Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure

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Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure
Department overview
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
Website www.dcalni.gov.uk


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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.

Aim[edit]

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 incumbent Minister is Carál Ní Chuilín (Sinn Féin). The Minister is, by virtue of office, the Keeper of the Records for Northern Ireland.

Responsibilities[edit]

The department has the following main responsibilities:

Broadcasting, intellectual property and the administration of the National Lottery are reserved to Westminster and are therefore not devolved .

DCAL's main counterparts in the United Kingdom Government are:

Its main counterparts in the Irish Government are:

History[edit]

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[edit]

Minister Image Party Took office Left office
    Michael McGimpsey Michael McGimpsey UUP.png UUP 2 December 1999 11 February 2000
Office suspended
    Michael McGimpsey Michael McGimpsey UUP.png UUP 30 May 2000 14 October 2002
Office suspended
    Edwin Poots Edwin Poots (cropped).jpg DUP 8 May 2007 9 June 2008
    Gregory Campbell GregoryCampell.jpg DUP 9 June 2008 1 July 2009
    Nelson McCausland Nelson McCausland (cropped).jpg DUP 1 July 2009 5 May 2011
    Carál Ní Chuilín Carál Ní Chuilín (cropped).jpg Sinn Féin 16 May 2011 Imcumbent

Direct rule ministers[edit]

During the periods of suspension, the following ministers of the Northern Ireland Office were responsible for the department:[citation needed]