Fianna Fáil Arts Spokesperson Niamh Smyth TD has demanded clarity from Government following what she described as “an absolute farce” surrounding the name of Minister Heather Humphreys’ department.
The comments come following contradictory statements about a change in the name of the Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht.
Deputy Smyth commented, “It has been clear for some time that the Fine Gael party neither understands nor values the Arts sector in this country. One of the clearest signals in this regard was the decision to relegate it to a corner of Heather Humphreys’ omnibus department when the current government was formed.
“In the Fianna Fáil Private Members Business debate on the future of the arts sector last night, this snub and many others formed the basis of our case against the Government’s performance. The Minister defended the decisions that have been made, but then a very curious thing happened.
“During the course of the debate, Minister Marcella Corcoran Kennedy then announced to the surprise of the entire House that the Department was now called “the Department of Arts, Heritage and Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Development”.
“It was hard not to get the impression that this had been decided on the hoof during the debate, given the absence of any reference to a name change by the Minister. It also smacked of the sort of gesture politics that has so enraged the arts sector in the first place. However, I gave the Minister the benefit of the doubt and asked today in the Dáil for confirmation that an Order for a change of name in the Department had been made. To my surprise, it was confirmed that no such Order has been made.
“It now appears that a rushed announcement was made during the debate to try and placate or confuse the large number of arts professionals present last night. This is an absolute farce and it is completely unacceptable>
“We need to hear directly from the Minister what exactly is going on, why a name change was announced last night without any such Order being in place and why she was not the minister to inform the House of this important change.