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3rd September 2020 | Green Gazette

Oireachtas update: Minister Martin works to rebuild the arts sector and boost tourism at home


Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, Catherine Martin TD, this week met with the Minister for Health, the Acting Chief Medical Officer, the National Campaign for the Arts and the Arts Council to discuss the concerns of the arts sector and chart a way forward for a return to safe performances and activities.

“The sector includes artists and performers from across the spectrum, as well as thousands of back-stage and behind-the-scenes crew and support workers, the majority of whom have had no work for more than six months,” Minister Martin said. “Our objective today was to build strong lines of communication and understanding between the stakeholders and the two Departments. We understand the importance of the arts community getting back to earning a living and doing what they love, for the benefit of all society.”

The Minister noted that she intends to establish a dedicated Taskforce for the Arts and Culture Sector in the coming week and will announce details of support packages arising out of the July stimulus package shortly.

Alongside An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin TD and the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister Martin also this week launched the Stay and Spend scheme.

Stay and Spend is a tax scheme aimed at consumers to help drive sales in the hospitality sector during the off-season which has been negatively impacted as a result of COVID-19. The scheme will provide a maximum of €125 in income tax credits to tax-payers who spend up to €625 in restaurants, pubs, hotels, B&Bs and other qualifying businesses, from Autumn 2020 through to Spring 2021, including over the Christmas period.

Minister Martin welcomed the Stay and Spend Scheme describing it as a “a much-needed boost to the tourism sector during the shoulder and off season.”

“To maximise the benefit to the sector, I have asked Fáilte Ireland to commence a national campaign across radio and press next week to inform the general public about the scheme and help them understand how they can avail of the tax credit. Fáilte will also be helping tourism businesses get the message out to potential customers that they have registered for the scheme.”

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, this week had his first meeting with the Association and his team at the National Parks and Wildlife Service to discuss biodiversity and farming. Minister Noonan commented on Twitter that he is “looking forward to working with the farming community to achieve common objectives over coming months and years.”

Minister of State for Community Development and Charities, Joe O’ Brien TD, has launched an ERSI report showing improved employment outcomes among the long-term unemployed who receive employment supports under the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP). SICAP provides funding to tackle poverty, social exclusion and long-term unemployment through local engagement and partnerships between disadvantaged individuals, community organisations and public sector agencies.

Minister O’Brien, TD expressed his thanks to workers in development companies across the country:

“I welcome the publication of this very valuable piece of research which clearly illustrates that SICAP pre-employment supports are helping people furthest removed from the labour market, and who often face multiple barriers, to gain employment or enter self-employment. Given the sharp rise in total unemployment in the wake of COVID-19 SICAP and its holistic, person-centred response to individual needs will be more important than ever”.

As part of the Government’s Let Get Ready campaign to prepare families for starting or returning school following lockdown, Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, Roderic O’Gorman TD shared a video addressing various concerns.