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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 370-379
 Header Item Departmental Budgets
 Header Item Forestry Sector
 Header Item LEADER Programmes
 Header Item Departmental Funding
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Departmental Budgets
 Header Item Seirbhísí trí Ghaeilge
 Header Item Foireann Roinne

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1002 No. 6

First Page Previous Page Page of 110 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 370-379

Departmental Budgets

 370. Deputy Sean Sherlock Information on Sean Sherlock Zoom on Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the current budgets in his Department for social media advertising for 2021; and the campaigns behind each budget line in tabular form. [44015/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue At this stage, budgets in my Department for social media advertising for 2021 have not been allocated.

  We are currently working on our social media strategies.

Forestry Sector

 371. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the details of any and all communication from the European Commission in respect of Irish forestry legislation, in particular the Forestry (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020 and statutory instruments made in 2020 for forestry and their compliance with the Aarhus Convention, the environmental impact assessment directive, including the public participation directive or other EU directives; if he will furnish copies of any such communications; the status of discussions with the European Commission in 2020 on such matters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44087/20]

 372. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if there has been communication from the European Commission in respect of Irish forestry legislation, in particular the recent Forestry (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020 and the statutory instruments he made in 2020 for forestry, and their compliance with the Aarhus Convention and the environmental impact assessment directive, including the public participation directive or other EU directives; if so, if he will make copies of any such communications available to the Houses of the Oireachtas; the status of discussions with the Commission in 2020 on such matters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44088/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue I propose to take Questions Nos. 371 and 372 together.

My Department recently applied to the European Commission for an extension to the State Aid approval for the national Forestry Programme beyond the end of 2020. The current Forestry Programme has State Aid approval under the EU's State Aid Guidelines for the agriculture and forestry sectors (2014/C 204/01). These guidelines are currently under review and the revised version will largely depend on the final shape of the CAP post-2020 proposals and the CAP Strategic Plans in particular.

As part of the process to ensure that existing State aid schemes, including the Forestry Programme, that expire on 31/12/2020 can continue beyond this period, the Commission offered Member States the opportunity to extend existing schemes by 15 October 2020. My Department submitted its block notification to the Commission within the appropriate timeframe and included the measures under our Forestry Programme. We are waiting on a final decision on this application.

This extension is needed as otherwise we would have to cease all schemes under the National Forestry Programme at the end of this year. These schemes, including those which involve planting trees for example, are a key part of our national climate mitigation measures. This would be unfair to all stakeholders and farmers who are applying or who intend to apply for these schemes under the Programme.

There is ongoing contact with the European Commission on this request and I will be updating as soon as I have a final decision on the request.

LEADER Programmes

 373. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys when interim funding will be allocated to LEADER in County Cavan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43623/20]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys As the Deputy will be aware, due to delays at EU level, there will be a delay between the end of the current LEADER programme, which was due to conclude at the end of this year, and the next EU programme which will not now commence until 2023. The Programme for Government includes a commitment to introduce a transitional LEADER programme to bridge that gap.

  Earlier today, I announced details of the Transitional LEADER Programme, which will come into effect from 1st April 2021 for new project approvals. I also announced some flexibilities to the current LEADER programme, including extending the deadline for commitments to the end of March 2021 to facilitate the full allocation of the funds available.   

  I have provided an initial allocation of €20 million for the Transitional LEADER Programme, which will fund both new project applications and the administration and project animation costs of the Local Action Groups who will deliver the programme.

  My Department is writing to all of the Local Action Groups, providing a detailed outline of the Transitional Programme, including their respective financial allocations.

  Full details of today’s announcement are available on my Department’s pages of the Gov.ie website.

Departmental Funding

 374. Deputy Neale Richmond Information on Neale Richmond Zoom on Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the total investment in hubs capital infrastructure in the past ten years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43752/20]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys This Government's investments in digital connectivity and a hub infrastructure have created the potential to have a transformative effect on the future of rural areas and suburban communities. There is now an improved understanding of the scale and potential of remote working facilities to support enterprise, attract investment and support resilient communities.

Since my Department was established in 2017, investment has been made in hubs capital infrastructure through programmes and initiatives including:

The LEADER Programme which has supported a total of 26 individual projects under its Enterprise Development and Broadband sub themes valued at over €1.7 million. This funding will allow for the creation of co-working and hub infrastructure in many rural towns and villages across Ireland, as well as direct capital for the purchase of ICT equipment which is necessary for the day to day operation of these facilities.

