened. They should have provided funding independently of the Arts Council. Between 1983 and 1987, the then Government, under Garret FitzGerald, gave £300,000 to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann out of some sailors' fund when it was in deep trouble. There have been no similar gestures made since in respect of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and the traditional arts.

  It is not a question of funding a particular organisation or organisations but a question of the diminution of the arm's-length relationship, established over the years and accepted by everyone in the past, that exists between the Government of the day and the Arts Council. If this relationship was accepted, there was obviously some reason for doing so. An autocratic system might develop where the Arts Council would be dictated to in respect of all its decisions, maybe not under Deputy O'Donoghue but under another Minister. That is my fear and if the Minister can assure me to the contrary I will accept it. This is the main issue because the issue of standing committees is no longer relevant because the Minister has removed references to them in the Bill, and membership will be increased. We should address the kernel of the Bill.

  Mr. O'Donoghue: Government funding for the Arts Council increased by 80% between 1997 and 2002. Deputy Deenihan said the Government should have intervened on behalf of the traditional arts and then said he does not want the Government to intervene—

  Mr. Deenihan: Directly. What will stop the Minister from giving €3 million to the traditional arts in the morning? Nothing.

  Mr. O'Donoghue: —in accordance with this section. That argument is obviously contradictory.

  Mr. Deenihan: My arguments do not contradict. On a point of order—

  Acting Chairman: Does the Minister wish to accept the point of order?

  Mr. O'Donoghue: I do not because I do not have much time.

  Mr. Deenihan: Can I respond to the Minister afterwards?

[607]  Mr. O'Donoghue: The suggestion of inappropriate interference is misleading and false. The whole question of funding will, as I have painstakingly pointed out in the past, be a reserved function of the Arts Council but the Government is entitled, whichever Government it is, to have its policies implemented and there is nothing whatsoever wrong with having a provision such as this in the legislation to ensure that happens. I am not going to abdicate my responsibilities and no other Minister could be expected to or should do so. It is quite straightforward.

  If Government policy is not being implemented, or if policies should be implemented which are not being implemented, it will be the duty or the function of the Minister of the day, and the Government, to write to the Arts Council and insist that the Government's policies are implemented. That is as fair and as straight as I can make it. There is nothing wrong with that, there is no inappropriate interference and there is no secret about it because everything will be on the table. I cannot for the life of me see why any democrat could disagree with that. If people do not like the policies or if they do not [608]like what the Government suggests then they can vote the Government out of power.

  Acting Chairman: Is the Deputy pressing the amendment?

  Mr. Deenihan: Can I make a point of clarification?

  Acting Chairman: I will allow the Deputy a point of clarification. He has already spoken twice and we are not getting into a debate.

  Mr. Deenihan: The Minister is right. There is nothing to stop any Government providing funding for any organisation. In the past, if it felt that an organisation was not getting a fair deal there was nothing to stop the Minister providing funding. This may be a way in the future of providing the ringfencing of special funding for the traditional arts taking it out of the—.

  Acting Chairman: Is the Deputy pressing the amendment?

  Mr. Deenihan: Yes.

  Question put: “That the words proposed to be deleted stand.”

    Ahern, Dermot.

    Ahern, Noel.

    Andrews, Barry.

    Ardagh, Seán.

    Aylward, Liam.

    Brady, Johnny.

    Brady, Martin.

    Brennan, Seamus.

    Browne, John.

    Callanan, Joe.

    Carty, John.

    Cassidy, Donie.

    Collins, Michael.

    Cowen, Brian.

    Davern, Noel.

    Dempsey, Tony.

    Devins, Jimmy.

    Ellis, John.

    Fahey, Frank.

    Finneran, Michael.

    Fitzpatrick, Dermot.

    Fleming, Seán.

    Fox, Mildred.

    Glennon, Jim.

    Grealish, Noel.

    Hanafin, Mary.

    Haughey, Seán.

    Hoctor, Máire.

    Jacob, Joe.

    Keaveney, Cecilia.

    Kelleher, Billy.

    Kelly, Peter.

    Kirk, Seamus.

    Kitt, Tom.

    Lenihan, Brian.

    Lenihan, Conor.

    McCreevy, Charlie.

    McEllistrim, Thomas.

    McGuinness, John.

    Moloney, John.

    Moynihan, Donal.

    Moynihan, Michael.

    Mulcahy, Michael.

    Nolan, M. J.

    Ó Cuív, Éamon.

    Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.

    O'Connor, Charlie.

    O'Donnell, Liz.

    O'Donoghue, John.

    O'Donovan, Denis.

    O'Flynn, Noel.

    O'Keeffe, Batt.

    O'Keeffe, Ned.

    Parlon, Tom.

    Power, Seán.

    Roche, Dick.

    Ryan, Eoin.

    Sexton, Mae.

    Smith, Brendan.

    Smith, Michael.

    Treacy, Noel.

    Walsh, Joe.

    Wilkinson, Ollie.

    Woods, Michael.

    Wright, G. V.

    

Níl

    Boyle, Dan.

    Breen, Pat.

    Broughan, Thomas P.

