In June 2020, a new government coalition was officially formed. The new department with the main responsibility for cultural policy at a national level is the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. The goals of the department up to July 2020 were to promote and protect Ireland’s heritage and culture, to advance the use of the Irish language, and to support the sustainable development of the islands. It had overseen the protection and presentation of Ireland’s heritage assets, but this responsibility has now been moved to the Department of Housing.
Capital funding is the main form of support of the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. The department had, until July 2020, directly funded a set of national cultural institutions including National Archives, National Library, National Museums, National Gallery, Chester Beatty Library, Irish Museum of Modern Art, National Concert Hall, and the Crawford Gallery. However, now that responsibility for heritage has moved to the Department of Housing, it is yet unclear how the national cultural institutions will be supported. Issues relating to the day-to-day management of the individual national cultural institutions are dealt with autonomously by the institutions themselves; matters relating to the general policy under which they operate and the provision of financial resources are the responsibility of the Department.
The department operates two cultural agencies within the department with funding capacity: Culture Ireland and Creative Ireland. The Department subsumed the once autonomous agency Culture Ireland in 2012. The agency is responsible for the promotion of Irish arts worldwide through specific grant programmes. Creative Ireland was established within the department in 2017 to enable ‘a cross-government wellbeing […] strategy that places culture and creativity at the centre of our lives.’ It has had some limited cross-government cooperative success with regard its Creative Schools initiative.
There are a number of semi-state cultural agencies funded by the department that operate at arm’s length from government. These include the Arts Council, the Heritage Council, Screen Ireland, Heritage Council and Údarás na Gaeltachta. However, the reach of this arm’s length has been shortened during the past twenty years following increased reporting and accountability procedures put in place by the department as well as increases in cultural actions taken on directly by the department, such as Limerick City of Culture, or 2016 Commemorations, or the Decade of Commemorations.
The Arts Council (An Chomhairle Ealaíon) was established under the first Arts Act in 1951 as a semi-state agency to support arts in Ireland. It is the national agency for funding, developing and promoting the arts in Ireland. The council has always operated as an autonomous body, but the level of autonomy has fluctuated under the aegis of the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. The core functions of the Arts Council under the Arts Act (2003) are to: Stimulate public interest in the arts; Promote knowledge, appreciation and practice of the arts; Assist in improving standards in the arts; Advise the Minister and other public bodies on the arts.
The Arts Council’s main function is to provide financial assistance to artists and arts organisations (but also support other organisations that develop and promote the arts). The council offers advice and information on the arts to government and to other agencies; publishes research and information to advocate for the arts and artists; and supports projects (often in partnership with other organisations) to promote and develop the arts in Ireland.
Screen Ireland (Fís Éireann) is a semi-state agency operating at arm’s length from government. It is the development agency for the Irish film, television and animation industry. The agency provides policy advice for government. According to Variety magazine, “Ireland has become a capital of filmmaking” in recent years, establishing itself as “one of the world’s most attractive production environments”. Screen Ireland supports the industry through a range of grants and investments for development, production and distribution. The agency comes under the aegis of the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacth, Sport and Media.
The Heritage Council (An Chomhairle Oidhreachta) was established as a statutory body under the Heritage Act (1995). The Council advises government on heritage policy issues such as conservation, sustainability, landscape management, forestry, high nature value farming, and climate change. They work with their network of local heritage organisations as well as local authority heritage officers. The national brief of the Heritage Council includes natural, cultural and built heritage. The agency operates under state grant from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacth, Sport and Media.
Údarás na Gaeltachta is a semi-state agency that supports the preservation and strengthening of Irish as a living language in Ireland. The agency strives to achieve this objective by supporting communities to live their daily lives through the Irish language, including supporting enterprise and employment and supporting community, cultural and language-based events mainly within Gaeltacht defined regions. The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport, Gaeltacht and Media funds the work of the agency. The Gaeltacht regions (where Irish is the primary language) are recognised in government legislation. There is a very strong traditional arts/folk culture in the Gaeltacht and the people of the Gaeltacht are recognised for their unique dancing, music, crafts and other intangible heritage. The total population of the Gaeltacht is 96,090 (2016 census).
 Government policies developed in other departments (ministries) that have direct consequences for cultural policy include the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (copyright, cultural enterprise), Department of Climate Action, Communication Networks, and Transport (broadcasting, tech) Department of Foreign Affairs and Defense (Irish art abroad), Department of Children, Disability, Equality and Integration (social/cultural inclusion, protection) Department of Education (cultural education), Department of the Housing, Local Government, and Heritage (heritage, local government, including library institutions, local authority arts), Department of Finance (office of public works), Department Social Protection, Community and Rural Development, and the Islands (artists welfare, island cultural heritage) and Department of Higher Education, Innovation and Science (research funding).