Other Questions.

National Drugs Strategy.

James Bannon

Question:

29 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views, in view of the economic situation, on whether funding for the interim national drugs strategy and the follow up national substance misuse strategy will be limited; if he has investigated alternative sources of funding as a consequence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23900/09]

Paul Kehoe

Question:

36 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he has sought approval from Cabinet for the establishment of a dedicated office of the Minister for drugs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23873/09]

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

50 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when he expects the new national drugs strategy to be completed and published; the discussions he has had with community organisations on this strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23850/09]

Catherine Byrne

Question:

52 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will provide a timeline for the publication of the new national drugs strategy and the new national substance misuse strategy; the stakeholders who are involved in the development of these strategies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23918/09]

Liz McManus

Question:

53 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his proposals to implement the combined substance misuse policy agreed by the Government at its meeting on 31 March 2009. [23856/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 29, 36, 50, 52 and 53 together.

I am pleased to say that at yesterday's Cabinet meeting a new national drugs strategy for the period 2009 to 2016 was approved by Government. The new strategy, which will be published shortly, includes a provision to establish a dedicated office of the Minister for drugs. Arising from the Government decision of 31 March 2009 to include alcohol and drugs in a combined national substance misuse policy, it is envisaged that the new strategy will be an interim policy pending the development of the broader strategy, which is expected by the end of 2010. The focus at the outset of the implementation of the new strategy will be on the optimum use of the current resources, currently in the region of €266 million per annum, allocated to tackling the drugs problem across a number of different Departments and agencies.

The steering group, set up to develop proposals on a new strategy, comprised representatives of the community, voluntary and statutory sectors involved in addressing problem drug use. Thus, a community input was facilitated and supported throughout the process. The group undertook an extensive consultation process in mid-2008. This process included 15 public consultation meetings across the country and meetings with relevant Departments and agencies, key sectoral representatives and organisations and targeted focus groups. Submissions in writing were also received from the public and from other bodies. Many community organisations contributed to this process through specific meetings and submissions as well as through the attendance of members at the various public consultation meetings. The new strategy will build on the existing partnership approach across the statutory and community and voluntary sectors while further developing governance, management and overall effectiveness.

It is envisaged that the new national substance misuse strategy will incorporate the already agreed drugs policy element. A further steering group, or similar mechanism, will be utilised to develop proposals and make recommendations in this regard. It is likely that the group will begin work in autumn 2009, with a view to finalising the strategy by the end of 2010. While the establishment of this group has yet to be addressed, I fully expect it to include appropriate representatives from across the sectors.

I wish to ask the Leas-Cheann Comhairle a question. I tabled a number of questions on rural transport services, for which the Minister, Deputy Éamon Ó Cúiv, has responsibility, and I contacted the questions office about them. I heard a senior citizen complain this morning about this matter, but that is not the issue I wish to raise. The issue is that I tabled questions on a matter, for which the Minister has responsibility, and was appalled that the questions office ruled them out of order. It is difficult and I find all the time——

The Deputy will be aware that the questions office does not rule anything out of order. That is a matter for line Ministers. If the Deputy contacts the Ceann Comhairle's office——

I have already done that.

——in this regard, I am sure he will get a full explanation.

It is unsatisfactory.

I do not want to use up the limited time available to the Deputy now.

I ask the Leas-Cheann Comhairle to bring this matter to the attention of the Ceann Comhairle and I will also write to him.

I will alert the Ceann Comhairle to the Deputy's concern.

I have had the same experience in tabling questions to the Minister of State, Deputy John Curran. I have been told that the matters concerned are not ones for him and they have been passed to the Minister for Health and Children, even though they relate to matters for which the Minister of State has responsibility.

The Deputy should put his question on this important issue.

I appreciate the Leas-Cheann Comhairle listening to what I had to say because I find such treatment frustrating.

The Comptroller and Auditor General's report on drug treatment and rehabilitation services was damning about the way in which funding for these services has been cut back. The number of people using cannabis and cocaine here has increased out of all proportion. We have an epidemic on our hands, yet the Minister of State has cut the funding for the local drug task forces and the national advisory committee by 20% and 23%, respectively. People are waiting for beds for detox treatment. Some have been waiting a year for such treatment and some have been waiting even longer for services.

A new drugs strategy will be published shortly. It will be a glossy document and I discussed such documents earlier in regard to the Irish language. A big press announcement on it will be made by the Minister of State and his colleagues advising the people that the Government will tackle the drugs problems, yet at the same time the budgets allocated to the people who deal with this problem have been cut back. Has he had meetings with the Minister for Finance in this regard? There is a serious budget coming up in December and he will be announcing these strategies, but we already have cutbacks. Is there any point in announcing the strategies if the Minister is not going to put the funding in place?

