[Sinn Fein]

18 October 2002

Ó Snodaigh gives Arts Bill ``critical support''

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Cultúr, Gaeilge, agus Gaeltacht, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has welcomed the Arts Bill 2002 as ``a much needed and long overdue updating of Arts legislation . He commended its provisions strengthening the arts at local council level, and its recognition of the national importance of the Irish Traditional Arts. However, Deputy Ó Snodaigh was critical of the potential for excessive Ministerial control of the Arts Council. He said:

``The Bill stipulates that all Arts Council members will be Ministerial appointees. The Minister will also insist that all arts bodies comply with Government policy. This could certainly give the Minister unnecessary and inappropriate political control over the arts. Sinn Fein therefore calls for additional measures that would increase the independence, but still maintain the accountability of the Arts Council.

``I am also disappointed that the Bill completely fails to address a number of other important issues. The Bill fails to even mention the Irish Language Arts, much less give them equal standing. It does not address the longstanding elitism within the Arts Council. It also fails to legislate regarding arts education, despite its importance to the development and promotion of the arts and despite the Minister's promise to do so.

``Given the variety of concerns raised across all sectors of the Arts, and the need for the direct involvement of artists in formulating arts policy, I hope that there will be ongoing consultation with all the sectors concerned both in future stages of the Bill, and in its implementation.''

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