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Ring, Michael

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. Nbr.


Departmental Expenditure

Was asked: the amount of funding allocated by his Department for current and capital expenditure in 2018 including the capital carry-over from 2017; the amount spent under each category to date in 2018; his p...More Button

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Deputy Calleary on his recent appointment. I am delighted to see him opposite me. It is well deserved and it is a great honour that I have the depu...More Button

The revised Estimates for 2018 in respect of the Department of Rural and Community Development set out gross capital expenditure of €87.5 million and current expenditure of €144 million for the D...More Button

As of 7 December 2018, €73.7 million of my Department's capital allocation and €135.4 million of the current allocation has been spent. There remains €21.5 million in capital expenditure and €8....More Button

Close monitoring of expenditure is a matter of significant priority for my Department so as to ensure full use of our allocated resources and that value for money is delivered in respect of all o...More Button

I have been proactive in reallocating resources where possible. For example, I have already expanded the community enhancement programme this year, increased investment in libraries, and provide...More Button

The progress being made with regard to payments is clear. Almost €35 million in capital expenditure was paid out in October and November. I will continue to closely monitor expenditure over the...More Button

All available allocations will be spent on my capital. I will guarantee the Deputy that. As I said in my reply, almost €35 million in capital was allocated in October and November. The Deputy is...More Button

What I will guarantee the Deputy is that my capital allocation will be spent for this year. He asked a question. There is funding outstanding to different groups that they will not be able to spe...More Button

Was asked: the amount allocated by current and capital expenditure to date in 2018 to schemes (details supplied); and the amount expended on each such scheme to date in tabular form.More Button

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question 622 for written answer on 4th December 2018.

  That reply detailed the allocations for the schemes referred to by the De...More Button

Rural Resettlement Scheme

Was asked: his views on whether the allocation of €100,000 to six towns as part of the scheme to encourage families to return to live there will be adequate to achieve that purpose; the way in which he plans ...More Button

The rejuvenation of our towns and villages is a priority for the Government and is a strong feature of the national planning framework, NPF, and the Action Plan for Rural Development.More Button

As part of the Government's efforts to rejuvenate towns, I launched a pilot initiative on 11 October 2018 to examine how best to encourage people to take up residence in towns. The town centre l...More Button

The reasons people do not choose to live in town centres, even if premises are available, are complex. These may relate to the availability of services, recreational facilities, access to public...More Button

Each of the towns in the pilot will receive funding of up to €100,000 to engage with their communities, chambers of commerce and local businesses to identify practical solutions that can be deliv...More Button

It is envisaged that the solutions identified through the six pilot towns will lead to the development of more proposals for funding from the rural regeneration and development fund.More Button

The rural regeneration and development fund will provide €1 billion up to 2027 to support the revitalisation of rural settlements with a population of less than 10,000 people, and their outlying ...More Button

I announced the first round of projects to be supported under the fund on 23 November and further announcements will be made in the new year.More Button

The Deputy is missing the point. The point is a number of schemes involving grant aid existed. The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government had two schemes, but there was no uptake an...More Button

We picked six towns for the pilot. The €100,000 is not to do up any premises. The €100,000 is to sit down with the local people, chambers of commerce and other groups. These six towns might co...More Button

The Deputy and other Members continually refer to the diktat coming from Government. I am now saying the Government is going to the people and the groups. They are going to sit down. We have g...More Button

That is the whole point. The Deputy gave me the answer in his question.More Button

The answer is very simple. We are giving these towns funding to allow them to plan their futures. It will not be the local authority or the Department of Rural and Community Development, but the ...More Button

LEADER Programmes Administration

Was asked: the progress made to date with the roll-out of the LEADER programme 2014 to 2020; the expenditure incurred to date on the programme by administrative, animation and project costs; and if he will ma...More Button

LEADER is a multi-annual programme with a total budget of €250 million over the period to 2020.More Button

Total expenditure on the LEADER programme since it commenced, which was effectively in 2016 when the majority of funding agreements were signed, amounts to €34 million. This comprises: €1.47 mil...More Button

The level of project activity under the LEADER programme has increased significantly this year. A total of 1,525 projects have now been approved for funding of more than €50 million, compared wi...More Button

Project payments have also increased significantly in recent months as approved works are completed and claims are submitted. More than €10 million of project expenditure has been incurred in 20...More Button

I expect the progress being made on the LEADER programme will continue as further projects are approved and payment claims are made. The progress has been assisted by improvements made by my Dep...More Button

Was asked: if he is satisfied that the application process for community groups applying to LEADER is efficient and that the process is not discouraging groups from making an application; and if he will make ...More Button

The LEADER programme has made a huge contribution to supporting rural areas and rural communities for many years. As is the case with many EU-funded programmes, certain procedures must be followed...More Button

My Department engages regularly with the Local Action Groups (LAGs) that deliver LEADER to identify potential areas for programme improvement.More Button

Following a Forum held with the LAGs in May of last year, I have implemented 31 improvements to streamline the LEADER programme.More Button

The impact of these improvements is clear to be seen in the level of applications and funding being approved under the LEADER programme this year.More Button

Overall, since the programme commenced, a total of 1,525 projects have now been approved for funding of over €50 million under LEADER. This compares with 592 projects approved at the end of 2017...More Button

Project payments have also increased significantly in recent months as approved works are completed and claims are submitted. Over €10 million of project expenditure has been incurred in 2018, co...More Button