The Deputy is well aware of the financial situation. In advance of the previous budgets we had meetings with the Minister for Finance and we will do so again in advance of this year's budget. The establishment of the office of the Minister for drugs will have one significant effect, namely, it will allow greater governance. This has been raised before by the Committee of Public Accounts. It will also allow for more effective spending of funding in this area, which is considerable at €266 million.

We are constantly considering new and innovative ways of dealing with the drugs problem, whose seriousness I recognise. There is a difference between the current strategy and the previous one because, over time, what had previously been a Dublin issue has become a national issue. One key focus in the new strategy will be to increase the range of services outside the Dublin area, in particular, where the problems of providing treatment and rehabilitation are greater.

To whom will the Minister of State be responsible in his new position? Will it still be the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs or will it be the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform? What cost factor has been determined for personnel? Will there be a secretary for the unit, as is attached to other such ministerial positions? When will this be implemented?

An interim arrangement is in place at the moment. Following the Government decision yesterday, I hope the new office will be established in as short a time as possible, by which I mean within a number of weeks. Not dissimilarly to the arrangements for the previous national drugs strategy, staff will come in from the other key Departments on a shared basis and we will also have the current staff from the drugs strategy unit within my own Department. I hope this will be up and running within a few weeks.

To whom will the Minister of State be responsible? Is it the same senior Minister?

I will be the Minister of State with responsibility for the drugs strategy and will have the same senior Minister.

The Minister of State said that the central funding would come from the Minister for Finance. My colleague, Deputy Byrne, raised the issue of the Criminal Assets Bureau and she has a valid point. The people selling drugs are the ones creating havoc on the streets. The Minister of State should talk to the Minister for Finance about taking funding from the proceeds of CAB to pay for the recovery of people who have serious drug problems. It could be used for detox beds and other facilities. These people do not get the same support as those in other sectors of the community because of the problems they have. That is not right, because the issue affects everybody in their communities, including their families, neighbours and friends. It is important that funding is put in place for this. It should be the number one priority. There is to be a dedicated office, but there is no point in setting it up if the funding is not there to run the office and the services.

To reiterate, spending on the drugs programme across Departments in the current year is quite substantial, at €266 million. The main focus behind the establishment of a dedicated office is to ensure we avoid duplication, deliver effective outcomes, and base our decisions on evidence. That is important. The message should not go from here today that the drugs issue is not being tackled seriously. The changes we are making are to reflect the current environment and the fact that we are dealing with a national problem.

Money alone is not enough; it is about how we deliver and target it. We must be able to get measurable, effective outcomes for the money we are spending, and having a single dedicated office will give us greater clarity in evaluating and monitoring a range of programmes. It is separate from the money we spend directly. Apart from the community sector — we talked about community projects earlier — the voluntary sector has played an increasing role and will continue to do so in the future.

I welcome the establishment of the office of the Minister for drugs and I hope it happens sooner rather than later. In the past, when Fine Gael and the Labour Party were in government, it was considered important that there was somebody in charge who could hold the reins. Drugs should not be a side issue for a Minister. My hope is that the Minister of State will consider a number of the issues raised today but also, importantly, reflect on recent events in this area. A few weeks ago an inquest found that another young person had died due to illegal selling of magic mushrooms in head shops. I hope the Minister will take this on when he takes over his new office. It is important because there are vulnerable people out there. We should be getting back to basics. People and children matter. I welcome this development and the sooner it happens the better.

The establishment of the new office will facilitate much better co-ordination over a range of issues.

With regard to head shops, the Deputy understands my personal view. I have grave concerns about these shops. As the Deputy knows, we have taken action on BZP and we will be considering other substances that are available.

In case there is any misunderstanding, I will clarify that I am currently the Minister of State with responsibility for the national drugs strategy and I will continue to be on establishment of the new office. It is important that the interim arrangements, which have been working for the last six or eight weeks, are brought to a conclusion. It is important that we have finality and that a proper structure in place. The Government decision of yesterday will allow us to establish this. I hope it happens within a matter of weeks; I am not talking about postponing it. The net effect will be the targeting of our considerable resources in a much more effective way, clarity in what we are doing, and effectiveness in evaluating and monitoring outcomes.

