11th February 2021 | Green Gazette

Oireachtas briefing: Green Ministers launch schemes for reimagining public spaces and biodiversity


The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, has announced a new funding scheme to help local authorities open up and create public spaces and facilities dedicated to the arts, culture and festivals.

The Outdoor Public Space Scheme 2021 will allow each local authority apply for up to €250,000 in funding to adapt, equip or otherwise improve public spaces for cultural and events activities. The new scheme will take account of public health guidelines and of the needs of local arts and entertainment communities.

“More than ever we now appreciate the value of communal spaces, particularly for our artists, the culture among our communities and for people to gather in a safe environment”, Minister Martin said. “This move is another fulfilment of the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce’s recommendations and it is in line with the programme for government’s commitments on wellbeing. Crucially, the fund and scheme will help create new spaces up and down the country, in villages, towns and cities, to be transformed into wonderful resources for festivals, entertainment and cultural events.”

“The pandemic has been a significant driver of innovation especially in the arts and entertainment sectors and I look forward to the creative and imaginative solutions that I know will be generated by local authorities in response to this scheme.” 

Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan TD, welcomed the allocation of a total of €240m to support sustainable transport projects across the country. This year’s allocations have increased by just over €130m as compared to last year’s and will support the addition of 233 new projects to the NTA’s investment programme in 2021.

“Today’s allocation increase marks a huge step forward in providing green sustainable mobility options to our cities, suburbs and hinterlands”, Minister Ryan said. “During COVID we’ve reconnected with our local areas and can all see why and where improvements to walking and cycling infrastructure are needed.”

“The projects that the NTA are funding will make a real difference to commuters and leisure seekers alike. Improving infrastructure for cycling and walking will make our cities, towns and villages more accessible and attractive for everyone. That’s good news for communities, and good news for the economy.”

The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman TD, together with the Department of Health, has launched a report which examines the prevalence and impact of period poverty in Ireland. The report has been produced by the Period Poverty Sub-Committee of the National Strategy for Women and Girls Strategy Committee.

“The publication of this report is the beginning of a much wider conversation on this issue”, Minister O’Gorman said. “I welcome the wide-ranging cross-sector recommendations in this report to strengthen the evidence base around period poverty, to address the stigma associated with periods, to normalise periods through education and to assist those high-risk groups who need it most.”

 “No woman, girl, intersex, trans or non-binary person who menstruates, should have to exclude themselves from the activities of daily living during menstruation or suffer the physical and mental health impacts resulting from both recurrent exclusion and the use of unsuitable period products. Government, NGOs, private individuals all have a role to play in achieving this objective. My department will work within the context of the National Strategy for Women and Girls to support the Department of Health to focus attention on this issue.”

The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett, this week launched a call for new locally led farm and community biodiversity initiatives. The €1.25 million initiative invites project applications from farmer groups, local action groups, NGOs, local authorities, or community groups.

“This is all about helping farmers and land managers to deliver for biodiversity, both on farms and at a local level”, Minister Hackett said. “It is a completely open call so I hope any and all interested bodies such as groups of farmers, NGOs, local authorities, community groups, or indeed existing EIPs will put forward their ideas for local biodiversity initiatives.”

“Locally led projects are among the shining stars of our current Rural Development programme. I want to build on them now by offering support to smaller-scale versions. I was delighted to secure €1.25 million in the Budget to fund this call, and I see successful projects focusing on increased biodiversity through collaboration with small groups of farmers or other land managers. The farmers might share a common habitat such as a stream which goes through all their lands, or they might be scattered but share a common type of habitat. Either is acceptable. We just want to support creative ideas on how they might be brought together to enhance biodiversity.”