I expect that the progress now being made on the LEADER programme will continue as further projects are approved and payment claims are made. However, I will continue to examine ways to further ...More Button

  Question No. 51 answered with Question No. 42.More Button

LEADER Programmes Administration (Continued)

As the Deputy knows, spending under the LEADER programme takes a while to ramp up. To date, €35.5 million of the programme budget has been spent since it commenced. I am expecting that by the end...More Button

Another issue to bear in mind is the fact that with previous LEADER programmes, there were no other competing schemes. Now we have numerous other schemes and funds, including the rural regenerat...More Button

I am monitoring this closely. To be fair, my Department is not holding back progress. When the Department gets receipts, it pays out the funds as quickly as possible. In response to the Deputy's...More Button

To be fair, my Department is not holding things up. I have already made a number of changes to LEADER. My Department meets the LAGs on a regular basis. I met LEADER companies earlier this year...More Button

Infrastructure and Capital Investment Programme

Was asked: the extent to which he can address the stigmatisation of rural or urban communities (details supplied); his plans to address the image of rural and some urban communities as being unattractive for ...More Button

Substantial progress continues to be made in improving the quality of life in communities throughout Ireland, both rural and urban.More Button

As the Minister with responsibility for rural and community development, it is my intention that the many supports available through my Department will continue to improve conditions in these com...More Button

My focus is to support the creation of vibrant, inclusive and sustainable communities across the country. This can be achieved through the implementation of programmes and schemes that facilitat...More Button

The rejuvenation of rural towns and villages is a priority for the Government. We are promoting a new narrative around rural Ireland, namely, that it is dynamic and can adapt to the changes taki...More Button

The Action Plan for Rural Development, the framework policy for local and community development in Ireland and Project Ireland 2040 are the key policy initiatives that set out all the ways in whi...More Button

The action plan is co-ordinated and monitored by my Department and is the most comprehensive Government plan ever produced to support economic and social development in rural areas. The measures...More Button

As part of Project Ireland 2040, the rural regeneration and development fund will provide €1 billion up to 2027 to support the revitalisation of rural towns with a population of fewer than 10,000...More Button

Additionally, my Department continues to provide other direct supports to both urban and rural communities through a range of schemes and programmes, including the social inclusion and community ...More Button

As I said earlier, a total of €50.5 million of funding has been approved for 1,525 LEADER projects. Under the social inclusion and community activation programme, SICAP, for disadvantaged areas, a...More Button

Successful programmes operate from the bottom up. The LAGs are dealing with much of this. I have asked them to identify the areas of most need. I am trying to bring this work down to a local l...More Button

Infrastructure and Capital Investment Programme (Continued)

In fairness, over the past few years the local authorities have begun to engage with communities, and communities are beginning to work with the local authorities.More Button

On some of the schemes I mentioned, one can see there are good community groups in every corner of the country. One issue I encounter in all the schemes, however, is applications from groups whi...More Button

Local Improvement Scheme Data

Was asked: the allocation made in 2018 under the local improvement scheme, LIS, by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Deputy lobbied hard for the scheme, which did not exist for many years. The LIS is a programme for improvement works on small private or non-public roads in rural areas. It is funded by my De...More Button

As the Deputy may be aware, there was no dedicated funding for the scheme for a number of years due to constraints on public expenditure. I was conscious, however, of the underlying demand for t...More Button

In February of this year, I allocated €10.8 million to local authorities across the country under the 2018 LIS scheme, given the continuing level of demand for this funding in rural communities a...More Button

For the Deputy's information, County Offaly was allocated €290,765 under the first round of the LIS this year, and an additional €353,889 was allocated under the second round, giving a total allo...More Button

It is clear there is a continuing demand for LIS funding in rural communities across Ireland, and I have secured an allocation of €10 million in my Department's Vote for 2019, which will enable m...More Button

I am currently considering the LIS scheme, along with all of my schemes. I receive much criticism of the LIS scheme from certain sections of the Dublin-based media, but they will never have to wor...More Button

The LIS scheme works and there is high demand for it. I wish there was more money but I also would like other Departments to match some of the funding because every €10 million that I allocate f...More Button

I am reviewing, and will continue to review, the scheme, and I will examine the point the Deputy raised. When I came into office, I reduced the local contribution to 15% for five houses or more, w...More Button

Rural Development Policy

Was asked: his plans for the development of services within his portfolio in the coming years with particular reference to the need to develop and modernise services affecting rural Ireland and the Border reg...More Button

Was asked: the progress made on the development of the Atlantic economic corridor; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

CLÁR Programme

Was asked: his plans to review the CLÁR areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

CLÁR is an important part of the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development and focuses on areas which have suffered the greatest levels of population decline. It is a programme that provides ...More Button

CLÁR was effectively closed for new applications in 2010. However, since I relaunched CLÁR in 2016, more than 1,200 projects have benefitted from funding of €25 million under the programme. The...More Button

I have visited many of the projects which have received funding under CLÁR and I can see the difference the support from the programme makes in improving the lives of people in CLÁR communities.More Button

As I have outlined, CLÁR focuses on areas which have suffered significant population decline. However, the underlying data need to be reviewed to take account of the 2016 census of population.More Button

In this context, I have commenced a review of the programme which will examine CLÁR areas in light of the 2016 census data. The review process began last month with a targeted consultation meeti...More Button

The review will also involve more detailed stakeholder consultation and I anticipate that it will be completed in the first half of 2019.More Button

The CLÁR programme is one of the better programmes introduced over the years. While I have differences with my colleague across the floor, it was one of the better schemes introduced. It was clos...More Button

