Estimates for Public Services 2003.

Vote 24 - Charitable Donations and Bequests (Revised).

Vote 42 - Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Revised).

Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire agus an Aire Stáit le Meastacháin na Roinne, Vótaí 24 agus 42 a phlé. Beidh cead cainte ag na hAirí agus ansin beidh deich noiméid ag gach páirtí le ceisteanna a chur. Teastaíonn uaim imeachtaí a thabhairt chun deiridh ag 2 p.m.

I welcome the Minister and the Minister of State who are here to discuss their departmental Estimates, Votes 24 and 42. The Ministers will speak first followed by contributions of ten minutes of each party spokesperson and anyone else who wishes to speak. There is no specific time limit but we would like to finish by 2 p.m.

Rather than have the Ministers using their time making a speech, could we go through the Estimates page by page?

The ten minute response time should be used to put questions to the Ministers and that can be done on a page by page basis.

Tá áthas orm bheith anseo chun Vóta 42 - An Roinn Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta - a chur faoi bhráid an choiste don chéad uair.

Seo an chéad bhliain iomlán don Roinn nua seo a bheith ag feidhmiú, Roinn a bunaíodh chun comhordaithe níos fearr ó thaobh an Stáit a chothú le pobal agus a bhforbairt a chur cinn acu.

Ba mhaith liom cur síos gairid a dhéanamh ar na réimsí caiteachais atá faoi mo chúram go sonrach sula chuirfidh sibh ar aghaidh chuig mo chomhleacaí, an tAire Stáit, an Teachta Noel Ahern, a labharfaidh leis an gcoiste maidir le hearnálacha pobail agus deonach agus cúrsaí a bhaineann le drugaí. Labharfaidh an tAire Stáit freisin faoi Vóta 24 - Tabhartais agus Tiomnochtaí Carthanachta.

Is é €18.158 milliún an soláthar againn don bhuiséad riaracháin don bhliain seo. Soláthraíonn seo go príomha do thuarastal le haghaigh 247 mball foirne, oiliúnt foirne, chóiríocht, ar a n-áiritear athchóiriú a dhéanamh ar cheann ceathrú na Roinne ag Bóthar Mespil agus do theicneolaíocht eolais, trealamh oifige agus costais comhairleoireachta ar a n-áirítear na costais a bhaineann le creatlach faisnéise bainistíochta a chur ar fáil. Táim sásta gur leor an soláthar sa bhuiséad riaracháin le haghaidh 2003 chun an éilimh a shásamh.

Maidir leis An bhForas Teanga ^ fo-mhírcheann B, faoi mar is eol don roghchoiste - is é an socrú atá déanta maidir le maoiniú an dá Ghníomhaireacht den Fhoras Teanga ná go seasfaidh an Stát seo 75% den chostas bliantúil aontaithe i gcás Fhoras na Gaeilge agus go seasfaidh an Tuaisceart an 25% eile, agus is a mhalairt de shocrú airgeadais atá déanta maidir leis an nGníomhaireacht Albainise Uladh, i.e. 75% den chostas bliantúil aontaithe le n-íoc ag an TuaiscÍeart agus 25% ag an Stát seo.

Suim €12.416 milliún atá luaite i Vóta mo Roinne i mbliana don Fhoras Teanga roinnte mar a leanas idir an dá ghníomhaireacht: Foras na Gaeilge - €11.887 milliún; An Ghníomhaireacht Albainise Uladh - £0.529 milliún.

Agus é sin ráite, ní miste dom a lua go bhfuilim sásta anois go ndéanfar méadú de €1.6 milliún ar ranníocaíocht mo Roinne do bhuiséad an Fhorais Teanga i 2003. Ar ndóigh, chun gur féidir é seo a chur i gcrích, tá gá go mbeadh comhaontú ann ón dá Roinn urraíochta agus ó na Ranna Airgeadais, Thuaidh agus Theas. Tá teagmháil á déanamh leis na húdaráis chuí chun na críche sin, agus táim ag súil leis go mbeifear in ann laistigh d'achar gearr an cheist maidir leis an mbuiséad a mhéadú a chur faoi mo bhráidse agus faoi bhráid mo chomhAire ó Thuaidh, Angela Smith, MP, i gcomhréir leis na socruithe idir-ama atá aontaithe do ghnóthaí dá leithéid.

Maoinítear Ciste na Gaeilge ón bhfo-mhírcheann seo a airgeadaítear ó fhaltais an Chrannchuir Náisiúnta. Suim €2.4 milliún atá i gceist i mbliana. Maoinítear Bord na Leabhar Gaeilge, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann agus Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe, chomh maith le tionscadail ilghnéitheacha Gaeilge, as Ciste na Gaeilge.

Cé go raibh méadú ar líon na n-iarratas tithíochta le cúpla bliain anuas, meastar go mbeidh laghdú ar na hiarratais i mbliana agus go mbeifear ábalta freastal ar an éileamh ar dheontais leis an Meastachán de €4 mhilliún atá curtha ar fáil do thithe Gaeltachta i mbliana. I 2002, críochnaíodh 209 teach nua mar aon le 889 cás eile a bhain le hoibreacha feabhsúcháin, sláintíochta agus méadaithe tí le cabhair deontais ó mo Roinn.

Faoi na scéimeanna feabhsúcháin a riarann mo Roinnse, bíonn deontais chaipitil ar fáil chun muiroibreacha sa Ghaeltacht a fhorbairt, chun bóithre sa Ghaeltacht a fheabhsú, agus chun áiseanna ar nós hallaí pobail, páirceanna imeartha agus áiseanna eile a chur ar fáil nó a fheabhsú. Trí fheabhsú an bhonneagair, tá sé de chuspóir ag na deontais seo cur le saol sóisialta, cultúrtha agus eacnamaíoch na gceantar Gaeltachta chomh maith leis an Ghaeilge a neartú mar theanga phobail iontu.

Tá soláthar de €10.294 milliún ar fáil dom i mbliana le caitheamh ar na scéimeanna seo. Tá i gceist agam an soláthar sin a dháileadh mar seo a leanas: bóithre, €5.5 mhilliún; muiroibreacha, €3 mhilliún; hallaí, coláistí samhraidh agus áiseanna chaitheamh aimsire, €1.7 milliún; agus uisce agus séarachas, €50,000.

Tá €654,000 curtha ar fáil sna Meastacháin do scéim labhairt na Gaeilge i mbliana. Sa scoilÍbhliain seo caite, d'íoc mo Roinn cúnamh i leith 3,076 theaghlach Gaeltachta faoin scéim seo. Tá athbhreithniú bunúsach á dhéanamh ar éifeacht na scéime seo, agus, chuige sin, lorgaíodh tuairimí agus moltaí ón bpobal agus ó shaineolaithe Gaeilge. Cuirfear na tuairimí agus moltaí sin san áireamh san athbhreithniú, agus táthar ag súil go mbeidh sé críochnaithe níos déanaí sa bhliain.

D'íoc mo Roinn cúnamh i leith 24,387 bhfoghlaimeoir faoi scéim na bhfoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge i 2002 - 1,043 duine fásta san áireamh. D'fhan a bhformhór ar iostas le 660 teaghlach scaipthe ar fud na Gaeltachta. I mbliana bhí áthas orm go raibh ar mo chumas an deontas a íoctar le mná tí faoin scéim a ardú ó €7 go €8 in aghaidh an lae do gach foghlaimeoir, agus tagann sé sin anuas ar mhéaduithe i 2000 agus 2001. Cosnóidh an méadú €500,000 i mbliana, agus tá soláthar déanta dó sin sna Meastacháin de €3,950,000 atá curtha ar leatÍaobh don scéim i 2003.

