I propose to take Questions Nos. 10 and 288 together.
The mission statement of my Department, as set out in its published statement of strategy, is to promote rural and community development and support vibrant, inclusive and sustainable communities throughout Ireland. The Department was established in 2017 to facilitate the achievement of this mission through creating conditions to support increased economic opportunities and local employment in all areas of the country; delivering schemes and programmes that support the revitalisation of towns and villages; improving access to services and social networks that ensure a high quality of life; enabling communities disadvantaged by location or social issues to reach their full potential; and supporting communities to have a voice in shaping their own future. I am satisfied that, through its various funding supports and policies, the work of the Department is delivering positive outcomes for communities throughout Ireland.
Project Ireland 2040 recognises the economic and social importance of rural Ireland through the €1 billion rural regeneration and development fund, the objective of which is to strengthen rural economies and communities. Other funding supports provided by the Department complement this fund, including town and village supports, community services programme and SICAP funding. In addition, my Department continues to work with colleagues across government to drive positive rural and community development and deliver policies and initiatives that consider the economic and social needs of all communities, regardless of location. The policies include the publication in 2019 of Ireland’s first national policy on social enterprise and a five-year strategy to support the community and voluntary sector in Ireland entitled, Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities. The Department is also in the process of developing a new rural development policy to follow on from the action plan for rural development and a national strategy for volunteering, in consultation with all stakeholders. Supporting agencies, including the Western Development Commission, Water Safety Ireland, the Charities Regulator and Pobal, also helps communities.
I am confident that the work of my Department is benefiting all communities and delivering on our mission statement. I am determined that this will continue to be the case and that available funding and supports will continue to deliver positive, visible impacts for all communities across the country on a fully inclusive basis.