I thank the Deputy for the question.
My Department is committed to the successful delivery of a wide range of programmes and supports to benefit all communities.
These supports include large-scale investments in rural regeneration and renewal of our towns and villages. Funding is also provided for rural development with small-scale grants and supports directed to help community and voluntary organisations.
Close engagement with communities is key to ensuring that the positive impact of my Department's policies, programmes and supports is maximised and targeted at those most in need. Consultation with local groups, stakeholders and the public plays a key role in the preparation of all Department policies including the next rural development policy and forthcoming national volunteering strategy.
Earlier this year I launched a new five-year strategy for community and voluntary sector development. Work has begun and funding is in place for the implementation of these measures.
These include enhanced supports for the structures which drive local engagement in decision making – the public participation networks and the local community development committees. Further funding will be provided to support the delivery of the national social enterprise policy for Ireland. This funding is in addition to existing supports already in place for social enterprises.
My Department has been proactive in interacting with communities and delivered, in conjunction with Pobal, a series of six "Helping Hands" events nationwide earlier this year to engage with communities and create awareness and understanding of funding programmes. Feedback from these interactions was very positive and I have asked my officials to consider running other similar events into 2020.
The 2019 series of regional "Rural Opportunity" information sessions run nationwide also raised awareness of the extent to which assistance is available to rural communities from across Departments. This engagement with rural communities will continue on the issues which impact them.
These ongoing consultations and interactions will continue to enhance the effectiveness of the work of my Department and the positive impacts being felt by communities on the ground from our important work.