I propose to take Questions Nos. 491 and 497 together.
On 8 February this year, I announced details of the measures being funded through my Department under the Multi-annual Rural Water Programme 2019-2021. Local authorities were invited to submit their bids for the funding of schemes or projects in their functional areas, with the deadline for receipt of proposals set as 14 March 2019.
Mayo County Council has included the scheme in question in its application to my Department under the new Programme.
My Department is currently considering local authorities' bids for funding allocations. An Expert Panel has been put in place to support the evaluation process. In addition to providing an expert perspective, the Panel brings independence, openness and transparency to the bids evaluation process which is done on a national prioritised basis. The Expert Panel’s membership includes Departmental, stakeholder and independent representation.
The Expert Panel will make recommendations to my Department on the suitability of schemes and projects for funding based on objective criteria which are set out in the framework document issued to local authorities when requesting proposals. My Department will then consider the recommendations of the Panel, and based on these, will propose allocations for my consideration as Minister. I expect this process to be completed later in the second quarter of 2019.