Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure
Formed 1 December 1999
Preceding Department Department of Education
Department of Agriculture
Jurisdiction Northern Ireland
Headquarters Causeway Exchange, Bedford Street, Belfast, BT2 7EG
Employees 269 (September 2011)
Annual budget £112.1 million (current) & £16.3 million (capital) for 2011-12
Minister responsible Carál Ní Chuilín
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The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL), translated in Irish as An Roinn Cultúir, Ealaíon agus Fóillíochta and in Ulster-Scots as Männystrie o Fowkgates, Airts an Aisedom, is a devolved Northern Irish government department in the Northern Ireland Executive. The minister with overall responsibility for the department is the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure.
DCAL’s overall vision is a “confident, creative, informed and healthy society”. It describes its mission as delivering economic growth and enhancing the quality of life in Northern Ireland by “unlocking the full potential of the culture, arts and leisure sectors.”
The department has the following main responsibilities:
- the arts;
- cultural diversity;
- inland waterways;
- the distribution of National Lottery funding;
- the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI); and
DCAL’s main counterparts in the United Kingdom Government are:
- the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS);
- the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (on inland fisheries); and
- the National Archives (on public records).
Its main counterparts in the Irish Government are:
- the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (on the Irish language);
- the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (on public libraries);
- the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport;
- the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (on inland fisheries).
Following a referendum on the Belfast Agreement on 23 May 1998 and the granting of royal assent to the Northern Ireland Act 1998 on 19 November 1998, a Northern Ireland Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive were established by the United Kingdom Government under Prime Minister Tony Blair. The process was known as devolution and was set up to return devolved legislative powers to Northern Ireland. DCAL was one of five new devolved Northern Ireland departments created in December 1999 by the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and the Departments (Northern Ireland) Order 1999.
A devolved minister first took office on 2 December 1999. Devolution was suspended for four periods, during which the department came under the responsibility of direct rule ministers from the Northern Ireland Office:
- between 12 February 2000 and 30 May 2000;
- on 11 August 2001;
- on 22 September 2001;
- between 15 October 2002 and 8 May 2007.
Since 8 May 2007, devolution has operated without interruption.
Under the St Andrews Agreement (signed 13 October 2006), the Executive is obliged to adopt strategies on enhancing and protecting the development of the Irish language and enhancing and developing Ulster Scots language, heritage and culture. The agreement also committed the United Kingdom Government to introducing "an Irish Language Act reflecting on the experience of Wales and Ireland". Welsh and Irish are official languages in those respective countries.
Language policy was devolved, alongside the department's other responsibilities, on 8 May 2007. As of March 2012, neither an Irish language strategy or act, nor an Ulster Scots strategy, had been adopted. The department stated that a Strategy for Indigenous or Regional Minority Languages "will be presented to the Executive in due course".
Ministers of Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Image Party Took office Left office
Michael McGimpsey Ulster Unionist 2 December 1999 11 February 2000
Michael McGimpsey Ulster Unionist 30 May 2000 14 October 2002
Edwin Poots Democratic Unionist 8 May 2007 9 June 2008
Gregory Campbell Democratic Unionist 9 June 2008 1 July 2009
Nelson McCausland Democratic Unionist 1 July 2009 5 May 2011
Carál Ní Chuilín Sinn Féin 16 May 2011 Imcumbent