- A new funding scheme for Local Authorities which was increased to €2 million over 3 years
- €7m in funding allocated to embark on an accelerated programme of peatlands restoration and conservation works in 2020, generating 100 jobs in the Midlands – and, ultimately, the storage of 28 million tonnes of carbon
- An additional €1m was allocated in the budget to accelerate key nature conservation and biodiversity programmes under the National Parks and Wildlife Service to include the recruitment of front line conservation specialists
- National Parks and Wildlife Service-run programmes are making a difference as 2019 reports hopeful results – e.g. the Curlew Conservation Programme Report showed an increase in the breeding productivity of the bird in conservation areas )see Conservation Programme Report 2019). The Grey Partridge programme has brought the iconic bird back from near extinction levels
- In February, the first National Biodiversity Conference was held, which resulted in a number of major new Government initiatives including legislation to introduce a biodiversity duty, which will place a requirement on public bodies to promote the conservation of biodiversity in carrying out their functions which is at the Oireachtas stage, and funding was allocated, in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine for the development of resources for the ‘Farming for Nature’ project and Seeds of Nature Conference charter
- The Department secured multi-annual EU funding for major Conservation Programme
- Support to Community Foundation Ireland for the development of 56 community Biodiversity Plans
- Continued collaboration with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment on the ObSERVE Programme. Its main aim is to greatly improve our knowledge and understanding of protected offshore species and sensitive habitats through high quality, state-of-the-art data collection across Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Information generated and analysed under the programme feeds into the sustainable management of offshore activities and appropriate marine conservation strategies. The project won a 2019 Civil Service Excellence and Innovation Award.
In terms of Culture and Creativity, Minister Madigan stated that measures taken in 2019 – at a time of particular budgetary prudence – highlight the Government’s commitment to support Irish artists, at home and abroad.
- Markievicz Bursaries announced the first recipients of the Markievicz Award, a new bursary scheme for artists, so-called to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the appointment of the first female cabinet minister, Constance de Markievicz
- New and enhanced initiatives to support creativity in schools were launched in conjunction with the Department of Education. The number of Scoileanna Ildánacha/Creative Schools will double to 300, with an additional 150 schools joining the initial pilot group.
- At an event to mark the achievement of Irish artists at the Edinburgh Festivals this year, the Minister announced approval of €680,200 in grant funding by Culture Ireland for the promotion of Irish arts globally.
- The start of detailed appraisal stage of Abbey Theatre redevelopment was announced
- The first Progress Report on the Implementation of the Audiovisual Action Plan was published, which saw significant progress in efforts to make Ireland a global hub for film, TV drama and animation
- Social Welfare Scheme for Self-Employed Artists scheme extended giving more self-employed artists in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance for the first year the ability to focus on their artistic work and developing their portfolio.
- Per Cent for Art Scheme Updated to include measures to significantly increase funding for Public Art. Under the new scheme announced by Minister Madigan, the top band will be increased to €50m meaning 500k could be spent on a work of art.
- Cultural Ambassadors appointed – five high-profile figures from Ireland’s arts and culture community appointed to promote Ireland globally as part of the Government’s Global Ireland 2025 initiative.
- Culture Ireland Global Ireland 2025 Conference took place in Dublin Castle. A key part of the Government’s Global Ireland 2025 initiative, stakeholders in the arts world came together to debate how Ireland can strategically strengthen and advance its renowned distinctive global reputation for creativity.
In the protection of our built heritage, progress in 2019 included:
- Minister Madigan publishes details of Heritage Ireland 2030 public consultation. Analysis of over two thousand submissions received during the 4-month public consultation on the development of a new national heritage.
- Publication of the first progress report on the Climate Change Sectoral Adaptation Plans for Biodiversity and Built and Archaeological Heritage.
- The launch of €4.3m fund for conservation and repair of Ireland’s protected historic structures.
- The Regeneration of Ireland’s historic towns continues as €1 million in funding announced for 2020
In December, An Taoiseach and Minister Madigan launched the Beyond 2022: Ireland’s Virtual Record Treasury research project, a €2.5 million Government funded flagship research project which will create an all-island and international legacy for the Decade of Centenaries recreating and reimagining seven centuries of historical records deemed lost in a fire in 1922.
Reflecting on a busy year, Minister Madigan said: “In looking back it has been filled with so many great achievements, successes and memories. We have placed great importance on the promotion of culture and creativity, both home and abroad.
“The Social Welfare Scheme for Self-Employed Artists Scheme provides much needed security to allow artists to be able to focus on their artistic work and develop their portfolios without the added pressure of seeking employment.
“We have also placed great importance on our efforts to address biodiversity loss, with the introduction of an order obliging all public bodies to inform the Department of measures that they are carrying out to promote the conservation of biodiversity and the National Biodiversity Action Plan and our plans for 2020 in Peatlands restoration will reap dividends.”