Archive

arts Ireland

Stairs at side of Sydney Opera House by Mister Peterman on Flick'r 

There is no surprise that the latest report from Arts Development UK shows that local authority arts expenditure has decreased to two thirds of the levels reached in 2008. It is interesting that, in this second slicing of arts budgets, much of the cuts have been own blows to local authority arts services rather than to grants to independent and front-line arts organisations, like theatres and arts venues. Surgery is now being routinely applied to the soft underbelly of local arts services, including development projects and now to arts officers, whose activity is not obligatory for local authorities and whose presence is often unseen.

During the last two decades of growth in public investment in the arts with the funding of new infrastructure, ambitious events and audience development programmes, those we entrusted to spend our taxes enjoyed a relative largesse which allowed investment which often did not need to evidence an impact.   Research and evidence gathered by arts organisations and arts councils have largely been used as advocacy tools, with hard evidence often being buried if it doesn’t prove the required point.  This devalues the research process and diminishes its validity.  But a new cold dawn is rising as investors apply the scrutiny which is applied in science, medical treatment and engineering and technical fields.

The Paul Hamlyn commissioned report ‘Whose cake is it anyway’ sends out the first chill signal of this new order.  The report into the outreach and participation activity in museums and galleries finds that

this activity exists on the fringes of the sector’s activities, rather than at its core, and suggests that decades of investment in participation related activity, have not only failed to embed participatory practices in museums and galleries, but appear to have been instrumental in keeping this part of their work on the periphery

The report marks a distinct shift in tone from most of the usual research reports published which emphasise the positive. The BOP report on the impact of the Edinburgh Festivals, for example, is an excellent document which seeks to demonstrate benefits of investment much more widely than the economic measurements.  In talking up the positives, the report is used as an advocacy tool – and we are all for flag waving for funding festivals.  But, in sweeping under the carpet the fact that the relative economic impacts relative to invesment is reduced ( Every £1 public investment in 2004  generated  £61 new output. Using the same measures, every £1 of public investment generated £35 new output (table here), the report goes the way of most research reports commissioned by cultural agencies.  It needs to serve the purpose of the commissioners and not to seek the truth.

Respected researchers and consultants have been chipping away at this for some time, but they are largely ignored.

There was an interesting provocation from John Knell and Matthew Taylor challenging ‘the Arts’  to create a new currency with which to weigh the value of the arts in making citizens .  But although it was published for the most recent State of the Arts Conference run by ACE and the RSA which Taylor leads, it wasn’t even discussed .  There were few deaf ears thouugh in Galway last week  at  the Irish Theatre Forum conference.  The Irish National Campaign for the Arts have proven themselves streets ahead of England in expressing the value of the arts and its leaders are aware of the need to express and communicate the true value of the arts, which goes beyond instrumentalism.  But that value needs first to be established in a rigorous and scientific manner and not just in the rhetoric.

In Its not Rocket Science, (2010), Hasan Bakhshi, Radhika Desai and Alan Freeman challenged

two entrenched prejudices which block arts and cultural organisations from playing their full role in society and economy. First, arts and culture are largely excluded from R&D by definitions based on its Science and Technology (S&T) origins. Second, the arts and cultural sector relies on a conception of creativity that mystifies too much of its work, preventing it from accessing valuable public resources

The reality is that much of the arts and cultural community views gathering evidence of impact as a tiresome diversion. The feature on Arts and Health in the latest Arts Professional magazine  explains that the NHS requires proof of impact and includes several citations of the woeful lack of rigorous evidence gathered to date to demonstrate the benefits of engagement in the arts as a positive healing activity.  There are several calls to arms for the arts to get together to provide the evidence the NHS needs to justify investment in the arts rather than in some other health interventions.  Dr Jenny Secker, Professor of Mental Health highlights the need to move beyond the anecdotal.

Measuring instrumental impact on health is important but there is a more fundamental issue.  We need to get down to the basic life-enhancing benefits of art, describe that and then set up research to measure it.  Take empathy for example. Long-known as one of the core processes of being part of a theatre audience, empathy is a capability which leading neuroscientists fear  lost in a  video gaming  world.

