This Department's recent progress report in relation to the Programme for Government can be accessed on the Department of the Taoiseach's website at:
In relation to the commitments referred to by the Deputy in his question, the following is the position as set out in that report. Regarding the Rural Development Programme launched in May 2008, €45.4 million is being made available under the Encouragement of Tourism Activities measure, which includes both language based, and countryside recreation based tourism. The objective of this measure is to promote the sustainable tourism potential of all rural areas through the provision of the necessary infrastructure and the development of the countryside as a recreational resource for all. In addition to specific tourism investment, certain other funding to be provided under the Rural Development Programme will also support rural communities and enterprises in tourism-related projects particularly, funding under the Diversification into non-agricultural activities measure, which includes a focus on agri-tourism.
As the Deputy is aware I announced the Local Action Groups selected to deliver the Programme on the 4th November 2008 along with their individual funding allocations. The signing of contracts is currently underway and I expect the Programme to be open to applications for grant assistance in the very near future.
In relation to Údarás na Gaeltachta, strong working partnerships exist between Údarás and Fáilte Ireland, particularly through their regional offices and other tourism organisations, to optimise the opportunities provided by the tourism industry for the Gaeltacht. In 2007, employment figures in the Gaeltacht-based tourism sector (language, cultural & service based activities) increased by 25% over the 2006 level. Údarás na Gaeltachta provides ongoing assistance to island co-operatives in the Gaeltacht to assist their development and to promote the development of cultural tourism in the Gaeltacht. The Department has co-funded a three-year marketing campaign for island tourism with Fáilte Ireland at a cost of €343,000.