Polasaí don Ghaeilge.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

30 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Brian O’Shea den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cén comhrá a bhí aige leis an gCoimisinéir Teanga maidir lena thuarascáil bhliantúil don bhliain 2008; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [23838/09]

Mar is eol don Teachta, tá an Coimisinéir Teanga neamhspleách i gcomhlíonadh a chuid feidhmeanna agus ní raibh plé idir mé féin agus an coimisinéir maidir le hábhar a bhí beartaithe ag an gcoimisinéir le haghaidh a thuarascáil bhliantúil 2008. Tá dualgas reachtúil ar an gcoimisinéir, de réir alt 30 d'Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003, a thuarascáil bhliantúil a ullmhú agus a thabhairt don Aire, agus tá dualgas ar an Aire an tuarascáil sin a leagan faoi bhráid gach Tí den Oireachtas.

Ar bhonn níos leithne, tig liom a dhearbhú go mbíonn teagmháil rialta, mar is cuí, idir mo Roinnse agus Oifig an Choimisinéara maidir le réimse leathan ábhar a bhaineann le feidhmiú an Achta.

Ba mhaith liom an t-ábhar imní a luaigh an coimisinéar ina thuarascáil a chur os comhair an Aire, is é sin nach raibh an dul chun cinn gur cóir, á dhéanamh leis na scéimeanna le trí bliana anuas, nó nach bhfuil na scéimeanna nua curtha i bhfeidhm. An bhfuil fáth le sin? An bhfuil na comhlachtaí éagsúla ag éirí tuirseach den Acht nó an bhfuil an locht ar an Roinn mar nach bhfuil an tAire ag cur na hoibre sin chun cinn chomh luath agus is cóir?

An scéal atá ann ná go bhfuil an Roinn ag daingniú scéimeanna an t-am ar fad. Tá cuid mhaith oibre i gceist leis na scéimeanna seo. Maidir leis an dara scéim, fanann an chéad scéim i bhfeidhm go dtí go dtagann an dara scéim i bhfeidhm. Ceann de na rudaí a bheidh muid ag cur béime orthu sna dara scéimeanna ná go mbeidh a fhios ag an bpobal go bhfuil na seirbhísí ar fáil. Mar adúirt daoine ar ball, tá sé tábhachtach, ní hamháin go mbeidh na seirbhísí ar fáil ach go mbainfear leas astu. Mar sin, is toisc na scéimeanna nua go mbeidh foráil ann maidir leis an pobal a chur ar an eolas faoi na scéimeanna atá ann. Tá mo Roinn ag leanúint leis ag daingniú céad scéimeanna agus, freisin, ag plé le dara scéimeanna.

Maidir le comhlachtaí atá ag teacht ar ais chuig an Aire anois go bhfuil trí bliana imithe ó chuireadh an scéim in áit, an bhfuil comhlacht ar bith ag iarraidh nach mbeadh na coinníollacha chomh daingean agus a bhí siad? An gceapann aon chomhlacht go bhfuil na coinníollacha ró-dhian air, go bhfuil costas ró-mhór air nó nach bhfuil aon tairbhe le baint as na haistriúcháin ag na custaiméirí atá aige?

D'aontaigh siad féin go deonach gach scéim. An tuiscint atá agamsa ná nach féidir cúlú ó aon ghealltanas a thugtar i scéim teanga. A mhalairt atá fíor sa mhéid is gur cóir don dara scéim tógaint ar an dul chun cinn atá déanta sa chéad scéim agus mar sin de. Go simplí, is é ceann de na bun prionsabail a bhaineann leis na scéimeanna teanga ná go ndéanfar dul chun cinn thar tréimhse roinnt scéimeanna maidir le raon agus caighdeán na seirbhísí atá ar fáil ó chomhlachtaí poiblí i nGaeilge, le súil agus go mbeidh gach seirbhís atá dírithe ar an bpobal i gcoitinne á sholáthar trí Gaeilge amach anseo. Tá sin sonraithe sna treoirlínte reachtúla a d'eisigh mé i 2004. Ar ndóigh, eascraíonn sin as breithiúnas na Cúirte Uachtaraigh agus seasamh bunreachtúil na Gaeilge, nach féidir, go ginearálta ó thaobh na Gaeilge, a bheith ag dul siar, go gcaithfear a bheith ag dul ar aghaidh.

Cé nach bhfuil cóip den tuarascáil is deireannaí agam anseo, chomh fada agus is eol dom sílim go raibh roinnt gearáin ag an gcoimisinéar maidir le cur chun cinn na teanga agus le cloí leis an Acht i roinnt de na Ranna Stáit. Muna bhfuil dul amú orm, sílim go bhfuil an Roinn ar a bhfuil an tAire féin i gceannas luaite sa tuarisc chomh maith. Ar mhiste leis an Aire a thuairimí faoi sin a thabhairt?

