Lip service and neglect - our official arts policy
When people around the world hear the word 'Ireland', what springs to mind? Chances are that the arts, culture and heritage - and well-known figures associated with them - dominate the list, because our creativity as a nation is one of our hallmarks.
In literature, film, theatre, art, dance and music - in so many disciplines, we produce premier league artists who magnify Ireland's reputation and influence. And the benefits are tangible: their achievements help to generate revenue and jobs.
Quite rightly, we pride ourselves on being an imaginative people. Indeed, our politicians are quick to use it as a calling card. When gifts were required for Enda Kenny's visit to the White House on St Patrick's Day last year, hand-printed poetry books by WB Yeats were chosen. So it's surely a given that the arts ought to be stimulated and expanded. Any outlay repays dividends exponentially, not just in the economic sphere, but by enhancing our standing.