Tag Archives: budget

RoI Budget 2016 for 2017

The Irish government’s Expenditure Report 2017 Parts I to III is available here [PDF]. The Department of Fairytales [aka Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs] gets a 1% increase for Programme D, North-South Co-operation, subject to the approval of the North/South Ministerial Council.

This programme includes certain language bodies and, more importantly, Waterways Ireland. The estimate for capital expenditure, almost all (if usual patterns prevail) for Waterways Ireland, is the same as for 2016, at €2799000, which suggests that the good people of Clones won’t be getting a sheugh any time soon, although judging by today’s Irish Times [possible paywall], they don’t seem to be expecting one.

The Programme D estimate for current spending is up from €34925000 to €35166000, making for an overall increase of one per cent.

The department’s overall capital allocation is down, but changes in departmental functions and the ending of the special anniversary funding make it impossible to say anything useful about that. Looking forward, the department’s Gross Voted Capital Expenditure is shown as €119 million for 2017, €115 million for 2018 and €118 million for 2019.

Waterways are funded only in order to promote northsouthery:

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. Under this Programme, the allocation for 2017 will:

– Through Foras na Gaeilge and the Ulster-Scots Agency, promote the Irish and Ulster Scots language and culture; and
 Through Waterways Ireland, maintain the waterways for some 15,000 registered boat users.

I presume Waterways Ireland will get extra funding to work out a system of border controls for the Shannon–Erne Waterway.

More budget stuff here.

 

WI funding

The cuts in funding to Waterways Ireland have been covered here many times. Now, thanks to the invaluable KildareStreet, we have official information on the matter from the Minister for Fairytales. A young chap called Martin Heydon [who has annoying automatically changing pics on his website], FG TD for Kildare South, put this written question to the minister:

To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the funding provided by her Department to Waterways Ireland in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36691/15]

The minister, Heather Humphreys, FG TD for Cavan-Monaghan, wrote:

Waterways Ireland is co-funded by my Department and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) in Northern Ireland. The current expenditure of the body is funded 85% by my Department and 15% by DCAL, which reflects the distribution of the navigable waterways in each jurisdiction. Capital expenditure is funded 100% in the jurisdiction in which the capital works are carried out.

The amount of funding allocated to Waterways Ireland from my Department’s Vote for each of the years from 2011 to 2015 is set out in the following table.

Year €m
2011 €30.300m
2012 €27.099m
2013 €25.463m
2014 €24.183m
2015 €23.426m

This is useful because, since 2011, the annual budget figure for North South Cooperation has not been broken down between Waterways Ireland and the language shamrock. Last time it was, WI got about 60% of the current expenditure total and almost all the capital. We’ve had to wait for WI’s annual reports to find how much it got two years earlier.

So it’s useful to have these figures, but they would have been even more useful if the minister had distinguished between current and capital expenditure.

From the Multi-Annual Capital Investment Framework, it seems that WI got €3,368,000 for RoI capital spending in 2015. Subtracting that from the minister’s 2015 figure of €23,426,000 suggests that WI’s current spending budget for RoI in 2015 is €20,058,000, which is less than my rough estimate of 60% of the NSCoop total (€35,072,000 X 0.6 = €21,043,200).

In 2011, the Estimates figures showed that WI was to get €6 million for capital expenditure. Subtracting that from the minister’s figure for 2011, €30,300,000, leaves €24,300,000 for current spending in that year.

I haven’t cross-checked that with WI’s accounts, and I could be wrong in other ways: feel free to add a comment below if you can help to correct these figures.

What I make of it is that

  • total RoI spending on Waterways Ireland in 2015 was 77% of the 2011 figure
  • capital spending was down from €6,000,000 to €3,368,000, a cut of almost 44%
  • current spending was down from €24,300,000 to €20,058,000, a cut of 17.5%.

Clearly, Waterways Ireland would benefit from having new sources of income outside the control of the central exchequer. Perhaps Mr Heydon could persuade the canal-based boat-owners of Co Kildare to pay higher charges?