Tá an cúnamh bliantiúil a chuireann mo Roinnse ar fáil d'eagraíochtaí atá ag obair le buanú na Gaeilge sa Ghaeltacht méadaithe go mór le blianta beaga anuas. Tá €2.001 mhilliún ar fáil dom i mbliana do na scéimeanna seo. TaisÍpeánann se seo, sílim, an díograis atá sa Ghaeltacht inniu maidir leis an nGaeilge, go dtuigeann na pobail gur acmhainn luachmhar dóibh an teanga agus go bhfuil cinneadh déanta acu í a chaomhnú ar gach bealach ar féidir leo. Ní féidir luach a chur ar an obair a dhéanann coistí deonacha agus eagraíochtaí eile sa Ghaeltacht ar mhaithe leis an teanga.

Beidh deontais á n-íoc chomh maith i leith imeachtaí cultúrtha ina bhfuil ról lárnach ag an nGaeilge nó a rachaidh chun tairbhe na Gaeilge agus do shaol cultúrtha agus sóisialach na gceantar Gaeltachta - mar shampla, duais scoláirÍeachtaí ag feiseanna agus irisí aitiúla Gaeltachta. Íoctar cúnamh freisin chun trealamh áirithe a chur ar fáil d'eagraíochtaí eagsúla, scoileanna, agus mar sin de.

Maidir leis an scéim champaí samhraidh trí Ghaeilge d'aos óg na Gaeltachta, is é cuspóir na scéime seo ná cabhrú le caomhnú, leathnú agus buanú na Gaeilge sa Ghaeltacht agus go háirithe í a láidriú mar theanga labhartha i measc aos óg na Gaeltachta. Tá athbhreithniú iomlán á dhéanamh ag comhairleoir neamhspleách ar an scéim seo faoi láthair, agus tá súil agam an tuarascáil a fháil go luath.

Is fiú a lua go bhfuil athbhreithniú ar siúl freisin ar scéim na gcúntóirí teangan, atá á hairgeadú ag mo Roinnse trí Eagraíocht na Scoileanna Gaeltachta. Is é cuspóir na scéime sin ná an Ghaeilge a láidriú mar theanga labhartha i measc aos óg na Gaeltachta agus iompar teanga scoláirí scoile a chur i dtreo na Gaeilge.

Íoctar deontas bliantúil leis an Oifig Eorpach do Theangacha Neamhfhorleathana ón bhfo-mhírcheann seo. Is mar chabhair chun costais riaradh na hoifige, atá lonnaithe i mBaile Átha Cliath, a ghlanadh a thugtar an cúnamh sin. Tá deontas €51,000 ar fáil i mbliana don bhiúro. De bharr nár ath-osclaíodh an oifig - a bhí dúnta ar feadh tréimhse - go dtí mí Iúil 2002, níor íocadh ach leath den deontas léi anuraidh.

Íoctar deontais le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta chun geilleagar na Gaeltachta a fhorbairt chomh maith le caomhnú agus leathnú na Gaeilge mar phríomhtheanga an phobail a spreagadh. Chun an chuspóra seo a bhaint amach, cothaíonn an t-údarás scéimeanna táirgiúla fostaíochta trí acmhainní nadúrtha áitiúla, scileanna agus cumas gnó-eagraithe a fhorbairt agus trí infheistíocht shoghluaiste i raon leathan fiontar tionsclaíoch a mhealladh chun na Gaeltachta.

I mbliana tá €8.72 mhilliún ar fáil i bhfo-mhír-ceann H1, go príomhá chun cabhrach a thabhairt don údarás costais riaracháin na heagraíochta a ghlanadh. Tá €24 mhilliún ar fáil don údarás bhfomhírceann H2 i ndáil le: deontais chaipitil; deontais fhostaíochta do thionscail chun forbairt thionsclaíoch a chur chun cinn sa Ghaeltacht agus chun fostaíochta a chothú agus a chruthú; deontais oiliúna; monarchana a thógáil agus a athchóiriú; infheistíocht a dhéanamh i scaireanna; agus sócmhainní dochta a cheannach.

Cruthaíodh 910 bpost lánaimseartha i 2002 i ngnóthaí a fuair cúnamh on údarás, rud a chiallaionn go raibh 7,571 duine fostaithe go lánaimseartha i ngnóthaí faoi scáth an údaráis ag deireadh 2002 - titim de 522 ar líon na bliana roimhe sin.

Cé go bhfuil laghdú 30% i soláthar caipitil don údarás i mbliana, i.e. ó €34.3 mhilliún i 2002 go dtí €24 mhilliún i 2003, táim sásta go mbeidh an soláthar sin leordhóthanach ag cuimhneamh ar an éileamh ar dheontais thionsclaíocha nua a bhfuiltear ag súil leis. Chomh maith leis sin, tá an t-údarás ag brath ar ioncam de €5 mhilliún a fháil i mbliana as sócmhainní a dhíol - €4 mhilliún i leith chaiteachas caipitil agus €1 mhilliún i leith chaiteachas reatha - mar chabhair chun a chlár oibre a chur i gcrích. Ní miste dom a lua freisin go bhfuil treoir tugtha i mbliana don údarás go gcaithfidh 20% ar a laghad den chaiteachas caipitil agus deontais a bheith dírithe ar chruthú postanna i bhfiontair theanga-bhunaithe.

I mí Iúil 1997, tháinig an fhreagracht i leith na n-oileán faoi mo chúram mar Aire Stáit ag an am, agus is cúis shásaimh dom gur mhéadaigh an maoiniú i leith na n-oileán ó tuairim is €2.5 mhilliún i 1997 go €8.5 mhilliún i 2003.

Is í an ardtosaíocht is mó atá ag na hoileánaigh ná bealaí isteach agus amach go dtí na hoileáin a bheith ar fáil ar bhonn sabháilte agus rialta. Tá an-fheabhas go deo curtha ar na seirbhísí ó 1997, nuair nach raibh ann ach cúig chinn de sheirbhísí farantóireachta Stát-mhaoinithe. Inniu tá 14 sheirbhís ag freastal ar 12 oileán á maoiniú ag an Stát, anuas ar sheirbhís aeir go dtí na hOileáin Árann agus seirbhís ingearáin go Toraigh i rith an gheimhridh.

Chomh maith leis sin, táimid ag déanamh infheistíochta fhiúntacha ar fhorbairt infrastruchtúr na n-oileán, go háirithe céanna. Tá a lán oibre curtha i gcrích cheana ar chéanna ar na hoileáin éagsúla, mar shampla, Toraigh, Árann Mhór agus Oileán Chléire. Tá muid ag súil le hoibreacha a chur i gcrích i mbliana ar Inis Tuirc, Cliara agus Roonagh, chomh maith le dreideáil ar Inis Bó Finne.

An chéad dúshlán eile atá ann na fostaíocht bhuan inmharthana a chruthú ar na hoileáin. Le deireanaí d'fhógair mé scéim nua fiontair d'Údarás na Gaeltachta a fhreastalaíonn ar na hoileáin Ghaeltachta. Faoin scéim seo beidh fiontair ar oileáin Ghaeltachta i dteideal deontais suas go €90,000 thar thréimhse trí bliana a fháil i bhfianaise na gcostas breise a bhaineann le gnó a bhunú ar oileán. Tá muid i gcomhairle leis an Roinn Fiontar, Trádála agus Fostaíochta maidir lena mhacasamhail de scéim i leith na n-oileán taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht.

Cuireann an fo-mhírcheann K1 - Forbairt Áitiúil agus Bearta um Chuimsiú Sóisialta - cistiú ar fáil don chlár forbartha áitiúil agus cuimsithe sóisialta, a bhfuil mar aidhm aige cur i gcoinne míbhuntáiste agus cothromas agus cuimsiú sóisialta agus eacnamaíoch a chur chun cinn trí thacaíocht a chur ar fáil do pháirtíochtaí ceantair agus do ghrúpaí pobail.

Cuirtear an clár - a riartar ag ADM Teoranta thar ceann na Roinne - i gcrích faoi na trí fho-bhearta seo - seirbhísí do dhaoine atá dífhostaithe, forbairt pobail agus tionscnaimh óige bunaithe ar an bpobal. Tá suim iomlán de €44.6 mhilliún san fhomhírcheann le haghaidh 2003 a chlúdaíonn suimeanna do pháirtíochtaí agus do ghrúpaí pobail agus costais thacaíochta a bhaineann le clár RAPID.

