Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - International Women's Year.

30.

asked the Minister for Labour the funds made available by the Government for International Women's Year; the manner in which women's organisations were made aware of the existence of funds; the number of applications received; and the number of organisations helped.

31.

asked the Minister for Labour the extent to which his programme of events for International Women's Year 1975, announced on 10th January, has been completed; the amount of the programme still to be carried out; and if he will make a detailed statement on the programme.

With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 30 and 31 together.

No absolute ceiling was fixed to funds available for International Women's Year. Instead, the criteria used made it possible that financial assistance would be forthcoming for worthwhile projects which would advance in a practical way the status of women in our society. Many such projects were recommended by the women's representative committee and, in all, 17 organisations have been assisted with International Women's Year projects.

The programme endorsed by the women's representative committee for International Women's Year 1975, announced on the 10th January, has been fully complied with. Activities undertaken over the year included the issue of a special commemorative stamp by the Department of Posts & Telegraphs; the preparation of an essay competition, prizes for which will be presented during this week. A number of very successful conferences, seminars and exhibitions organised by the various women's organisations were held. During the year, the media co-operated in producing many discussion programmes of an informational nature on the status of women in our society. I would especially, in this connection, like to congratulate RTE radio on the Thomas Davis lecture series on women and Irish society.

The International Women's Year programme in this country has, I think, assisted in focusing attention on the steps needed to equalise the status of women in Ireland.

Regarding the 17 organisations or associations the Minister mentioned how much money was made available through them by way of assistance? How many other associations applied and did not receive assistance? Was dissatisfaction expressed to him about the lack of advertisement at an early stage of the availability of funds to such organisations?

No. I am very satisfied with the way this has gone. The main criterion was if the project for assistance was worthwhile. The women's representative committee made a recommendation on that and indicated, if the organisation themselves were willing to run it, support for work undertaken in aid of the project. From memory, the last time I looked at it, something like £6,000 was spent in helping projects of this nature during the year.

Was that the entire financial commitment?

The accounts are not final but as I indicated in reply to the question there was no ceiling on expenditure on help during the year. The only criterion was the nature of the project, whether it was worthwhile, whether it helped practically in accord with the Commission on the Status of Women. I believe most of the projects complied with that and helped to focus attention and interest on the practical steps necessary to equalise the status of women in Ireland.

Is the Minister seriously suggesting that the total figure expended by his Department during International Women's Year, 1975 was £6,000 up to the last date he checked the accounts?

The Deputy asked me what was spent in aid of projects like conferences and seminars and I said that, from memory it was £6,000.

The time for questions is exhausted. We must move on to other business.

These are very important questions.

A final supplementary from the Deputy.

The question I asked the Minister was not the one to which he gave me a reply. I asked what financial assistance was given to each of the 17 women's organisations so assisted according to the Minister's reply? How much was that assistance? I understand £6,000 was the overall expenditure.

The sum of £6,000 was expended in assistance towards the running of seminars, conferences and so on during the year in connection with the 17 organisations.

In other words, none of the 17 organisations received any assistance?

The general position about the entire accounts for the year is still not finalised. We have not received the bills for them. A full answer to that question could not be given until the end of the year when I can assure the Deputy everything will be made clear to him: an account of all the money spent will be made available to him and he, like I, looking over all the things that have been held this year by all the organisations, will agree that International Women's Year in Ireland marks a very significant step forward in focusing attention on the position of Women in our society and should assist us in the future.

I sincerely hope so.

I am going on to the next business.

I may raise this on the Adjournment if I cannot get a satisfactory answer.

This is some considerable time after the appropriate time for questions. I am going on to the next business.

If the Minister is seriously suggesting that the Government only spent £6,000 on Women's organisations during International Women's Year, this matter should be pursued.

I am suggesting that the Deputy is shedding crocodile tears because his party in Government did nothing. I suggest that the Deputy and his party are hypocritical about this.

(Interruptions.)

I would like to raise this matter on the Adjournment.

The remaining questions will appear on tomorrow's Order Paper.