Fishing Industry

Questions (711)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

711. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount of funding available in the European Commission contingency supports and market disturbance funding for the fisheries sector to mitigate against the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit; the amount of funding he plans to apply for to deliver for the Irish fishing sector; the way in which he plans to distribute this funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2824/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

On 25 December 2020, the European Commission published a Proposal for an EU Regulation establishing a Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR). The objective of the proposed BAR is to provide support to counter the adverse consequences of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union in Member States, regions and sectors, in particular those that are worst affected by that withdrawal, and to mitigate the related impact on the economic, social and territorial cohesion. The draft Regulation is subject to negotiations in the Council and European Parliament and its provisions may change.

It is proposed that the BAR would have a budget of €5.37 billion in current prices and that approximately €1 billion would be allocated to Ireland in 2021 as pre-financing to assist Ireland in funding appropriate measures in 2021 and 2022 to assist the worst affected sectors of our economy. The Government is very aware that our food sector, not least our fisheries sector, is particularly impacted by the outcome of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement and is examining how best to deploy Ireland’s proposed allocation under the Reserve to help our economy adjust to the new arrangements. In relation to our seafood sector, I am exploring a variety of possible measures.

In relation to the impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic on our seafood sector, Government has continued to make available the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme to sectors impacted by the Pandemic, including our seafood sector. No additional funding has been made available by the European Union to fund any specific measures for our seafood sector. Rather, any Covid-specific supports I can provide for the sector must be funded through my Department’s existing European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) Programme, which is nearing its end and has almost exhausted its budget.

The EMFF Programme provides a wide range of supports for fisheries, aquaculture, seafood processing and for coastal communities. It provides grants for capital investment, innovation, marketing, professional advice, training and applied research and throughout the Pandemic demand for these supports has been very strong, as seafood enterprises continue to invest to grow their businesses. In 2020, I introduced special Covid support schemes for both the aquaculture and fisheries sectors through the EMFF Programme. The Covid-19 Temporary Fleet Tie-Up Scheme assisted fishing vessels impacted by market disruption across Europe during the first wave, while the Covid-19 Aquaculture Support Scheme compensated aquaculture enterprises for the reduced sales and production caused by the Pandemic.

Fishing Industry

Questions (712)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

712. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the progress his Department has made since he became Minister towards the establishment of a producer organisation for smaller Irish fishing vessels in the inshore fleet, given that it is a commitment in the programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2825/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Programme for Government – Our Shared Future, commits to supporting the inshore fishing fleet in generating greater marketing and promotional capacity, by facilitating the establishment of a Producer Organisation for these smaller fishing vessels, thereby providing additional opportunity for the island and coastal communities involved in the inshore sector. My Department, as Competent Authority in Ireland for recognition of EU Producer Organisations in the seafood sector, facilitates the establishment of Producer Organisations, but it is a matter for individual groups of producers in the fisheries or aquaculture sectors to organise and apply for that recognition.

In April 2020, I published revised Irish Recognition Criteria under the EU CMO Regulation to be satisfied by any Irish group of producers seeking recognition as a seafood Producer Organisation. One of the main drivers for this revision was to better facilitate groups of inshore fishers and groups of aquaculture enterprises in achieving recognition as a Producer Organisation.

Producer Organisation status has many advantages, including better negotiating strength in the market for producers, financial supports under my Department’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Programme and certain protections under EU competition law.

In 2020, my Department received two applications from groups of inshore fishers seeking recognition as Producer Organisations. My Department is awaiting further information from the applicants to allow me to make a final determination on the applications within the three month time period specified in the CMO Regulation.

To further assist groups of producers in attaining Producer Organisation status, in 2020, I introduced new financial supports under my Department’s EMFF Programme, making available to groups of producers seeking recognition grants for IT equipment, office furniture, legal, accountancy and other relevant professional advice, website development costs and costs of room hire etc.

Harbours and Piers

Questions (713)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

713. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the strategic investments his Department plans to make in harbour infrastructure to attract increased landings into Ireland of sustainably caught fish in Irish waters, driving the development of the seafood processing sector and the blue economy in coastal communities as per the commitment in the programme for Government; if he will set out these planned investments in tabular form containing locations, timeline and monetary commitments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2826/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department owns, operates and maintains six designated State-owned Fishery Harbour Centres, located at Castletownbere, Dingle, Dunmore East, Howth, Killybegs and Ros An Mhíl under statute. In addition, my Department also has responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of North Harbour at Cape Clear, as well as the maintenance of a small number of specific piers, lights and beacons throughout Ireland, in accordance with the Marine Works (Ireland) Act 1902, and piers, lights and beacons constructed under the auspices of the Congested Districts Board.

