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Written Answers. - Rural Development.

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 4

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 131. Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin Information on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin Zoom on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  the progress made to date with regard to the implementation of the White Paper on Rural Development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24462/02]

Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Éamon Ó Cuív): Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív The White Paper on Rural Development, 1999, sets out a vision and a framework for the development of rural communities and marks a new approach and commitment by Government to rural development.

The overall strategy decided by Government provides for, balanced regional development to ensure the benefits of economic and social progress are distributed throughout rural areas; investment in services and infrastructure; sustainable economic development; human resources development; and, a determined focus on poverty and social exclusion.

The national development plan is the vehicle for delivering the commitments in the white paper. There is a specific chapter on rural development with a commitment to public investment of €8.5 billion over the period 2000-2006 in [1007] actions which directly impact on rural areas. These range from payments to farmers on, for example, headage and REPs to rural infrastructure, capital investment in the food sector and rural enterprises. Many of the other investments in the plan will also have indirect benefits for rural communities such as employment development, better roads and transport services, new housing and improved health services.

In addition to the national development plan investments, I also introduced, this time last year, the CLÁR programme for disadvantaged rural areas. The agreed programme for Government includes a commitment to continue the CLÁR programme, ensuring annual funding and to consider additional areas for inclusion in light of the 2002 population census results. The national institute for regional and spatial analysis at NUI, Maynooth, has recently completed its analysis of the 2002 census and my Department is examining the results in the context of the review of the areas in the CLÁR programme.

It is not practical here to outline separately every topic covered in the White Paper. However, I am sending, separately, to the Deputy a detailed progress report which outlines the position at the end of 2001. This report is being updated for the meeting of the National Rural Development Forum in January, and I will forward a copy to the Deputy in due course.

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