Is dóigh go dtaispeánann sé sin go soiléir go bhfuil an coimisinéar neamhspleách agus go ndéanann sé imscrúduithe. Tagann sin lena bhreithiúnas. Ghlac mo Roinn leis a bhreithiúnas sa gcás a thóg sé leis an Roinn. Bhí plé ann agus tháinig seisean ar a thuairim. Tá an rud atá i gceist aige á fheidhmiú ag an Roinn anois. Ní rud an-mhór atá ann. Rud a bhain le ceapachán a bhí ann, ach ghlac muid le toradh an imscrúdaithe agus feidhmeoidh muid dá réir. Sin an fáth go bhfuil an coimisinéar ann.

Tourism Support Services.

Michael Ring

Question:

31 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the position in regard to recreational walkers in each county; if they have been appointed; if so, the counties in which they have been appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23870/09]

I take it the Deputy is referring to the appointment of rural recreation officers, RROs, who have been appointed to promote walking tourism and to assist in the implementation of the walks scheme. Twelve RROs were appointed in 2008 to act as contact persons for walking tourists and to provide a broad range of support and advice in this area.

The officers are employed by the following local development companies: County Kilkenny Leader Partnership; Donegal Local Development Company Limited; Laois Community and Enterprise Development Company Limited; County Sligo Leader Partnership Company Limited; Roscommon Integrated Development Company; South Kerry Development Partnership Limited; South Tipperary Local Development Company Limited; West Cork Development Partnership; Wicklow Rural Partnership; Meitheal Forbartha Na Gaeltachta Teoranta; South West Mayo Development Company Limited; and Clare Local Development Company Limited.

I welcome the appointment of 12 rural recreation officers, which is good news for those seeking to promote walking holidays in Ireland. Tourism is of great importance for rural areas and one of the largest sources of employment. What is the position in regard to the 200 looped walks that were promised by 2009? We are fortunate in Ireland to have wonderful countryside. The Minister has dealt with the issue relating to farmers, which was a significant issue for many years. Is it time now to get local authorities, Bord Fáilte, the Leader companies or some other agency to take responsibility for developing the proposed looped walkways, ensuring they are properly maintained and seeking out new routes? Walking tourism is a growing industry which attracts thousands of people every year.

I will get the detailed information the Deputy has requested and pass it on to him. There has been significant progress in this area. One of the most gratifying aspects of recent developments in rural tourism is the substantial increase in the number of tourists who include walking as a particular objective of their holidays. In 2003, this number was 168,000, increasing to 511,000 in 2007. I understand the figure increased again in 2008, even though the number of tourists did not increase.

The work we are doing in this area is having a significant effect in two ways. First, walking tourism has become a good news items as we move away from the confrontation and negative newspaper headlines which were destroying the industry. The second aspect is the physical development to which the Deputy referred. One of the conditions of the walkway scheme, whereby farmers are paid to maintain specific walkways, is that the National Trails Office inspects the walks and lays out the work the farmer has to do every year. He or she will not get paid unless the walk is maintained to the required standard. This is where the rural social scheme and so on are so important. In the past, we built car parks and other facilities but there was no maintenance of walkways and they went to rack and ruin. The whole thrust of what we are doing is to maintain facilities to a high standard. We must keep repairing and maintaining; that is a fundamental part of the scheme.

What is the situation in regard to the use of canal banks as designated walkways? In my area, significant progress has taken place in developing walks alongside the canal. However, there is no linkage with other areas throughout the State, with only certain sections of the canal being developed in this way. Such development is of major benefit to local communities, providing an important amenity. The continuation of such development on a nationwide scale is an important aspect of the development of designated walkways.

The Deputy's query is well beyond the scope of the question, but the Minister may respond if he wishes.

As one of the sponsoring Ministers, I have encouraged Waterways Ireland to look at waterways in an holistic fashion, including their development for the purposes of walking and recreation. A plan is currently in place in Dublin in which many of the statutory agencies, including Dublin City Council, are involved to develop the amenity value of the canals as far as the city boundary. Much of the usage of the canals is not for boats but for ancillary, and equally valid, activities.

I cannot provide an answer as to why certain sections may have been developed further than others. The general encouragement from me as Minister is that they should be utilised as far as possible. In addition, Waterways Ireland is in possession of dry canals. One way of maintaining the rights of way attaching to them is to use them for rural recreation, including walking. I am interested in any specific proposals the Minister may have in this area. I would also like to see partnerships between communities so that a linkage can be developed between different walkways.

Dormant Accounts Fund.

Alan Shatter

Question:

32 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the position in regard to his recent announcement of funding from the dormant accounts fund to support homelessness and substance misuse; the level of funding allocated to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23888/09]

The Government approved allocations, on 28 April 2009, of €1.56 million to support 80 family support services, and €1.5 million to support 20 projects under the homeless measure. The mid-term review of the national drugs strategy in 2005 identified the provision of family support services as crucial in delivering the strategic aim of reducing harm to families. The funding of €1.56 million from the dormant accounts fund will support 80 such projects. My Department is the lead Department with responsibility for this measure.

