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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 1293-1307
 Header Item Food Industry
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Broadband Infrastructure
 Header Item Town and Village Renewal Scheme
 Header Item Departmental Legal Cases
 Header Item Rural Regeneration and Development Fund
 Header Item Voluntary Sector
 Header Item Offshore Islands
 Header Item Greenways Provision
 Header Item Departmental Communications
 Header Item Commencement of Legislation
 Header Item Voluntary Sector
 Header Item Sustainable Development Goals
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1005 No. 5
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 136 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 1293-1307

Food Industry

 1293. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue his views on legislation that would require buyers of agri-food produce to incorporate costs of production in price negotiations with farmers and producers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17491/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The Programme for Government includes a commitment to “Ensure fairness, equity and transparency in the food chain by establishing a new authority to enforce the Unfair Trading Practices Directive.

It is envisaged that this authority will have a specific role in analysing and reporting on price and market data in Ireland and this will be an important step forward in transparency. It is important to be aware however, that this office will have no role in the determination of commodity prices at any stage of the chain.

My Department is taking a two step approach to the establishment of the National Authority. Firstly, a statutory instrument will be drafted to transpose the UTP Directive by the deadline of 1st May 2021. This will provide for an Enforcement Authority which will have the powers as currently provided for in the Directive. The legislative and operational requirements for establishing a new Office of a Food Ombudsman or equivalent that might provide for functions other than those provided for in the UTP Directive are being examined. Primary legislation will be required both to establish this new authority, and to provide for any further powers which may be given to that office. It is intended that there will shortly be a national consultation process on the possible functions of the NFO.

As for legislation in relation to price determination, the price paid for goods is a matter between buyers and sellers and a function of supply and demand. In the context of food production, the costs of production differ substantially between individual producers. Similarly, the cost of processing, marketing and transport, the market price obtained for processed food, and the margin considered necessary to keep the business going, are all factors taken into account in the context of price determination. These are matters for commercial operators to determine.

It would, of course, be extraordinarily short sighted for processors not to take account of the viability of their suppliers in determining pricing policy, but price cannot be determined by the State.

It is, however, possible to strengthen the position of sellers in the market place by supporting collective action through producer organisations, by improving transparency and by prohibiting unfair trading practices and my Department is taking action in all of these areas.

Departmental Expenditure

 1294. Deputy Mairéad Farrell Information on Mairéad  Farrell Zoom on Mairéad  Farrell asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the spend for his Department on public procurement disaggregated by spend on goods, services and capital works in each of the years 2018 to 2020, in tabular form. [17956/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue My Department ensures that there is an appropriate focus on good practice in procurement and that procedures are in place to ensure compliance with relevant guidelines and legislation. Below is a breakdown of my Department's procurement expenditure in each of the years 2018 to 2020.

table

  All figures include VAT.

Broadband Infrastructure

 1295. Deputy Pa Daly Information on Pa Daly Zoom on Pa Daly asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she will approve the installation of a broadband connection point or an alternative interim solution to provide connectivity as a matter of urgency due to there being no communications of any kind available at a location (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17483/21]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) are a joint initiative of my Department and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. Among the first deliverables under the National Broadband Plan, BCPs will allow on-site public access to high-speed broadband in areas currently without adequate provision.

These publicly accessible buildings are typically community centres, sports clubs and libraries in rural and isolated parts of the State, including on many of our islands. There will be approximately 300 BCPs connected over the lifetime of the project. The locations of planned and live BCPs can be found at https://nbi.ie/bcp-map/.

  BCPs are identified by Local Authority Broadband Officers who submit applications to my Department for inclusion in the programme. After my officials have completed a suitability and public benefit assessment, applications are passed to officials at the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications for viability and cost assessments.

  There is currently a small amount of capacity in the programme for additional sites and I would encourage anyone who has identified a site which may be suitable to contact their local Broadband Officer who can offer advice and assistance. The Broadband Officer, may, if appropriate, submit an application to my Department.

  Contact details for Local Authority Broadband Officers can be found at https://www.gov.ie/en/collection/215136-mobile-phone-and-broadband-taskforce/.

Town and Village Renewal Scheme

 1296. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if funding will be provided to Kerry County Council for the provision of a footpath (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16506/21]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys I can confirm that an application in respect of the project in question was received in 2020 by my Department under the scheme referred to by the Deputy.

  Almost 250 applications were received under the relevant strand of scheme and the level of funding sought far exceeded the available budget.

  Unfortunately, it was not possible to fund all of the proposals received and the project referred to by the Deputy did not rank high enough in the competitive assessment process to qualify for funding on this occasion.

  My officials are available to discuss the project application further with Kerry County Council, if required.

