I propose to take Questions Nos. 369 and 371 together.
I am satisfied that through the various funding supports and policies being developed and implemented that my Department is delivering positive outcomes for communities throughout Ireland and County Kildare.
In addition, my Department is committed to keeping under review the administration of all funding programmes to ensure they remain fit for purpose, accessible to the full range of community and voluntary groups, and targeted at those who need the supports most. I welcome feedback on our programmes and schemes from communities so we can continue to do this.
Policies recently published or in development include;
- Ireland’s first National Policy on Social Enterprise, published earlier this year.
- ‘Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities’, a five-year strategy to support the community and voluntary sector in Ireland. €1.2 million is being provided to support the implementation of measures in this strategy, which will include enhanced supports for the structures which drive local engagement in decision making – the Public Participation Networks and the Local Community Development Committees.
- A National Volunteering Strategy is in development, in consultation with all stakeholders. Supporting our agencies (Western Development Commission, Water Safety Ireland, Charities Regulator and POBAL) also helps communities.
- My Department is currently finalising a new rural policy which will build on the Action Plan for Rural Development and will reflect a whole-of-Government commitment to rural Ireland. My objective is to publish the policy at the start of 2020. It will be forward-looking, and will seek to strengthen and build resilience in rural economies and communities.
In addition to the above policies developed by my Department, Project Ireland 2040 recognises the economic and social importance of rural Ireland through the €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund which is administered by my Department with the objective of strengthening rural economies and communities.
Other funding supports provided by the Department are also available to voluntary and community groups across the country, including town and village supports, community and voluntary supports and other initiatives. Details of these programmes are available on the gov.ie website.
My Department also continues to work with colleagues across Government to drive positive rural and community development and to deliver policies and initiatives that consider the economic and social needs of all communities, regardless of location.
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 continues to deliver positive visible impacts for all of our communities, including County Kildare, on a fully inclusive basis.