25 February 2015

Question Time: Culture, Arts and Leisure - Tuesday 24 February 2015


What action does the Minister plan to take to address the Funding inequality between the Irish language and Ulster Scots, which is at a ration of approximately 10:1? That was a question to the Culture Minister from Mr Dunne during Oral Question Time.

The Minister stated " the ratio of funding for Irish and Ulster Scots from my Department has been, on average, 3:1 respectively. That is reflected in funding that my Department and its arm's-length bodies have provided to programmes and projects dedicated to Irish and Ulster Scots. The Executive remain wholly committed to affording equal respect and recognition to Irish and Ulster Scots, and the funding provided to each reflects their different stages of development and ranges of programmes, projects and supported organisations. Such funding is determined on the basis of approved actions in their respective business plans. I have made it clear on several occasions in the past that I will consider and give my full support to any initiatives that the Ulster-Scots community brings forward that will help community infrastructures". The Minister also responded to Mr Dunne's suplementary with " I find it a constant source of frustration that the Member and other Members on the Benches opposite make allegations that are particularly about my responsibility for creating inequalities. The Member has yet to write a letter and has yet to knock my door to ask for meetings with me or my officials. If this issue is of such concern to him, let me say that he has done very little between one Question Time and another. If I felt that there was inequality towards my community, I would take action to ensure that that was addressed, so I suggest that the Member is just using Question Time".

The Minister also answered questions from Mrs Dobson, Mr McAleer and Mr Humphrey on what discussions the Minister has had with the governing bodies of sports that are organised on an all-island basis, to establish how many require an Irish Passport as part of their eligibility criteria.

The Minister said " Sport NI is talking to sports councils in Britain and Ireland about providing guidance for sports governing bodies on their responsibility under the Good Friday Agreement and, in particular, the rights of citizens from the North to choose to hold either an Irish or British passport or both. I am committed to the principle in the Good Friday Agreement to:

"recognise the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose".

On that basis, I am happy to meet or make representation to any sports governing body that may be operating contrary to the spirit of the agreement and to encourage them to support its principles and review their eligibility criteria.

The Minister has to answer questions on 3G and 4G playing surfaces, an update on the boxing investment strategy and Budgets Cuts for musical instruments.