Libraries In 2018 there was a €7.8 million investment to support the upgrade of ICT capacity and facilities in public libraries and a number of approved projects were for the installation and expansion of digital connectivity in libraries. The €7.8 million investment comprised of €5.2 million from my Department and a further €2.6 million contribution from Local Authorities.

The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund which is a major programme of investment established under the National Development Plan which seeks to support large-scale, ambitious projects which can achieve sustainable economic and social development in rural areas.

The types of projects supported by the Fund include the development and delivery of remote working facilities, digital hubs, enterprise centres and landing spaces. Under the first and second calls to the Fund, 42 projects that are developing or delivering remote working facilities in rural towns and villages and their outlying areas were approved for funding of €51 million.

€62,000 was provided for hubs capital infrastructure through programmes and initiatives under the DAF Small Capital Grants Scheme for Social Enterprises and €35,000 was provided under the Community Enhancement Scheme for two remote working facilities.

The current work of the Interdepartmental Working Group, chaired by the Secretary General of my Department, to establish a national data-set of remote working facilities, will also support the improved targeting of investment in future.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 375. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the breakdown of Covid-19-related supports allocated to community halls and centres by county; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43830/20]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys My Department has provided a number of Covid-19 related supports to community halls and centres. Such funding includes:

  The €2.5 million COVID-19 Emergency Fund.  This was introduced in April 2020 to provide funding to community groups participating in the Government’s “Community Call” initiative which was led by the Local Authorities. Community halls and centres that were involved in the “Community Call” were eligible to apply for this funding.

 My Department's Community Services Programme (CSP) supports over 420 community organisations to provide local services through a social enterprise model, including facilities such as community halls and centres under Strand 1 and 1s.

  CSP funding is provided as a fixed annual contribution to the cost of supporting an agreed number of full-time equivalent (FTE) positions and a manager, where warranted. As a result of COVID-19 my Department developed a €4.75m Support Fund to assist CSP supported organisations most in need, to retain their CSP supported employees on their payroll and also provides assistance for the Employers PRSI contribution, during this crisis period and until April 2021.

  To date, 357 of the CSP supported services have been approved funding of some €3.6m under the CSP Support Fund, as outlined in the table below. A further 30 organisations are currently under consideration, a final decision will be made in the coming week. Of those supported under the CSP Support Fund, 224 organisations are supported under Strand 1 and 1s – community halls and facilities.

  The Community and Voluntary Sector Covid-19 Stability Fund was intended to be a targeted once-off cash injection for organisations and groups currently delivering critical front-line services to the most at need in our society and in danger of imminent closure due to lost fund-raised or traded income as a direct result of restrictions to counter the spread of COVID-19. The criteria of the scheme stated that any grants awarded would be dependent on the need identified and organisations approved for funding were prioritised on that basis.

  While not specifically aimed at Community Centres, some such organisations were eligible where they were providing critical frontline services to the most vulnerable in their communities.

  The Community Enhancement Programme (CEP) has provided a total of €7m for capital grants towards enhancing facilities available to communities. The funding was allocated to each local authority area and administered by Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs). Community halls and centres were eligible to apply for this funding.

  My Department also recently launched a €1.7m COVID-19 Emergency Fund, which groups, including those involved with community halls and centres, can now apply for through their Local Community Development Committee (LCDC).

  Town & Village Renewal Scheme - Accelerated Measure in response to COVID-19,

  The Government’s July Stimulus Package allocated an extra €10m of funding to support towns and villages to adapt to COVID-19 under the 2020 Town and Village Renewal Scheme.  This funding was in addition to €15m already ear-marked for the scheme for 2020. The scheme is placing a particular focus this year on immediate responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (Accelerated Measure) and medium-term interventions to assist rural towns and villages to recover from the impact of the virus (Standard Measure). The projects approved will assist businesses/communities in towns and villages to adapt to the specific challenges posed by COVID-19 (e.g. social distancing) and to increase footfall and generate economic activity in the short-term.

  We were unable to collate the details by county in sufficient time for this PQ response however we will forward a list to the Deputy once complete.