Funding is made available on an annual basis by my Department to the Fishery Harbour Centres, via the Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme. Since 2010, €140million has been invested in this Department-owned infrastructure.

The responsibility for the development and maintenance of Local Authority owned piers, harbours and slipways rests with each Local Authority in the first instance and their parent Department, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage thereafter.

However, my Department has, as part of its annual Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme, provided limited funding to assist coastal Local Authorities in carrying out small scale projects for the development and repair of piers, harbours and slipways in their ownership. Since 2010, over €31 million in funding has been provided by my Department under this scheme.

€30 million has been allocated to my Department’s 2021 Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme, including the Local Authority scheme. No final decisions have been made on the composition of the 2021 capital programme at this stage.

Customs and Excise

Questions (714)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

714. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of staff employed by his Department to deal with customs checks at ports and airports in January 2020 and January 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2839/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department engages staff in portal locations to carry out a variety of duties, including inspections and the facilitation of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controls. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has been engaged in workforce planning to deliver on the expected increased requirements to meet these responsibilities since the UK Brexit vote in June 2016.

In January 2020, there were a total of 70 DAFM resources in place in the locations specified.

As of January 19th 2021, there are 250 resources in place and available to undertake DAFM inspections in the locations specified. This includes staff recruited for Brexit, together with some redeployed experienced DAFM staff, as well as a small cohort of contracted veterinary practitioners necessary to carry out the required SPS checks. As supply chains adjust to the new reality post-Brexit, scope remains for further fine tuning of these figures in line with requirements as they continue to evolve.

Education and Training Boards

Questions (715)

Emer Higgins

Question:

715. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will facilitate ETB network to facilitate agriculture courses for farmers in areas such as derogation of nitrates. [2841/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department has no role in relation to the provision of services by the Education Training Board Network, which operates under the auspices of the Department of Education and Skills.

I am advised that Employment Training Boards or any provider can seek to deliver Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) accredited courses including agriculture and horticulture courses. Approval of a provider and validation of their programmes is a matter for QQI.

Teagasc is the primary education provider for the agri-food sector where it is extensively involved in the provision of QQI accredited further and higher education programmes. It also provides specialised and customised training to the farming community and agri-service sector as required.

Additionally, Ireland along with other European countries operates a Farm Advisory System (FAS) to provide advice to farmers on Land Eligibility, Cross Compliance requirements, Greening, GLAS, TAMS and a range of other matters to help farmers to meet their obligations and avoid financial reductions under various EU Schemes.

Greyhound Industry

Questions (716)

Bríd Smith

Question:

716. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason for classifying greyhounds as farm animals. [2845/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Rásaíocht Con Éireann (RCÉ) is a commercial state body, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry. RCÉ is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

For welfare purposes Section 2(1) of the Animal Health and Welfare Act, 2013 (the Act), defines “farm animals” as, among other qualifiers “(b) for use in, or for the purposes of, breeding, sport or the farming of land,”.

The Act does not specifically refer to greyhound classification. However, it can be interpreted that those involved in sporting activities, as opposed to domestic pets, are classed as farm animals.

Brexit Issues

Questions (717)

Dara Calleary

Question:

717. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a detailed impact analysis will be provided of the damaging impact of the EU-UK Brexit deal on the fishing sector here; the initiatives he will take to support Ireland’s fishing sector; if he plans to establish a task force; if so, the terms of reference and membership of the task force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2851/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement will, unfortunately, have an impact on our fishing industry. However, this impact would have been far greater had the Barnier Task Force agreed to UK demands or had we been in a no-deal scenario which would have seen all EU vessels barred from UK waters and subsequent displacement into Ireland's fishing zone.

Last week, I published a Preliminary Analysis of Transfers of Quota Shares on the gov.ie website which details quota transfers for Ireland across the different stocks. This compares the quota shares allocated to Ireland in 2020 and the corresponding new quota shares for 2021-2016. The Deputy will see from this document that reductions in the Annexes to the Agreement are graduated over the 5.5 year period of reciprocal access, but the largest part of the reduction, 60%, is between 2020 and 2021.

On 25 December 2020, the European Commission published a Proposal for an EU Regulation establishing a Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR). The objective of the proposed BAR is to provide support to counter the adverse consequences of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union in Member States, regions and sectors, in particular those that are worst affected by that withdrawal, and to mitigate the related impact on the economic, social and territorial cohesion. The draft Regulation is subject to negotiations in the Council and European Parliament and its provisions may change.