Seeking to find empirical evidence of the positive impacts of engagement of the arts on active citizenship and wellbeing must become a clear objective for the arts and cultural community over the next few years.  To do this, there need to be a substantive independent and objective research programme which seeks the truth rather than seeks to make the case for more funding of current practice.  The research needs to include longitudinal elements and comparisons of the costs and benefits of engagement in different types of creative and arts activities against engagement with other activities.

Such an investment needs a research programme which is rigorously defined, conceived, planned, executed, analysed and communicated.  This means harnessing the skills of research scientists and academics and means being honest about the results.

Matthew Paris’ map of Great Britain. St Albans, c.1250 British Library Cotton MS Claudius D.vi, f.12v Copyright © The British Library Board

At the State of the Arts Conference last week, a last minute switch led me to being part of the panel discussing Has Britain Got Any Talent for Talent? instead of a session on the public and the arts. Thinking about it, I realised that I was being asked to consider two concepts which were largely fuzzy.  One was the notion of ‘talent’ itself, given its current diverse use to mean anything to young performers, staff in a corporate organisation, contestants in a talent show and to anyone who works in the screen industries;  and as applied to the individual gift each of us has in life. And its overuse in the public sector applied to skills and employment as in Creative Britain: new Talents for the New Economy.  Which brings me to the other fuzzy concept, that of ‘Britain’.  ‘Britain’ is properly neither the UK, which is Great Britain and Northern Ireland, nor Great Britain, which is England Wales and Scotland, not the British Isles which includes the whole of Ireland.

Britain includes nations where cultural policy is devolved and, in Scotland, so are many other powers including education, but neither fiscal policy nor tax raising powers.  So, within the broad canvas of Britain and Talent, some areas are less British and more Scottish.  The importance of supporting, celebrating and rewarding artistic talent as an expression of cultural identity is less and less of a British issue and more of a national one for the devolved nations, particularly in Scotland.

Many Scottish creatives and artists now identify as Scottish and /or Scottish British as opposed to British. They compete, exhibit, perform and trade on international platforms and the best are awarded British and international prizes, like Richard Wright and Carol Ann Duffy.

The symbiotic relationship between artists and cultural identity is enshrined in many international policies and the recognition and support of a nation’s artistic and creative talent has a higher value to small and emergent nations.

And, for those artists who may not be commercially successful – the poet, the painter – the greatest recognition can come from the state.

In 1969 Charles Haughey, the then Taisoch of Ireland, closely advised by the writer Antony Cronin, made changes to state policy which signalled to the world the importance of artists to the independent state of Ireland, through the introduction of three things:

1 the exemption from income tax from creative content and products – paintings, composition, books, etc .This was later capped and is now under threat again as Ireland fights severe economic crisis.

2. tax incentives for investors in the Irish film industry, in a move which has had long term economic impact

3. the establishment of Aosdana, the academy of recognised artists, where being a member confers recognition and reward

Not only have these measures contributed towards Ireland’s international artistic success and reputation but they have engendered a respect for artists as leaders. In the bloody fighting in Ireland over the funds in a decimated public purse, the arts sector has fought and won through a brilliant campaign. Using  hard evidence about the sector’s economic contribution of €11.8 billion or 7.6% of GDP was one weapon which saved the Film Board, Culture Ireland and 94 per cent of the arts budget.  Another was the impassioned influence of artists who campaigned publicly or who gave evidence to political committees, including Sebastian Barry, Joseph O’Connor, Colm McCann, Colm Tobain to Brendan Gleeson, given prime place in the Dail and the media as respected leaders, confident, assured and celebrated.

While other countries have made some tax concessions for artists, no other country has made such a major statement about the importance of artistic talent to its cultural identity.

For Scotland, recognising, celebrating and supporting its artistic talent is a key component of cultural policy, a devolved power. As a small country, recognising the talent may be relatively easy.  But the powers to support that Scottish talent is limited by  Westminster.  The current minority SNP administration is committed in principle to tax exemptions for artists but does not have the fiscal autonomy to do this.   Our world leading talent for interactive games in Dundee has watched its competitive position weaken as France, Canada and now Ireland offer tax incentives.

The Scottish Government is bringing forward the Referendum Bill to support greater devolution of such matters. Fiona Hyslop, the Culture Minister, said yesterday

“Artists and creators often hold up a mirror to society, reflecting back the experience of belonging; nowhere more so than in Scotland, where our distinctive cultural life is known the world over.

