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Home > Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Sport, Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs Debate: Budget 2010.

[Oireachtas] Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Sport, Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs Debate: Budget 2010. (12 Jan 2011)

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Deputy Frank Feighan: Cuirim fáilte roimh an tUasal Ó hAghmaill go Teach Laighin agus roimh an gComhchoiste um Ghnóthaí Turasóireachta, Cultúir, Spóirt, Pobail, Comhionnanais agus Gaeltachta. Tá ardmheas agam ar an Roinn agus i rith an tsamhraidh thug mé cuairt ar oifigí na Ranna timpeall na tíre. Tá obair mhaith á dhéanamh iontu.

The adjustment in respect of tackling drug misuse is 1%. I am concerned that while the funding will allow for a significant number of projects to be maintained, some projects may be scaled back. Given the explosion of drug misuse in every town, village and rural community, does Mr. Ó hAghmaill believe enough is being done in terms of enforcement to tackle the scourge of drug misuse? While the drugs task forces have done a great deal of work, from what I hearing it appears there are many turf wars among the them. Perhaps it is time to examine how effectively these task forces are utilising resources. I am concerned that much of the funding going to the drug task forces is not getting to the front line. Perhaps Mr. Ó hAghmaill will comment on that.


On North-South co-operation, I have huge respect for Waterways Ireland which has done a good job, in particular in my area in terms of the Ballinamore-Ballyconnell canal links to the Shannon. It may be time we considered giving that body more autonomy. I accept that the Department’s work in this regard falls between jurisdictions. It is time these areas were marketed.


The funding provided for promotion and maintenance of the Irish language is aspirational. Perhaps Mr. Ó hAghmaill will elaborate on what is to be done, in terms of thinking outside the box, to increase the number of people speaking the Irish language from more than 80,000 to 250,000 during the lifetime of the 20 year strategy. I would be delighted to see this achieved. People like me could perhaps be targeted. Currently, academics and people from the Gaeltacht area are being targeted.


The figure for administration shows an increase of 15% over the 2010 allocation. Mr. Ó hAghmaill stated this relates to the transfer of 150 staff to the Department. The increase is quite high and perhaps Mr. Ó hAghmaill will also comment on that.


Deputy Jack Wall: I welcome the Secretary General and his officials to the meeting. We are obviously facing into a difficult year in terms of community development and tackling drug misuse. My question to the Secretary General relates to the overall efficiency of the Department in terms of how the work done in its offices at Dublin, Tubbercurry, Na Forbacha, Portlaoise and Roscrea gels together. I support decentralisation, from which my home town of Athy has benefited. In supporting it, however,we need to be assured efficiencies have not been lost within Departments as a result. I am interested in hearing from the Secretary General the position in that regard.


Mr. Ó hAghmaill might, if he has the figures, give members a breakdown of the core areas of the Department. For instance, are the 150 additional staff allocated to the equality section or are they divided up?


On the development of communities-----


Chairman: Would Deputy Wall allow Senator Ó Murchú to ask a brief question as he must leave to attend a vote in the Seanad?


Deputy Jack Wall:  Yes.


Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú: Caithfidh mé imeacht le haghaidh an vóta mar caithfimid a bheith cúramach faoi na huimhreacha na laethanta seo. Cuirim fáilte arís roimh an tArd Rúnaí, an leas rúnaí agus na hoifigigh eile agus gabhaim buíochas leo as an ráiteas a cuireadh os ár gcomhair.


The Department now has a huge portfolio and the amount of work it must do has been extended. At one time we would have been looking at this Department in the context of the Gaeltacht and Gaelige. We have moved way beyond that at this stage. I would like to take up Deputy Feighan’s point on the drugs issue. I presume many people present saw the television programme last night on the ongoing turf wars within the drugs industry, if we can call it that. My first thoughts go to the Garda Síochána who are in the front line. One message that came out of last night’s television programme was that there should be no acquiescence towards the drug culture here. We must be very wary even of people coming forward to start pushing the door open a little on soft drugs. Much of that push comes from role models who often have a significant impact on people. We must be cautious always to ensure we have some method of responding to this push. I know this is not easy, because often the role models have the media at their disposal whereas a concrete response from the Department does not get the same coverage. Having watched last night’s programme, it is clear we should not acquiesce to pushing the door open.


Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Sport, Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs Debate.

Budget 2010: Discussion with Departments of Tourism, Culture and Sport and Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs

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