Departmental Legal Cases

 1297. Deputy Mairéad Farrell Information on Mairéad  Farrell Zoom on Mairéad  Farrell asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if her attention has been drawn to instances of litigation or the threat of litigation arising from the inclusion of social clauses in public procurement contracts in each of the years 2017 to 2020. [16599/21]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys I can confirm that there have not been any instances of litigation or the threat of litigation arising from the inclusion of social clauses in public procurement contracts, in each of the years 2017 to 2020, from my Department's perspective.

Rural Regeneration and Development Fund

 1298. Deputy Alan Dillon Information on Alan  Dillon Zoom on Alan  Dillon asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if an application has been received for funding (details supplied); if so, the likely timescale of when funding will be announced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16685/21]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The third call for Category 1 applications to the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund closed on 1st December. My Department received 66 applications to this call and I understand that an application was received for the project referred to by the Deputy.

The application process for the Fund is competitive in nature. Applications are currently being assessed under the oversight of the Project Advisory Board, comprised of representatives from key Government Departments and independent experts. Once that process is complete, my Department will prepare a report setting out recommended projects and my role as Minister will be to consider that report and make final decisions in relation to the allocation of funding.

Voluntary Sector

 1299. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the grants available for NGOs and community organisations to retrofit their premises to enable access for persons with disabilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16978/21]

 1300. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the grants available for NGOs and community organisations to retrofit accommodation, refuge services and properties to enable access for persons with disabilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16979/21]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys I propose to take Questions Nos. 1299 and 1300 together.

  Funding for the type of project referred to by the Deputy may be available through the LEADER Transitional Programme.

  This programme, which will cover the period 2021-2022, will come into effect on the 1   April 2021 for new project applications. The programme will be delivered through Local Action Groups (LAGs) in each of the 28 LEADER sub-regional areas around the country.

  Funding is provided under a broad range of themes, including enterprise development and social inclusion. In order for a project to be eligible for LEADER funding, it must be compatible with the actions outlined in the approved Local Development Strategy for the relevant LEADER area, and it must comply with the Operating Rules and EU Regulations in place for the programme.

  The decision to approve a project, or otherwise, is a matter for the LAG which administers the programme in each LEADER area. Interested applicants should, in the first instance, contact the relevant LAG through its Implementing Partner to discuss the eligibility of the project and the funding that may be available.

The list of all Local Action Groups, their Implementing Partners and their contact details, is available on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/c45498-local-action-groups.

  In addition, the type of project outlined may be eligible to apply for funding through the Community Enhancement Programme which provides capital grants to community groups to enhance facilities.

  Typical projects funded can include the renovation of community centres, community amenities, improvements to town parks, common areas and spaces and disability access projects.

It is intended to announce details of the 2021 Community Enhancement Programme in Q2, 2021. It will then be advertised in each Local Authority area by the Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs) who administer the grant on behalf of this Department. For more information on this programme see gov.ie.

Offshore Islands

 1301. Deputy Joe McHugh Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the status of capital plans for Magheraroarty Pier and the Tory Island ferry, County Donegal as was committed to in Project Ireland 2040; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17024/21]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys My Department is currently working with Donegal County Council in relation to the developments that can be undertaken at Machaire Rabhartaigh Pier.

  These works will affect the type of boat that will be able to operate effectively to Tory Island. The Department will be in a better position to assess the situation regarding the provision of the new boat when there is more clarity in relation to the development works.

Greenways Provision

 1302. Deputy Joe McHugh Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the specific detail of funding announcement for Muckish Mountain; if there be significant follow-up funding to enable the investment on the Burtonport to Letterkenny greenway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17263/21]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys I recently approved 14 projects for funding of €6 million of under Measure 3 of the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme. This Measure provides funding for the development of large-scale outdoor recreational infrastructure projects in rural Ireland.

The recent approvals included €500,000 for works on the Burtonport to Letterkenny Greenway. This includes the upgrades to Greenway standard of a 2.5km section of the former Burtonport to Letterkenny rail-line, referred to as the Muckish Railway Walk.

This development of this Greenway also received €177,060 in funding from my Department under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme in 2018.

I hope to be in a position to announce details of the 2021 scheme shortly. Additional phases of projects which were previously granted funding under scheme are eligible for consideration provided that satisfactory progress has been made with the phases previously funded.

Departmental Communications

 1303. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the way in which her Department and agencies under her remit are meeting obligations under the Irish Sign Language Act 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17433/21]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Department of Rural and Community Development was established on 19th July 2017 to provide a renewed and consolidated focus on rural and community development in Ireland.

  My Department and the organisations under the aegis of the Department are strongly committed to meeting their obligations under the Irish Sign Language Act 2017.

  I can confirm that the Department and the organisations under the aegis of the Department have been requested to complete the National Disability Authority’s (NDA) survey which confirms that we have met our obligations under Section 6 and Section 7 of the Act. My Department returned the completed questionnaire to the NDA on 26 March 2021.