Tá laghdú de 6% san airgead atá ar fáil san fho-mhírcheann seo i 2003 - €44.6 mhilliún - i gcomparáid leis an tsuim a bhí ar fáil i 2002. Tá riar a dhéanamh ar an laghdú, áfach, ar scála aistritheach de idir 4% agus 7% ag brath ar bhuiséad bliantúil an pháirtíochta/an ghrúpa pobail. Tá ADM ag obair leis na páirtíochtaí agus leis na grupaí pobail chun aon tionchar a d'fhéadfadh a bheith ag an laghdú sa chistiú i mbliana a íosmhéadú a mhéid is féidir.

Baineann fo-mhírcheann K3 le clár le haghaidh síochána agus athmhuintearais. Tá freagracht fhoriomlán ar mo Roinnse, trí ADM Teoranta agus tríd an nGníomhaireacht um Chur i gCoinne na Bochtaineachta - CPA, chun 13 bhearta de chuid an chláir speisialta tacaíochta comhphobail um shíocháin agus athmhuintearas a chur i gcrích i réigiúin na Teorann agus dhá bheart trasTeorann a chur i gcrích i bpáirtíocht leis an Community Foundation of Northern Ireland and Co-operation Ireland, chomh maith le comhbhainistíocht a dhéanamh ar bheart chun athmhuintearas pobail trasTeorann a chur chun cinn in éineacht leis an Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust.

Is clár sonrach cistí struchtúrtha de chuid an Chomhphobail Eorpaigh é an clár seo atá dírithe ar bhonn a chur faoi dhul chun cinn i dtreo sochaí shíochánta agus sheasmhach agus ar athmhuintearas a chothú. Beidh ionchur tábhachtach ag na bearta atá i gceist sa phróiseas fadthréimhseach seo agus léirítear an difríocht a bhaineann leis an gclár tríd a dhá phríomhchúspóir - aghaidh a thabhairt ar iarmairt na coimhlínte agus glacadh leis na deiseanna a eascraíonn ó shíocháin.

Cé go bhfuil sé a chur i gcrích trí chúig phríomhthosaíochtaí, tá láimh ag mo Roinnse maidir le trí chinn díobh a chur i gcrích trí bhainistíocht a dhéanamh ar bhearta atá dírithe ar athnuachán eacnamaíoch, comhthathú sóisialta, cuimsiú agus athmhuintearas agus comhoibriú trasTeorann. Áirítear daoine a d'fhulaing foréigean/iarphríosúnaigh, mná, daoine dífhostaithe agus daoine tearcfhostaithe agus grúpaí soghonta eile ar nós Lucht Siúil agus mionlaigh mar spriocghrúpaí tábhachtacha de chuid an chláir.

Is obair fhadthréimhseach í cothú na síochána agus caithfear a bheith ag súil le go leor deacrachtaí ar an mbóthar ach tá muid dóchasach go gcabhróidh na tionscnaimh atá muid á bhforbairt tríd an gClár Síocháin II go suntasach leis an obair.

Faoi fomhírcheann M, tá Uiscebhealaí Éireann. Is é €32.494 mhilliún an soláthar iomlán le haghaidh Uiscebhealaí Éireann, atá ar an eagraíocht is mó Thuaidh-Theas a bunaíodh faoi Chomhaontú Aoine an Chéasta. San áireamh sa soláthar de €19.415 mhilliún do chaiteachas reatha, tá pá do thart ar 370 ball foirne. Áirítear mar chuid d'obair na foirne seo clár cuimsitheach cothabhála atá fíor-riachtanach chun bunstruchtúr nan-uiscebhealaí a chothú agus chun áiseanna bádóireachta agus áiseanna eile a fhorbairt.

Is chun forbartha leanúnacha a dhéanamh ar shaoráidí agus ar chinn scribe áineasa ar feadh na n-uiscebhealaí atá an soláthar caipitil de €11.079 milliún. Tá críoch curtha ar oibreacha chun sínidh a chur leis na leapacha ancaire ag Droichead na Sionainne agus ag Béal Átha Conaill. Osclaíodh na calafoirt nua ag Béal Átha na Sluaighe agus ag Mainistir na Buille le haghaidh tráchta i rith na bliana seo caite. Is sócmhainní ollmhóra iad na háiseanna breise seo don bhunstruchtúr bádóireachta. Críochnófar forbairtí breise ag caladh na Scairbhe i mbliana agus ag Béal Átha Liag faoi Aibreán na bliana seo chugainn. Tá muid ag súil leis go dtosófar ar oibreacha níos déanaí i mbliana ag An Cloichreán Mor, ag Port Reanna agus ag Garraí Uí Chinnéide.

Is faoi fhomhírcheann N1 atá Coimisiún Forbartha an Iarthair. Is iad feidhmeanna an choimisiúin forbairt eacnamaíoch agus shóisialta a chur chun cinn, a chothú agus a ghríosú i réigiún an iarthair a shainmhínítear mar na seacht gcontaetha iartharacha - Dún na nGall, Liatroim, SligÍeach, Maigh Eo, Ros Comáin, Gaillimh agus An Clár. Ina chuid gníomhaíochtaí cuimsítear anailís agus forbairt pholasaí, eochairthionscnaimh réigiúnda a ghabháil air féin agus bainistiú a dhéanamh ar chiste infheistíochta an iarthair.

Is é €1.385 mhilliún an Meastachán le haghaidh 2003 do Choimisiún Forbartha an Iarthair. Go dtí seo i 2003 tá an coimisiún tar éis 13 thionscadal nua a cheadú de luach €2.5 mhilliún in iomlán. Go hiomlán, tá tionscadail ceadaithe no íocaíochtaí déanta ina leith leis an gcumas chun breis is 650 post a chruthú nó a chothabháil.

Faoi fho-mhírcheann N2 tá Ciste Infheistíochta an Iarthair. Is cuid fhíorthábhachtach í ciste infheistíochta an iarthair de straitéis Choimisiún Forbartha an Iarthair chun forartha eacnamaíocha agus shóisialta a thapú i réigiún an iarthair agus is gléas maoinithe sainiúil é don réigiún sin. Cuireann sé caipiteal riosca ar fáil trí iasachtaí agus scaireanna, ach ní cúnamh deontais, ar bhonn tráchtála le haghaidh tionscadal tráchtála agus sóisialta agus le haghaidh infheistíochtaí straitéiseacha a chuirfeadh bonn faoi fhorbairt an réigiúin nó earnáil ansin.

Chun bolscaireachta a dhéanamh ar an gciste, thug taispeántas bóthair cuairt ar 15 bhaile ar fud an iarthair i bhfómhar na bliana seo caite agus cuireadh feachtas sna meáin ar siúl sna nuachtáin agus sna staisiúin raidió áitiúla go léir. Bhí méadú suntasach i méid na bhfiosrúchán agus ag deireadh 2002 bhí 28 n-iarratas ar láimh le deis infheistíochta de €11.6 mhilliún do chiste infheistfochta an iarthair.

Scéimeanna forbartha tuaithe atá i bhfo-mhírceann O1. Déantar maoiniú ar thrí thionscnamh ón bhfo-mhírcheann seo. Tá an tionscnamh forbartha tuaithe bunaithe ar cheantair ann, soláthar de €9.457 milliún, a mhaoinítear i bpáirt ag an AE agus go bunusach is a mhacasamhail de thionscnarnh é seo agus Leader+ sna codanna den tír nach gcuimsítear ag Leader+. Clúdaíonn sé tionscadail thurasóireachta don tír ar fad. Fosta tá seirbhísí fhaoiseamh feirme, soláthar de €0.549 milliún, ann agus sin deontais le haghaidh oiliúna, pleanála agus feabhsúchán struchtúrtha agus maoinítear iad freisin ón bhfo-mhírcheann seo. Is í an chuid dheireannach den fho-mhírcheann seo an chiste forbartha tuaithe, soláthar de €950,000, a thacaíonn le taighde forbartha tuaithe agus le gníomhaíochtaí piolotacha chun forbairt pholasaí a éascú.