Under the homeless measure, €1.5 million has been allocated to 20 projects for services to meet the needs of homeless persons. The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is the lead Department with responsibility for this measure.

A list of projects approved under each measure is provided in the following tables.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House.

Dormant Accounts Fund: Family Support Measures - Projects Supported Listed by Drugs Taskforce Area

Drug Task Force

Project Name

Total Grant

East Coast Area RDTF

Joint Family Support Initiative — Bara Project

45,281

East Coast Area RDTF

Greystones Ecumenical Group

1,000

North Dublin City & County RDTF

Swords Family Support Group

8,400

North Dublin City & County RDTF

CAD/CIC Training programme

29,600

South-Western Area RDTF

Kildare West Wicklow CAT/Abbey project

35,000

South-Western Area RDTF

Cuan Mhuire

19,300

South-Western Area RDTF

Kildare Community Education Partnership

9,400

Midlands RDTF

Ashdale/ Woodlands Grove Residents Association

500

Midlands RDTF

Edenderry Addressing Substance Abuse — EASA

43,540

Midlands RDTF

Harmony Community Development Project

10,000

Midlands RDTF

National Association for Parent Support

4,960

Midlands RDTF

Longford Acorn Project

8,500

Midlands RDTF

Midland Regional Youth Service

5,000

Midlands RDTF

Arden View Community & Family Resource Centre

2,500

Mid-West RDTF

Tipp Regional Youth Service

20,000

Mid-West RDTF

Southhill Family Resource Centre

9,550

Mid-West RDTF

Bushypark Treatment Centre

44,920

North-Eastern RDTF

North East Family Support Network

70,000

North-Western RDTF

Letterkenny CDP

10,140

North-Western RDTF

North West Alcohol Forum

30,000

North-Western RDTF

Moville & District Family Resource Centre

9,785

North-Western RDTF

Tubbercurry Family Resource Centre

10,000

North-Western RDTF

Ballymote Family Resource Centre

12,000

North-Western RDTF

Dunfanaghy Community & Family Resource Centre

5,000

Southern RDTF

Listowel Family Resource Centre

10,800

Southern RDTF

Cobh Community Drugs Initiative

7,200

Southern RDTF

Tabor Lodge

67,000

Southern RDTF

Matt Talbot Adolescent Service

44,966

South East RDTF

South East Region Family Support Network

41,748

South East RDTF

Kilkenny Family Support Group

3,680

South East RDTF

Waterford CBDI

3,000

South East RDTF

You are Not Alone Family Support Group

3,355

South East RDTF

Aislinn Family Support

15,000

South East RDTF

Suir Valley CBDI

3,250

Western RDTF

Strengthening Families Programme (SFP

65,450

Ballyfermot LDTF

Ballyfermot STAR

41,700

Ballyfermot LDTF

Familiscope

30,000

Ballymun LDTF

Star Ballymun

35,000

Ballymun LDTF

Ballymun Youth Action Project

10,000

Blanchardstown LDTF

Blanchardstown LDTF

43,355

Blanchardstown LDTF

Coolmine Therapeutic Community

10,000

Blanchardstown LDTF

Sibling Support Programme

8,000

Canal Communities

Canal Communities Task Force

70,000

Clondalkin LDTF

Families First Team

35,000

Clondalkin LDTF

CUMAS

7,140

Cork City LDTF

Gurranabraher/Churchfield CLDTF Community Project- Parents Support Group

7,680

Cork City LDTF

Cork Gay Community Dev Co. Ltd. — Parents Support Series of Workshops

3,000

Cork City LDTF

Cork City Partnership Ltd

10,200

Cork City LDTF

FADA — Farranree Alcohol & Drug Awareness

1,550

Cork City LDTF

NeCodrA — New Community Drug Awareness Group

3,200

Cork City LDTF

Bridge Recovery Group

9,370

Cork City LDTF

Hillgrove Outreach Project — North Side Family Support Services

8,000

Cork City LDTF

Ballyphehane Action for Youth — Bay Project

7,000

Cork City LDTF

Churchfield Community Trust

7,000

Cork City LDTF

Ballincollig Youth Initiative

8,000

Cork City LDTF

Sunday’s Well Life Centre

5,000

Dublin North East LDTF

Dublin North East Family Support Network

51,700

Dublin North East LDTF

Childcare Bureau

6,700

Dublin North East LDTF

Kilbarrack Coast Community Programme

7,200

Dublin 12 LDTF

Addiction Response Crumlin — ARC

10,000

Dublin 12 LDTF

Addiction Response Crumlin — ARC

7,000

Dublin 12 LDTF

D12 Task Force

8,000

Dublin 12 LDTF

D12 Task Force

20,000

Dublin 12 LDTF

Loreto Centre