Last year one of things that worked out very well was in regard to first responders, particularly in some rural areas that do not have health board services. They depend on ambulances and volunt...More Button

I refer to cancer services. In particular in rural Ireland, many people do not have the funding and are not able to get to hospital appointments. We need to support them and help them to get to...More Button

The Deputy mentioned the outdoor recreation scheme and the town and village scheme, which have all worked very well.More Button

Was asked: his plans to review the CLÁR areas based on the 2016 census returns; the timeline for the review; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The CLÁR programme was originally launched in October 2001 to provide for targeted investment in disadvantaged rural areas. The areas originally selected for inclusion in the programme were those ...More Button

The CLÁR programme was closed for new applications in 2010. However, I relaunched the programme in the second half of 2016, using as a baseline the areas identified in the work carried out by NI...More Button

I have now initiated a review of the CLÁR programme which will, in particular, examine CLÁR areas in light of the 2016 census of population data. The review process began on the 23 November with...More Button

I thank the Deputy for raising this issue. He has raised it before. My first priority was to get the programme opened again, which I did. To be fair, using the census figures we are using does n...More Button

As already stated, the review process has commenced. I have the views of well-respected researchers from Maynooth University but I also want to talk to people on the ground. I want to talk to the...More Button

CLÁR Programme (Continued)

I must be careful that other Departments do not see this as a mechanism to allow them not to do what they should be doing. Deputy Neville is correct: I need to get my Department to act. I have as...More Button

Sometimes areas do not get what they should because they may not have the supports they need to be able to make the applications. That is something I will be looking at in this scheme.More Button

Town and Village Renewal Scheme

Was asked: the status of allocations made to each county in 2018 under the town and village renewal scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The town and village renewal scheme is a key part of the Government's Action Plan for Rural Development. The plan contains more than 270 actions for delivery by Departments, State agencies and oth...More Button

The Government launched the town and village renewal scheme in 2016, with funding of €10 million to start the process of rejuvenating Ireland's rural towns and villages to make them more attracti...More Button

The 2018 town and village renewal scheme was launched on 27 April last. The scheme is funded by my Department and is administered through the local authorities. On 5 October, I announced fundin...More Button

Since the launch of the scheme in 2016, a total of €53 million has been allocated to more than 670 projects throughout Ireland. The projects cover a range of activities, from improving the publi...More Button

The full list of successful projects under the 2018 town and village renewal scheme, and earlier rounds, are available on my Department's website.More Button

I thank the Deputy for his comments. The town and village renewal scheme is probably one of the better schemes the Department administers. It is amazing what communities, towns and villages can d...More Button

Sometimes I hear negativity about rural areas and I wonder if the people making the comments see what is happening in some of the towns and villages and the employment that is being created. I s...More Button

One of the worries people had about the €1 billion being allocated over ten years is that the existing departmental schemes would not continue. I assure Deputy Burke that the town and village rene...More Button

I like to use the example of Drumshanbo, which Deputy Martin Kenny will be familiar with. He saw what a small amount of funding for outdoor recreation did for the town. We put further funding i...More Button

Was asked: further to Parliamentary Question No. 851 of 10 July 2018, the status of the pilot scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The pilot scheme to encourage people to return to living in town centres was launched on 11th October 2018. 

  A Steering Group, chaired by my Department, was es...More Button

Post Office Closures

Was asked: his plans to ensure the viability and sustainability of towns and villages in rural Ireland that have lost or are losing the local post office; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

My colleague, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, has policy responsibility for the postal sector. However, I am acutely aware of the value placed by rural communities...More Button

Investment in rural Ireland is taking place right across Government. The Action Plan for Rural Development is a comprehensive cross-Government plan which sets out a wide range of measures focuse...More Button

The third progress report on the action plan was published in recent weeks and confirmed the progress being made, with more than 95% of actions completed or advanced.More Button

The €1 billion investment provided through the rural regeneration and development fund will also bring positive benefits to rural communities. I was delighted to announce the first group, totall...More Button

My Department is also continuing to support the many vibrant towns and villages across rural Ireland through a range of other schemes and supports. The evidence of impact can be seen in growing ...More Button

Of particular importance for those towns and villages most disadvantaged in terms of access to services are the CLÁR programme, the community enhancement programme, the town and village renewal s...More Button

Post Office Closures (Continued)

Additionally, funding delivered through the community services programme, LEADER and SICAP provides supports tailored to the specific needs of individual areas.More Button

The Government is continuing to explore ways to sustain the viability of the post office network into the future. In October last, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environmen...More Button

I am sorry I have only a minute to reply. I wish I had more time because I have a list of all the post offices that Fianna Fáil closed.More Button

I would be here for 25 minutes-----More Button

It is a pity-----More Button

I did not interrupt the Deputy. I let him talk. If his Government had been as concerned about post offices when this country was awash with money, and if it had given them the services they neede...More Button

The Government did not close any post offices in the past few months.More Button

The Deputy should listen. People took the packages. They were given the opportunity.More Button

They got the packages. Let us be honest about what is happening and stop the nonsense about post offices.More Button

I will give an example. There was a post office in my own county where 500 people turned up at a public meeting. I am going to tell the Deputy how many of them bought television licences. There ...More Button

-----or they went elsewhere to get their licences. If they want to keep rural post offices open, they will have to start using them, and not go to public meetings.More Button

In fairness, a post office was advertised twice and they could not get anyone to take it.More Button

