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19.37 19 May 2016


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The Government has come under fire from Opposition leaders for the failure to appoint a dedicated Arts Minister.

Enda Kenny has appointed Heather Humphreys as the Minister for Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts & the Gaeltacht in his new Cabinet.

However, today's announcement of 15 further junior ministerial positions saw no additional TDs appointed to the Arts portfolio.

Joan Burton said the failure to appoint a Minister of State for the Arts is a 'major disappointment'.

In a statement, the acting Labour leader said: "Yesterday in the Dáil I made the point that the Arts portfolio had been further diluted by cramming more and more responsibilities into the same Government Department, and that the Programme for Government was sadly lacking when it came to providing supports that would allow the arts to flourish and grow.

"It is particularly disappointing that despite the fact that there are now 18 Ministers of State, including three in the Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht alone, there is no room for an Arts Minister!"

Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams also highlighted the lack of an Arts Minister in the appointments, saying “there should have at the very least been a junior minister for the Arts appointed in the absence of a Cabinet Minister".

He added that "the erosion of the position of the Arts and Heritage Ministry is a diminution of the unique status of the Arts in Irish life". 

The issue of the Government's handling of Arts has become a talking point over the last few days, with film director Lenny Abrahamson arguing that "it's clear from lack of action that the Irish political class neither understands nor values the arts".

An online petition (found here) is up to more than 11,000 of the 15,000 required signatures, with the goal being to "give arts, culture and heritage the respect it deserves by creating an independent Department and setting a funding target of 0.6% of GDP (the EU average spend on arts/culture)".

The National Campaign for the Arts says 2012 figures show that Ireland is lagging behind the EU average at only 0.11% of GDP.


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