Written Answers - RAPID Programme.

Willie Penrose

Question:

87 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation when it is expected that the second strand to the RAPID programme for rural areas and provincial towns will be operational; the total expected budget for this strand; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11990/01]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

88 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the guidelines which are available for the preparation of development for areas designated under the RAPID programme; when details of funding arrangements will be available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11991/01]

Question:

96 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the progress made to date with regard to the implementation of the RAPID programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11989/01]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 87, 88 and 96 together.

The establishment of a framework for the implementation of strand I of the RAPID programme, catering for urban centres with the greatest concentration of disadvantage, is well advanced. Initial work has been undertaken in each of the 25 areas designated under the programme, to put the delivery structures in place. Over the past weeks, advertisements have been placed seeking applicants for the post of national co-ordinator and for local co-ordinators who are being recruited by relevant local authorities. Once the co-ordinators are in place, area implementation teams will be formally established to commence work on the preparation and delivery of area action plans.

It is intended that area plans will identify the specific needs of each of the designated areas, and taking into account any existing proposals for the area, will provide a blue-print for the development of these areas, by directing funds under the national development plan to alleviate the highlighted disadvantage. The area plans will also address the co-ordination of activity and the co-operation of effort between public services provided in the designated areas. Beyond these general guidelines it is intended that there should be an appropriate degree of flexibility in the preparation of development plans to cater for the various needs of different areas. The national co-ordinator will provide on-going guidance to local co-ordinators in the design of the area plans and the delivery of the programme.

The design of strand II of the programme, catering for rural areas and provincial towns is also under way. The identification and selection of disadvantaged areas in the provincial towns will proceed along lines similar to the process used for strand I and is currently being progressed by the Department of the Environment and Local Government. The selection of disadvantaged rural areas is also proceeding led by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development.