Cullen criticises cuts proposals


Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism Martin Cullen today spoke out against cost-cutting proposals that could see his department closed down.

Mr Cullen railed against aspects of the An Bord Snip Nua report that suggest the functions of the departments of Community, Rural Gaeltacht Affairs, and Arts, Sports Tourism should be transferred to other departments.

“Adopting the proposals would allow for the creation of up to two other departments, whose creation could reflect emerging priorities for the Government,” the report states.

The Waterford TD said he fundamentally disagreed with the plan and questioned why cultural resources would be cut when the arts are flourishing in the global downturn.

“Culture is really at the centre of what we’re going to do going forward,” he said. “It’s the biggest growth area, in spite of the world downturn, that’s going to come over the next 15 years.

“So why at a time when you know all this, when you have the ingredients in Ireland, would you turn around and say you should cut it?,” he said at the final day of the Global Irish Economic Forum in Farmleigh. “I disagree with it fundamentally, I think it was very misrepresented.”

Mr Cullen said Ireland should build the world’s best university for the performing arts.

Businessman Denis O'Brien told the forum today Ireland's literary and musical heritage can be used to open business doors around the world and help seal deals in the face of economic crisis.

"The fact that we have such a strong culture as a country really gives us one of the big advantages of any nation in the world," he said.

"We are famous for our writers, our artists, our poets and we are not famous for much else," said the chairman of Digicel, adding that his cell phone group had got a licence to operate in Samoa because the country's prime minister had been educated by an Irish religious order.

Earlier film-maker Neil Jordan said the banks, church, construction industry and health service had all failed the Irish people, but heritage and culture remained as success stories. "So many institutions have failed the Irish people," said Jordan. "The culture industry, they have not failed, they are perhaps the only success story that remains after the last 20 years."

Addtional reporting: Agencies