“I firmly believe that a Scotland with more control over its own affairs – a Scotland more confident in itself – would see fresh creativity shine through as a result. In turn, a more confident nation leads to an even more creative one – a virtuous circle of increasing confidence and creativity.

“There is a hard edge to this, of course, as Scotland trades on the international recognition of its culture and heritage. It is a major attraction for visitors and showcases our country as a diverse and exciting place to live and work; so increased confidence and creativity can only be good for business.

Artists in Scotland have an important role to play in the success of the nation as well as in the UK – sorry – Britain,  and internationally.  And political recognition with visible backing is essential.

synchonised swimming bejing 2008

Those of us in the arts and cultural community are in the vanguard of change as we tip over from the noughties into the next decade. The climactic changes of the first decade of the new millennium swept us up, sucked us in and tossed us about in tempests, new waves and whirlwinds creating massive new opportunities. The internet and technological advances in communication have changed fundamentally our engagement in creative experiences and our ability to collaborate. New platforms and interactivity have unleashed more multifaceted creative experiences and enterprises. Against this,  the collapse of the holy cow of ‘financial services’ and the sudden shrinkage of our economy has not only severely reduced the cash in public coffers for years to come but has forced a fundamental reappraisal of the value of  the arts, culture and creativity by the politicians whom we elected to lead us.

And this has led inexorably to tuggings of the rugs underneath the arts and cultural edifices which we have built up over the last 50 years.  Some of the tugs on the rugs have been gentle, with a raft of discretionary projects across the British Isles where major cultural institutions sit round the table and look at sharing services.  Some have been full frontal assaults, like the Irish  An Bord Snip report targeting Culture Ireland and the Irish Film Board.  This, along with other cuts to the arts was seen off by a brilliantly mobilised National Campaign for the Arts which, unlike the UK permanent organisation, was a collaborative campaign involving artists speaking from the heart and armed by evidence of economic impact, politicians and Facebook .   But more attacks are to come.  With political power in the balance, politicians are vying to be the toughest on the public sector, on a competitive crusade to ‘simplify’ the public sector, reduce the number of quangos, cut any pay and benefits seen to be excessive in the current climes and to make sure that our cash gets into front line services.

As we head into 2010, we may expect a Conservative government in the UK which is likely, according to Ed Vaizey, to target the Arts Council of England for at the very least a further reduction in its costs. ACE has already begun to dismantle its substantial regional machinery and the BFI and UK Film Council are already looking to merge in order to achieve the ‘efficiencies’ sought by the current government.  More than that, strategists recognise that its time to use the opportunities of web collaboration, and to reduce the costs and size of complex machinery and streamline support to artists, creative enterprises and participants and consumers. This could mean smaller cross – sectoral agencies, like Creative Scotland.  And in England it could mean a drastic reduction or even dismantling of regional intermediaries.

At the turn of the century the  English regional cultural machinery was at its peak, with regional screen agencies, regional arts councils, multiple local authorities, regional development agencies as well as audience development agencies and the like, all populated by public servants and paid for by the public purse.  And often working together through regional cultural consortia, also staffed by public servants, and the like. Those were in the past days of plenty and before the internet was harnessed for collaboration.  So its logical that  collaboration across the arts, culture and creative industries might be supported more effectively -cheaper on administration and more on the arts – this decade.  Its all a bit uncomfortable for those who could change things as they are the public servants with public sector terms and conditions who have the most to lose.

But things have changed big time over the last 30 years.  30 years ago the arts were thought of narrowly, as traditional, top down even elitist activities for the few.  Three decades of investment in activity, infrastructure and research and advocacy work have changed not only the perception but the reality. State support for the arts, culture and creativity is understood by all political parties in the British Isles as being an essential investment in our cultural identity, creative lives, community cohesion and in our global competitiveness.

State support for the arts, culture and creativity is understood by all political parties in the British Isles as being an essential investment in our cultural identity, creative lives, community cohesion and in our global competitiveness. So its time to stop splashing and take  serious action to best to support art, artists and creative experiences in this internet age.

Perhaps its about more effective agencies – a single screen agency, a smaller arts council. Intermediaries between government policy and the sector are required to make judgements, administer funds, champion the sector and research, develop and innovate.