15,000

Dublin 12 LDTF

Walkinstown Greenhills Resource Centre

10,000

Dun Laoghaire / Rathdown LDTF

DROP — Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Outreach Project

32,108

Dun Laoghaire / Rathdown LDTF

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Community Addiction Team

24,892

Finglas / Cabra LDTF

Millennium Carving

14,300

Finglas / Cabra LDTF

Finglas Addiction Support Team

30,000

Finglas / Cabra LDTF

Fingal Centre

35,000

North Inner City LDTF

Inter Agency Drugs Project

75,000

South Inner City LDTF

Whitefriar/Aungier Area Community Council — WAACC

18,080

South Inner City LDTF

Exchange House Traveller Centre

34,920

South Inner City LDTF

Community Awareness of Drugs — CAD

2,400

South Inner City LDTF

Community Addiction Program — Oliver Bond

8,000

South Inner City LDTF

Coolmine Therapeutic Community

6,600

Tallaght LDTF

SWAN FSO — peer led family support group

35,000

Tallaght LDTF

JADD — Outreach: High Support Families

30,308

Tallaght LDTF

Prisoners Families info line

8,000

Tallaght LDTF

Tallaght Travellers Youth Service

4,000

Total

1,564,228

Funding to Support Homeless People

County

Name of Project

Address

Total Grant

Carlow

Society of St. Vincent de Paul, St. John Vianney Conference

The Monastery Hostel, Dublin Road, Carlow

80,000

Cork

Cork Simon Community

St. Nicholas House, Cove Street, Cork

48,437

Cork City Council (Foyer Project)

Cork Foyer, Assumption Road, Blackpool, Cork.

82,642

Cork City Council

C/O Recreation Amenities & Culture Department, Cork City Council, City Hall, Cork.

114,700

Dublin

Focus Ireland

9-12 High Street, Dublin 8.

229,900

The Depaul Trust Ireland

18 Nicholas Street, Dublin 8.

98,000

Merchants Quay Project Limited

4 Merchants Quay, Dublin 8.

113,000

Merchants Quay Project Limited

4 Merchants Quay, Dublin 8.

90,000

Dublin Central Mission

9c Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1

32,340

CROSSCARE

The Red House, Clonliffe College, Dublin 3.

49,800

Miss Carr’s Home Housing Association

5 Northbrook Road,Ranelagh,Dublin 6.

53,200

Coolmine Therapeutic Community

Coolmine House, 19 Lord Edward Street, Dublin 2.

58,737

Threshold Limited

21 Stoneybatter, Dublin 7.

71,500

Stepping Stone Accommodation Ltd.

1 Lower Galloping Green, Stillorgan Road, Blackrock, Co. Dublin.

50,000

Galway

COPE Galway

3-5 Calbro House, Tuam Road, Galway

55,000

Kerry

Arlington Novas Ireland (Operating as Novas Initiatives)

Killarney, Co. Kerry.

45,000

Kildare

Youth for Peace Ltd.

Mount Offaly House, Carlow Road, Athy, Co. Kildare.

37,700

Kilkenny

The Good Shepherd Centre Kilkenny Ltd.

Church Lane, Kilkenny, County Kilkenny.

72,000

Louth

Drogheda Homeless Aid Association

35 North Strand, Drogheda, Co. Louth.

26,844

Westmeath

Midlands Simon Community

PO Box 27, Athlone, Co. Westmeath.

91,200

Total

1,500,000

I welcome the dormant account funding for this initiative. The families of drug addicts are often forgotten and there are insufficient supports for them. The reality is that the families are often left homeless because of drug addiction. I am pleased the Minister is already supporting various groups, but I hope he will extend that support. This is no longer merely an urban problem but is also an issue in rural areas. In other words, it is a nationwide problem. I hope the Minister will examine whether the next round of dormant account funding can be used for projects outside urban areas.

Will the Minister consult with the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment with a view to making a certain number of community employment places available for recovering drug addicts? Such persons need as much support as possible after treatment in order to re-enter employment and society in general. A certain quota of community employment places should be set aside for them. Places should be also set aside for them on the rural social scheme.

When the Deputy sees the list, he will discover that funding was spread throughout the country and not confined to urban areas.

We have not yet seen the list.

I accept that. However, when the Deputy does see it, he will discover that what I am saying is true.

