Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Arts & Heritage Niamh Smyth has written to the Clerk of the Public Accounts Committee to invite officials from the Creative Ireland programme to appear before members to explain why almost one third of the €5m budget has been spent on marketing.

Deputy Smyth has expressed concerns over the structures within Creative Ireland and is seeking clarification on a number of issues.

“We’re only days away from one of this country’s biggest cultural celebrations and once again we have Creative Ireland in the news as a result of its huge spend on marketing.  The fact that almost one third of the programme’s budget was spent on “citizen engagement” or marketing raises serious questions about the way in which it is being managed.

“Over the past three months we have seen glossy inserts and newspaper supplements featuring the Taoiseach and government Ministers in both the national and regional press.  Almost €1m of taxpayers’ money was spent on these advertorials, videos and radio campaigns.  Another €490,000 was allocated to promote the Creative Ireland programme at specific festivals.

“Creative Ireland was established last year but there is still no board and there appears to be a very laissez fair approach to spending.  There is no centralised application system for festivals or arts projects to apply for funding, with the programme apparently allocating money as it sees fit.  This surely poses serious transparency issues?

“The huge spends on marketing and promotion are astounding and raise questions about the programme’s focus on publicity rather than on the arts itself.  Money allocated to Creative Ireland should be used for specific arts initiatives, not on publicising government Ministers, as appears to have been the case to date.  The issues around the allocation of funding to what appear to be cherry-picked festivals which were not subject to any application process also raise red flags.

“I am hoping that these issues can be addressed fully by officials from Creative Ireland and I have asked that representatives from the programme be invited to appear before the Public Accounts Committee to explain how these budgeting decisions were arrived at”.