The publication of the White Paper is the start of the Government's long-term strategy to develop and support the community and voluntary sector. The White Paper formally recognises the role of the community and voluntary sector in contributing to the creation of a vibrant, participative democracy and civil society.
The White Paper also recognises the need to promote the active involvement of people in community and voluntary groups as an essential component of a democratic society. Volunteering benefits society as a whole, individual communities and the volunteers who offer their services. The contribution of volunteers to the broad range of community and social services throughout the country is recognised. The role of the volunteer is at the heart of the sector's work and, indeed, participation of volunteers is a defining characteristic of organisations in the sector.
The White Paper provides for an allocation of £400,000 for a research programme which will include quantifying the full extent of community and voluntary activity in Ireland, its contribution to social development, to the economy and to employment. The findings of the research programme will be important in informing the ongoing debate on the issues involved in the relationship between the State and the community and voluntary sector.