After our last newsletter, and as a direct result of our persistence, your support and very visible lobbying in Leinster House, there has been some significant National Campaign for the Arts (NCFA) outcomes.
Private Members Motions in The Dáil and The Seanad
June 26th & 27th 2012
It was significant that the arts and culture in Ireland was the subject of debate in both the Houses of the Oireachtas in the same week. As the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht remarked; “It is unique in my 30 years in national politics for both Houses to debate an issue simultaneously. It is even rarer for the same issue to come up in Private Members’ business, so it is a first”.
Leinster House briefing
The NCFA hosted a briefing session for all members of The Houses on Tues June 26th in Leinster House. TDs and Senators were briefed on the Campaign’s wider objectives as well as the core principles at stake for Public Service Reform (PSR) plans for State’s cultural institutions. Our briefing informed the debate, evidenced by the fact that TDs used our facts, figures and positions to support their statements in the Dáil Chamber. Fianna Fáil supported by Sinn Féin, some Independents and members of the Technical Group, brought a Private Members Motion to the Dáil on the subject of the National Cultural Institutions (NCIs). Full remarks from the Dáil debates on June 26th here & June 27th here. At the same time, a number of independent Senators tabled a similar motion in The Seanad, with that debate taking place on June 27th. Full remarks here
NCFA membership in action
Through targeted e-mail and social media campaign, NCFA members filled the Public Galleries for all debates, demonstrating that the arts sector was alert to the Department’s handling of concerns around the PSR plans. Thanks to members and supporters who filled the Galleries, noted by Minister Deenihan, other TDs and Senators. We would like to thank Sarah Kelly in Senator Fiach Mac Conghail’s Office for enabling access to Leinster House for the debates. There was a strong showing from the Visual Arts sector too and the NCFA welcomes and thanks all members, new and old.
NCFA meets with Minister Deenihan
28th June 2012
A meeting with the Minister was sought in February 2012, so it was ironic but timely that we finally spoke with him in person on the day after debates in both the Houses of the Oireachtas. At this meeting, we put forward our key concerns in relation to the PSR plans, specifically around the retention and independence of boards, succession planning and the public recruitment of Directors of the National Cultural Institutions. Strengthening Culture Ireland beyond the Critical Review, calling for the advisory board to be formalized and the permanent CEO position to be publicly advertised forthwith were also discussed. The minutes of this meeting cannot yet be published as the Department has not agreed to their publication.
Meeting with Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams
July 11th 2012
A positive and engaged discussion around the PSR plans, the Decade of Commemorations, and local participation in the arts. As with all parties in the Oireachtas, the NCFA aims to develop good working relationships with local and national politicians.
Briefing session with Parliamentary Labour Party
July 17th 2012
Constituency Coordinators have been really supportive recently by directly lobbying local TDs to attend briefings, and particular, to help secure the Labour Party briefing after the Private Members Motion. Many thanks for your loyal support, time and effort. It paid off. This was a key opportunity for the Campaign to speak directly to Government partners and holders of such key Ministerial portfolios as Department of Foreign Affairs & Enterprise, Education & Skills and Public Expenditure & Reform, all having some direct influence and connection with the arts. The session provided strong feedback, not only on Party commitment to the arts in Ireland, but also welcoming specifics on Campaign priorities in the future.
July 18th 2012
As Minister Deenihan appeared in the Dáil for Priority Questions there was clarification that the Minister has submitted proposals and recommendations to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, but that it was unlikely these would be progressed further before Autumn. A full transcript of all PQs for the Minister can be found here.
While awaiting the PSR plan, a number of observations can be made on recent activity. This experience will be useful for our future traction with local and national government. Almost 50 Backbenchers, TDs, Ministers and Senators took the time to consider the motions and contribute to the debate. They were from the length and breadth of the country and were very keen to show cross-party support for the arts in general, while reinforcing their commitment to their local arts organizations and activity. We will shortly publish a handy list of the politicians who debated on the motion in June so you can directly reference your own constituency representatives. Arts & Culture was firmly acknowledged as a core component of our Irish identity, something that enriches all our lives and part of the fabric of a civic society.
As always you can follow us on Twitter (we have doubled our followers in the last 3 months by an extra 2000 to 4000!) or like us on Facebook to get the most up-to-date notes from the campaign. Make sure to link these please!
Warmest wishes, Louise O’Reilly National Co-ordinator. Sent on behalf of the steering committee: Tania Banotti, Valerie Connor, Loughlin Deegan, Vincent Dempsey, Jack Harte, Gerard Howlin, Fiach Mac Conghail, Janice McAdam, Niamh O’Donnell, Elizabeth Whyte