The hypocrisy sickens me. Fianna Fáil closed many post offices and we closed very few.More Button

The Deputy asked what I did. I provided €80,000 last year to examine where we can get more services for post offices. Let us take the example of motor tax. Nearly 88% of people now tax their car...More Button

They want to do business in a different way. I want to keep as many post offices open as possible. However, I would say to the general public that if they want their post office and their small l...More Button

Rural Regeneration and Development Fund

Was asked: the status of the rural regeneration and development fund.More Button

Was asked: the status of the rural regeneration and development fund; when he expects to make further allocations for 2019 from the fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the funding approved to date for projects under the rural regeneration and development fund; when further tranches of approvals will issue; his plans to seek further applications under this process...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 42, 45 and 51 together.More Button

The first call for applications for the rural regeneration and development fund closed at the end of September. Some €1 billion is committed to the fund over a ten-year period to support rural e...More Button

There was an excellent response to the first call, with nearly 300 applications received. Applications for the fund are currently being examined by the project advisory board, comprising represe...More Button

I announced the first 18 successful projects under the fund on 23 November. These projects will receive a total of €24.4 million from the fund while unlocking a further €11 million in other fund...More Button

Was asked: the status of the roll-out of the rural development fund in County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The first call for applications for the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund closed at the end of September. €1 billion is committed to the Fund over a 10 year period to support rural economic ...More Button

There was an excellent response to the first call, with nearly 300 applications received. Applications for the Fund are currently being examined by the Project Advisory Board, made up of represe...More Button

I announced the first set of successful Category 1 projects for funding on the 23rd November 2018 and I can confirm that two projects in County Sligo received funding. Sligo County Council recei...More Button

The announcement on the 23rd November was just the beginning of the process and I will make further announcements of successful Category 1 and Category 2 projects early in 2019 with a further cal...More Button

Was asked: the number of applications made under the rural regeneration and development fund; the number of applications granted funding; the funding approved in budget 2019 for the scheme in 2019; and if he ...More Button

The first call for applications for the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund closed at the end of September. €1 billion is committed to the Fund over a 10 year period to support rural economic ...More Button

290 applications to the Fund were received by my Department, 125 Category 1 applications and 165 Category 2 applications. Applications for the Fund are currently being examined by the Project A...More Button

I announced the first 18 successful projects under the Fund on the 23rd November. The projects will receive €24.4 million from the Fund while unlocking a further €11 million in other funding, an...More Button

The announcement on the 23rd November was just the beginning of the process and further announcements of successful Category 1 and Category 2 projects will take place early in the New Year with a...More Button

Was asked: the status of the roll-out of the rural development fund in County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The first call for applications for the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund closed at the end of September.  €1 billion is committed to the Fund over a 10 year period to support rural economic ...More Button

There was an excellent response to the first call, with nearly 300 applications received.  Applications for the Fund are currently being examined by the Project Advisory Board, made up of represe...More Button

I announced the first set of successful Category 1 projects for funding on the 23rd November 2018 and I can confirm that two projects in County Sligo received funding.  Sligo County Council recei...More Button

The announcement on the 23rd November was just the beginning of the process and further announcements of successful Category 1 and Category 2 projects will take place early in the New Year with a...More Button

Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (Continued)

It might have been Deputy Martin Kenny and others who stated we would never open the fund.More Button

I also heard complaints that we would not allocate the money and then I heard complaints that it would never happen. It happened. Let us be honest and fair about it. There are 18 shovel-ready pr...More Button

The Deputy is quite correct. The great thing about this scheme is that any State agency or local authority working with community groups can make an application. There are a number of ways to get...More Button

To be fair, it is one of the things I am looking at. The Deputy is correct. As with the town and village scheme or the outdoor recreation scheme, if one does not spend in advance, one will have a...More Button

While I cannot commit to that, I can commit to ensuring that there will be a substantial spend. I have to see what projects are actually shovel-ready. My problem is that they must be ready to go...More Button

Dormant Accounts Fund

Was asked: if the interdepartmental group pursuant to recommendation 7 of a report (details supplied) has been established; the number of times it has met since its establishment; the membership of the group;...More Button

Was asked: the number and details of social enterprise projects in Galway city and county that benefitted from the €2 million dormant accounts fund allocation in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the m...More Button

Was asked: the steps being taken to raise awareness of the Dormant Accounts Fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The recent review of the Dormant Accounts Disbursement Scheme 2014-16 and 2017-2019 identifies the need for better communication and awareness building with regard to the fund, including across Gov...More Button

Specific actions taken in this regard include writing to Government Ministers at the start of the Dormant Accounts Action Plan process to raise awareness of the possibility of Dormant Accounts Fu...More Button

The issue of further increasing awareness of the fund will also be considered by the recently established interdepartmental group, and as part of that work guidance will be developed to ensure th...More Button

Finally, with regard to the social enterprise measure administered by Pobal on behalf of this Department, pre-application support was provided to potential applicants, including an information da...More Button

Benefits of further information days and other awareness raising initiatives will continue to be explored and advanced to ensure maximum use is made of the fund to benefit citizens. .More Button

Western Development Commission

Was asked: his plans to enforce the role of the Western Development Commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Minister of State, Deputy Canney, is dealing with Question No. 47.More Button

Action Plan for Rural Development

Was asked: the progress on the pilot scheme to encourage residential occupancy in rural towns and villages as committed to under the Action Plan for Rural Development.More Button

The pilot scheme to encourage people to return to living in town centres was launched on 11 October 2018.

