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Caral Ní Chuilin – Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure Culture agus an Ghaeilge

9 September, 2011 - by Carál Ní Chuilín

In my first interview as Minister I stated that I would be the Minister for the entire community, and that I had no interest in pursuing any narrow political or partisan agenda but that I genuinely wished to engage with and represent the entire community – and I hold to that.

Throughout my tenure as Minister, I intend to ensure that Culture, Arts & Leisure is accessible and enjoyed by people of all backgrounds, abilities and traditions. That means challenging social and political exclusion and promoting real and meaningful opportunities to participate for all.

I also intend to ensure that priorities and delivery are shaped by the broadest view of arts and culture. Diversity of background must be visible on the committees, boards and bodies representing Culture, Arts and Leisure and I have taken steps to encourage those with a broader range of experience to become involved.

There are huge challenges for Culture, Arts and Leisure in this economic climate. People working in these sectors often feel that the work in their sectors is the first to be looked at when making any cuts to budgets.

I refuse to see them as easy options. I see the benefits and value in providing opportunities, particularly for our young people, for healthand well-being, for economic growth, particularly in emerging digital technology for creativity, film, animation, broadcasting, stage, lens and canvass, and sport to use but a few examples.

Meaningful engagement within the entire sector, including users of services must begin. Accountability and transparency cannot be taken for granted and we will play our part in making that happen. DCAL will be accountable to the community it services.

The Irish language forms a vital part of our shared cultural heritage. It should be something that unites us rather than divides us.

In line with the St Andrews Agreement and amended NI Act I have already announced that I intend to bring forward legislation for an Irish Language Act.

This will involve officials bringing forward Draft Legislation that will go out for consultation before it comes to the Assembly for debate. In addition to an Irish Language Act, I also intend to bring forward two separate strategies for the Irish language and Ulster-Scots language, heritage and culture.

On September 5th, I launched Líofa 2015, an exciting initiative to encourage 1000 people from all walks of life to become fluent in Irish by 2015 and have been very encouraged by the diversity of the respondents.

It is important that Culture, Arts and Leisure create regeneration in Urban and Rural communities. Substantial capital funding will be invested in stadia for the GAA, rugby, and soccer. Approximately £110 million will be available to the three Sporting bodies to deliver fit-for-purpose facilities.

It would be totally unacceptable that the residents living beside these proposed re-developments, which are located in some of the most deprived areas in the North, are outside looking in.

The capital investment for the three Stadia, will also present us with a huge opportunity to provide robust social clauses and procurement to ensure the long-term unemployed, the people who live beside these developments can avail of training, employment and apprenticeship opportunities.

Services and support for libraries, Gaeltachti, sports facilities, tourism, Leisure, language, community arts, to name but a few examples, should be developed throughout the island of Ireland. I intend to pursue these possibilities with my party colleagues and ministerial counter-parts in Leinster house.

Having a joined-up approach has at times become clichéd. What will joined-up work look like, how will it deliver appropriate services to people?

Sinn Féin will continue to pursue sharing services across the Island, not just through any political rhetoric but because it makes economic sense. Duplication of services is not in anyone’s interest.

It is so important that a rights based approach to delivery is at the heart of everything we do in government. Equality and Social Justice is everyone's business and Sinn Féin will make it so.

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