It is proposed that the BAR would have a budget of €5.37 billion in current prices and that approximately €1 billion would be allocated to Ireland in 2021 as pre-financing to assist Ireland in funding appropriate measures in 2021 and 2022 to assist the worst affected sectors of our economy. Government is very aware that our food sector, not least our fisheries sector, is particularly impacted by the outcome of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement and is examining how best to deploy Ireland’s proposed allocation under the Reserve to help our economy adjust to the new arrangements.

In relation to our seafood sector, I am exploring a variety of possible measures, including a temporary fleet tie-up scheme. The tie-up scheme would likely commence in the second quarter of 2021 and would provide short term assistance to fishing vessels most impacted by the quota agreements with the UK.

Nitrates Usage

Questions (718)

Denis Naughten

Question:

718. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will waive penalties on farmers not reaching the 5% nitrate reduction under the BEAM scheme in view of the fact that the suckler herd has reduced by a figure greater than 5%; if he will engage with the European Commission on this stipulation in view of the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on reaching this target at farm level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2872/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) provided temporary exceptional adjustment aid to farmers in the beef sector in Ireland, subject to the conditions set out in EU Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1132. BEAM was funded by a combination of EU aid and Exchequer support. It was provided to support Irish beef farmers who saw beef prices fall in light of the Covid-19 market disturbance.

One of the conditions under which the €50 million was granted by the EU was that there had to be an element of reduction or re-structuring built in to the scheme. Accordingly, in applying for BEAM, participants agreed to reduce the production of bovine livestock manure nitrogen on their holding by 5% for the period 1st July 2020 to 30th June 2021 as compared with the period 1st July 2018 to 30th June 2019. This reduction could only be recorded against individual herds that signed up for the programme.

Obligations under the measure were developed based on analysis of the herd profile and nitrates profile of the national herd. It was designed, in consultation with farmer representative organisations, to make the measure as easy to participate in as possible, whilst maintaining the requirement under the implementing regulation for temporary market adjustments.

Since 2019, 33,445 farmers have received some €77.72M as part of the scheme.

Farm Inspections

Questions (719)

Michael McNamara

Question:

719. Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if it is necessary for farm inspections to take place during level 5 Covid-19 restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2923/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department is continuing to support the farming community in these difficult times, in particular, by ensuring that scheme payments can continue to issue to farmer clients. Officials of my Department and I are very conscious of the challenges and concerns for all stakeholders posed by the COVID-19 situation. At all times, our priority is to safeguard the health and safety of farm families, our staff and the wider community, while still facilitating scheme payments. Where possible, inspections are being done remotely, thereby avoiding the need for on-farm visits but, in certain situations, a farm visit is required in order to complete the pre-payment checks and controls to allow vital payments to be made to farmers.

Inspections are carried out with HSE guidelines and Government requirements concerning COVID to the fore. All inspections are notified in advance and the farmer is afforded an opportunity to defer the inspection for up to three weeks should there be COVID-related concerns or issues. In addition, inspectors are required to adhere to an inspection protocol which gives clear guidance to inspectors on procedures to be followed during the inspection. We cannot defer inspections indefinitely as this would impact payments to scheme participants.

Town and Village Renewal Scheme

Questions (720)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

720. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if she will respond to concerns raised in correspondence by an organisation (details supplied) in respect of the town and village renewal scheme; if he will seek the best advice for the organisation going forward; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2210/21]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Standard Measure under the 2020 Town and Village Renewal Scheme had a particular focus on projects delivering an economic dividend and enabling towns and villages to respond to COVID-19 challenges. The scheme also continued to support public-realm type activities and the enhancement of town centre amenities, particularly where this aids the economic and/or social recovery of a town or village.

Under the 2020 scheme, each Local Authority was invited to submit up to 10 projects to the Department for consideration. Selection of projects for submission to the Department was a matter for each Local Authority to determine.

Almost 250 applications were received under the Standard Measure of the 2020 Town and Village Renewal Scheme and the level of funding sought far exceeded the available budget. Funding under the Scheme was awarded on a competitive basis, with all applications being assessed for suitability for funding. Unfortunately, it was not possible to fund all of the proposals received and the application referred to by the Deputy was not amongst the 147 successful projects approved for funding of €15.4 million that I announced recently.

The application referred to by the Deputy included provision for car parking for a local sports ground. Car park improvements are an eligible activity for funding under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme where the improvements are expressly designed to encourage increased footfall in town centres. This was not adequately demonstrated in the case of the application referred to by the Deputy and, in addition, the Scheme gives less priority generally to works around sports grounds.

My officials are available to discuss the project application further with the relevant Local Authority as required.

