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13th August 2020 | Green Gazette

Oireachtas briefing: Green Party Ministers announce funding for arts, woodlands and community development

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The Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, Catherine Martin TD announced a wide range of funding this week across arts, tourism and the Gaeltacht. More than €400,000 was been announced for the promotion of Irish arts globally in 2020 and into 2021 by Culture Ireland. The funding is to support Irish artists and arts organisations to present projects, covering dance, literature, music, opera, theatre and the visual arts internationally.

Announcing the awards Minister Martin said, “This funding for Culture Ireland to promote Irish arts and culture worldwide and generate new opportunities for Irish artists to present their work globally is reflective of Global Ireland 2025 and the ambition to double Ireland’s global footprint, which forms part of the Programme for Government.”

The minister also announced €10,000 in funding for Raidió na Life, a special interest community radio station and nearly €700,000 to undertake improvement works on a range of offshore islands. Funding has been approved for Cork, Mayo and Donegal County Councils for Whiddy, Oileán Chléire and Bere Island in Cork, Clare Island, Inisturk, Cleggan, Roonagh Pier and the old pier at Roonagh in Mayo and Island Roy Árainn Mhór in County Donegal.

On Thursday, Minister Martin launched a new Fulbright-Creative Ireland Professional Fellowship, encouraging Ireland-US collaborations in the culture and creative sector. These Fellowships offer a unique opportunity for passionate and accomplished people working in creative and cultural professions in Ireland to visit the USA for a 3-6-month period to undertake research and engage with US peers.

“The intrinsic value of culture has always been at the forefront of Irish-US relations,” Minister Martin said. “The new Fulbright-Creative Ireland Professional Fellowships encourage enhanced dialogue between our two nations. The successful Fellows will bring their skills to US organisations, and return home bringing new insights and ideas.”

Minister of State with responsibility for Forestry at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett, launched a new scheme to fund the creation of new native woodland on public lands. This scheme meets one of the main biodiversity commitments in the Programme for Government and will cover the cost of establishing such forests on suitable land in public ownership.

The Scheme is aimed at all Public Bodies, including Government Departments and State Sponsored Organisations, Higher Education Authorities and Local Authorities. Iarnród Éireann have stepped forward as the first public body to express an interest in the scheme.

“Native woodlands are an important part of Ireland’s natural heritage, history and culture, and are unique in terms of their biodiversity and habitat creation,” Minister Hackett said. “This scheme demonstrates this Government’s commitment to improving biodiversity while also putting in place permanent woodland that will capture carbon, can protect water, and will add to our landscapes for many years into the future.”

Joe O’Brien TD, Minister of State for Community Development and Charities at the Department of Rural and Community Development, this week announced details of €5m funding for community centres and facilities under the July stimulus package. The funding will be provided under the Community Enhancement Programme and is in addition to €2m provided under that programme earlier this year.

The new fund seeks to stimulate local economies by providing capital grants towards the maintenance, improvement and upkeep of community centres, and community buildings.

“This €5m funding will provide capital grants to help improve community centres, and other community buildings and facilities,” Minister O’Brien said. “These important facilities operate at the heart of each community.  They provide activities and services that help strengthen the bonds that tie communities together and they provide valuable services to the people in their area.”

The new fund seeks to stimulate local economies by providing capital grants towards the maintenance, improvement and upkeep of community centres, and community buildings. Similar expenditure on other community facilities will also be allowed.