The White Paper on a framework for supporting voluntary activity and for developing the relationship between the State and the community and voluntary sector was published on 13 September 2000. The White Paper marked the start of the Government's long-term strategy to develop and support the community and voluntary sector. It sets out the rationale for developing the relationship between the State and the sector and the principles which should underpin this relationship.
A unique feature of the White Paper was the establishment of an implementation and advisory group, IAG, to oversee implementation of the White Paper's recommendations. This group is co-chaired by senior officials from my Department and from the Department of Health and Children. It consists of six members from the community and voluntary sector and six from the statutory sector. My Department provides the secretariat to the group.
The implementation and advisory group was established on 20 July 2001 and has met on 16 occasions to date. Much of the detailed work of the group has been carried out by sub-committees formed to examine specific issues and report to the main group. The group has devised a detailed work plan to assist in implementing the recommendations. Matters considered by the group to date include the multiplicity of funding sources through which the sector must operate; the designation of voluntary activity units in relevant Departments; the development of training and supports in the sector and support for federations and networks; accreditation of training in the sector and the establishment of good practice standards in both the community and voluntary sector and the statutory sector.
In relation to the federations and networks scheme, it was considered necessary to re-advertise this scheme because of issues which arose in the course of processing the applications and which it was considered could give rise to legal challenge. This will take place in the coming weeks and all applicants have been advised to that effect.
With regard to the training and support scheme, last week my Department invited tenders from consultants to assist in expediting the assessment process. All applicants will be advised of the outcome of their application as soon as possible following conclusion of that assessment.
The White Paper also included a commitment to reform the law on charities and charitable fundraising. In January 2002, consultants were appointed to assist in this process by preparing a review of the literature on Irish charity law and a study of the regulatory environment in other jurisdictions. The work of the consultants has been completed and their report is being examined in my Department. A broad public consultation accompanied by publication of a consultation document is envisaged prior to formulation of legislative proposals. The community and voluntary sector will be consulted through the implementation and advisory group in considering legislative reform. The White Paper provides for a formal review of the workings of the group after three years.