Some 1,000 places are reserved for recovering drug addicts on community employment schemes. In addition, such individuals are also included in the community services programme. Subject to the necessary funding being available, I would like to examine the possibility of making further places available under the programme to recovering drug addicts. I agree with the Deputy that it is important that they should be catered for. However, any progress in this regard will be dependent on the necessary moneys being available.

I would appreciate it if the Minister would also provide me with a copy of the list to which he refers.

There is one for everyone in the House.

I welcome the funding provided in this regard. Cuan Mhuire which is situated in my constituency and run by Sr. Consilio is a wonderful centre. I accept that some individuals who take part in treatment programmes have improved their standard of living, etc., but they still appear to be loners within their communities. Perhaps, as Deputy Ring suggested, places could be set aside for them on community employment and other schemes. It might be possible to operate a scheme in this regard in conjunction with the centres run by Sr. Consilio in Limerick, Cork, Down, etc. Will the Minister investigate whether organisations such as that run by Sr. Consilio might be able to provide job or training opportunities? This would be of major assistance to those who were unfortunate enough to become involved in drug misuse.

I concur with the Deputy. There is a need for joined-up thinking in order to ensure the different agencies work together. As stated, 1,000 places have been set aside for recovering drug addicts. These schemes have been incredibly important for people recovering from other forms of drug misuse such as alcohol misuse. We must ensure the most vulnerable in society obtain places on the schemes mentioned. One of the challenges to be faced by those who operate the schemes is that they may be tempted to pick the most able for them. I would be interested in hearing suggestions with regard to how we might ensure those who are most vulnerable obtain places, while also ensuring the schemes remain viable. The Deputy's question in this regard is very valid.

The €1.5 million to which the Minister refers is welcome, but it is still only a small drop in the ocean when one considers the number of vulnerable people, particularly those who are homeless, in our society. There are a number of homeless agencies in the south-west inner city and I am aware that those who are homeless, because of the nature of their existence, are not able to access the relevant service. There is a reluctance among these individuals in becoming involved with projects or schemes. One of the entities which provide a great deal of assistance for homeless people and their families is the Merchant's Quay Project. I accept that the latter has major resources at its disposal, but encouraging the homeless to avail of services remains a problem.

I agree with Deputy Ring's comments on community employment projects. The Minister is aware of the Liberties Recycling Training and Development and how important it is to many of those who were forgotten by society and who need to be challenged in taking their lives in a different direction. The project is really just another way of considering how things can happen and is aimed at improving the lives of young people who have endured the misery of drug misuse and are now on methadone.

I reiterate that there is still a need to investigate how we might bring certain individuals, particularly the homeless, into the services available. Consideration must be given to this matter.

When the Deputy sees the list to which I referred, she will be pleased to discover that Merchant's Quay Project Limited received two sums, €113,000 and €90,000, and Youth for Peace in Kildare received €37,700. I do not believe any money was allocated in County Mayo. I accept that these are small sums. However, I am a great believer that the ocean is full of drops and that if one provides enough of them, one will make a difference. One is often approached by groups and informed that small amounts of money which are very well targeted and in respect of which they have a great deal of discretion can have a significant effect. These groups also indicate that they sometimes find it difficult to obtain small amounts for tightly focused projects. The great thing about the dormant accounts fund is that those involved with allocating the moneys it contains are not engaged in run of the mill initiatives. The projects involved are one-off and would not be considered mainstream. We should consider the matter in that context.

Liz McManus

Question:

33 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of persons, in respect of his Department and each of the State agencies or boards for which he has responsibility, who are working on temporary contracts; the number of such contracts that are due to expire by the end of 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23855/09]

My Department currently employs 14 people on temporary contracts. Three of these contracts are due to expire in 2009. Information furnished to me on temporary contracts in agencies-boards funded from my Department's Vote group is set out in the following table:

Agency/Body

No. of temporary contracts

No. of contracts to expire in 2009

Commission of Charitable Donations and Bequests Office

1

Nil

Foras na Gaeilge

4

Nil

Údarás na Gaeltachta

5

5

Ulster-Scots Agency

3

Nil

Waterways Ireland

7

7

Western Development Commission

3

Nil

Is the Minister in a position to provide information on cutbacks in the Leader programme? I received representations from people in County Donegal who are concerned that such cutbacks will affect their groups.

To what positions do the temporary contracts at Waterways Ireland relate? Are those involved canal-keepers or lock-keepers or are they more general employees?

The Leader companies are independent. There has not been a cutback in the Leader programme which, in fact, has been expanded considerably. Money for the partnership programme has been reduced and perhaps it is to this that the Deputy refers. However, that matter is not really the subject of this question. It may also have come to his attention that it is my intention to transfer the functions of Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta, MFG, to Údarás na Gaeltachta over time because I do not see the need for two community-based organisations to be operating in the Gaeltacht. As a result, I am of the view that it would be better to rationalise the position.