  A Steering Group, chaired by my Department, was established earlier ...More Button

  Question No. 47 answered orally.More Button

Dormant Accounts Fund Management

Was asked: the number and details of projects in Galway city and county that benefitted from the €2 million dormant accounts funding allocation in 2017 facilitating access to services and amenities in rural I...More Button

Departmental Reviews

Was asked: the company employed to conduct the independent review with regard to the review of the charitable status of Pobal; the estimated cost of such a review; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: when the review by Pobal into its charity status will be published; if he has been in contact with Pobal since September 2018 regarding the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Mobile Telephony Services

Was asked: the timeline for the release of information on the mobile coverage blackspots pilot project to encompass all 31 local authority areas expanded in March 2018; if a map of blackspots will be made ava...More Button

Departmental Funding

Was asked: the amount of funding provided in 2018 for agricultural shows; his plans to provide funding for same in 2019 and in future years; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

In December 2017, I announced financial support of €812,000 for Agricultural Shows to be held during 2018, to help alleviate financial difficulties suffered by a number of these shows in recent yea...More Button

This allocation was made in coordination with the Irish Shows Association (ISA) and resulted in approximately 120 shows under the umbrella of the ISA in the Republic of Ireland receiving assistan...More Button

The ISA is the umbrella organisation for agricultural shows in Ireland, and membership of the Association is open to all recognised Agricultural Show Societies. More Button

On 7th August this year, I announced further financial support of €600,000 for agricultural shows to be held during 2019. This funding will be distributed, once again, through the ISA. Under th...More Button

I had the opportunity to visit many agricultural shows throughout the country this year and I have seen first-hand the impact these shows make to the vibrancy of local communities. I am therefor...More Button

Was asked: his views on a report (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The report referenced in the Deputy's question refers to an organisation which received funding under the Dormant Accounts Fund and is also supported under the Community Services Programme.
More Button

RAPID Programme

Was asked: the funding and supports provided for disadvantaged communities in RAPID areas since the establishment of the community enhancement programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I launched the new Community Enhancement Programme in May of this year. I originally allocated €4.5 million to the programme. Based on positive feedback from communities around the country I rece...More Button

Under the original RAPID programme (which closed in 2011), specific geographical areas - known as RAPID areas - were designated to receive funding. Under the Community Enhancement Programme whi...More Button

The Local Community Development Committee in each area then allocates funding locally to community groups, in order to address disadvantage as identified in the Local Economic and Community Plan....More Button

The new approach was put in place following a review of the Communities Facilities Scheme and the re-cast RAPID programme that operated in 2017, and also takes into account a value-for-money revi...More Button

My Department also provides other funding streams to support disadvantaged communities, including the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP).More Button

Walks Scheme

Was asked: when he plans to reopen the rural walks scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the progress which has been made towards reopening the rural walks scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 57 and 61 together.More Button

My Department administers the Walks Scheme which facilitates the development and maintenance of many of Ireland’s walking trails. The scheme involves private land-holders as key participants in t...More Button

The scheme currently covers 39 trails, with payments made to approximately 1,900 private land-holders to maintain those trails.More Button

The Programme for a Partnership Government includes a commitment to increase the number of walks covered by the scheme. In line with this commitment, funding for the scheme was doubled in Budget...More Button

I will shortly be initiating a review of the operation of Walks Scheme which will inform decisions regarding the expansion of the scheme. In order to be in a position to bring new trails on to th...More Button

I hope that this process will enable my Department to identify, in the coming weeks, the initial trails for inclusion in the expanded scheme, with additional walks to join the Scheme on an increm...More Button

Regional Development Initiatives

Was asked: the progress made on the key objectives of the Atlantic economic corridor task force; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Tidy Towns Committees Funding

Was asked: the level of funding provided to Tidy Towns committees in County Kildare and nationwide in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the TidyTowns Competition this year, I announced a grant scheme of €1.4 million at the end of 2017 to mark, in a small way, the efforts of TidyTowns committees ...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which he will be in a position to offer development assistance to the various Tidy Towns committees in County Kildare which have in the past participated in their respective competiti...More Button

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the TidyTowns Competition in 2018, I announced a grant scheme of €1.4 million at the end of 2017 to mark, in a small way, the efforts of TidyTowns committees al...More Button

Funding of between €1,000 and €4,000 was available to TidyTowns committees who had entered the competition in either of the years from 2015 to 2017. In County Kildare, more than 40 different Tidy...More Button

I was delighted to again be able to announce funding of €1.4 million in September this year for TidyTowns committees, to assist them in preparing for the 2019 competition.More Button

Funding of between €1,000 and €4,000 will be available to TidyTowns committees who have entered the competition in any of the last three years.  The allocation to County Kildare under the 2018 sc...More Button

Irish Sign Language

Was asked: the progress made to promote Irish sign language and users of same in community development and wider community engagement since the passing of the Irish Sign Language Act 2017.More Button

Lead responsibility for this matter rests with my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality. More Button

I can confirm however, that in terms of implementation of the policy, the network of public libraries is proactive in terms of stocking books and material on Irish Sign Language which is on displ...More Button

My Department also provides funding to the Irish Deaf Society under the Scheme for Supporting National Organisations (SSNO). This scheme provides multi-annual funding towards core costs of nation...More Button

Furthermore, I can confirm that my Department is providing funds (under the Digital Innovation Programme), in the order of some 8,000, to the HSE Tipperary Town Gold Star Disability Awareness Pro...More Button