Baineann fo-mhírcheann 02 le Leader, INTERREG agus An Clár um Shíocháin. Tá dhá chuid i gclár Leader - tionscnamh Leader+ de chuid an chomhphobail agus an tionscnamh forbartha tuaithe bunaithe ar cheantair a chuirtear i gcrích trí Chláir Ghníomhaíochta na Teorann Lár-Tíre agus an larthair agus an Deiscirt agus an Oirthir. Cuirtear clár Leader i gcrích trí 35 ghrúpa gníomhaíochta aitiúla agus trí chomhchomhlacht. Cuirtear an tionscnamh Leader+ i gcrích i 22 cheantar. Maoiníonn an dá chlár Leader tionscnaimh forbartha tuaithe ach maoiníonn an tionscnamh forbartha tuaithe bunaithe ar cheantair níos mó gníomhaíochta sruthlínithe, turasóireacht tuaithe/talmhaíochta ach go háirithe. Clúdaíonn na grúpaí gníomhaíochta áitiúla gach limistéar sa tír lasmuigh de Bhaile Átha Cliath, Corcaigh, Port Láirge, Gaillimh agus Luimneach.

Is é CLÁR ábhar fho-mhírchinn O3. Thug me isteach an Clár do Cheantair Laga árd-Riachtanais - CLÁR - i mí Dheireadh Fómhair 2001 chun aghaidh a thabhairt ar bhánú na tuaithe agus ar an meath agus ar an easpa seirbhísí sna ceantair sin, na limistéir sin ach go háirithe a d'fhulaing an titim is mó daonra ó 1926 go 2002 le cailliúint daonra ar an meán de 50%. Léiríonn na bearta atá tugtha isteach agam faoin gclár seo na tosaíochtaí a d'aithin na pobail sna limistéir roghnaithe lena ndeachaigh me i gcomhairle ag an tús. Maoiníonn CLÁR - nó cómhaoiníonn sé in éineacht le Ranna, gníomhaireachtaí Stáit agus údaráis áitiúla - infheistíocht i bhforbairt tosaíochtaí roghnaithe, agus tacaíonn sé le bunstruchtúr fisiciúil, pobail agus sóisialta.

Baineann fo-mhírcheann P le sochaí an eolais agus tionscnaimh de chuid an Chomhphobail. Is í seo an bhliain dheireannach do thionscnamh CAIT, sceim phiolótach chun iad siúd atá i mbaol eisiata ó shochaí an eolais a ghríosú chun dul i ngleic ar bhealach fiúntach leis na teicneolaíochtaí eolais agus cumarsáide. Meastar go gcríochnófar an tionscnamh ag deireadh mhí an Mheithimh, agus is le haghaidh thráinse dheiridh maoinithe tionscnamh a ceadaíodh faoin mbabhta CAIT II caiteachas na bliana seo.

Is é an chead cheann eile ná fo-mhírcheann Q, oiliúint forbartha tuaithe agus comhordú. Mar chríoch, tacaíonn an fo-mhírcheann seo le cúrsa le haghaidh chéim bhainistíochta i bhforbairt tuaithe a chur ar fáil ag na coláistí de chuid Ollscoil Náisiúnta na hÉireann i gcomhphairt le chéile, agus tá cúnamh á chur ar fáil dóibh ó 1996 i leith. Is cúrsa é seo atá dírithe ar dhaoine a bhfuil baint mhór acu cheana fein le forbairt tuaithe agus ba chun céimithe speisialta le hardeolas agus le sárscileanna fhorbairt tuaithe, comhairlithe agus bainistíochta a chur ar fáil a dearadh an cúrsa.

Tá súil agam go bhfuil cur síos réasúnta tugtha agam don choiste san imlíne ghairid seo maidir le príomhthosaíochtaí agus réimsí caiteachais mo Roinne i mbliana. Ar ndoigh, beidh me sásta aon cheisteanna ó chomhaltaí an choiste a fhreagairt feadh mo chumais. Cuirfidh mé na comhaltaí ar aghaidh anois chuig mo chomhghleacaí, an tAire Stáit, an tUasal Noel Ahern, a labhróidh maidir leis na réimsí forbartha pobail agus deonach a thagann faoi chúram na Roinne, mar aon le cúrsaí drugaí. Faoi mar a luaigh me, labhróidh sé freisin faoi Vóta 24 - Tabhartais agus Tiomnachtaí Carthanacha.

I will speak on the areas under my responsibility within Votes 42 and 24.

Subhead J of Vote 42 covers grants for community and voluntary service. Despite the changed economic circumstances in which we are now operating, there has been no significant reduction in the funding allocated to the community development support programmes. This is in recognition of the importance of these programmes as a mechanism for achieving social inclusion. In this context, I am pleased that I am able to fund an additional 15 projects from this budget in the current year. I am also pleased that established projects have not experienced any reductions in their core budgets this year. The funding for the 15 new projects has been made available through savings on the administration costs of the programme. In keeping with the overall aims of the programme, priority in funding the 15 new projects has been given to disadvantaged communities. The 15 projects include four in Dublin, two in both Mayo and Tipperary, and one each in Clare, Limerick, Kildare Cavan, Longford, Galway and Roscommon. Subject to resources, I hope to be able to announce funding of some further projects in 2004.

Overall, the number of projects in the community development programme has grown from nine in 1990 to 138 in 2003. I am sure that Deputies of all parties recognise the importance of this expansion in the programme to the disadvantaged communities that will benefit.

In addition, my Department will this year provide grants for locally-based community and voluntary organisations to fund equipment and premises acquisition or refurbishment as well as education and training programmes for project workers and clients. A provisional budget of €2.5 million has been set aside this year for this scheme and it will be advertised in the national newspapers in the near future.

There is also an allocation of €3.4 million for the scheme of community support for older people, which provides funding for initiatives to improve the security and social support of vulnerable older people. I expect to be in a position to announce details of the 2003 scheme in July.

The administrative expenses of the Dormant Accounts Fund Disbursements Board are also met from subhead J. The first transfer of moneys from credit institutions to the fund took place at the end of April 2003 and the National Treasury Management Agency advises that the total amount involved was in the region of €195 million. The first disbursement plan is currently under preparation by the board and will be published as soon as it is finalised.

Subhead J also provides funding for the scheme for federations, networks and umbrella bodies. This scheme was re-advertised in March 2003 and 132 applications were received by the Department. Following an assessment by independent consultants, I look forward to announcing the successful applicants in July. I anticipate that a total of €1.8 million will be allocated to projects this year under this scheme. Regarding the scheme for training and supports in the community and voluntary sector, given that 540 applications were received and in the interest of transparency, it was decided to appoint independent consultants to expedite the assessment of applications. Again, I expect that the successful applicants will also be announced in July with €600,000 being available for the scheme this year.

Turning to the drugs initiative, allocations under subhead K2 will continue to fund the work of the local drugs task forces, the national advisory committee on drugs and the administrative expenses of the national drugs strategy team in 2003. The 14 local drugs task forces are based in Dublin, Cork and Bray. All of the task forces are currently implementing their second round action plans, with the exception of Bray, which was only designated as a task force in 2000 and is on its first plan.

To date, €14.5 million has been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion to implement these plans. Overall there are just over 260 individual projects in the second action plans and these are broadly focused on the areas of prevention, awareness, treatment and rehabilitation. The premises initiative for drugs projects is also funded under this subhead. To date, €11.5 million has been allocated to 36 projects. These projects are spread across the task force areas, though a few are located outside these areas but serve clients from the areas.

The national advisory committee on drugs has an annual budget of €1.27 million to deliver its three-year research work programme on the prevalence, prevention, treatment and consequences of drug misuse. The subhead also covers the administrative expenses of the national drugs strategy team.

