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Written Answers. - Departmental Expenditure.

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 4

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 90. Mr. J. Bruton Information on John Bruton Zoom on John Bruton  asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  the way in which certain programmes will operate in 2003 in view of the 4% cutback in the Leader, INTERREG and PEACE programme budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24521/02]

 94. Mr. Sherlock Information on Joe Sherlock Zoom on Joe Sherlock  asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  the reason for the cut in the 2003 estimate for his Department of 26% in the allocation for rural affairs; the way in which it is intended to meet the Government's commitments in regard to rural development, having regard to the cutbacks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24445/02]

 112. Mr. R. Bruton Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton  asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  the way in which rural development will operate in 2003 in view of the 7% cutback in the rural development budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24520/02]

[986]

 130. Mr. Allen Information on Bernard Allen Zoom on Bernard Allen  asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  the way in which the rural affairs section of his Department will function in 2003 in view of the budget cutbacks of 26% in the rural affairs section of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24525/02]

Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Éamon Ó Cuív): Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív I propose to take Questions Nos. 90, 94, 112 and 130 together.

The provision for rural affairs in my Department's Estimates for 2003 is over €38 million. This encompasses the Leader programmes, INTERREG, PEACE Programme and CLÁR.

While the 2003 provision for Leader and the rural development measures in PEACE and INTERREG are reduced from 2002 by 4% it is not anticipated that the programme cuts will have any significant negative impacts over the lifetime of the programmes. These programmes are EU co-financed and run until 2006 with the bulk of spend expected in the second half of the programmes. I am satisfied that the 2003 allocation will be sufficient to meet the commitments under the programmes.

Although the provision for CLÁR is reduced from the 2002 allocation, I expect that I will be able to complete a comprehensive work programme in 2003. CLÁR funds act as a lever to elicit funds from other sources. The 2003 CLÁR allocation will be sufficient to continue this leverage to sustain an effective programme.

The decrease in the 2003 allocation will not, in any way, detract from either this Government's commitment or my own in ensuring that the problem of depopulation, decline and lack of services in rural areas is tackled.

With reference to the Western Development Commission, the reason for the reduction in the allocation to the western investment fund simply reflects the projected actual expenditure in 2002. The review of the Western Development Commission is also ongoing.

The State will spend approximately €265 million next year on community, rural and Gaeltacht affairs. This shows the continued commitment, even in these times of financial pressure, to the priority work undertaken by my Department. All contractual commitments entered into under CAIT I and CAIT II will be honoured. In the reorganisation of community development structures, the obvious way to deliver access to IT to is who had previously benefited from the CAIT programme is through community development organisations. These are already working on the ground in areas covered by many CAIT target groups.

The CAIT budget should be put in the context of the overall budget for community development in my Department, which is over €100 million. I am confident that with efficiencies and the refocusing of community development groups, the work previously carried out by CAIT can be [987] advanced within existing community structures and resources.

 91. Mr. Connaughton Information on Paul Connaughton Zoom on Paul Connaughton  asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  the way in which the Gaeltacht section will function in 2003 in view of the cutbacks of 10% in the Gaeltacht section; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24527/02]

 115. Mr. Kehoe Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe  asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  if he will make a statement on the way in which the Gaeltacht improvement schemes will operate in view of his Department's cutback of 20% for Gaeltacht improvement schemes. [24523/02]

Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Éamon Ó Cuív): Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív I propose to take Questions Nos. 91 and 115 together.

The Gaeltacht improvement schemes administered by my Department allocate capital grants for the improvement of roads and marine works in Gaeltacht areas. Capital grants are also available for the provision or improvement of community facilities such as halls and playing fields. Through the improvement of infrastructure in Gaeltacht areas it is the objective of these schemes to improve and enhance the social, cultural and economic life of these regions and at the same time to strengthen Irish as this community's first language.

A seven year programme of works, under the National Development Plan 2000-2006, was initiated in 2000. The objective of the seven year plan is to have one road of suitable standard into every Gaeltacht area before 2007. Funding is also provided through scéim na mbóithre áise for the improvement of accommodation roads, bog roads and village renewal projects.

A total of €10.294 million has been allocated for these schemes in 2003. It is intended to continue with the Gaeltacht improvement schemes programme, including the completion of certain marine works – strategic piers at Blacksod, County Mayo, Bunbeg, County Donegal and Cill Chiaráin, County Galway. The seven year plan for strategic roads is on target at this stage.

Also, expenditure on other Gaeltacht schemes within my Department has been sustained or increased in the estimates for 2003.

Question No. 92 answered with Question No. 84.


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