In Scotland, the new agency Creative Scotland has the potential to be fit for purpose for 2010 and beyond with a remit across the arts, culture and creative industries, a broker, advisor, champion and investor, leaner than its two antecedent agencies Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen.  Its had a long gestation and the benefit of many influencing its final form as  governments, culture ministers, boards, civil servants and directors have changed.  Assuming a safe passage through the Scottish Parliament, a board and CEO can be appointed at last and then change can begin.

Creative Scotland, arts councils and other cultural intermediaries are all faced with similar challenges and opportunities, to get more support to the sector at less cost, to be more strategic and fleeter of foot and to collaborate continuously with other partners – and all in the context of politicians determined to reduce the cost of the public sector.  So why not make our cultural intermediaries even leaner and contract out more and more to the independent sector or regional or local agencies, creative organisations or social enterprises?  Like Channel 4 commissioning programmes or like the licence to Creative and Cultural Skills to provide strategic leadership and support in their sector?

That  would mean even less of us with final salary pensions and other benefits, but more transparency and accountability,  better value for  tax payers and more in tune with the majority of arts, culture and creative workers out there.

from Andrew Niddrie's Craigmillar Flickr stream

Over the last few weeks governments in Scotland, Wales and Ireland have declared commitment to the value of the arts,  culture and creative industries in recovery from recession, whether as a tonic for dented spirits, an antidote to an unbalanced life, to strengthen  national cultural identity. ..or for international competitiveness.

The rallying call, particularly in Ireland, is expressed in the passionate tongues of art and culture more than in the lexicon of the more contemporary newspeak  of  the creative economy, smart economy and innovation on which many a paper has been written and on which a glut of autumn conferences will proclaim and chatter.

But winning the hearts and minds of national politicians is only one part of the equation, particularly in the UK where local authorities as a block represent the largest funders of the arts and culture, far larger than the arts councils, and are major providers as well of museums, libraries, theatres and art centres: owning buildings, supplying services and employing staff.

In Scotland, the arts community has been focussed on national structures of late, concerned to make sure  that the new single agency Creative Scotland will be better than the Scottish Arts Council without any loss of funding for specific art forms.

In the meantime, local authorities are having to deal with accelerating  and medium to  long term reductions in resources and having to make cuts  in services and reductions in staff.  The arts and culture are not a statutory function.  In Scotland, the Single Outcome Agreements with Scottish Government do not signpost arts and culture as first order services.  So champions for the arts – artists, creative enterprises and their supporters need to get vocal at local level.

There tends to be a clustering of creative professionals  in metropolitan areas, cities and some rural areas, as immortalised by Richard Florida and these are active, connected and articulate.  Dublin Central Arts workers are becoming more and more political in their campaigning.  In Glasgow, where Culture and Sport Glasgow has an annual budget of  £96m (compare this with maybe £60m for Creative Scotland), audiences and participants exceeding 13m and a commensurately expert team  to boot, the benefits of culture are being evidenced in terms of proven impact on health and wellbeing, demonstrating a politic approach to establishing local value.

But what is happening outside of creative cities and rural areas?  In great swathes of Scotland, the arts and creative community is ever changing and without a local focus.   Arts and creative people are natural nomads, moving to where the pastures are fertile.  I am as guilty as the next creative professional, living in Fife for the meantime but without any professional roots in my community.  Creative professionals who live in my area work in Edinburgh, Glasgow or Dundee running some of our major institutions, or write, make music and art all over the world.

We need creative hubs in all parts of Scotland, where there is a focus for the arts and creative communities. And we all need to get local.

Artists operate in a delicately balanced economy, where it can be very hard to make a living from artistic endeavour.  That is why public sector subvention is so critical, through financial instruments such as tax exemption, bursaries and grants.

But as public expenditure gets smaller and smaller, artists and artistic enterprises are now being squeezed so hard they are squealing.  In Ireland, the end to artists tax exemption is one of a range of cuts on the table.  In Britain, Tracey Emin is threatening to leave the UK if (and when?) we have to put the taxes up to 50%.

Public subvention in only one part of the triangle as the economy of the arts is also dependent on the forces of earned income- through sales, box office and the like and  private giving  – sponsorship, corporate and individual giving.