Capital expenditure

I said above that capital spending was down from €6,000,000 in 2011 to €3,368,000 for 2015, a cut of almost 44%.

However, it had been €11,000,000 in 2008, whence the cut is over 69%; the 2016 figure is less than 25% of the 2008.

It is clear therefore that the government does not see investment in waterways as being productive, either of economically desirable results (eg tourism earnings, jobs) or of politically desirable benefits for its TDs.

I wonder therefore why one of its TDs has drawn attention to the matter.

Grim oop north

Something similar has happened in Norn Iron, where an MLA of the minister’s party has asked a question about Waterways Ireland, whose HQ is in his constituency.

Another young chap, one Phil Flanagan (who seems to have joined Sinn Féin seven days before being elected as an MLA. Could that be right?), has asked two questions of the (Sinn Féin) Minister for Marching Bands:

  • AQW 50030/11-16: To ask the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure to detail the amounts in (i) financial terms; and (ii) percentage terms of the budget in Waterways Ireland that is set aside for pension payments for former staff; and whether this is comparable with other bodies.
  • AQW 50029/11-16: To ask the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure how the value of the Euro has affected the budget of Waterways Ireland in each of the last three years.

I look forward to reading the answers.

WI and the RoI budget for 2016

Budget documents [available here] include the Part IV Estimates for Public Services 2016 [PDF]. The Summary of Gross Expenditure (Capital and Current) by Ministerial Vote Group shows that the Department of Fairytales [aka Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht], RoI parent of Waterways Ireland, is to get an increase in its budget.

Its forecast outturn for 2015 matches its estimate for the year at €277,434,000, of which €215,854,000 is current and €61,580,000 is capital spending. However, the estimates for 2016 show €234,430,000 current + €76,000,000 capital = €310,430,000 total, an increase of €32,996,000. Current spending is up 8.6% and capital by 23.4%; total spending is up by 11.9%. Perhaps the extra €14,420,000 in capital spending is to extend Saunderson’s Sheugh to Clones?

Skipping the numerous tables that repeat more or less the same gen in different ways, and skipping too the unimportant government departments, we zoom forward to the details of the Department of Fairytales estimates.

But there we find, alas, that while the department as a whole has secured lots of extra lolly — and it’s going to be shovelling 18% more to the luvvies [Arts, Culture and Film], 11% more to heritage and 3% more to the BéalBochters — it intends to cut spending on North-South Cooperation, which is where Waterways Ireland gets its money.

The 2015 estimate for NSCoop current expenditure was €35,072,000; the 2016 estimate is €34,925,000, which is a cut of only about half of one per cent. But capital spending on NSCoop is down almost 20%, from €3,487,000 to €2,799,000, and total spending down 2% from €38,559,000 to €37,724,000.

The NSCoop figures are “subject to the North-South Ministerial Council”, which means that the (southern, Fine Gael) Minister for Fairytales has to persuade the (northern, Sinn Féin) Minister for Marching Bands that the cross-border language and waterways bodies aren’t getting any increase in their funding from the Free State, at least not while there is an election to be won. However, HM Devolved Administration didn’t seem too keen on allocating extra money to waterways last time I looked.

Regular readers will not need to be reminded that 85% of WI’s current budget is supplied by the RoI government and 15% by the NI administration, while capital expenditure is paid for by the state in which it occurs.

The estimates figures as shown don’t tell us the precise impact on Waterways Ireland’s current budget: the money is divided between WI and the language shamrock but the document doesn’t tell us which gets how much. [The last time a breakdown was given was in 2011, when WI got roughly 60% of the total.] However, most of the department’s NSCoop capital expenditure is undertaken by WI, and little or none of it by the language shamrock, so we can say that the 20% cut in NSCoop capital spending means a 20% cut in capital spending on waterways in the Free State.

The breakdown of the Multi-Annual Capital Investment Framework confirms that: in 2015 €3,368,000 of the €3,487,000 NSCoop capital budget (96.5%) went to WI, and in 2016 WI will get €2,680,000 of the €2,799,000 NSCoop capital budget (95.7%). I imagine that the language folk prefer sitting i dtóin an tí and don’t want fancy buildings.

