Written answers

Thursday, 15 February 2024

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Legislative Programme

Photo of Rose Conway-WalshRose Conway-Walsh (Mayo, Sinn Fein)
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61. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she will provide an update on the legislative programme. [3502/24]

Photo of Catherine MartinCatherine Martin (Dublin Rathdown, Green Party)
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In respect of the current legislative programme, my Department is currently progressing the Registration of Short- Term Tourist Letting Bill and the Údarás na Gaeltachta (Amendment) Bill.

Registration of Short- Term Tourist Letting Bill

The Registration of Short Term Tourist Letting Bill 2024 provides for new regulatory controls requiring short-term and holiday lets to register with Fáilte Ireland with a view to ensuring that housing is used to the best effect in areas of greatest housing need.

On 7 December 2022 the Government approved

(i) the drafting of the Registration of Short-Term Tourism Letting Bill on a priority basis, and

(ii) publication of the General Scheme, and authorised the referral of the General Scheme to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media for pre-legislative scrutiny.

On 21 December 2022, the proposed Short Term Tourism Letting (STTL) Bill was submitted to the EU Commission pursuant to the Technical Regulations Information System (TRIS) EU Directive 2015/1535 that requires EU Member States to notify the Commission of any draft technical regulations concerning products and information society services before they are adopted in national law.

Such a notification triggers a standstill period of 3 months during which the proposed Bill cannot be enacted. On 22 March 2023, the EU Commission extended the standstill period until 22 December 2023. The Commission extended the standstill period as it considered that the STTL Bill concerns a matter covered in part by the proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on data collection and sharing relating to short-term accommodation rental services and amending Regulation (EU) 2018/1724 of 7 November 2022 (EU STR).

As part of the ongoing engagement with the Commission, officials from my Department, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and from Fáilte Ireland held a meeting with Commission representatives in Brussels in June 2023. This meeting facilitated greater clarification as to the provisions proposed by both the STTL Bill and the EU STR proposal.

On 15 November 2023, the European Parliament and Council reached a provisional political agreement on the EU STR proposal. It is understood that the proposal could be endorsed and formally adopted by both institutions by end-March 2024. This political agreement provides clarity as to the provisions within this new EU STR regulation.

My Department has engaged extensively with the Commission in relation to the alignment of Ireland’s proposed STTL Bill and the EU STR once adopted. Officials from my Department and from Fáilte Ireland met with Commission representatives in Brussels in December 2023, providing a formal response to the Commission’s communication of 22 March 2023.

On 9 February 2024, the Commission responded to note that the principles outlined in Ireland’s formal response appear to go in the right direction to ensure consistency with the principles of the STR Regulation but that some further consideration may be required to ensure complete alignment. My officials are due to meet with the Commission again during the week commencing 19thFebruary to discuss its response and observations and to provide further clarifications on the proposed approach.

Údarás na Gaeltachta (Amendment) Bill

My Department is engaged in discussions with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to the Government (OPC) regarding the drafting of the Údarás na Gaeltachta (Amendment) Bill on an ongoing basis. A lot of work has been undertaken on the General Scheme since it was first published in December 2022.

The goal of the Office Parliamentary Counsel to the Government (OPC) is to draft Bills and statutory instruments of a consistent high quality on behalf of the Government and Government Ministers. Work and engagement on this bill is ongoing and it is hoped that elections will be held later this year.

Approval to prepare legislation to give effect to a new approach in relation to how the board of Údarás na Gaeltachta is appointed was granted in December 2022. As a result, an election/selection process will replace the current nomination/selection process that has been in place for the last ten years under Acht na Gaeltachta 2012.

On foot of these changes, the board will consist of 16 members instead of the current 12 members when the two-year life-cycle of the current board ends in 2024. In place of 7 members being nominated to the board by local authorities that have a Gaeltacht region within their area of jurisdiction, 10 of the members will be elected on behalf of Gaeltacht areas and a further six members will be appointed on foot of a public competition.

A further change will see the three smallest Gaeltacht areas; Gaeltacht Mhúscraí, Gaeltacht na Mí and Gaeltacht na nDéise respectively, have permanent representation on the board under the new arrangement, similar to the other Gaeltacht areas.

The Joint Oireachtas Committee for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Irish-Speaking Community was requested to undertake pre-legislative scrutiny of the General Scheme and published its report in July 2023. There were over twenty recommendations in the report and these recommendations had to be considered by my Department’s officials prior to undertaking further work in terms of legislative drafting.

My Department will be reverting to Government shortly to obtain a new Government decision for a revised General Scheme with a view to drafting the Bill this term.


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