In short


A round-up of other Budget stories

Animals spared at Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo’s menagerie of animals, fish and insects won’t go hungry next year after being spared from the €4 billion in public expenditure cuts.

The annual grant to the Zoological Society of Ireland has been left unchanged at €3 million for 2010. This money is paid through the Office of Public Works, Dublin Zoo’s landlord in the Phoenix Park.

Dublin Zoo is Ireland’s most visited attraction, marginally ahead of the Guinness Storehouse.

The National Gallery of Ireland, which is based in Merrion Square beside Leinster House, was not so lucky.

Its grant is to be reduced by 7 per cent to €10.17 million. This mostly relates to cuts in payroll costs. But the cost of consultancy services is projected to rise to €135,000 next year from €81,000 in 2009.

There is one silver lining for the gallery. Its “grant-in-aid” for acquisitions and conservations has been left unchanged at €2 million.

Ahern's project survives cuts

While overall spending on sport is being reduced by 9 per cent to €115.5 million next year, some major projects have survived the cull.

Funding to Lansdowne Road (or Aviva Stadium as it is to be known) is to rise to €4.5 million in 2010 from €1.5 million.

Spending on the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown, Dublin – a pet project of former taoiseach Bertie Ahern – is to rise by 20 per cent.

State keeps role in UN Chad mission

The Defence Forces will remain serving on the United Nations peace enforcement mission in Chad after the Government rejected a recommendation by economist Colm McCarthy to end the mission to save money.

Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea said that apart from payroll cuts across the public service, the 2010 gross allocation for defence and Army pensions was just over €1 billion, down 3.8 per cent on this year.

He said he had secured approval to maintain Defence Forces personnel at 10,000. Numbers have dropped from 10,500 since the start of the year due to accelerated retirements and the recruitment moratorium.

Up to €7 million will be saved by having fewer troops on missions in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Arts funding cut back to 2007 levels

Spending on arts, culture and film has been cut from €178 million this year to €166 million for 2010, a significant decrease at 6 per cent, but not as bad as some had feared following the McCarthy report.

Culture Ireland and the Irish Film Board have had their funding cut back to 2007 levels, to €4.083 million and €19.31 million respectively.

The abolition of both, as well as that of the entire Department of Arts Sports and Tourism, was proposed in the McCarthy report.

The Section 481 tax relief for investment in film and TV production stays until at least 2012.

The Arts Council has been subjected to a cut of 6 per cent, to €69.15 million.

Sports sector to endure €12 million cut

Total Government spending for sport in 2010 will be €115 million, down from €127 million on 2009.

Funding to the Irish Sports Council is down by 4 per cent to €49.7 million while the horse and greyhound racing fund will be subject to a 13 per cent decline in funds to €59.2 million.

Some €48 million has been provided for the Sports Capital Programme, the scheme which supports building related projects, compared to €56 million under the last budget. The Lansdowne Road Stadium receives €4.5 million while €3 million is being provided for the refurbishment of the former Marine Institute building at Abbotstown.

The remainder of the allocation under the Budget will be given to the National Aquatic Centre for capital maintenance purposes.

Minister for Sport Martin Cullen said the Government remained committed to increasing and developing participation and interest in sport.

Aid bodies say overseas budget cut a 'massive blow'

Aid agencies have reacted angrily to the Government’s decision to renege on its pledge to meet UN aid targets by 2012, in addition to imposing a further cut of € 25 million to the overseas development assistance (ODA) budget.

The total ODA budget next year will be just over € 671 million. On current projections, this will represent 0.52 per cent of GNP. The Government admitted it would not achieve the UN target of allocating 0.7 per cent of national income to overseas development by 2012, but insisted it was committed to meeting the EU target of spending that amount by 2015.

Noting that ODA had already been cut by almost a quarter in the past year, Concern’s head of advocacy Derek McDowell described the “double whammy” in the Budget as a “massive blow” which would have “serious ramifications for the poorest and most vulnerable”.

Dóchas, an umbrella group representing 44 aid agencies, noted that it was the second time the State had broken the aid target pledge. Jim Clarken, chief executive of Oxfam Ireland, said the deferring of the 2012 target meant the Government’s word “is now ringing increasingly hollow” internationally.

In a statement, Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin and Minister of State for Overseas Development Peter Power described the latest cut as “relatively small”.