WI’s capital budget for RoI is down from €11,000,000 in 2008.

According to the Multi-Annual Capital Investment Framework 2016 to 2021 (Table 1), the Department of Fairytales as a whole is getting an unusually large amount, €76,000,000, of Exchequer Capital Funding in 2016; the total is to fall back to €45 million in 2017 and €43 million in 2018, before rising to €46 million in each of the years 2018, 2020 and 2021. So, in a year in which the department is getting much more money for capital spending, NSCoop and, specifically, waterways are getting significantly less.

Looking at the breakdown (Table 2), it seems that the big changes in the department’s capital spending are:

  • a major cut in the grant-in-aid to the Crawford Gallery (€12,100,000 to €6,100,000)
  • cuts of €1,312,000 to the National Parks and Wildlife Service and €1,000,000 to Údarás na Gaeltachta
  • a cut of €688,000 to WI
  • an extra €1,150,000 for Teach an Phiarsaigh under the Decade of Centenaries heading
  • a new thing called Built Heritage Jobs Leverage Scheme gets €2,000,000
  • another new thing called Cork Event Centre gets €5,000,000
  • and, the biggest of the lot, Decade of Centenaries 1912–1922 gets an extra €15,270,000, to bring its capital budget to €28,800,000, by far the largest item in the budget.

There are a few other minor changes, but the increased allocation of €15,270,000 to the main Decade of Centenaries item has more than swallowed the extra €14,420,000 allocated to the department. Three other significant items — Teach an Phiarsaigh, the Cork Event Centre and the Built Heritage Jobs Leverage Scheme, which between them have been given an extra €8,150,000 — have been funded by the reduced allocations to the Crawford Gallery, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Údarás na Gaeltachta and Waterways Ireland.

So there’s no money for Sinn Féin’s beloved Clones Sheugh.

Shagging the Shannon to shovel the sheugh

On 24 February 2015, the Irish Times published an article headed

First stage of Ulster Canal restoration due to begin in April
Some €2m will be spent on a section of the Shannon-Erne waterway

It ended with these sentences:

The €2 million will be drawn from the funds of Waterways Ireland, a north-south implementation body. It will carry out the dredging of a 2km section of the Erne river and the construction of a new navigation arch at Derrykerrib Bridge to accommodate boat traffic, with a target completion date of April 2016.

It may be that the Irish Times doesn’t know very much about waterways. If it did, it might have been aware that, on 18 December 2014, the North South Ministerial Council approved Waterways Ireland’s Business Plan 2015, which included this Action:

3.6 Progress the restoration of the Ulster Canal on an incremental basis. €1,000

So on 18 December 2014 the North South Ministerial Council — which for all practical waterways purposes consists of Heather Humphreys, the southern minister for waterways and other stuff, and Carál Ní Chuilín, her northern counterpart — approved the allocation of €1,000 to the Ulster Canal in Waterways Ireland’s 2015 plan. Yet, just over two months later, they expect Waterways Ireland to spend about €2 million on the blasted thing, about €1.5 million of it in 2015.

The southern government’s party of treasure-seekers seems to have disappeared entirely: at any rate it doesn’t seem to have found any money. And the two ministers’ departments have presided over successive years of cuts in Waterways Ireland’s current and capital budgets, cuts whose effect has been worsened by the woefully inadequate provision for an ever-increasing pensions bill. Waterways Ireland’s Corporate Plan 2014–2016 shows a cumulative increase of €984,000 in pension costs over the period of the plan, which wipes out a lot of savings in other areas.

I suppose that curiosity is a weakness in journalism. Were it not so, two questions might have struck the Irish Times:

  • how is Waterways Ireland to come up with €2 million out of an ever-decreasing budget?
  • why has Waterways Ireland’s Business Plan been so violently disrupted only two months after it was approved? The €2 million is half WI’s total capital budget spending in for the republic in 2015; it will be recalled that the republic, in a fit of more than usually nitwitted arrogance, undertook to pay for a canal to Clones, which is what the powers-that-be are pretending Saunderson’s Sheugh is.