CLÁR Programme

Questions (721)

Robert Troy

Question:

721. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if she will urgently re-examine the criteria for CLÁR funding applicants in which successful school-based projects must give equal access to a facility to the rest of the community (details supplied); and if the matter will be rectified. [2368/21]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The CLÁR programme provides funding for small scale infrastructure projects in designated rural areas that have experienced significant levels of de-population.

In 2018 and 2019, the programme included funding for Play Areas and Multi-Use Games Areas (MUGAs), which required that facilities supported should be available for wider community use. The objective was that these play areas would be available to all local families and visitors. In the case of schools, it was accepted that the use of play areas by the general public would need to be restricted to times outside of school hours.

Schools funded under the 2018 and 2019 CLÁR programmes were willing to allow their play areas to be available for wider community use, and my Department entered into Funding Agreements with the relevant Local Authorities on that basis. I have no plans to alter the terms of the Funding Agreements at this stage.

In 2020, the CLÁR programme was adjusted to help rural communities respond to COVID-19. Given the changed focus of the scheme last year, the Play Area and MUGA Support Measure was replaced with funding for Community Recreation Areas. The requirements under this Measure differ to those under the Play Area Measure, and so the concerns raised by the Deputy should not arise.

Details of the Measures to be included for support under the CLÁR programme this year will be announced when I launch the 2021 CLÁR Programme.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (722)

Holly Cairns

Question:

722. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if employees of her Department have received Covid-19 vaccines due to their role in the Department; if so, the rationale for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2407/21]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

I can confirm that my Department's staff are not front-line workers and have therefore not been offered Covid vaccines due to their status as Non-front-line workers.

However, they will be offered the vaccine, in due course, as part of Government community roll-out of the vaccine.

The Department continues to adhere to public health advice in relation to Covid and to follow the guidance on working arrangements and temporary assignments for the civil and public service, as issued by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Seirbhísí Farantóireachta

Questions (723)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

723. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Forbartha Tuaithe agus Pobail cén plé a bhí ag a Roinn leis na soláthraithe seirbhíse farantóireachta atá ar conradh ag a Roinn chun seirbhís paisinéirí a chur ar fáil do na hoileáin, leis na húdaráis áitiúla iomchuí, leis an Roinn Talmhaíochta, Bia agus Mara agus leis An nGarda Síochána chun a chinntiú go bhfuil siad ag cloí go hiomlán leis na rialacháin agus leis an gcomhairle sláinte poiblí i dtaobh Covid-19; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2418/21]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

Tá treoirlínte eisithe ag Feidhmeannach na Seirbhíse Sláinte chuig na farantóirí a iompraíonn daoine chuig na hoileáin mórthimpeall na tíre, agus tá aon eolas nó fógraíocht atá curtha ar fáil ag an FSS scaipthe ag an Roinn ar na comhlachtaí cuí.

Is gné thábhachtach é an scaradh sóisialta ar chórais iompar poiblí d'iarracht na tíre chun COVID-19 a chuir faoi chois agus, i gcomhair leis na treoirlínte atá foilsithe ag an Rialtas, caithfear clúdaigh aghaidhe a chaitheamh agus daoine ag taisteal ar bháid. Beidh aon athrú ar na treoirlínte seo bunaithe ar chomhairle ó na húdaráis sláinte phoiblí chuí, agus i gcomhréir le Plean an Rialtais maidir le maireachtáil le COVID-19.

Is ceart na húdarais cuí - FSS nó na Gardaí - a chuir ar an eolas má tá na treoirlínte seo á shárú.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (724)

Jennifer Murnane O'Connor

Question:

724. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if her Department has investigated the possibility of amending the criteria of the Covid-19 stability fund to ensure that community and voluntary organisations that may not be in a position to open their premises due to the current level 5 restrictions can still avail of the fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2512/21]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Government is aware of the challenges facing community and voluntary organisations and is committed to working closely with the sector in managing through these, recognising that it will require a whole of Government approach.

In 2020, my Department provided support through the €45m COVID 19 Stability Fund for organisations in the Community and Voluntary Sector, Charities and Social Enterprises. The Fund was intended to be a targeted once-off cash injection for organisations and groups delivering critical front-line services to the most at need in our society and in danger of imminent closure due to lost fund-raised or traded income as a direct result of restrictions to counter the spread of COVID-19. It should be noted that there was no requirement under this fund or any other supports provided by DRCD for eligible organisations to have their facilities open, all organisations were expected to be compliant with the national COVID restrictions in place at all times.