Subhead L covers the youth services and facilities fund which assists in the development of preventative strategies and initiatives in a targeted manner through the development of youth facilities, including sport and recreational facilities, and services in disadvantaged areas where a significant drug problem exists or has the potential to develop. This year's expenditure under the fund is focused on the completion of the facility projects allocated funding under round one and the provision of continued funding for services projects from round one which have been successfully evaluated and mainstreamed. Many major facilities will be coming on stream in the current year - particularly in Dublin - and by the end of the year, it is expected that 90% of the projects allocated funding under the first round will be completed.

Regarding services, the focus will be on the continued provision of youth workers, outreach workers and sports officers to work with the target group in the local drugs task force areas and the four urban centres being targeted: Limerick, Galway, Carlow and Waterford.

Finally, regarding Vote 24, the Commissioners for Charitable Donations and Bequests, under the Charities Acts 1961 and 1973, provide services to trustees of charities to facilitate the carrying out of the intentions of persons making donations and bequests to charities. The provision of €413,000 for 2003 will meet the salary and administrative costs of the Charitable Donations and Bequests Office. The increased provision this year facilitates the employment of the full complement of eight staff and it also allows for some improvement to IT facilities.

Go raibh maith agaibh go léir.

Before handing over to Deputies for questions I ask Deputy O'Shea to take the chair temporarily.

Deputy O'Shea took the Chair.

Tá cúpla ceist agam concerning procedures. I dtosach, ba cheart dom a lua go labhróidh mé as Gaeilge faoi aon rud a bhfuil baint aige leis an Ghaeltacht agus cúrsaí Gaeilge, ach le haon rud eile, labhróidh mé Béarla. Measaim go bhfuil daoine amuigh ansin, go mórmhór in áiteanna eile, nach bhfuil Gaeilge acu. Seans gur féidir leis an Aire cóip de na hóráidí a tugadh maidin inniu - an chuid nach mbaineann leis an Ghaeltacht - a chur ar fáil as Béarla freisin chun iad a scaipeadh i measc na ndaoine nach dtuigeann an Ghaeilge, mar shampla, na daoine a bhfuil baint acu leis na partnerships. Tá sé luaite anseo. Níl mé ag labhairt Béarla gan chúis ach ionas go dtuigfidh siad cad atá ar siúl.

An mbeidh an tAire in ann cóip den chuid nach mbaineann leis an Ghaeltacht a chur ar fáil?

Má tá sé ann, cuirfear ar fáil é, ach níl muid ag dul a dh'aistriú na n-óráidí d'aon turas.

Ní maith liom bheith ag troid leis an Aire, ach tá daoine lasmuigh den áit seo nach bhfuil baint acu leis an Ghaeilge nó an Ghaeltacht, agus ba mhaith liom cóip den rud a dúirt sé a sheoladh chucu. Sin é.

Is ea. An tseachtain seo caite, bhí a mhalairt á rá ag chuile dhuine, ach sin scéal eile.

What is the function of this meeting in the context of the budget? This is my first time taking part in this committee. I am representing Deputy Deenihan today. Are we going through the amended Estimates as published earlier in the year?

We are going through the Revised Estimates.

Are we going through them on a subhead basis?

We can take it whichever way we wish. Questions may be asked but within the constraints of the ten minutes as outlined by the Chair.

I am unhappy with that, because if I have only ten minutes to go through this, I will not be able to do justice to the questions I want to ask. What happens if I am unhappy at the end of my ten minutes?

I will exercise latitude and will give the Deputy the opportunity to come back later in the meeting on anything with which he is not satisfied or which has not been sufficiently clarified.

I appreciate that.

Caithfidh me a rá go bhfuil tuiscint agam do fadhb an Teachta. Nuair a bhí mise ar an taobh eile den Teach, cheap mé i gcónaí gur cuireadh an t-uafás ama amú ag caint ag an tús agus nach raibh ár ndóthain ama againn do cheisteanna. Cinnte, mar Aire, ba mhaith liomsa cúnamh a thabhairt don Teachta. Má theastaíonn uaidh, níl aon fhadhb agam leis. Má theastaíonn uaidh an t-am a úsáid le ceisteanna a chur, nach sin an fáth go bhfuil an Dáil ann?

The situation in the House is generally farcical, but we are wising up. Outside the House anybody from the media has the right to ask me a question. However, in here we get protective about being asked questions by our colleagues who have been elected by the people. I would like to facilitate as many questions as the Deputy wants, within the Chair' s ruling. When I was in Opposition I used to wonder if procedure was constructed so as to restrict the time for questions and give as much time as possible for speeches. I am willing to answer any questions on my Department's Estimates.

Deputy O'Dowd has submitted his query. I thank the Minister for his attitude. I will facilitate all questions within reason.

Baineann an chéad cheist dá bhfuil agam leis An Fhoras Teanga. Cuimhním go bhfuil airgead breise faighte ag an fhoras, agus molaim é sin. An cheist atá agam, áfach, ná cad as a bhfuil an t-airgead sin ag teacht. Cén chuid de na Meastacháin a dtáinig an t-airgead sin as?

An féidir leat na ceisteanna go léir a thabhairt dúinn le chéile?

Ní féidir. That may be the procedure here, but I want to protest if that is how it is done. I want clear simple answers to questions and would like the answer to that question first.

I will give the Deputy as much latitude as I can along those lines.

I intend to do my job properly, but cannot do it if I have to run with different stories and issues. I want to deal with this issue especially, láithreach, más féidir liom.

I am satisfied that, within the amount of money provided, without interfering with any of the existing programmes that have failed to provide the money, there are a number of likely or possible places where there might be underspend, not because of cutbacks but because the draw-down will not match the amount provided in the Estimates. I am satisfied that, cumulatively, we will be able to realise this money and stay within budget.

With respect, níl mé sásta leis sin, mar tá sé an-soiléir ar fad, ó thaobh na Meastachán de do Roinn an Aire, go bhfuil laghdú an-mhór i mbliana, bfhéidir 7% den airgead a bhí aige anuraidh. Tá sé ag iarraidh airgid, agus molaim go bhfuil an t-airgead ar fáil don Fhoras Teanga, óir tá mé an-sásta leis sin. Ní airgead nua é, áfach. Tá sé ag teacht ó áit éigin eile. An bhfuil an tAire ag féachaint ar áiteanna ar nós the regional drugs task forces?

I note, from the comments of the Minister of State, Deputy Noel Ahern, that he neglects to include in his statements any reference to the regional drugs task forces which, in a commitment in the budget, were to be set up this year. From reading between the lines, it appears that the regional drugs task forces' budget was reduced to €1.7 million. Is the Minister raiding the regional drugs task forces for that money?

I reiterate my reply. There will be no cutback in any provision for any of the programmes outlined. Some of the agencies will spend all of the money provided. However, other schemes - Leader is an example - are demand-led, and the money spent depends on whatever is sought during the year. I am not saying the savings are from Leader. In the case of a programme like Leader, we make a guess as to the likely draw-down, but I do not determine it. It is determined by the Leader companies. In that event, there could be money left at the end of the year. No programme, as provided for in the Estimates, is being cut to provide this money. However, we expect that one or two of the programmes might give us small savings. It is not a huge amount of money, only €1.6 million. It is out of that we expect to pay this money.

The Minister of State made no reference in his speech to the regional drugs task forces, which may be linked to this.

There is no link. He will reply to the specific question on drugs later. There is absolutely no link between the Foras na Gaeilge money and anything to do with drugs task forces, CDBs or anything like that. I do not know where this idea has come from, but there is no foundation to it. The Deputy can rest assured that is the case.

I welcome that important commitment.

Can the Deputy keep to questions?

Táim ag cur na gceisteanna agus ag lorg na bhfreagraí. With respect, how can I ask a question without using words?

There is a difference between questions and a debate.

I believe this is a democratic Parliament and that I have the right to ask questions.

That is not being challenged by anybody.

The Chairman is telling me now not to ask questions. I am trying to get to the root of this issue.