I can answer the first question, at least for 2015, during which WI expects to spend €1,416,000:

  • €166,000 will come from Heather Humphreys’s department
  • €900,000 will (WI hopes) come from the sale of property assets
  • €150,000 will come from the postponement of an IT programme
  • €220,000 will come from the postponement of non-navigation works on the Shannon
  • €90,000 will come from postponing development of the Barrow Blueway.

I don’t know what property assets WI can sell to bring in the requsite amount. It seems that damage to everyday navigation has been avoided, but the Shannon and the Barrow are to suffer to pay for dredging a river that merely provides a small extension of the Erne navigation.

As for the second question, I suspect that Sinn Féin put a gun to someone’s head: “We’re fed up waiting for our sheugh. Start digging or the baby gets it.” The baby might have been Heather Humphreys’s Dáil seat or it might have been something more important. And the gun was, I suspect, a message accompanying the “business case” prepared by the northern department and sent to the southern. [I have asked both departments for copies and other information.]

Arthur Aughey, then lecturer in politics at the University of Ulster, wrote in Magill magazine in February 2001:

Puritanical republicans grieve at the thought that the hunger strikers [of 1981] died to achieve the Waterways Ireland Implementation Board.

I suspect that the less puritanical republicans, those who operate in the devolved institutions of Northern Ireland, are now demanding that the southern government deliver, through the “Waterways Ireland Implementation Board”, what nitwitted previous governments promised. It’s a pity that Sinn Féin and those previous governments couldn’t have come up with a more sensible list of waterways and other infrastructural projects.

 

WI budget

I mentioned the Northern Ireland budget and its effects on Waterways Ireland here; Nelson McCausland [DUP] gives an overview of the effects on DCAL here, including this:

The North/South language bodies and Waterways Ireland, while outside the scope of this budget reduction exercise, will see their budgets fall by over £1 million collectively, as agreed at the relevant North/South Ministerial Council (NSMC) meetings.

 

Northern Ireland spending on waterways

Sammy Wilson [DUP]: Looking through the list of capital projects, I see lock gates on the Shannon, bridge repairs on the Grand canal, enhancements of the Grand canal towpath, the Shannon Blueway and the multi-activity trail at Carrick-on-Shannon. Nearly every one of these projects is in the Irish Republic. Does the Minister see her role as fighting for projects in Northern Ireland or simply sitting there, handing over our money for projects in the Irish Republic?

Mr Wilson might not have noticed, during his terms in ministerial office, that waterways capital projects in each jurisdiction are paid for by the government of that jurisdiction. So NI money is not spent on capital projects in the republic; if NI politicians want more money spent on waterways improvements [as opposed to running costs] in Northern Ireland, it will have to come from the NI budget.

Unfortunately Mr Wilson’s party colleague, and successor as Minister of Finance and Personnel, Simon Hamilton, does not share Mr Wilson’s enthusiasm for erecting lock gates or towing-paths on the Erne [or whatever it was he wanted], for he has cut DCAL’s Budget [157-page NI budget and 28-page statement, both PDFs] and, in consequence, the amounts to be allocated to Waterways Ireland.

DCAL is wondering how to apply the chopper and is seeking views; a 190-page consultation document can be downloaded here [MS Word *.doc]. Neither DFP nor DCAL makes it easy to find the change from last year’s allocations, but DCAL says that the “savings” to be made by Waterways Ireland will be £468,000. As of today, that’s €630,727.

The Word document points out that

The budgets for the North/South Bodies are agreed by the North South Ministerial Council and are dealt with under different arrangements.  They are therefore outside the scope of this exercise.

So the document can’t say what the “front-line impact” of the cuts to Waterways Ireland’s allocation will be.

