18 ministers of state, zero ministers for the Arts
The failure of the Government to appoint a Minister of State for the Arts and Heritage will come as a major disappointment for the arts community and represents a missed opportunity by the Government to build bridges with arts practitioners working around the country.
Yesterday in the Dail I made the point that the Arts portfolio had been further diluted by cramming more and more responsibilities into the same Government Department, and that the Programme for Government was sadly lacking when it came to providing supports that would allow the arts to flourish and grow.
I also said that the Government could make amends to some extent by appointing a Minister of State for Arts and Heritage today, but unfortunately, that call and similar calls by members of the National Campaign for the Arts, have been ignored today.
It is particularly disappointing that despite the fact that there are now 18 Ministers of State, including three in the Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht alone, there is no room for an Arts Minister!
I find it remarkable that the number of Ministers of State appointed has increased from 15 to 18, and is fast approaching the record set by Bertie Ahern of 20.
The state finances have certainly improved in the last two to three years, but have they really improved to the extent where we can afford the luxury of so many Ministers? I don’t think so.