Unsurprisingly, corporate and private sponsorship is well down on the recent fatter years.  And now, the box office is beginning to dive in many theatres.  Although its too blunt to divide theatre into ‘entertainment’  (escapist, fun, easy) and ‘art’ (difficult, through-provoking, poetic, political),  West End theatre is flourishing while others are struggling including London’s Tricycle Theatre.  It receives £ 3/4m from ACE but, despite an additional £361k from ACE’s Sustain Fund, the Theatre is reportedly struggling because audiences are staying away from political or ‘art’  theatre and because of the drop in charitable donations.  This is a story which is unfolding across the British Isles.

We need to preserve the artistic capability to survive through recession.  We need to support artists in our communities, whether these are local, regional or national.  And that means that public funders must make hard choices.  They need to choose who and what to support, recognising they can’t support everyone.  The Arts Council of England is investing £40m through its Sustain fund and so far this is largely to support the most established of arts organisations from the Royal Opera House, the Halle Orchestra to Yorkshire Sculpture Park.. But the Tricycle story signals that this may not be enough and so funders will be forced to be ever more discerning about who to put into the lifeboats and who to leave to sink or swim, through changing their programme, merging, or other innovations which cost less.

We also need strong leadership and powerful advocacy.  In Ireland, the National Campaign for the  Arts  campaigning against cuts proposed by An Bord Snip and the Commission on Taxation, has evinced strong support from business leaders and artists, who confidently express the value of the arts and artists, including their contribution to reputation, employment, tourism, the broader creative economy and the all important national psyche.

What is critical about this is the championing of art and artists and expressing the high value that artists have for our societies, whether or not this is recognised through tax exemption or financial rewards.  As we move away from a value system which is based entirely on money, artists can take the lead.

Parma Farnesiano

The time has come to dismantle some of the machinery we have created in the UK and in Ireland to support our arts infrastructure. We need to face some unpalatable truths about  the impact of the way that the arts and cultural venues have been subsidised over the last period. Change is demanded by our current economic situation as well as exponential changes in the way we can collaborate and communicate through the internet.  The subsidised arts world is amongst the most resistant to change.  We have created a proliferation of machinery which is convoluted and which is preventing the flow of creative experiences in some areas, with money tied up in buildings and overheads and energy tied up in administrative processes.

In Ireland now artists are debating this challenge. In  an article in the Irish Times today , Sean Love asks artists for their insights on how to lead Ireland ‘out of the abyss’ taking as a starting point Seamus Heaney: “We are disposed to believe that the work of artists helps to create our future . . . that the effort of creative individuals can promote a new order of understanding in the common mind.”

The filmmaker Alan Gilsenan highlights the importance of art and artists in social, political and idealogical change.

“I think we imagine our world out of our past, our hopes, our dreams, out of our mythologies. When we look back to the origins of the state, to the 1916 Proclamation, that rebellion was a work of art. As a military rebellion it was a disaster, but they were primarily artists making statements. They knew the value of symbols. What seemed to happen was that people like Pearse, McDonagh (minor writers with a revolutionary aspiration) and people like Yeats (major artists with a minor interest in politics) looked at our past and our cultural inheritance, and they invented this idea. The Ireland that we live in was imagined by our artists, and those artists included the signatories of the Proclamation.

To a large degree, we achieved that future, at least in practical terms. If you think of what people in the early 20th century were hoping for, a lot of that came true – confidence (veering into over-confidence, but that’s another story), prosperity, autonomy, a sense of ourselves in the world, a sense that we are the equal of any nation.

Unfortunately, for all the progress we made, a lot of that progress was one dimensional.

Meanwhile, at the Abbey Theatre, Tom Murphy’s brilliant play, the Last Days of  Reluctant Tryant powerfully and dramatically tells the story of that single pursuit of prosperity and its devastating effects. This is great art with a great playwright writing the story before we knew it was a story, in the way that great playwrights do.

But how many people will see this play?  Not enough. Its a big show and is currently planned to play only in Dublin.  It should be playing throughout Ireland, with debate around it. But in recent years the  Abbey has tended to stay in Dublin and not to tour and theatre provision in Ireland has been more diverse, with the Arts Council funding a rich mix of companies, big and small.

This week the Arts Council published its discussion document Examining new ways to fund the production and presentation of theatre in which it fundamentally challenges the impact of its own increased investment in theatre over the last 4 years – in the context of the major cuts to its grant in the current recession.

The available resources are neither sufficient to meet adequately the requirements of those in receipt of funding nor to provide for potential new artists and practitioners.