I wish the Deputy would show more respect for the Chair. I am not stopping him from asking——

With respect, I have shown absolute respect here.

The Deputy has interrupted the Chair while the Chair is addressing him.

Questions are fine, but this discussion is not an occasion for debate on issues.

I am trying to find answers to my questions. I resent the Chair's implication that I show a lack of respect for him. I show great respect for the Chair at all times.

I thank the Deputy for that.

The Chair should withdraw the implication that I did not show proper respect.

The issue was that the Deputy was challenging me.

The question I want to ask next concerns tithe Gaeltachta, subhead D. Tá laghdú €700,000 ann. An é sin toisc go bhfuil cinneadh glactha ag an Aire go mbeidh laghdú ar na tithe Gaeltachta ar fad i mbliana? Cén fáth go bhfuil an laghdú sin ann?

Tá sé an-éasca é sin a mhíniú. Mar is eol don Teachta, nuair a bhí an t-iarAire Gaeltachta ann, bhí i gceist i dtosach báire deireadh a chur le cuid de na scéimeanna. Ansin, thug mé ar ais iad. Ní hamháin gur thug mé ar ais iad, ach leathnaigh mé iad. Rinne mé dhá leasú bunúsach orthu: mhéadaigh mé an t-airgead go substaintiúil; agus dathraigh mé riail a bhí ann. Dúirt mé gurbh fheabhsú riachtanach ar theach Gaeltachta é teas lárnach a chur isteach. Ina dhiaidh sin, tháinig mála mór iarratas faoin scéim feabhsúchán Gaeltachta isteach go dtí an Roinn de bharr an airgid bhreise agus de bharr gur leathnaigh muid na rialacha. Tá mé an-áthasach faoi sin, mar chuir sé teas lárnach isteach i go leor tithe, go mórmhór do sheandaoine.

Mar is eol don Teachta, faoi na rialacha atá ag an scéim seo, ní féidir iarratas eile a dhéanamh go cionn seacht mbliana ina dhiaidh sin. Mar thoradh air sin, níl muid ag súil - is scéim ar éileamh é seo, nó demand-led scheme mar a thugtar uirthi i mBéarla - go mbeidh an oiread sin éilimh ann i mbliana agus a bhí ann anuraidh. Bhí sruth mór nuair a athraíodh an rud. De bharr ar an sruth sin, ní féidir leis na daoine sin teacht ar ais aríst sa ngearr-théarma.

Anois, tagann an chéad cheist eile faoi fho-mhírceann E, a bhaineann le scéimeanna feabhsúcháin sa nGaeltacht. Tá laghdú an-mhór ann sin - laghdú 38% - ar an airgead a bhí ann anuraidh. Ba é an t-iomeán a bhí ann i 2002 ná €16.553 mhilliún. I mbliana, tá sé laghdÍaithe go dtí €10.2 mhilliún. Is laghdú an-mhór ar fad é sin. Cén fáth go bhfuil an laghdú ann?

Ní mar a shíltear a bhítear. Ba é an méid a cuireadh ar fáil anuraidh ag tús na bliana €12.9 milliún. Ag teacht chun deiridh na bliana sin, tharla go raibh airgead nach raibh caite sa Roinn, agus bheartaigh mé ar chaiteachas breise a dhéanamh ar scéimeanna feabhsúcháin sa nGaeltacht. Sa dara bhliain, bhí i gceist €12.9 milliún a chaitheamh orthu. Dá méadofaí é sin faoi dhó, bheifí ag caint ar b'fhéidir €6 mhilliún ar fad thar dhá bhliain. Nuair a bhí airgead go flúirseach ag deireadh na bliana seo caite, thug mé obair ar aghaidh isteach sa mbliain 2003, agus chaith mé airgead i 2002 a chaithfí ar an ngnáth-bhealach i 2003. Mar thoradh air sin, thar an dá bhliain, caithfear €27 milliún.

Sílim féin gur toradh sásúil é sin ar mo chuid oibre. Tá €16.533 mhilliún ann in áit €12.9 milliún a bhí ann i dtosach báire. Déirigh liom beagnach €4 mhilliún a chaitheamh díreach ag mí na Samhna agus mí na Nollag anuraidh, agus mar thoradh air sin, idir an dá bhliain, beidh an oiread céanna oibre déanta agus a bheadh dá mba rud é go raibh €13 mhilliún ar fáil gach aon bhliain.

Ó thaobh na cuntasóireachta de, nach raibh sé sin san existing level of services sa bhliain 2002? Tá laghdú an-mhor ann.

Tá ceist agam ó thaobh accountancy procedures agus airgid de. Caithfidh an buiséad a bhí ag an Aire bheith ar an ELS don bhliain seo caite. Cheap mé é a bheith mar sin.

Bhí sábháiltí ann ag deireadh na bliana. Ar ndóigh, bíonn plé ar an ELS faoin am seo den bhliain, agus níl san ELS, ainneoin na rudaí a deir cuid de na páipéir, ach cuid den phróiseas nó an chéim tosaigh ann. Oibrítear é sin amach i bhfad níos túisce sa mbliain. Is éard a tharla ná, ag teacht chun deiridh na bliana, bhí sábháiltí maidir le hairgead nach raibh caite de bharr rudaí éagsúla, mar shampla, Leader, nach raibh a chaiteachas suas go dtí an méid a raibh muid ag súil leis. Bhí sábháiltí ann. In ionad na sábháiltí a chur ar ais chuig an gciste Stáit, chinn mise ar obair bhreise a dhéanamh anuraidh leis na sábháiltí sin ar infrastruchtúr na Gaeltachta. Chaith mé €4 mhilliún breise ar infrastruchtúr Gaeltachta ag deireadh na bliana thar an méid a raibh muid ag súil leis i rith na bliana. Bhí an t-airgead a caitheadh ar infrastruchtúr déanta. Má thugaim caiteachas ar aghaidh, tá sé déanta. Tá sé déanta don bhliain dár gcionn agus go brách. Ceapaim féin gur bheart ciallmhar a bhí ann in úsáid airgid. Bainisteoireacht airgid a bhi ann, sin an méid.

An cheist atá ann ná ar tháinig an t-airgead ó fho-mhíreanna eile. An féidir iad sin a thabhairt dom? Can the Minister give us that information later?

Bhí sábháiltí ann go ginearálta sa Roinn. Tharla cuid acu de bharr an athruithe sna cúraim. Bhí moill ar scéimeanna, agus mar sin de. Níl a fhios agam an bhfuil aon aistriú sonrach ann, ach ag deireadh na bliana bhí sábháiltí ann - níos mó ná an méid seo. Tagann aon airgead nach bhfuil caite ag deireadh na bliana ar ais chuig an Státchiste. Mar sin, tá ciall le sábháiltí a chaitheamh má tá úsáid stuama chiallmhar le baint as an airgead. Is ar na scéimeanna nach raibh a n-éileamh chomh mór leis an méid a bhí muid ag súil leis a rinneadh na sábháiltí. Ní hé go ngearróinn rud eile lena dhéanamh seo. Díreach sábháiltí nadúrtha a bhí ann ^ fo-mhírchinn nár chaith an t-airgead fúthu.

The Deputy has exceeded his ten minutes. I will allow one further question.

Tá mé sásta.

Tá ceisteanna agam féin. Rachaidh mé ar aghaidh.

Ní bheidh mise sa Chathaoir nuair a bheidh an Teachta ag caint.

The issue that concerns me most is the Department's role in co-ordinating the implementation of the RAPID programme about which the Minister outlined very few specifics. What role is the Department assuming in this regard and has any money been allocated to or spent on this programme?

Money has been allocated but it is primarily for administrative purposes. I reiterate that RAPID was not about a Department having a kitty and spending it, but about re-prioritising programmes under national development plan expenditure and encouraging local co-operation between the various statutory agencies. This is clearly in evidence on the ground, particularly under strand two of RAPID. Last weekend, I had a meeting with two of the AITs which do very good co-ordination work. It was never envisaged in the programme's design that direct funding would be provided. AITs have come up with various plans, some of which are not really relevant to the national development plan but are very important to their areas. I am examining better delivery mechanisms which I hope will come into place at the beginning of 2004 to ensure that the aspirations of communities are met. I do not intend to remain forever bogged down in the original concept of the programme, worthy though it was. I am listening to what the communities are telling me and we are making adjustments.

