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5th November 2020 | Press Releases

Oireachtas briefing: Minister acknowledges the importance of sport, culture and tourism to well-being and mental health

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The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin last week welcomed the inaugural meeting of The Future of Media Commission, which was established to examine how public service aims can be delivered and sustainably funded through the broadcasting, print and online media in Ireland over the next 10 years, while ensuring that independent editorial oversight is maintained and Ireland’s creative and cultural sectors are supported. Minister Martin said: “The Commission has a remit to chart the path for the future of media in Ireland in a way that supports informed public discourse and provides platforms for our language, culture, creative arts and sport.” The Commission is due to report in 9 months’ time to the Minister and to the Taoiseach, Michéal Martin.

Minister Martin also welcomed the drop in the VAT Rate for the tourism and hospitality sector will drop from 13.5% to 9% from Sunday, 1 November, saying the reduction “was a key recommendation of the Tourism Recovery Taskforce. The immediate concern is to help tourism businesses to survive the current crisis and thereafter to improve the competitiveness of the sector.

“When recovery takes hold, Irish tourism will face unique competitiveness challenges as all countries will be attempting to win share in a market where demand has collapsed. Along with the €55m in continuity funding provided in Budget 2021, additional funding for training and digitalisation, the introduction of the Covid-19 Restrictions Subsidy Scheme and other economy wide supports, the reduction in the VAT rate will allow tourism to play its part in a sustainable recovery.”

Also on Sunday, the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media announced the recipients of the €5 million pilot Live Performance Support Scheme, which is designed to assist commercial venues, producers and promoters to plan live performances across the country over the coming months. Minister Martin said the nature of the challenge facing the live performance sector was ‘unprecedented’, adding: “The live events sector was one of the first to close and I want to ensure that it will be supported and there once again for musicians, artists and performers when restrictions have lifted.” The exceptional demand for this pilot scheme led to Minister Martin’s decision to ensure a €50 million support package was made available to assist commercial venues, producers and promoters in Budget 2021.

Last week also saw the delivery of the final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and certain related matters to Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman. Speaking on behalf of the Government, the Minister said: “I want to firstly acknowledge the participation of those who shared their personal experiences with the Commission. In particular, I would like to pay special tribute to the survivors of these institutions, and their families, for the courage and determination they have shown in coming forward and recounting their experiences of Mother and Baby Homes to the Commission.

I hope that, by having the opportunity to recount their experiences, former residents and their families feel that they have a voice; that they have been heard, that their hurt is acknowledged and their experiences are now documented. Difficult though this report will be, I hope that this can assist the healing process.

“The work of the Commission will no doubt shed an important light into a dark and difficult chapter of very recent Irish history – a history that is living memory for so many of our citizens today.”

In advance of the delivery of the report, the Government had committed to a series of measures in response to the needs of survivors, including advancing Information and Tracing legislation in 2021; bringing forward legislation to provide for sensitive and appropriate actions at the burial site at the former Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway, and at any other sites where this is appropriate; engaging with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner and Tusla to ensure that the rights of all citizens to access personal information about themselves, under data protection legislation and the GDPR, are fully respected and implemented; and working to establish, on a formal, national basis, an archive of records related to institutional trauma during the 20th century, including archiving relevant records and witness testimony by victims and survivors.

Moving to this week, Minister Catherine Martin on Monday welcomed the allocation of an unprecedented funding package of €85 million to the Irish sport sector, as it continues to face the challenges posed by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Welcoming the investment, Sport Ireland chairman Kieran Mulvey said: “While the circumstances are unfortunate, Sport Ireland’s investment in 2020 is the largest ever investment package for sport”, while Minister Martin said “The government recognises the vital contribution that sport has made to public health throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The funding announced today will assist our sporting organisations and clubs in getting everyone active and keeping them active. This has never been more important and is essential for our physical and mental wellbeing.”

Meanwhile, Minister Pippa Hackett addressed the FAO Regional Conference for Europe on the UN Food Systems Summit 2021, telling delegates that ‘‘Ireland was among the first to support the call for a UN Food Systems Summit, and to raise awareness of the potential of food systems transformation.’’ Referring to Ireland’s recent contribution of €1 million for the Food Systems Summit, Minister Hackett stated: ‘‘This support will enable critical, pre-summit country-level dialogues where it is most needed, such as in Least Developed Countries; in those experiencing conflict; and in Small Island Developing States.

‘‘Ireland is fully committed to ensuring a successful Food Systems Summit that, as part of the Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, identifies and launches bold new actions to transform how we collectively produce and consume food, and to deliver progress on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.’’