It would also be the intention to build on the post primary school base to have a basic app available for use in all civic and public offices across the county, for all community and voluntary s...More Button

This project has the potential to significantly benefit the community, deaf and non-deaf alike. It also demonstrates a strong level of engagement across the community, demonstrating a collaborati...More Button

  Question No. 61 answered with Question No. 57.More Button

  Question No. 62 answered with Question No. 49.More Button

Social Enterprise Sector

Was asked: the status of progress towards completing the development of a national policy on social enterprise following the announcement in September 2017; the month in which the policy will be completed and...More Button

My Department is at an advanced stage in developing Ireland’s first National Policy on Social Enterprise. More Button

The development of the policy is underpinned by a research and consultation exercise which was conducted by my Department in partnership with the Social Finance Foundation. The aim of this resea...More Button

A Steering Group, which included practitioners from the social enterprise sector and key Government Departments, was established to oversee the research. As part of the research project, three c...More Button

In addition, an on-line survey was carried out which was open to all interested parties. A series of meetings was also held with relevant Government Departments and other stakeholders on specific...More Button

A draft of the Social Enterprise Policy will be published shortly for public consultation, with a view to the final policy document being published in the first quarter of 2019. More Button

My Department is also working closely with the wider Community and Voluntary sector to develop a new Implementation Plan for the Policy Framework for Local and Community Development.More Button

Taken together, the two documents will support the full range of organisations that are providing services to communities or tackling social issues, whether through a social enterprise model or t...More Button

Notwithstanding the timelines for the publication of the policy, my Department is already actively working to support the social enterprise sector. For example, my Department provides funding for...More Button

Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme Administration

Was asked: the status of the implementation of the new SICAP programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

SICAP 2018 - 2022 is a €190m five year national programme that provides funding to tackle poverty and social exclusion. It is overseen by Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs) and deliver...More Button

The newly designed SICAP programme is a result of an independent national consultation process. It is more clearly defined than previous programmes and allows for greater flexibility and capacit...More Button

As our economy continues to improve, It is vital that we continue to focus on the needs of those people at most risk of being left behind. My Department is continuously seeking to make improveme...More Button

Community Development Projects

Was asked: the amount of funding provided in 2018 to men's sheds; his plans to provide such funding to same in 2019 and in future years; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

My Department has provided a range of supports for Men’s Sheds in 2018.

  This year I announced a special Men’s Shed Fund under the Community Enhancement Programme. This provide...More Button

Project Ireland 2040 Funding

Was asked: if allocations of funding by his Department are guided by Project Ireland 2040; if not, if funding is allocated on an ad hoc basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Project Ireland 2040 is the Government’s overarching policy and planning framework for the social, economic and cultural development of Ireland. It includes a detailed capital investment plan for t...More Button

As part of Project Ireland 2040, the Government has provided an additional €1 billion for the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund over the period 2019 to 2027. The Fund will provide investme...More Button

The Fund's key criteria, which proposals for funding must demonstrate in order to receive support, are specifically designed to deliver on the strategic outcomes of Project Ireland 2040 - most no...More Button

In terms of the other capital funding schemes administered by my Department, such as the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme, the Community Enhancement P...More Button

While the LEADER Programme 2014-2020 is governed by regulations established by the European Union, the themes of the programme - Economic Development, Enterprise Development and Job Creation; Soc...More Button

Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme

Was asked: the status of the allocation made under the outdoor recreation infrastructure scheme in 2018; when measure 2 approvals will be announced; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme is part of the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development and provides funding for the development of new outdoor recreational infrastructure or the...More Button

Community Development Initiatives

Was asked: the way in which the provision of essential community infrastructure will be supported in the north fringe of Dublin city; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

My Department supports Local Community Development Committees who are responsible for the delivery of the community elements of their Local Economic and Community Plans (LECPs). These plans, adopt...More Button

These facilities are funded from a range of sources; including via schemes and programmes provided by my Department which provides a range of supports to communities nationwide, by helping citize...More Button

For example, the Community Enhancement Programme which will fund capital projects to the total value of €12.5m in 2018 can contribute towards the renovation of community infrastructure. My Depart...More Button

Was asked: his plans for meeting the requirements of urban and rural populations by way of direct assistance or otherwise; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the extent to which he plans to assist community efforts in the provision of enhancement facilities to improve the quality of life of urban and rural dwellers in order to ensure that such locations...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 501 and 502 together.More Button

As Minister with responsibility for Rural and Community Development, I am leading a Department whose mission it is to help build vibrant, sustainable communities across the country, both in rural a...More Button

To do this requires a mix of policy initiatives and actions focused on enabling economic growth and development and to address gaps in meeting the social needs in these areas, thus supporting our...More Button

Many of these initiatives form part of the Government's published Action Plan for Rural Development and Framework Policy for Local and Community Development which include a range of measures whic...More Button

My Department is currently finalising an implementation plan for the Framework Policy for Local and Community Development and I am confident that the implementation plan will propose actions that...More Button

In addition, Project Ireland 2040 will help breathe new life into communities across the country, providing access to recreational and leisure facilities, by increasing the attractiveness of comm...More Button

My Department is also committed to the successful delivery of a range of other schemes and programmes which are greatly benefitting rural and urban communities. Programmes such as LEADER, CLÁR, t...More Button

Full details of these and other programmes are available on my Department's website.More Button

Climate Change Adaptation Plans

Was asked: his plans, timeline and targets to meet the terms of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment is responsible for the overall coordination by Government of mitigation planning in the area of climate change and my Department will...More Button

