The Deputy will be aware that my Department operates, either directly or through bodies under its aegis, a wide range of schemes and projects which address rural and urban disadvantage throughout the country. The main elements are described below.
Disbursements from the Dormant Accounts Fund are designed to assist three broad categories of persons:
those affected by economic and social disadvantage;
those affected by educational disadvantage; and
persons with a disability.
The Government has approved the allocation of €60 million from the Dormant Accounts Fund in 2006. In this regard, €24 million is being allocated towards projects tackling economic and social disadvantage; €18 million towards projects tackling educational disadvantage and €18 million towards projects assisting persons with a disability.
The CLÁR programme is a targeted investment programme for rural areas that suffered more than a 35% drop in population between 1926 and 2002. The programme covers parts of 22 counties and all of Co. Leitrim and benefits a population of nearly 727,000. CLÁR schemes cover a wide variety of developments such as village, housing and schools enhancement, electricity conversion, roads, water supply, sewerage disposal, health, coastal, sports and community projects.
Rural Social Scheme:
The Rural Social Scheme is also relevant in this regard. The RSS aims to provide income support for low-income farmers and fishermen and certain services of benefit to rural communities. The Scheme allows low-income farmers and fishermen to earn a supplementary income while, at the same time, rural communities benefit from their skills and talents in maintaining and improving local amenities and facilities. Currently there are almost 2,500 participants on the Scheme. An amount of €43.322m has been provided in my Department's Vote for the RSS in 2006.
I introduced the RAPID Leverage Schemes in 2004. Through these schemes my Department directly funds schemes to provide playgrounds, improve traffic measures, improve health facilities, support sporting organisations as well as improve local authority housing estates and flat complexes. All funds are matched by funding from other Departments and Agencies. The schemes are aimed at small-scale capital works – works that require relatively small amounts of funding but can produce real and concrete benefits to communities. They also allow the local community to have a direct input into deciding what projects will be undertaken by giving the Area Implementation Teams in each RAPID area the power to select the projects involved.
Also, my Department co-funds projects with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform such as installation of Community Based CCTV, tackling the problem of graffiti and once off Dept. of Justice initiated projects to support communities in RAPID areas.
In the case of community groups wishing to address such concerns in Gaeltacht areas, assistance may be available also from Údarás na Gaeltachta, particularly in regard to language, cultural and community development activities.
Island communities are assisted by the Department in a number of ways in order to provide enhanced living standards. These include the provision of:
regular subsidised transport services to the mainland thus providing access to essential services;
grants for public infrastructure on the islands such as health centres, libraries, piers, roads and water supplies;
grants for community facilities such as community centres and playing pitches; and
grants for the development of small enterprises on the islands.
National Drugs Strategy:
Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces:
Fourteen Local Drugs Task Forces and Ten Regional Drugs Task Forces have been set up covering all parts of the country. Each Task Force is chaired by an independent chair and has representation from various Departments and agencies, including the community and voluntary sectors. The role of the Drugs Task Forces is to implement the strategic plan which it produced for its region to ensure the development of a co-ordinated and integrated response to illicit drug use. In 2006, the allocation for the implementation of the strategic plans of Drug Task Forces is in the region of €20m.
The Young People's Facilities and Services Fund (YPFSF):
The Young Peoples Facilities & Services Fund (YPFSF) was established in 1998 to assist in the development of facilities (including sport and recreational facilities) and services in disadvantaged areas where a significant drug problem existed or had the potential to develop. By developing youth, sport and other recreational facilities, the YPFSF seeks to attract "at risk" young people away from the potential dangers of misuse, into safe, non-threatening and constructive environments.
Eighteen locations are covered — the 14 Local Drugs Task Force areas (12 in Dublin and the others in Bray and Cork) and 4 other urban areas of Limerick, Carlow, Waterford and Galway. A total of €106 million has been allocated to date under both capital and current projects.
Programme of Grants for Locally-Based Community and Voluntary Organisations:
The Programme of Grants for Locally-Based Community and Voluntary Organisations, funded by the Department of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs, supports the activities of local voluntary and community groups addressing disadvantage in their community. This programme offers grants to local voluntary and community groups in respect of refurbishment of premises, equipment as well as training, education and research grants. Under the 2005 Programme, almost €6 million in funding was awarded to over 500 local community and voluntary groups throughout the country.
Scheme of Community Support for Older People:
The Scheme of Community Support for Older People encourages and assists the community's support for older people by means of a community based grant scheme to improve the security of its older members. The scheme is administered by local community and voluntary groups with the support of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. In 2005 funding in excess of €2 million was awarded under the Scheme of Community Support for Older People to community and voluntary organisations throughout the country to improve the security of over 4,000 older people in their homes.
Community Services Programme:
The Community Services Programme programme provides funding totalling €42 million to over 260 projects which provide services to their local communities. The objective of the Programme is to support local community activity to address disadvantage, while providing employment opportunities for people from the following target groups:
People with Disabilities;
The Long Term Unemployed;
The activities of the projects are very varied and include community childcare services, services for the elderly or people with disabilities, rural transport projects, or projects to operate community halls and facilities.
Local Development Social Inclusion Programme:
The Local Development Social Inclusion Programme is a series of measures designed to counter disadvantage and to promote equality and social and economic inclusion.
The Programme specifically targets the following groups:
Socially and economically disadvantaged women;
Young people at risk;
People with disabilities;
Low income households.
This Programme is managed by Pobal on behalf of my Department. The programme is delivered at local level by:
38 Area Partnerships;
31 Community Partnerships; and
2 Territorial Employment Pacts.
Community Development Programme:
Established in 1990 in recognition of the role of community development in tackling the causes and effects of poverty and disadvantage, the programme is designed to reduce social exclusion by targeting support at disadvantaged and socially excluded communities in order to improve their capacity to benefit from social and economic development. All projects are managed by local voluntary management committees. 182 projects are currently supported under the programme. These are located in recognised disadvantaged areas nationwide, in both urban and rural areas. Funding of €24m has been allocated to the programme for 2006. Projects are expected to operate as a resource to the communities in which they are located with their main purpose being to work with the community in identifying and tackling those issues which have resulted in a lack of positive community development. Projects are typically concerned with the needs of women and children, lone parent families, the unemployed, the elderly, young people at risk, Travellers, those with disabilities, new communities and other disadvantaged groups. Projects provide facilities such as meeting rooms, crèches, office facilities, training or education projects designed to meet the needs of disadvantaged groups in their communities. Projects are funded on a contract basis which facilitates the employment of staff and also cover project overheads and administration. Posts covered under the programme include co-ordinator, development worker and administrator. Many projects use the CDP structure and funding to attract funding from other sources including statutory agencies.