Commencement of Legislation

 1304. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the details of the Acts falling under her Department which have been signed into law but have not been commenced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17451/21]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys My Department was established in July 2017. There are no Acts, signed into Law and falling under the remit of my Department which have not been commenced.

Voluntary Sector

 1305. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the steps she is taking in response to the recommendations in a report by an organisation (details supplied) on the support needs of the non-profit sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17506/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development (Deputy Joe O'Brien): Information on Joe O'Brien Zoom on Joe O'Brien I welcome the publication by the Wheel and Carmichael of the Consultation Report on the Support Needs of the Non Profit Sector, which provides useful qualitative data in relation to the needs of the non-profit sector as we entered the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a comprehensive piece of research which covers ‘support needs’ in the broadest sense. My Department was pleased to provide match funding for this project in recognition of the value this report would have for our on-going work, and for the sector as a whole.

There has been and continues to be ongoing dialogue between my officials, representatives from the sector, and other stakeholders, which has already fed into some of the work being undertaken by my Department over the past number of years. This continuing engagement will help to meet some of the challenges identified in this report over the next number of years.

My Department's five-year strategy for the sector, Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities, was co-produced by Government and representatives from the community development, local development and community and voluntary sectors, and facilitated through a cross sectoral group.

The Strategy sets out a general direction of travel for government policy in relation to the community development, local development and the community and voluntary sectors for the coming decade. The Strategy also copper-fastens the renewed relationship and partnership between government and the community and voluntary sectors. We are now two years into its implementation, and putting its objectives into action will make real headway in addressing many of the challenges identified.

There is a diverse range of actions in the strategy, including the need to support more sustainable funding models, training and capacity building, support for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and Climate Action interventions.

Under this strategy, and the guidance of the cross-sectoral group, my Department is leading a modular research project to identify the specific training and capacity gaps in the community and voluntary sector which will add value to the work undertaken in the report in question, informing specific actions to help fill those skills gaps.

Government are currently implementing a suite of policies designed to support the sector which brings with it a greater understanding of the challenges the sector faces on an ongoing basis. I am confident we will make substantial progress on our shared goal of supporting a sustainable, inclusive and empowered community and voluntary sector in Ireland for the years ahead.

Sustainable Development Goals

 1306. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the status of the actions taken to achieve objective 8 strengthen and build understanding and capacity to support the implementation of the sustainable development goals (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17507/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development (Deputy Joe O'Brien): Information on Joe O'Brien Zoom on Joe O'Brien Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities, the five year strategy to support the Community and Voluntary Sector in Ireland sets a general direction of travel for government policy in relation to the community development, local development and the community and voluntary sectors for the coming decade. With actions to be implemented over the coming years, the high-level objectives and actions will support consultation, inclusion and participation of communities in public policy and decision-making at all levels, as well as examining the current funding models and specific actions in support of climate action and the implementation of SDGs.

The Strategy also copper-fastens the renewed relationship and partnership between government and the community and voluntary sectors which has developed during the course of its preparation, resulting in a co-authored, and co-owned policy. With ongoing oversight provided by the Cross-Sectoral Group on Local and Community Development and subgroups, the Department engages regularly with the sector to implement these important actions.

Sustainable Development Goals are a cornerstone to achieving a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global and local challenges we face, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. To build awareness and engagement from grassroots level up, my Department intends to make the SDGs an important element of the new guidelines for the development of Local Economic and Community Plans (LECPs).

As part of the ongoing work in implementing the actions outlined in Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities: A five-year strategy to support the community and voluntary sector in Ireland 2019-2024, a training needs analysis of LCDC members is currently being undertaken and will include surveying LCDC members in relation to the SDGs. The resulting reports will inform how best to address gaps and structure appropriate capacity building and training. Further analysis will be completed in the coming months into the training needs of community and voluntary organisations in relation to their understanding of policies such as SDGs, as well as other themes.

To ensure the SDG and broader environmental perspectives are represented, the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications are active participants on the Cross-Sectoral Group, with regular bilateral interactions between our Departments. We will continue to collaborate on progressing awareness, understanding and capacity in relation to the SDGs at all levels.

Departmental Expenditure

 1307. Deputy Mairéad Farrell Information on Mairéad  Farrell Zoom on Mairéad  Farrell asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the spend for her Department on public procurement disaggregated by spend on goods, services and capital works in each of the years 2018 to 2020, in tabular form. [17964/21]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys My Department procures all required goods, services and capital works in the context of national guidance, and national and EU requirements and regulations. Very limited capital works are procured directly, with our capital schemes and programmes generally delivered through local authorities and other bodies.

  Procurement of small goods and services, necessary for the day to day running of the Department, would take place on an ongoing basis. In line with the thresholds in place, the attached table details payments for goods, services and capital works, paid directly by my Department over the period in question, relating to contracts with a value of more that €25,000 (excluding VAT), or €10,000 (excluding VAT) for ICT related expenditure.

table

table


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