Due to the special status of the North-South bodies which are co-funded with the Northern Ireland authorities, the moratorium does not currently apply to them. I understand discussions are under way between the Department of Finance and the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland on whether the moratorium should apply and other related personnel and resource issues such as finalising the 2009 budgets for the North-South bodies and the question of the application of an efficiency saving in Northern Ireland and the early retirement scheme announced by the Government.

A number of the partnership and other groups which come within the remit of the Minister's Department and employ people on temporary contracts have expressed concerns. I am aware that the Minister recently met some of their representatives at his office in Connemara. Many are concerned because their contracts are due to finish in December and they do not know whether they will be renewed. Those in the voluntary sector want to know what will happen and what the Minister intends to do. I accept that there are budget constraints. However, it is almost July and the people to whom I refer should be informed before the summer holidays about what is going to happen. They should be made aware whether their contracts will be renewed in order that they might enjoy some degree of security.

Is the Deputy referring to those at MFG?

In the first instance, the companies to which the Deputy refers are not the subject of the question. The second point I would make is that they are private companies and, therefore, it is their own business as to who they hire and fire, etc. As I informed Deputy O'Shea, it is intended that over time and as the various contracts for the programmes in which we are involved with them are terminated to transfer responsibility for the programmes to Údarás na Gaeltachta. The rural social scheme will be the first such programme to be transferred. I seem to remember Deputy Ring — and the House — being very much in favour of this rationalisation on the basis that both of us recognised having duplicate organisations in the one area is superfluous. We could mention a certain town in County Mayo that has a good many offices belonging to various agencies, all funded by my Department.

I agree with the Minister and perhaps he will tell the House what is happening.

On the question of engagement from MFG, to have a preliminary discussion on this issue I asked the two chief executives involved to meet me, last November. I have tried, time and again, to get engagement from MFG and a process. It is inevitable that we have to make savings. MFG has lost opportunities and done no service to its workers because we could have progressed much further, acting in their interests, if there had been proper engagement by the senior management and the board earlier as regards what is an inevitable process.

I am appealing once again to MFG to engage constructively in the process so that we try to get the best information and make the best arrangements for the employees over time. I have also spelt out that the Leader element which MFG runs has to go on until 2013 because it has a contract with us until then. We want to figure out how we can go forward and there are opportunities there if only it will engage. However, MFG is not engaging, and that is my problem.

Part of my question has been answered by the Minister. Is the Minister saying that, essentially, this will entail the slimming down and death of MFG, even if it lasts in some form until 2013? Will he eliminate MFG over time if he gets time to do it, which I doubt very much? I am aware that partnerships as such is a separate issue to some extent, but will there not be substantial losses of positions and across the whole community and voluntary group area? The Minister avoided that, somewhat, in replying to this question.

In the wider scheme all I can do is work with the budget I have this year. None of us knows where we will be until the Estimates process is completed at the end of the year. We are living at a time when money is short and all of us have been told by the Opposition many times that we should do all in our power to reduce overheads. The Minister of State and I are trying to ensure that the bulk of the savings are made in administration. As the Deputy knows there has been a severe cut in Pobal, as well as in the partnerships. There were two cuts, one earlier in the year as well as a subsequent cut following the supplementary budget.

They are not disproportionate to the cuts across the system but they have been made and we must find out how the frontline service may best be delivered to the recipient, as efficiently as possible, while making our savings in the overheads. However, making savings in overheads includes people, and that cannot be avoided. We are being told all the time to cut down on public expenditure. As soon as we do so it affects somebody and we are then told not to do it again.

The Deputy is right regarding the position of MFG. Údarás na Gaeltachta is unique in that it is an elected authority for the Gaeltacht with a wide socio-economic and linguistic remit. It develops small and larger industries and so on. I cannot justify two similar bodies operating in the Gaeltacht with fairly similar remits. On that basis it is my intention to transfer the contracts MFG now has, as they come to termination, to Údarás. However, I want to do this in an ordered fashion and deal with the human resources issues in a sensitive and understanding manner. For that to happen I need MFG and Údarás, which has been very co-operative in this, to co-operate with my Department. I met the two boards — MFG and Údarás. When I met the board of MFG with the board of Údarás I found that there was joint membership of both boards in a number of cases. On that basis one would not have thought it should be difficult to get synergies between the two bodies — with four members on both boards as well as the fact that one of the Údarás employees is on the board of MFG. That effectively makes five with a type of common membership.

Written Answers follow Adjournment Debate.