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Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht

National Cultural Institutions (National Concert Hall) Bill 2014: Discussion

3:50 pm

Photo of Michelle MulherinMichelle Mulherin (Mayo, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

No, I simply am interested in this debate and welcome the witnesses. Senator Mac Conghail, in conjunction with many of the other questions posed, raises interesting questions about the whole idea of accountability. I refer to the idea that artistic integrity and that side of things be preserved, but yet the realisation that once one is talking about taxpayers' money, one is not actually independent. Consequently, integrity and independence are actually two different things and this debate is really bringing this point to the fore. Members have had a few debates on this issue previously and to my mind, when it is taxpayers' money, then it is the policy of Government or general arts policy. However, that can only be healthy if there is a dialogue going on with those who actually are experts in the field and that it is not a dictatorial process.

The Minister is not necessarily going to be an expert in the arts. On the Minister's side, and in the public interest, one would always like to think that these policies that are forthcoming are well debated in the democratic sense, and therefore that the public interest is being accounted for and that pressure is being put on people within the arts where they are being funded by taxpayers to reach out to the community, to be relevant to the public and to get more people involved in and feeling the benefit of the arts. As Mr. Carney has pointed out, we are talking about a statutory basis which would copperfasten the public service side of things and I understand the legislators are teasing through issues. I would welcome it and I welcome this debate also.

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