Thursday, 24 October 2019

Questions (10, 288)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

10. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the mission statement of his Department; the degree to which he remains on course to achieve or exceed its targets; the degree to which these objectives can be widened to cater for a wider section of the community, if not already covered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43823/19]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

288. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the extent to which he expects to be in a position to respond in full to the request in respect of rural and community development in both rural and urban areas in proportion to need; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44122/19]

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Oral answers (4 contributions) (Question to Rural)

I wish to ask the Minister about the extent to which the mission statement of his Department is sufficiently broad to enable it to cater for the wider community to the greatest extent possible.

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.

In its work to date with various community groups throughout the country has the Department observed a need to extend or expand its various schemes, with a view to enhancing its direct links with community and rural development groups?

We are very satisfied that departmental funding and policies are making a positive difference to communities. Many vibrant towns and villages across Ireland are gaining and one can see that positive changes are happening. Evidence of our impact can be seen in the growing opportunities for employment creation and improved quality of life across rural Ireland. Funding for rural development, town and village renewal and community support schemes is just one of the noteworthy examples. Once schemes are put in place, they are reviewed on an annual basis in order to ensure the public money being provided is delivering the required outcomes. There is not a town, village or community in any of the 31 local authority areas that has not benefited in some way from the schemes being run by my Department. All morning we have been talking about various departmental schemes, including the LIS. There is a need for more support, particularly for the LIS, from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and local authorities so as to ensure we will leave nobody behind.

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.