26 November 2013

Question Time: Culture, Arts and Leisure 25 November 2013

The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Carol Ní Chuilín covered a range of subjects during Question Time including Ballynagross FC, PRONI, Fishing, Commonwealth Games 2014 and the Creative Industries Innovation Fund.

In a response to David McNarry regarding PRONI's target market, the Minister informed the house that during 2012/13 "PRONI welcomed almost 17,000 visitors on site and recorded over 10 million page views on the PRONI website".

The Minister informed her party colleague, Mitchel McLaughlin that "the main proposed change to fishing on Lough Neagh for the 2014 season is the prohibition of the taking of salmon by means of a draft net".

In a supplementary question, Michelle McIlveen asked:
What efforts are the Minister and her Department making to assist members of the Lough Neagh Fishermen's Association in obtaining eel fishing permits?  Is she aware that members have been threatened for having raised this issue?
The Minister stated:
"I am alarmed at the idea of anybody being threatened, let alone threatened for raising an issue.  That is totally unacceptable."

With the Commonwealth Games coming up next year, Paula Bradley and Alastair Ross asked the Minister to provide an update on what her Department is doing to support our athletes.
"The NI Commonwealth Games Council is responsible for all aspects of the North of Ireland team competing in the 2014 Glasgow games."
"From April 2013, in the lead-up to the games, my Department, through Sport NI, is providing direct financial assistance totalling £136,000 to the Commonwealth Games Council.  That funding will help with the council's costs for staff and administration and other costs associated with attendance at the 2014 games."
The Minister also stated that it was important to maintain current funding levels for our athletes.

Declan McAleer asked the Minister to "...give us her assessment of how DCAL could encourage interest in the Irish language among the unionist community?" She stated:
"The very essence of the Líofa initiative is to make the language accessible to all, and I firmly believe that the Irish language is.  Líofa continues to implement outreach work for groups and individuals from all walks of life.  For example, this week, Líofa will take part in a cross-community event in Fermanagh organised by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and the GAA to bring young people from Protestant and Catholic backgrounds together to explore our cultural richness through sharing and learning, music, language and culture."

During an update on the Creative Industries Innovation Fund to Sandra Overend the Minister revealed:
"We had a pilot scheme in a deprived area of west Belfast where we invested in iPads for schools...The evidence that came back...was that, as soon as those children and young people who had difficulties completing homework were given an iPad, they not only completed their homework but completed it in record time and expanded on it."
During topical questions the Minister was asked to comment on a range of issues including:

  • the proposed sports hub at UUJ; 
  • possible funding gap for the tour of the north international cycle race; &
  • visitor number for the Broighter hoard exhibition in Limavady.

You can read the full transcript from Question Time on our website.