    Bruton, Richard.

    Connaughton, Paul.

    Connolly, Paudge.

    Coveney, Simon.

    Crowe, Seán.

    Deasy, John.

    Deenihan, Jimmy.[609]

Níl–continued

    Durkan, Bernard J.

    English, Damien.

    Enright, Olwyn.

    Ferris, Martin.

    Gogarty, Paul.

    Gormley, John.

    Harkin, Marian.

    Hayes, Tom.

    Hogan, Phil.

    Howlin, Brendan.

    Kehoe, Paul.

    Kenny, Enda.

    Lynch, Kathleen.

    McCormack, Padraic.

    McGinley, Dinny.

    McGrath, Finian.

    Mitchell, Olivia.

[610]    Murphy, Gerard.

    Naughten, Denis.

    Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.

    Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.

    O'Dowd, Fergus.

    O'Shea, Brian.

    O'Sullivan, Jan.

    Penrose, Willie.

    Ring, Michael.

    Sargent, Trevor.

    Shortall, Róisín.

    Stagg, Emmet.

    Stanton, David.

    Timmins, Billy.

    Twomey, Liam.

    Upton, Mary.

    Wall, Jack.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Hanafin and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Durkan and Stagg.

  Question declared carried.

  Amendment declared lost.

  Amendments Nos. 15 and 16 not moved.

  Mr. Wall: I move amendment No. 17:

    In page 5, between lines 22 and 23, to insert the following:

      “(7) A direction under this section shall be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and if, within the 21 sitting days next after such laying a resolution is passed by either such House disapproving of such direction, the direction shall thereupon cease to have effect, but without prejudice to anything previously done thereunder.”.

  Amendment put.

    Boyle, Dan.

    Breen, Pat.

    Broughan, Thomas P.

    Bruton, Richard.

    Burton, Joan.

    Connaughton, Paul.

    Connolly, Paudge.

    Costello, Joe.

    Coveney, Simon.

    Cowley, Jerry.

    Crowe, Seán.

    Cuffe, Ciarán.

    Deasy, John.

    Deenihan, Jimmy.

    Durkan, Bernard J.

    English, Damien.

    Enright, Olwyn.

    Ferris, Martin.

    Gogarty, Paul.

    Gormley, John.

    Harkin, Marian.

    Hayes, Tom.

    Higgins, Michael D.

    Hogan, Phil.

    Howlin, Brendan.

    Kehoe, Paul.

    Kenny, Enda.

    Lynch, Kathleen.

    McCormack, Padraic.

    McGinley, Dinny.

    McGrath, Finian.

    McManus, Liz.

    Mitchell, Olivia.

    Murphy, Gerard.

    Naughten, Denis.

    Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.

    Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.

    O'Dowd, Fergus.

    O'Shea, Brian.

    O'Sullivan, Jan.

    Penrose, Willie.

    Ring, Michael.

    Ryan, Eamon.

    Shortall, Róisín.

    Stagg, Emmet.

    Stanton, David.

    Timmins, Billy.

    Upton, Mary.

    Wall, Jack.

    

Níl

    Ahern, Dermot.

    Ahern, Noel.

    Andrews, Barry.

    Ardagh, Seán.

    Aylward, Liam.

    Brady, Johnny.

    Brady, Martin.

    Brennan, Seamus.

    Browne, John.

    Callanan, Joe.

    Carty, John.

    Cassidy, Donie.

    Collins, Michael.

    Cowen, Brian.

    Davern, Noel.

    Dempsey, Tony.

    Devins, Jimmy.

    Ellis, John.[611]

Níl–continued

    Fahey, Frank.

    Finneran, Michael.

    Fitzpatrick, Dermot.

    Fleming, Seán.

    Fox, Mildred.

    Glennon, Jim.

    Grealish, Noel.

    Hanafin, Mary.

    Haughey, Seán.

    Hoctor, Máire.

    Jacob, Joe.

    Keaveney, Cecilia.

    Kelleher, Billy.

    Kelly, Peter.

    Kirk, Seamus.

    Kitt, Tom.

    Lenihan, Brian.

    Lenihan, Conor.

    McCreevy, Charlie.

    McDowell, Michael.

    McEllistrim, Thomas.

    McGuinness, John.

    Moloney, John.

    Moynihan, Donal.

[612]    Moynihan, Michael.

    Mulcahy, Michael.

    Nolan, M.J.

    Ó Cuív, Éamon.

    Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.

    O'Connor, Charlie.

    O'Donnell, Liz.

    O'Donoghue, John.

    O'Donovan, Denis.

    O'Flynn, Noel.

    O'Keeffe, Batt.

    O'Keeffe, Ned.

    Parlon, Tom.

    Power, Seán.

    Roche, Dick.

    Ryan, Eoin.

    Sexton, Mae.

    Smith, Brendan.

    Smith, Michael.

    Treacy, Noel.

    Walsh, Joe.

    Wilkinson, Ollie.

    Woods, Michael.

    Wright, G.V.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Stagg and Durkan; Níl, Deputies Hanafin and Kelleher.

  Amendment declared lost.

  Debate adjourned.