When Departments are making decisions, the RAPID and CLÁR programmes must be taken into account. That happened noticeably in the choice of the additional community development projects that would commence this year. That money did not come from the RAPID programme, rather when the list of CDPs due to commence this year was examined, the balance was weighted in favour of RAPID and CLÁR CDPs that were ready to go. There is a fundamental misunderstanding about this and no matter how often I explain the position, that misunderstanding persists.

I accept the Minister's point that we are not talking here about new money. My specific question relates to the Departments which were given responsibility for co-ordinating implementation. I put it to the Minister that this constitutes an additional task in regard to which there are resource implications. I do not believe that co-ordinating role is being sufficiently pursued and I believe the reason is that specific resources and funding have not been assigned to that task.

Well, we can agree to differ on that. A sum of €1.5 million has been provided from the local development subhead. This pays for assistance. We should also recognise that a major role in this co-ordination was given to ADM. There is also a national monitoring committee. Doctors differ and patients die. That was the road pursued. If we compare the €1.5 million to the CLÁR, which is only rural RAPID after all, no money is provided for all of these co-ordinating roles, we have four staff members assigned to it, no intermediate bodies and no national monitoring committees. Some people tell me it operates better on the ground than RAPID. We leave the people to judge that in each individual area. There is no lack of bodies out there. The area implementation teams are sitting down and preparing the plans.

I identified a different problem and I approached the solution in a slightly different way. Estate management arises in every local authority area. Does such a matter really have to be sent to Dublin to be sorted out on an interdepartmental basis or should it be devolved back to be sorted out on the ground? I am looking at ways that all of the smaller issues can be dealt with locally and that Departments, including my own, would co-ordinate the big projects which would need interdepartmental co-ordination and prioritisation. I think we can clear the pitch quite dramatically that way.

In RAPID l, there were 1,000 actions. One would have wanted an army of people. We are always talking about devolving responsibility. Why co-ordinate that at Government level when some of the actions concern cleaning graffiti off the wall in a housing estate, for example? It is about time we devolved those issues locally and let local people participate. I intend to facilitate that. To do that, under the structure we created I have had to get approval at Government level and I have, eventually, to get the agreement of the two regional monitoring committees. That is one of the reasons for the delay. That new system will clip in on 1 January 2004.

Will the Minister provide a report at year end, or some other time, on the progress of the co-ordination of the implementation of RAPID?

The Department is obliged to provide an annual report which will cover that matter. I will be keeping the Members of the Houses, the public and the groups involved in this work informed of progress. We are all caught in a chicken and egg situation. We have already indicated in parliamentary replies where we are going, but until the regional monitoring committees endorse this I will be accused of pre-empting them. If I declare that I intend to do something, they will tell me they must be consulted first. I must therefore follow this process and be very careful not to be seen to pre-empt anybody. I am very conscious of that role.

Tá trí cheist ghairid agam mar gheall ar an Ghaeilge. Tá oiliúint fóirne thíos sa bhuiséad riaracháin mar rud ar a bhfuil caitÍeachas air. An bhfuil an oiliúint sin ag díriú ar an nGaeilge ag an nóiméad?

Tá beagnach €8,000 le fáil ach tá an t-ádh orainn, mar Roinn, go bhfuil ard-chaighdeán Gaeilge agus oibre ag an dream atá ag plé le cúrsaí Gaeilge sa Roinn. Is í an Ghaeilge an teanga oibre laethúil in oifig na Ranna sna Forbacha, mar shampla, agus déantar gach rud tré mheán na Gaeilge mar theanga oibre. Anseo i mBaile Átha Cliath tá meascán ann, ar ndóigh. Tá roinnt bheag airgid curtha ar fáil ach is iad rannóga na Ranna atá ag plé leis an nGaeilge is mó a úsáideann Gaeilge mar ghnáth mheán laethúil, móide rannóg na n-oileán.

Maidir leis an bhForas Teanga, cén dul chun cinn atá déanta leis an bhfoclóir Béarla-Gaeilge? Sin ceist a chuirim ort go minic, a Aire, ach ba mhaith liom an scéal suas chun dáta a fháil.

Tá €2.4 mhilliún ag dul do chiste na Gaeilge. Maoinítear Bord na Gaeilge, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann agus Taidhbhearc na Gaillimhe as sin. Cé mhéad airgid a fuair gach ceann des na heagrais sin?

Tá litir anseo agam anois agus is é atá inti ná na príomhíocaíochtaí. Sa bhliain 2003, fuair Bord na Leabhar Gaeilge €922,240, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann €524,000, Gael-Taca €39,930, Gaillimh le Gaeilge €89,080, Umar Cholmcille €85,355, Taidhbhearc na Gaillimhe €307,000——

Tá mé sásta iadsan a fháil i bhfoirm scríofa. Cad mar gheall ar an bhfoclóir Béarla-Gaeilge?

De réir mar a thuigim tá súil acu fós an conradh a shíneadh go luath. Tá súil agam go bhfuil sé luath go leor.

Níl a fhios agam an bhfuil mo cheist in ord mar ní thagann an téama faoi cheann ar bith de na fo-mhírchinn. Chonaic mé ar an teilifís an tseachtain seo caite tuarascáil ar an fhadhb atá ag muintir oileán Thóraigh, oileán álainn atá a brath go mór ar thurasóireacht, maidir le bruscar a bhailiú. Ba mhór an trua é muna mbeadh an t-oileán in ann an fhadhb seo a réiteach. Cad is féidir leis an Aire nó leis an rialtas áitiúil a dhéanamh chun cabhrach a thabhairt do mhuintir Thoraigh déileáil leis an mbruscar?

Is ceist an mhaith í seo agus is ceist í a bhfuil baint ag mo Roinn léi. Tá an fhreagracht ar an rialtas áitiúil. Tá sé freagrach as ach ag an am gcéanna, tá cúnamh tugtha ag mo Roinn ó thráth go chéile leis an bhfadhb seo a réiteach. Mar shampla, tá mion-dheontais de €1,000 nó €2,000 tugtha le rudaí ar nós carannaí agus cuisneoirí a thabhairt amach as na hoileáin mar tá costas mór ag baint leis sin. Chomh maith leis sin, tá cúnamh tugtha ag Údarás na Gaeltachta agus ag mo Roinn don seirbhís athchúrsáil, nó recycling project, in Inis Mór in Árainn, a bhfuil baint ag Inis Meáin agus Inis Oírr leis. Mar sin, bímid ag plé na ceiste seo leis na húdaráis áitiúla. Tá an costas riaracháin agus an fhreagracht riaracháin ar an údarás áitiúil ach ó thráth go chéile, le deontais beaga breise nó le deontais caipitil, tugaimid cúnamh dóibh saoráidí a chur ar fáil.

Chomh maith leis sin, tá clár mion oibre ann gach bliain do na hoileáin i dTír Chonaill, i Mhuigheo, i nGaillimh agus i gCorcaigh. Is féidir le húdarás áitiúil airgead a iarraidh le haghaidh rudaí ar nós bottle banks agus trealaimh le haghaidh déileáil le bruscar.

Tá intinn oscailte agam maidir le tidy islands competition nó le breis a dhéanamh faoi. Creidim go bhfuil tábhacht faoi leith ag baint leis sin. Is é an trua é ach tá cuid de na hoileáin scriosta ag bruscar. Níl aon cheist faoi sin.

The Chairman indicated before she left that she proposed to conclude at around 2 p.m. Any Deputy who wishes to pursue further questions may do so now.

