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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 24 Nov 1999

Vol. 511 No. 4

Written Answers. - Social Disadvantage.

Pat Rabbitte


43 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the progress made with regard to the four pilot projects on social disadvantage. [24535/99]

One of the Government's key priorities is to ensure a more focused and better co-ordinated response by the statutory authorities in addressing the needs of severely disadvantaged urban communities.

To that end, the interdepartmental committee on local development, which I chair, has been given a mandate to oversee a pilot integrated services process, with the ultimate aim of improving the quality of life in our most deprived urban areas, as a basis for a model of best practice.

The first phase of that process involved a close examination of the situation on the ground in four pilot areas – Dublin's north east inner city, Dublin 8, Fatima Mansions, St. Teresa's Garden, St. Michael's House, Dolphin House, Jobstown, Tallaght and Togher, Cork.

Following a decision by the Cabinet committee on social inclusion, the implementation phase was launched by the Taoiseach on 4 December last at a special meeting of secretaries general of relevant Departments and chief executive officers of relevant statutory agencies.

Each of these Departments and statutory agencies has designated an official at both national and local level, who is responsible for driving the integrated services process within that Depart ment or agency, as part of an implementation team. Community consultative forums are also up and running and give local people a sense of ownership as well as the opportunity to participate in a meaningful way with the ISP. PricewaterhouseCoopers consultancy has been appointed to carry out an external evaluation review of the process and has commenced its task.
The first interim progress report on the ISP was considered by the Cabinet committee on social inclusion in July. The report indicated that while there is a strong commitment and willingness at local level to make the ISP work, what is now critical is that an all-out effort is made to heighten the engagement of central Departments and to ensure that the lessons learned locally are reflected and fully utilised within the wider organisation. The report also set out the priorities that have been identified in agreement with local communities, of which, early school leaving emerged as the most important.
Participating Departments and agencies were asked by the Taoiseach to address the issues contained in the report as a matter of urgency. As a clear indication of the Government's commitment to the process, a further meeting of secretaries general of relevant Departments and chief executive officers of relevant statutory agencies is being convened tomorrow to review progress being made and to give further impetus to the implementation stage of the ISP.
Since the summer, the process has moved from agreeing priority issues to the implementation stage from which positive tangible results are anticipated that can be replicated, as models of best practice, in other urban blackspots.