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Written Answers. - Playground Facilities.

Wednesday, 18 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 559 No. 6

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 194. Mr. Sargent Information on Trevor Sargent Zoom on Trevor Sargent  asked the Minister for Health and Children Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  if he will report on progress to ensure children have access to nearby playgrounds. [23996/02]

Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Mr. B. Lenihan): Information on Brian Lenihan Zoom on Brian Lenihan As part of the national children's strategy, launched in November 2000, the Government included a commitment to develop national play and recreation policies to address the play needs of children and young people around the country. As the Deputy is aware, An Agreed Programme for Government states that we will develop a national play and recreation policy which will aim to ensure that all children have access to at least a minimum standard of play and recreation facilities. The national policies will respond to the play and recreation needs of all children and will be developed in a strategic way which supports the attainment of positive developmental outcomes for children and young people.

The National Children's Office is currently drafting a national play policy, to concentrate [1571]initially on the under 12s. A consultation forum to inform the new play policy was held in November 2002 bringing together representatives from key groups with a role in developing play for children. It was attended by 57 people representing a range of agencies including local authorities, staff of city and county development boards, members of sports agencies, child care bodies, teaching and health professionals, voluntary organisations and play specialists. Issues identified at the forum as needing to be addressed to support better play provision included training, insurance, funding and the provision of a child-friendly environment.

To establish the existing level of public playground provision, a survey of local authorities was carried out by the National Children's Office in September and October 2002. This survey found there are less than 170 public playgrounds owned and managed by local authorities around the country. However, some local authorities are making significant advances in progressing the issue of play for children. County Laois, which had no public playgrounds up to 2001, now has a playground, a play policy and a play development officer. Dublin City Council has assigned responsibility for progressing play opportunities for children to a designated play development officer and a play worker. In Kerry a play advisory committee has been set up to draw up a play policy for the county and includes representatives from child care, tourism, disability and sports organisations. Many city and county development boards have identified the need to develop play and recreation facilities for all in their strategies for economic, social and cultural development. A number of local authorities have play on the agenda of their strategic policy committees.

The national play policy will encompass all the issues listed above and will specifically address the issue of provision of public playgrounds. It is intended to submit the play policy to Government in early 2003.

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