Funding of €44m has been approved to just under 600 organisations to date and the payment processes for this funding remain ongoing. The Stability Fund is now closed for further applications. Lists of successful applicants are available on my Department’s website at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/3957e-covid-19-stability-fund-successful-applicants/.

Along with other broader Government initiatives, my Department has introduced a suite of programmes to support community and voluntary organisations weather the impact of Covid19.

My Department currently supports over 420 community organisations under the Community Services Programme (CSP) to provide local services through a social enterprise model. In response to the difficulties being experienced by organisations due to COVID-19, my Department developed a CSP Support Fund during 2020 totalling €4.75m which assists CSP supported organisations to continue to retain their CSP supported employees on their payroll and also provides assistance for the Employers PRSI contribution, during this crisis period up to April 2021.

The 2020 Community Enhancement Programme (CEP) was launched in June 2020 with funding of €2m and provides small capital grants to community organisations. Separately, with funding from the July stimulus package, my Department launched a €5m fund under the CEP for repairs or upgrades to community centres and community buildings. While it is now closed for 2020, it is hoped to run the CEP again in 2021.

More recently my Department launched a €1.7m COVID-19 Emergency Fund, which local community and voluntary groups can apply for by contacting the Local Community Development Committee in their area. This follows on from a previous €2.5m round of this fund.

The Rural Development Investment Programme is being tailored to address the emerging challenges associated with COVID-19. This includes schemes such as the Town and Village Renewal Scheme through which Local Authorities were provided with grant funding for interventions that helped local communities respond to the challenges associated with COVID-19 and to help support the economic and social recovery of our rural towns and villages. The 2020 Town and Village Scheme has now closed. However, details of the 2021 Scheme will be circulated to all Local Authorities when it is launched later this year.

My Department will continue to work with relevant stakeholders, including the Community and Voluntary sector, Local Authorities and Local Development Companies, to support community organisations across the country as they deal with the ongoing and emerging challenges presented by COVID-19. I would encourage all groups to engage with their Local Authority and Local Development Company so that they are aware of funding opportunities as they become available.

Information on all funding available through my Department can be found on my Department's website.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (725)

Cormac Devlin

Question:

725. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if she will consider allowing community organisations such as a facility (details supplied) to access the Covid-19 stability fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2662/21]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Government is aware of the challenges facing community and voluntary organisations and is committed to working closely with the sector in managing through these, recognising that it will require a whole of Government approach.

In 2020, my Department provided support through the €45m COVID 19 Stability Fund for organisations in the Community and Voluntary Sector, Charities and Social Enterprises. The Fund was intended to be a targeted once-off cash injection for organisations and groups delivering critical front-line services to the most at need in our society and in danger of imminent closure due to lost fund-raised or traded income as a direct result of restrictions to counter the spread of COVID-19.

Funding of €44m has been approved to just under 600 organisations to date and the payment processes for this funding remain ongoing. The Stability Fund is now closed for further applications. Lists of successful applicants are available on my Department’s website at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/3957e-covid-19-stability-fund-successful-applicants/.

Along with other broader Government initiatives, my Department has introduced a suite of programmes to support community and voluntary organisations weather the impact of Covid19.

My Department currently supports over 420 community organisations under the Community Services Programme (CSP) to provide local services through a social enterprise model. During 2020, the organisation in question received funding of €70,066 under the CSP towards the cost of supporting one manager and two full-time equivalent positions. In response to the difficulties being experienced by organisations due to COVID-19, my Department developed a CSP Support Fund during 2020 totalling €4.75m which assists CSP supported organisations to continue to retain their CSP supported employees on their payroll and also provides assistance for the Employers PRSI contribution, during this crisis period up to April 2021. The organisation in question should contact their Pobal Development Coordinator regarding their potential eligibility for such funding.

The 2020 Community Enhancement Programme (CEP) was launched in June 2020 with funding of €2m and provides small capital grants to community organisations. Separately, with funding from the July stimulus package, my Department launched a €5m fund under the CEP for repairs or upgrades to community centres and community buildings. While it is now closed for 2020, it is hoped to run the CEP again in 2021.

More recently my Department launched a €1.7m COVID-19 Emergency Fund, which local community and voluntary groups can apply for by contacting the Local Community Development Committee in their area. This follows on from a previous €2.5m round of this fund.

My Department will continue to work with relevant stakeholders, including the Community and Voluntary sector, Local Authorities and Local Development Companies, to support community organisations across the country as they deal with the ongoing and emerging challenges presented by COVID-19. I would encourage all groups, including the one in question, to engage with their Local Authority and Local Development Company so that they are aware of funding opportunities as they become available.

Information on all funding available through my Department can be found on my Department's website.