The increased investment in theatre production and for the programming of local venues has not translated into a corresponding increase in the availability of professional theatre for regional venues. This fundamental disconnection must be addressed, and maybe a redistribution of how resources are provided for the production and presentation of theatre is required

It points out that unpalatable truth which many of us resist because it threatens our jobs and our ability to make the work we want to, paid for by the state.  Years of increased investment in the arts haven’t necessarily created better work for more audiences.  We can also add this: All the years of investment in audience development, marketing professionals and agencies, in the UK more than in Ireland,  have neither expanded the market for theatre nor diversified the audience.

The vast majority of English adults have no encounters with theatre, street arts or circus; and those who do attend tend to do so relatively infrequently. Also those taking part in amateur theatre represent a very small minority .. there are many persisting socio-demographic inequalities in the levels of engagement.

Arts Council of England Taking Part Survey findings

So its time to challenge what, how much and how theatre is subsidised.    Increasing supply does not increase demand. Increased investment has not increased audiences. Increased investment has increased the quality of theatre in pockets – the National Theatre of Scotland being a shining example – but it has not delivered a sustained improvement across the board.

We need our theatre to be stimulating and engaging, loved and attended!  And that may mean LESS and not more.  This means challenging historical patterns of subsidy.  In the UK, much of this is driven by theatre buildings, built in the 20th and 19th centuries and preserved by the state.  In Ireland, the history is different and the investment over the last four years in production companies is what is being challenged.

We need to support our theatre artists to create great work which contributes to the national conversation and stimulates ideas and debate. That great work should be available across the nation.

And here is another unpalatable truth. For most audiences, brand and reputation are important and in small nations, the national theatre brand is particularly important.  The challenge we have is how to invest the state’s resources for maximum benefit. The Arts Council in Ireland offers some suggestions and there will be more around dismantling the theatre machinery and facing the unpalatable truths about how we have invested over the next months.

samuelbecketbrindge

Those of us in the arts and creative industries in Scotland often gaze wistfully across the Irish sea.  We see a nation where writers, artists and filmmakers in particular are recognised, valued and celebrated by the people and state.  We see the Irish film industry thriving and supported through tax breaks, we see artists of all types living in Ireland, and we see Irish writers and artists celebrated. That recognition comes from the state and also from the public.  A radio phone in on the future of the Abbey Theatre, the national theatre of Ireland, during a relatively recent crisis, demonstrated 94% support for it.

The Government supports its artists and creative enterprises through a variety of mechanisms including tax incentives for the film industry and tax exemption on some artists’ earnings.  It also supports Aosdána, an affiliation of creative artists established in  1981 “to honour those artists whose work has made an outstanding contribution to the arts in Ireland, and to encourage and assist members in devoting their energies fully to their art”.   Membership includes writers, musicians, artists, choreographers and architects and membership is widely recognised as an honour and mark of respect.  Some of the members of Aosdana also draw down a stipend,  Cnuas, but not all.

Last week’s announcement by Mike Russell of a Literature Working Group for Scotland may help focus on the opportunities to better support our writers, literature and publishing sector in and for Scotland.  Authors Alastair Gray and James Kelman are among those seeking support for writers in Scotland as it is in Ireland.  But the answers are not all to be found in Ireland.

Aosdana itself is not without its limitations, and its total membership across the arts is 233.  Artists, including writers, who are not in Aosdana can be awarded a bursary by the Arts Council. In addition, there is a degree of tax exemption on income earned for sales of art.  But the amount of funding available for the individual artist is subject to significant reductions at this time in the Irish economy.  The Arts Council, in common with other public agencies in Ireland, has already taken a cut in its funding for 2009 equivalent to 10% less than 2008.  Inevitably, because individual bursaries and projects tend to be considered later in the planning cycle than grants to organisations, there is likely to be a disproportionate cut to individuals. Further, the Arts Council is bracing itself for a further cut to 2009 budgets later this week.  This is all bad news for the artist.

A survey I directed in 2003 for the Scottish Arts Council about economic conditions for artists in Scotland showed that 70% of visual artists earned under £5000 from their practice – and its unlikely that that figure will have changed significantly.

At a time of recession it is essential that artists are supported through by the state and recognised as vital and important  in our society.  But Ireland doesnt have all the answers for Scotland.