Dáil Éireann - Volume 668 - 19 November, 2008

Written Answers. - Departmental Expenditure.

Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on whether the guarantees for Arts and Sport provided in the Programme for Government will not all be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41132/08]

Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on his Department’s budgetary provision for 2009; if cutting funding to the Arts Council, Irish Sports Council, Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland is the way to promote growth in these areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41118/08]

  Deputy Martin Cullen: I propose to take Questions Nos. 90 and 93.

[132] In a period of significant difficulties in major economies around the world and a challenging fiscal and economic climate at home, the Government introduced a fiscally responsible Budget in order to ensure stability in the public finances, to increase productivity and competitiveness and to protect those who are most vulnerable in our society. To have done otherwise would be to put at risk the gains we have secured as a country in the last fifteen years. The Government will continue to invest in public services but, in a time of scarcer resources, the value-for-money principle becomes all the more important. Within my remit, the Budget consolidated Government investment to date in the areas of arts, culture, sport and tourism, with significant funding of approximately €550 million allocated to the Department in 2009. The reduction in the Department’s capital budget relates to the fact that the 2008 budget made provision for large once-off projects in the Sports and Arts areas, including the new Lansdowne Road stadium which received €93 million, the Gate Theatre, the new Opera House in Wexford, the new Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield, the Carlow Arts Centre and the Everyman Theatre. When these once-off projects are taken into account, the underlying upward trend in the capital available to the Department of €146 million is maintained.

In the arts, culture and film sector, the total allocation of €185 million in 2009 constitutes a doubling in the budget for this sector over the past five years. With specific regard to the Arts Council, the 2009 funding is just under €76 million. While this represents an overall reduction of 8% over 2008 the actual reduction in monies available to the Arts Council for grants in 2009 will be mitigated by a reduction in the administration costs of the body. Funding to Culture Ireland is broadly maintained and current funding for the National Cultural Institutions is higher than the 2007 levels. Cuts in the day-to-day allocations are marginal and a full programme of events and exhibitions is scheduled for 2009.

In the sports sector, a total allocation of €204 million – which is a significant investment – will enable the Department to meet its commitments in 2009. The allocation of €56 million to the Sports Capital Programme in 2009 brings to €780 million Government expenditure on sports facilities at local, regional and national level over the last 10 years. With specific regard to the Irish Sports Council (ISC), the 2009 funding is more than €53 million, compared to a 2008 allocation of €57.6 million. The 2009 allocation is, nevertheless, still significant and represents an increase of more than 300 per cent on the funding available in 2000. It will be sufficient to enable the ISC to maintain its existing programmes while building on recent progress.

In the tourism sector, the total allocation of just under €161 million in 2009 constitutes an increase of more than 50 per cent over the past five years. From this total allocation, there will be marginal reductions in the budgets of the principal tourism agencies — Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland — which should be largely absorbed by savings in pay, overheads, consultancy and non-programme advertising. There will be no reduction in the amount available for frontline international marketing activities, since there are some once-off expenditures this year on new advertising/ promotional materials for the Tourism Ireland brand.

Having regard to the foregoing, I am satisfied that the financial allocations available to me in 2009 will allow progress to be maintained in the development of the arts, culture, sport and tourism sectors, in accordance with the overall commitments in the Programme for Government.