End of austerity?
Waterways Ireland’s southern money [85% of its current budget plus the full cost of capital work undertaken in the republic plus, according to this unicorn who has just dropped in, the full cost of the Clones Sheugh] comes from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht under the heading of North-South Co-operation. The figures are subject to the approval of the North-South Ministerial Council.
Waterways Ireland accounts for the largest portion of the North-South Co-operation funding but the budget documents [PDF] don’t show the breakdown between WI and the languages body.
The 2014 estimate for current expenditure on NSCoop was €35,271,000; the 2015 figure is €34,870,000.
The 2014 estimate for capital expenditure (all but €119,000 for Waterways Ireland according to page 213) was €3,977,000; the 2015 figure is €3,487,000. Rather neatly, that’s 10% of the current expenditure figure. In 2008 WI got €11,000,000.
The total is 2% down on 2014.
The aim of the NSCoop programme
The aim of this Programme is to maintain, develop and foster North-South co-operation in the context of the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and the St. Andrews’ Agreement.
Under this Programme, the allocation for 2015 will:
Through Foras na Gaeilge and the Ulster-Scots Agency, promote the Irish and UlsterScots language and culture; and
Through Waterways Ireland, maintain the waterways for some 15,000 registered boat users.
I noted last year that the department’s high-level programme activities were to include:
Development of inland waterways within the context of the implementation of the Good Friday and St Andrews Agreements.
I deduce, therefore, that development of inland waterways has been abandoned; the [more sensible] aim is now that of maintenance. Furthermore, I note that there is no mention of tourism or of non-boating waterways uses like those lauded by the minister the other day.
According to Table 1 Multi-Annual Capital Investment Framework 2015-2017 on page 211, Exchequer Capital Funding to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is to fall from €62 million in 2015 to €36 million in each of 2016 and 2017. The 2015 capital estimates are:
A – ARTS, CULTURE AND FILM €42,460,000
B – HERITAGE €6,916,000
C – IRISH LANGUAGE, GAELTACHT AND ISLANDS €8,717,000
D – NORTH-SOUTH CO-OPERATION €3,487,000
The allocations to the last three groups are small, so it looks as if the luvvies will be suffering the cuts. But the level of cuts is rather large; I wonder how that’s going to work.
A win for the luvvies
The departmental overview begins on page 45. On page It shows that Total Gross Voted Current Expenditure is to stay constant at €212 million in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Below that we read:
The multi-annual expenditure ceilings are binding and it will fall to the Department of Arts,Heritage and the Gaeltacht to deliver services within these agreed allocations for the period 2015-17. This includes responding to emerging expenditure pressures over that period without recourse to additional Exchequer allocations. To do so will involve commitment to ongoing reform and efficiency measures and reprioritisation of expenditure as appropriate.
And on page 46:
This funding will enable a significant level of services to be delivered in 2015. The funding provided reflects the Government’s commitment to the conservation, preservation, protection, development and presentation of Ireland’s heritage and culture and the promotion of the Irish language, support of the Gaeltacht and development of island communities.
No mention of waterways, or even of northsouthery, in that lot.
On page 47 we learn:
The 2015 current expenditure ceiling of €212m represents an increase of €4m over the REV 2014 allocation and €7m over the previously published expenditure ceiling.
The additional current expenditure funding in 2015 will be utilised to support existing services and fund initiatives to commemorate the foundation of the State.
So the previous talk of continuing savings has vanished; the department’s total budget is up by 4%, just under €10 million. What we are seeing is a reallocation within the department:
A – ARTS, CULTURE AND FILM up 11%
B – HERITAGE down 12%
C – IRISH LANGUAGE, GAELTACHT AND ISLANDS up 1%
D – NORTH-SOUTH CO-OPERATION down 2%,
Why are the luvvies getting the loot?
All of this is from a quick perusal; more later as information emerges, in particular when the minister addresses the Dáil.