15% of WI’s current budget is paid by Northern Ireland and 85% by the republic. If the savings shown above are all to the current budget [which is not clear, though WI’s NI capital budget was pretty small anyway], then the total cut in WI’s current spending will be €5,204,847.

Note again that, without spending a lot more time on this than I currently have available, I cannot say from what base figure the cuts or savings are to be made.

Respondents to DCAL’s November 2014 consultation on the draft budget included only one who discussed waterways:

There was one response who stated that other sectors should be cut and funding to Waterways Ireland should be increased.

That was from an individual; it appears that no organisations commented on waterways issues and I cannot see any inland waterways-related voluntary body listed amongst those who submitted their views. As in the republic, arts folk seem to have been well organised.

The DCAL page contains a link to a surveymonkey page seeking responses.

 

Saunderson’s Sheugh and northsouthery update

I’m trying to catch up on things I was too busy to cover late last year.

Saunderson’s Sheugh 1

For new readers: the proposed rebuilding of the Ulster Canal started off in the 1990s with the idea of rebuilding the whole thing and thus linking Lough Erne and Lough Neagh. It became clear that that would be ridiculously expensive (even by politicians’ standards: to my mind anything more than sixteen and thruppence farthing would be too much) so TPTB decided to look at rebuilding the two ends, leaving the BITM (as WRGies might say) until gold was discovered in Monaghan or something. Then that got shot down but the heroic Irish government, rolling in the profits of property development, volunteered to pay the entire cost of rebuilding one end, from Lough Erne to Clones. This, known as the Clones Sheugh, was held up when the property boom bust; after that the Irish government has asked a group of treasure-seekers to find money. The group doesn’t seem to publish reports, but in recent months we’ve had whispers from two directions:

  • the Irish government seems to think that making the Finn navigable to Castle Saunderson would be a good idea: thus Saunderson’s Sheugh. And see this
  • Her Majesty’s Devolved Administration has been constructing a Business Case to show that it would be a very good idea for (a) the Irish government, (b) the British government, (c) the European Union, (d) Santa Claus or (e) anyone else, really, to do something that is so far unspecified. Actually, that’s guesswork on my part: I don’t know what’s in the business case (see below) but if it’s anything like the last one ….

Hands across the border

The North South Ministerial Council (waterways) met on 27 November 2014. Highlights:

  • WI wants Euroloot (don’t we all)
  • there is to be consultation on new Erne byelaws
  • repairs are taking most of the capital budget
  • there is “a new cruise hire business on the Shannon-Erne Waterway” [someone tell me more, please]
  • there is a Blueway
  • the ministers agreed the “indicative” [I don’t know what that is] budget for 2013. In November 2014. Which must have been helpful in budgeting. Maybe the 2013 accounts will be published soon
  • the “2013 indicative budget of €29.47m (£24.17m)” will be “a baseline for 2014-2016 draft budgets”, one third of that period having expired
  • the amount of the indicative budget for 2013, €29.47m, is 30% down on WI’s total income for 2012, as shown in its income and expenditure account for y/e 31 December 2012. I don’t know whether those figures can be compared directly, so please correct me if I’m wrong, but 30% is a hell of a cut in one year. And that’s without taking account of the increased cost of pensions
  • the 2014-2016 Corporate Plan isn’t available to citizens yet but the NSMC “noted” WI’s “draft Business Plan and Budget provision” for 2014 and 2015 and Corporate Plan for 2014-2016; they have to be approved at some future NSMC meeting
  • no info about the Sheugh was included in the minutes.

More hands across the border

As if all that wasn’t enough excitement, there was a Plenary NSMC meeting on 5 December 2014. That’s where lots of ministers go along: I make it 14 from north and 15 from south. They had their eyes on PEACE and INTERREG Euroloot, assuming the entire EU economy hasn’t collapsed by spring 2015. Apart from that, the only interesting bit was:

Waterways Ireland has developed the Shannon Blueway, Ireland’s first Blueway (a multi-activity trail running alongside water) between Drumshanbo and Carrick-on-Shannon in Co Leitrim in conjunction with the National Trails Office, Canoeing Ireland, Leitrim County Council and Leitrim Tourism. The Body continue to engage with relevant organisations, interested in further development of Blueways or Greenways including exploring opportunities that may exist for EU funding.

