Written Answers. - Grant Schemes.
48 Mr. Sargent asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the number and the nature of the various grant schemes which he has approved in respect of his Department and its subordinate agencies; the schedule for these schemes; the objective of each such scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7932/96]
There are five grant schemes in operation in the Department of Foreign Affairs. Four are charges to the Vote for Foreign Affairs and the fifth to the Vote for International Co-operation. Information on those schemes is given below.
Vote for Foreign Affairs.
Support for Irish Immigrant Groups Abroad.
A grants scheme has been in existence in my Department since 1990 for voluntary groups in the United States which provide advice and assistance to Irish immigrants. This scheme is being extended to groups in Australia this year for the first time.
The objective of the scheme is to ensure that Irish immigrants, especially new arrivals, receive information and-or assistance from qualified and sympathic members of their own community.
Immigrant welfare committees, where they exist, consider all applications for funding before a final decision is made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
In 1996, the amount available under the scheme is £180,000.
North-South and Anglo-Irish Co-operation.
This subhead was set up in 1982 to provide assistance to organisations involved in reconciliation work and in efforts to create better understanding between people in both parts of Ireland, particularly young people, and between Ireland and Britain. Decisions in respect of grants paid from this subhead are made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
The allocation for 1996 is £246,000.
Programme for Peace and Reconciliation.
The Department of Foreign Affairs will have responsibility for the implementation and monitoring of certain measures of the EU Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border counties. In particular, it will be concerned with business and cultural links and co-operation between public bodies on measures provided under the cross-Border development sub-programme.
To date, no grants have been made under this scheme. This has primarily been due to difficulties in finalising administrative arrangements, which are quite complex and innovative. It is hoped that the first grants will be paid in the near future.
The 1996 Estimates provide for expenditure of £1 million this year.
Subheads G. 1 & 2 Cultural Relations.
The purpose of this allocation is to enable my Department to carry out, or give financial support to, Irish cultural projects of a high artistic standard with a view to enhancing our image and reputation abroad, and to promote friendly relations and mutual knowledge and understanding with other countries. Expenditure in this area has been augmented since 1988 with funds from the national lottery.
Decisions on the disbursement of this allocation are made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the basis of recommendations from the Cultural Relations Committee, a voluntary advisory body of persons of distinction in the artistic and cultural fields.
The amount available for disbursement in 1996 is £510,000.
Vote for International Co-operation.
Bilateral Aid Programme.
The Government, as part of its bilateral aid programme, operates a programme of co-financing development projects with non-governmental organisations. The scheme provides grants for projects in the priority sectors of health, education, water supply, employment creation and rural development. The normal limit for funding is 75 per cent of the cost of the project up to a maximum of £75,000.
Decisions on grants made under the NGO co-financing scheme are taken by the NGO Co-financing Committee which meets quarterly and comprises a Counsellor and First Secretary from the Development Co-operation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs, a representative from APSO and a representative from the Irish Aid Advisory Committee.
The allocation for 1996 is £5.4 million.
The Office of the Tánaiste and the National Economic and Social Forum, the only body under the aegis of the Office, do not operate and have not approved any grant schemes.