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Written Answers. - Departmental Objectives.

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 4

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 435. Mr. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan  asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  his Department's proposals in terms of prioritising objectives in 2003; if any such projects are likely to be affected in a negative way by budgetary restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24785/02]

Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Éamon Ó Cuív): Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív Next year will represent the first full year of operation of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and I look forward to the challenge that lies ahead. I am fully confident that my Department will function successfully and that it will achieve its priority objectives.

The Estimates process presented me with the opportunity to critically examine my Department's collective spending programmes, which were previously spread around the Votes of various Departments. This was a useful exercise in the effort to set clear priorities although, of course, some difficult decisions have to be made.

I am confident that the 2003 allocations to Gaeltacht schemes, na scéimeanna feabhsúcháin, cultúrtha agus sóisialta agus tithe Gaeltachta, will be sufficient to meet expected demand. In the case of Údarás na Gaeltachta, while its current allocation has been increased, there is a reduction in its capital. However, I believe that the capital allocation is adequate to meet the needs for industrial grants and the planned building programme, especially in the light of the likely level of demand and the potential resources that can be generated by an túdarás. Furthermore, the allocation to na hoileáin has been increased by 9% for 2003.

With regard to community affairs, the allocation will be adequate to meet existing commitments but the potential for continued expansion will be limited. I have no doubt, however, that with responsibility for both community and local [1174] development now in the one Department, streamlining can take place to ensure more efficient delivery of services and better value for money. I have prioritised the drugs initiative, for which an increase of 16% in funding has been provided in 2003. This shows the Government's commitment to tackling the drugs problem and the willingness, even in times of financial pressure, to prioritise resources for this important task.

Under the rural affairs programme, schemes are generally set to operate in a time frame to 2006 and prudent management will ensure that the expected level of delivery will be maintained. Despite the reduced allocation, a comprehensive work programme will be undertaken under CLÁR in 2003. Furthermore, the allocation to the western investment fund simply reflects the likely expenditure next year. In the course of prioritising objectives, I have decided to wind down the CÁIT programme. I hope local development programmes in disadvantaged areas may provide targeted IT interventions.

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