Minister for Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys has denied that her expanded ministerial brief will negatively impact arts, culture and heritage in Ireland.
Previously the minister for arts, heritage and the Gaeltacht, Humphreys and her department now have a whole host of other duties of which to take care.
Nevertheless, Humphreys has moved to reassure the arts community that the area is not being downgraded and that funding will not be affected.
According to the Irish Times, Humphreys responded yesterday:
"I completely understand that the arts community want to know that they remain a priority for Government, that they are valued and taken seriously. The new department of course has a lot of extra responsibilities, but with that must come extra staff and resources".
Humphreys noted that she had been able to increase funding in the last two years, bucking a long trend of severe cuts, and pledged to continue to make a strong case for the arts at the Cabinet table.
"I remain committed to working with all stakeholders in the arts and culture sector so that we can continue to build on the progress made and ensure the arts in this country continue to thrive".
There has been a significant backlash to the addition of regional development and rural affairs to the brief.
An online petition calling for adequate funding and a dedicated government department for arts, culture and heritage has received more than 6,600 signatures this week.
Addressing Humphreys directly, it reads:
Ireland has one of the lowest level of public funding and support for arts and culture in all of Europe. Successive Irish governments claim to honour and take pride in our rich cultural heritage, celebrated artists and world-class artistic achievements but consistently fail to nurture and support the creative community.