At the outset, I want to clarify that there has been no reduction in the funding provided by my Department for the rural transport initiative (RTI). On the contrary, while €4.4 million was earmarked for the RTI in the national development plan, some €6 million has already been provided for the initiative in the two year period ending December 2003 and further funding of €3.0 million is being provided for the initiative in 2004.
Specific allocations for individual RTI projects are made from this funding by Area Development Management Limited (ADM) which is managing the RTI on behalf of my Department.
I understand from ADM that in 2003, €111,493 was provided to Seirbhís Iompair Tuaithe Teo. (County Donegal). In addition, the company received €9,600 from the Department of Social and Family Affairs, arising from the extension of the free travel scheme to the RTI in July 2003. ADM advise that the 2004 RTI allocation for the project is €69,126, before any allocation from the Department of Social and Family Affairs or any funding which individual projects might acquire from other sources. I have been informed by ADM that the reason for the high level of expenditure in 2003 arose as a result of the company being unable to draw down their full allocation from ADM for 2002 and this resulted in a substantial carryover to 2003.