While my Department does not have a direct role in relation to climate action targets, we are actively participating on a number of levels in the structures that have been put in place by Governm...More Button

Supporting the development of resilient and sustainable communities is at the heart of my Department's mission and as part of that we are working with local communities to help Ireland's transiti...More Button

These include the LEADER programme's Rural Environment theme, which will see almost €24million invested in projects during the period to 2020 under the sub-themes of Protection & Sustainable use ...More Button

My Department also provides supports through the Dormant Accounts Fund, through the Social Enterprise and Social Innovation Fund measures, and the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Progra...More Button

I have also allocated funding supports to those who are exploring the potential of renewable energy and to local projects in that sector.More Button

Additionally, programmes such as the Town and Village Renewal Scheme and Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme support the diversification of the rural economy and the effective use of communi...More Button

My Department will continue keep each of the schemes and programmes we administer, under review, to ensure they complement the overall objectives of climate change mitigation. More Button

Estimates Process

Was asked: the capital expenditure to date in 2018 by subhead of his Department compared to the allocation in the Estimate; if he is satisfied that all allocated capital will be spent by the end of 2018; if h...More Button

The Revised Estimates for 2018 in respect of the Department of Rural and Community Development sets out gross capital expenditure of €87.5 million. This is supplemented by €7.7 million capital whi...More Button

Departmental Schemes

Was asked: if he has considered introducing a scheme in which small farmers or pensioners can avail of vouchers to subsidise the cost of spending on meals in small local restaurants; and if he will make a sta...More Button

The Department of Rural and Community Development was established last year to deliver on the Government’s commitment to bring a greater degree of coordination and cohesion to all of the work of Go...More Button

My Department delivers a variety of schemes that provide supports for groups in rural and urban communities in line with commitments in the Programme for Partnership Government and the Action Pla...More Button

Was asked: the schemes available by which community-based voluntary groups can avail of quality of life enhancement assistance; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the main headings under which he will be in a position to offer financial assistance to voluntary groups throughout County Kildare and nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 503 and 510 together.More Button

My Department operates a number of funding programmes and schemes that are open to applications from relevant parties, including groups in the voluntary sector, who satisfy the relevant criteria ...More Button

This includes a range of direct supports to projects in Co Kildare and across the country that are developed or administered by community groups and my Department will continue this investment in...More Button

The Scheme to Support National Organisations (SSNO) provides multi-annual funding towards core costs of national organisations in the voluntary sector, with a focus on organisations that provide ...More Button

Additionally, €3.5 million was allocated by my Department in 2018 to support the work of volunteering organisations.More Button

The Community Services Programme (CSP), which has an allocation for 2018 of €44 million, supports community-based organisations to provide local social, economic and environmental services throug...More Button

The Community Enhancement Programme provides small capital grants to community groups across the country, including Men's Sheds, and has been allocated a total of €13million in 2018, of which €46...More Button

The Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) is a key intervention for disadvantaged communities, offering supports to both individuals and local community groups. The current...More Button

I also approved funding of €73,000 to Tidy Towns committees in Kildare in 2018. The work done by these committees is of great value to local communities and we should all be grateful for the effo...More Button

Voluntary and community groups may also be able to access funding under the CLÁR Programme and the Town and Village Renewal Scheme.More Button

Funding may also be available under the LEADER Programme to support community and voluntary groups in rural Ireland. The Kildare Local Action Group (LAG) have been allocated €5,261,600 over the 2...More Button

The Seniors Alert Scheme provides personal monitored alarms to enable older people, of limited means, to continue to live securely in their homes with confidence, independence and peace of mind. ...More Button

Further information on all funding programmes and schemes is available on my Department's website.More Button

Brexit Issues

Was asked: if he has formally met with his UK counterpart to discuss Brexit and its impact on east-west trade reciprocal arrangements and all other Brexit related matters that fall within the remit of his Dep...More Button

The negotiations on both the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement and political declaration on the framework for the EU-UK future relationship, both of which were endorsed by the European Council on 25 Novem...More Button

I have not formally met with my UK counterpart to discuss Brexit issues, however, Brexit is a priority issue for this Government, and the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and others in Cabinet have been e...More Button

Parking Provision

Was asked: the number of car parking spaces provided for staff working within Dublin, Limerick and Cork city and to agencies therein.More Button

Under the terms of the lease  (overseen by OPW) governing my Department's headquarters in Trinity Point in Dublin 2, 6 car park spaces are available for use by the Ministers and staff of the Depart...More Button

My Department's other main office is located in Government Buildings in Ballina, where the car park is shared with three other Government Departments and is also in use by the public.More Button

In relation to bodies under the aegis of my Department which have offices in the locations identified by the Deputy, the Charities Regulator, which is based in the IFSC in Dublin 1, has access to...More Button

Departmental Staff Data

Was asked: the number of women and men, respectively, employed in his Department and the agencies under the remit of his Department in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the various grades in which males and females are employed in his Department and the agencies under the remit of his Department in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the ratio of males to females employed in his Department and the agencies under the remit of his Department in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 498 to 500, inclusive, together.