Departmental Budgets

 376. Deputy Sean Sherlock Information on Sean Sherlock Zoom on Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the current budgets in her Department for social media advertising for 2021; and the campaigns behind each budget line in tabular form. [44028/20]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys My Department has not allocated any specific budgets for social media advertising in 2021. However, the business planning process for 2021 remains ongoing and it is possible that a requirement for some limited expenditure of that nature may yet be identified.

Seirbhísí trí Ghaeilge

 377. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Forbartha Tuaithe agus Pobail Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys cad iad na pleananna atá ag a Roinn chun seirbhísí faoina riar a chur ar fáil trí Ghaeilge, chun cur le líon na seirbhísí atá ar fáil trí Ghaeilge faoina riar, agus chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn, le linn 2021. [44161/20]

 379. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Forbartha Tuaithe agus Pobail Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys sainiú a dhéanamh ar na fadhbanna is práinní i leith seirbhísí faoi riar a Roinne a sholáthar trí Ghaeilge sna ceantair Ghaeltachta, agus cad atá beartaithe aici chun iad a réiteach. [44163/20]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys I propose to take Questions Nos. 377 and 379 together.

Tugann mo Roinn tosaíocht an-láidir do sheirbhísí faoi riar a Roinne a sholáthar trí Ghaeilge. Cuireadh tús leis an chéad Scéim Teanga de chuid na Roinne Forbartha Tuaithe agus Pobail ar 8 Aibreán 2019. Ullmhaíodh í de réir na dTreoirlínte a leagtar amach faoi Alt 12 d’Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003. Beidh sí i bhfeidhm ar feadh tréimhse 3 bliana nó go dtí go ndeimhneofar scéim nua, cibé acu is déanaí. Tá geallatanais sa Scéim go leanfar de fhreagairt do gach comhfhreagras i scríbhinn (litreacha agus ríomhphoist) sa teanga ina fuarthas é. Sa chás gur mian le duine a ghnó a dhéanamh i nGaeilge ar an teileafón, cinnteoidh an Roinn go mbeidh oifigeach sa Roinn ar fáil chun an tseirbhís sin a chur ar fáil, nuair is gá. Thar shaolré na Scéime, déanfaidh Preasoifig na Roinne, 20% dá preasráitis a eisiúint i nGaeilge agus i mBéarla araon (go comhuaineach). Tá an Roinn tiomanta na seirbhísí is fearr is féidir a chur ar fáil dá custaiméirí trí Ghaeilge.

Agus Rannóg na n-Oileán faoi chúram na Roinne anois, tuigim an tábhacht a bhaineann le seirbhísí faoi riar na Roinne a sholáthar trí Ghaeilge sna ceantair Ghaeltachta ach go háirithe. Cuireann Rannóg na n-Oileán, atá lonnaithe sa Ghaeltacht, seirbhísí ar fáil trí mheán na Gaeilge. Leanfaidh an Roinn de sheirbhísí i nGaeilge a chur ar fáil don phobal de réir mar is gá.

Foireann Roinne

 378. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Forbartha Tuaithe agus Pobail Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys sonrú a dhéanamh ar gach post atá sainaitheanta mar phost a bhfuil riachtanas Gaeilge leis ina Roinn faoi láthair, líon na bhfostaithe ina Roinn a bhfuil cumas sa Ghaeilge acu, agus líon iomlán na bhfostaithe ina Roinn. [44162/20]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Bunaíodh an Roinn Forbartha Tuaithe agus Pobail ar an 19ú Mí Iúil, 2017, chun fócus athnuaite agus comhdhlúite a sholáthar ar fhorbairt tuaithe agus pobail in Éirinn.

Níl aon poist sa Roinn agus baint riachtanach ag an nGaeilge leis, áfach, aithníonn an Roinn an cúram chun seirbhísí áirithe a chur ar fáil don phobal trí Ghaeilge. Tá roinnt daoine sa roinn agus is féidir leo déileáil le freagracht agus fiafraí trí Ghaeilge, de réir mar is gá.

Rinne an Roinn Forbartha Tuaithe agus Pobail suirbhé ar fhoireann na Roinne, chun líon na ndaoine atá inniúil seirbhísí a chur ar fáil trí Ghaeilge sa Roinn a dhearbhú. Bunaithe ar an suirbhé, dearbhaíodh go bhfuil cúigear ball den fhoireann inniúil seirbhísí a sholáthar trí Ghaeilge, is é sin 2.5% de bhaill foirne na Roinne (200 ina iomlán).

  Question No. 379 answered with Question No. 377.


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