There are cycling, walking and canoeing routes along parts of the Ulster Canal: getting Euroloot for them would be a far better idea than making the thing navigable for cruisers.

Stormont

The Stormont House Agreement was signed on 23 December 2014. Slugger O’Toole has the text, a link to the NIO and a summary.

Most of it is very boring, except for the provision that the Ulster Canal is to be restored as an Orangeway, along which all Orange parades will henceforth be routed, giving the marchers entire freedom to do or say whatever they want. It is understood that an abandoned railway will be given to Green marchers for the same purpose.

No, of course not: that’s a joke. The bits that might become interesting are:

60. A reduction in the number of departments from twelve to nine should be made in time for the 2016 Assembly election, with the new allocation of departmental functions to be agreed by the parties.

Will DCAL survive?

70. On the St Andrews Agreement Review, the NSMC (meeting in Institutional format) will agree before the end of February 2015 a report on new sectoral priorities for North/South cooperation, identified during Ministerial discussions since November 2013. A report on new sectoral priorities will be a standing item for future meetings of the NSMC meeting in Institutional format.

Will waterways be affected?

Saunderson’s Sheugh 2

Something is moving in the undergrowth. Every so often I have asked DCAL for news of the development of its business case for the Ulster Canal. On 2 January 2015 I said:

I would be grateful if you could:

– tell me whether the Ulster Canal Restoration Lough Erne – Clones Section Addendum to 2007 Business Case is now complete and available for release

– let me have a copy if it is available

– tell me the revised expected release date if it is not available.

DCAL has very kindly written to say:

The updated business case for the Ulster Canal restoration is currently with our colleagues in the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in the south as co sponsors of Waterways Ireland. They are seeking approval from the Irish Government for the updated business case. Until such time as this approval is granted the business plan cannot be released. Unfortunately I am not able to put a specific date on when this will be, but I am hopeful it will be sooner rather than later. I will ensure that you are advised as soon as the approval is granted.

I must say it seems odd to me that an Irish government department should be seeking Irish government approval for a business case prepared by a Northern Ireland department. But the Shinners want a Sheugh, for reasons best known to themselves [although I suspect it’s because their economic and political thinking stopped in 1797], and the Irish department is now headed by a minister from Sheughland. The prospects for a sane decision look slim.

Addendum: this suggests that the shinners’ main interest may be in getting something — anything — crossborderish built, even if it makes no sense. The Narrow Water Bridge project is like that. What’s really needed up there is a southern bypass of Newry, but that would be entirely within Northern Ireland. So Sinn Féin would prefer an “iconic” bridge in the middle of nowhere that happens to span the border.

Willie Penrose notices the cuts

It is nice to know that at least one politician has spotted the most important issue affecting Waterways Ireland. Here’s what the minister told him about the 85% of WI’s current budget that comes from her department:

Funding allocated to Waterways Ireland 2011-2014
Year €m
2011 €30.300m
2012 €27.099m
2013 €25.463m
2014 €24.183m

Now, Willie, ask her how much of each year’s allocation is gobbled up by pensions.

 

Heather Humphreys on waterways

From the Financial Resolutions speeches:

I am committed to developing North-South co-operation within the broader arts, heritage and commemorative activities of my Department as well as through the funding of North-South bodies. A provision of more than €38 million is made available to support the two North-South implementation bodies — An Foras Teanga and Waterways Ireland. These budgets will be subject to the approval of the North South Ministerial Council in due course. The provision will enable Waterways Ireland to keep the waterways open for navigation during the main boating season and promote increased use for recreational purposes while developing and promoting our waterways to attract increased numbers of overseas visitors.

Nothing new there, I think, but note the repetition of a point I highlighted last year:

The provision will enable Waterways Ireland to keep the waterways open for navigation during the main boating season […].

 

Budget 2015

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.

Capital “investment”

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.