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Saturday 17 March 2018

Energy budget escapes big cuts

THE Government's energy budget was left largely unscathed in yesterday's recovery plan. Between now and 2014, the semi-states will spend up to €8bn on sustainable and renewable energy projects.

Energy Minister Eamon Ryan said an extension of the €320m broadband scheme to rural areas would also play a role in recovery. The Government is in talks with the billion-euro National Pension Reserve Fund, which could lead to an investment in the National Retrofit Programme to upgrade energy systems in homes.

Arts and sports to be hit for €76m

THERE'S going to be less fun all round next year as arts and sporting bodies were subject to deep cuts. The National Recovery Plan revealed cuts of €76m for the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport over the next four years, with €17m of these to be achieved next year.

They included reduced allocations to the Irish Sports Council and cuts in grants to local sports organisations, as well as reduced allocation for the Arts Council and other cultural institutions. The plan said that €5m would be cut from the tourism budget next year and that the department would make administrative savings of €4m.

Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin said the aim was still to increase visitor numbers to eight million by 2015.

Plans for review of legal aid spending

WIDE-ranging changes in criminal legal aid structures, including the fees paid, are targeted to produce savings of €10m over the four years. Half of those savings are to be achieved next year.

A similar amount is expected from what is described in the plan as "better targeting" of resources in the probation service. And a fall-off in the numbers seeking asylum here between now and 2014 is due to contribute significantly to a reduction in costs on accommodation and other services of €10m, with a further €30m achieved through economies in the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service.

TG4 funding to come from RTE

MORE than €6m in funding for TG4 will be taken from RTE's licence fee budget next year.

The shortfall will come from the national broadcaster's annual €200m licence fee. The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources is cutting €20m in spending by 2014. Savings of €12m are targeted for next year with additional savings by 2014.

Irish Independent

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