  My Department, the Department of Rural and Community Development, was established on 19 July 2017.  ...More Button

Departmental Policy Functions

Was asked: the extent to which he continues to interact with urban and rural communities with a view to identifying ways in which positive interaction can take place with particular reference to urban and rur...More Button

The issue of isolation, whether in urban or rural areas, is one which requires a response containing a combination of policy initiatives and actions delivered across a number of Government Departme...More Button

For my part, I am committed to continuing my Department's response to the issue, which includes ongoing contact with local and community groups and other stakeholders where appropriate to identif...More Button

Groups can also input into the policy-making process through the local structures established by my Department such as Public Participation Networks and Local Community Development Committees. More Button

The publication on 7 December 2018 of the Call for Input Paper on Volunteering is the first step in developing a national volunteering policy. Volunteering plays a critical role in empowering ind...More Button

The Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development and Framework Policy for Local and Community Development include a range of measures which will contribute significantly to addressing isolation...More Button

Specific examples of actions being delivered by my Department which are helping those who feel isolated or vulnerable in communities include:More Button

- Significant investment in the Seniors Alert Scheme, which facilitates valuable community-based support for vulnerable older people living alone. To the end of October, spend on the Scheme amoun...More Button

- The new five-year Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme, or SICAP, which commenced at the start of 2018, is our country’s primary social inclusion intervention. This is a national...More Button

- Support for approximately 350 Men’s Sheds across Ireland which provide a safe space where men can gather and participate in their communities, develop social networks and potentially gain new s...More Button

In addition, other actions in the Action Plan for Rural Development being delivered by Departments across government that will help those who feel isolated or vulnerable include:More Button

- Investment of €46 million in Garda fleet to ensure that Gardaí are mobile, visible and responsive to prevent and tackle crime.More Button

- Maintaining the network of senior helplines in operation throughout the country, which offer a listening service for older people to help address issues such as loneliness and isolation in rura...More Button

- Continued support and prioritisation of community crime prevention through schemes such as Neighbourhood Watch and Text Alert.More Button

- Continued improvements in the Rural Transport Programme, including the provision of new routes..More Button

Departmental Surveys

Was asked: the extent to which he has undertaken appropriate studies with particular reference to isolated rural areas with a view to a determination as to the best way in which the issues facing such areas n...More Button

The remit of my Department is to help build vibrant, sustainable communities across the country. Achieving this goal requires a mix of policy initiatives and funding schemes to improve both economi...More Button

The Action Plan for Rural Development, published in January 2017, represents a significant whole-of-Government approach to addressing identified challenges facing rural Ireland. The Action Plan i...More Button

My own Department delivers a range of programmes which promote and support sustainable communities throughout Ireland.  For example:More Button

- The Town and Village Renewal Scheme supports the revitalisation of rural towns and villages, with particular focus on projects which have a clear positive economic impact on local communities. ...More Button

- The CLÁR programme is a targeted investment programme for rural areas which provides funding for small infrastructural projects and other initiatives in areas that have experienced significant ...More Button

- The €250 million LEADER rural development programme includes a specific pillar focused on social inclusion.More Button

- The Seniors Alert Scheme provides grant assistance towards the purchase and installation of personal monitored alarms for older people to enable them to live securely in their own homes. This i...More Button

My Department maintains ongoing contact with stakeholders to identify issues that affect both urban and rural communities.  More Button

My Department is also co-hosting a series of seminars on rural issues with the Royal Irish Academy, focusing on the themes of economic development, social inclusion and sustainable rural communit...More Button

Charities Regulation

Was asked: the extent to which all charities come within the remit of the Charities Regulator, which is protecting the integrity of the sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

LEADER Programmes

Was asked: the extent to which LEADER programme grant aid continues to be made available to local communities directly or through the aegis of the local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the mat...More Button

The LEADER Programme is delivered to local communities across the country by Local Action Groups  (LAGs) across 28 sub-regional areas in Ireland. More Button

Under the current 2014-2020 programme, 25 of the LAGs are Local Community Development Committees.  The community-based Local Development Companies interface with local communities as the Implemen...More Button

In the case of the remaining 3 LEADER areas, Local Development Companies act as Local Action Groups in their own right.   More Button

The current LEADER programme has a total budget of €250 million over the period to 2020.  €220 million of the available funding has already been allocated to the 28 LEADER sub-regional areas thro...More Button

Overall, since the programme commenced delivery in 2016 following the signing of the majority of Funding Agreements, 1,525 LEADER projects have been approved to a value of €50.5 million, while a ...More Button

Broadband Service Provision

Was asked: the degree to which he can address issues of local connectivity in rural areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The availability of a high quality, high speed broadband network and of reliable mobile phone coverage are essential components underpinning the connectivity and development of rural communities in...More Button

In this context, the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce was established in July 2016 to identify solutions to broadband and mobile phone coverage deficits and to investigate how better services...More Button

An Implementation Group, co-ordinated by my Department was established in early 2017 to ensure that the actions identified by the Taskforce are implemented in a timely manner. That Group publishe...More Button

In terms of the actions directly under my Department's remit, the appointment of Broadband Officers in each Local Authority, which my Department co-finances, is impacting positively on increased ...More Button

Regular meetings of the Regional Action Group are held across the country, bringing together Local Authority Broadband Officers and providing opportunities to share knowledge and experiences and ...More Button

Furthermore, my Department, in cooperation with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, are exploring the feasibility of developing a standardised policy for accessi...More Button

Outside of the work of the Implementation Group, my Department has provided funding to support the establishment of a mobile phone mast in Malin Beg, Co. Donegal. The residents of Malin Beg have ...More Button

My Department also co-ordinated and supported Local Authority applications for the European Commission's WiFi4EU initiative. This programme will see EU funds made available for the provision of f...More Button