Dúirt an tAire go bhfuair sé an t-airgead roimh dheireadh na bliana le haghaidh scéimeanna feabhsacháin sa Ghaeltacht. An raibh an t-airgead sin caite roimhe sin? An raibh sé geallta i rith an toghcháin, mar shampla? Duirt an tAire go bhfuair sé airgead ó na fo-mhíreanna eile nár caitheadh an t-airgead iontu agus gur thóg sé isteach i scéimeanna feabhsacháin Gaeltachta é. Cad iad na scéimeanna nua a thosaigh sé leis an airgead sin nó an raibh na scéimeanna críochnaithe cheana nuair a thug sé an t-airgead dóibh?

Ba mhaith liom é seo a mhíniú. Táimid ag caint ar demand. Mar a thuigfeadh an Teachta, bíonn rudaí nach dtarlaíonn in aon bhliain, ní mar nach mbíonn a t-airgead ar fáil ach mar nach mbíonn an togra réidh. Bhí cuid de sin i gceist le hUisce Bealaí Éireann agus cuid de i gceist le clár Leader. Bíonn sé an-deacair a mheas ag tús na bliana cé mhéad a caithfear ar scéimeanna Leader. Go ginearálta ritheann clár Leader ar feadh cúig bliana. Sa chéad bhliain bíonn ant-éileamh lag agus méadaíonn an t-éileamh thar na blianta. Ag an am chéana ní bhíonn duine cinnte ag tús na bliana cén t-éileamh a bhéas ann agus caithfear soláthar a dhéanamh. Ach muna dtagÍann na héilimh bíonn dhá rogha agat, ant-airgead a thabhairt ar ais nó é a chur i dtreo eile. Caitheadh riar den airgead seo ar bhóithrí. An rud a bhí mé in ann a dhéanamh ná rudaí a dhéanamh i mbliana a bhí i gceist a dhéanamh anuraidh. Arís tá na roghanna teoranta. Ní féidir a rá i Meán Fhómhair go dtógfar céimh, mar caithfear dul agus pleanáil a dhéanamh ach d'fhéadfaí, mar shampla, tarra a chur ar bhóthar má tá an bóthar réidh fána choinne. Ní chuirfeadh éinne in aghaidh sin a dhéanamh ar bhóithre na Gaeltachta. Sin an cineál ruda ciallmhar, stuama a rinneadh ag teacht chundeiridh na bliana.

Bhí tionchar ag an ngalar crúb agus béil an bhliain roimhe ar na tionscnaimh talmhaíochta. Chuir sin moill ar rudaí áirithe a dhul ar aghaidh.

An féidir leis an Aire liosta a thabhairt dom des na scéimeanna breise a maoiníodh?

Ní fadhb í sin mar fógraíodh gach ceann des na scéimeanna breise feabhsacháin sin go poiblí. Tá rud eile ar mhaith liom a shoiléiriú. Aon iarratas a tháinig isteach le haghaidh airgid ag deireadh na bliana sa ghnáth bhealach, faoin bhfo-mhírcheann sin le haghaidh hallaí agus coláistí Gaeilge agus páirceanna imeartha, íocadh amach é agus bhí sé sin déanta ar éileamh. Is féidir liom liosta a thabhairt agus b'fhéidir go ndeachaigh sin thar an bhfo-sprioc a bhí againn ansin. Ach níl fadhb ar bith le haon cheann a fógraíodh ag teacht go deireadh na bliana a thabhairt don Teachta. Cuid acu sin, níor caitheadh iomlán an airgid roimh dheireadh na bliana ach tugadh cead dóibh dul ar aghaidh agus má bhí an t-airgead caite íocadh é. Muna raibh sé caite agus na billí faighte in am ní fhéadfaí ant-airgead a íoc, ar ndóigh.

An raibh aon cheann ann go raibh an jab déanta agus nach raibh an t-airgead ann?

Tá galar an amhrais ag dul chun donas na tíre seo. Is é a tharla ag deireadh na bliana seo caite ná de bharr athrú sna Rannaí Stáit sa chaoi ina tháinig na cúraim anonn is anall, bhí airgead spáráilte ag deireadh na bliana, fiú leis an gcaiteachas seo. Níor diúltaíodh aonfhiachaí a íoc do aon chlár in aon áit.

Maidir le fo-mhírchinn H1, H2 agus H3 a bhaineann le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta, cruthaíodh 910 bpost lán-aimseartha san nGaeltacht faoi scáth an údaráis an bhliain seo caite ach bhí titim 552 ar an líon iomlán. Dá bhrí sin, bhí an-thitim in uimhir na bpostanna an bhliain seo caite agus níl an scéal ag dul i bhfeabhas ó shin. Cad atá idir lámha ag an údarás agus ag an Roinn chun an scéil sin a fheabhsú chomh mór agus is féidir i mbliana?

Bhí tionsclaíocht na Gaeltachta bunaithe, a bheag nó a mhór, ar shean-tionscail traidisiúnta. Bhí mé ag éisteacht, mar shampla, le Pól Ó Foighil ar an raidió Dé Domhnaigh agus shíl mé go ndearna sé cur síos maith ar an gcaoi gur lean Údarás na Gaeltachta cuid mhaith de pholasaithe Ghaeltarra Éireann tar éis a bhunaithe. Ar ndóigh, tá fadhb leis na tionscail sin anois. Ba dhrochbhliain í an bhliain seo caite, go mórmhór i nGaoth Dóbhair, mar bhí na tionscail sin neamh-inmharthana i gcomparáid lena mhacasamhail san Chian Oirthear agus i dtíortha níos saoire. Mar a deirtear i mBéarla, watershed a bhí ann i dtaobh an chineál sin tionscal.

Caithfear an bonn eacnamaíochta sa Ghaeltacht a athrú. Nílimid in ann dul san iomaíocht sa chniteáil agus sa déantúsaíocht nach bhfuil scil ard ag baint leis, le tíortha atá i bhfad níos saoire. Mar sin, ba mhaith liom bogadh i ndá threo. Chuir an Teachta Máire Ní Chochlain, nuair a bhí sí ina hAire Stáit, grúpa ar bun le breathnú ar cheist chruthú phostanna san nGaeltacht agus chuir an grúpa sin go leor moltaí faoin ár mbráid. Chomh maith leis sin, táimid ag athrú béime ó thionscail déantúsaíochta go tionscail atá bunÍaithe ar an teanga, ar an gcultúr agus ar an dturasóireachta. Níl amhras agam ach gurb shin áit nach féidir le héinne dul in iomaíocht linn. Is féidir le duine dul ag iomaíocht linn ag cniteáil geansaithe ach ní feidir le héinne dul in iomaíocht linn leis an nGaeilge mar nach bhfuil sí acu. Táimid ag athrú na straitéise agus tá 100% comhoibriú á fháil agam ón údarás don athrú straitéise seo.

Cuimsíonn sin ceisteanna eile maidir leis an gcur chuige ó thaobh chaiteachas an airgid ar monarchana nó ar rudaí eile. Feicfear athraithe móra in Údarás na Gaeltachta as seo go ceann ceithre bliana.

Cathain a bheidh córas broadband ar fáil ins na Gaeltachtaí? Chuir mé an cheist seo ar an Aire i bhfad ó shin. Tá sé an-thábhacht ó thaobh an sórt tionscail gur féidir a chur ar bun ins na Gaeltachtaí.

Thiocfainn leis an teachta go mór agus is polasaí an Rialtais é. Anuraidh, mar chuid den scéim CLÁR, fuair mé moltaí ón Roinn Cumarsáide, Mara agus Acmhainní Nádúrtha a bhí bunaithe ar thairiscintí a fuair an Roinn sin ó Údarás na Gaeltachta go gcuirí na metropolitan rings, mar a tugtar orthu, isteach go Béal an Mhuirfead agus go dtí an Chlochán Liath. Chomh maith leis sin, i gConamara tá snáithín optic ag dul siar bothar Chois Fharraige go Casla, suas go Rosmuc, trasna go dtí an Mám agus isteach ar ais go Gaillimh. Siar uaidh sin níl aon snáithín optic ach tá feabhas á chur ar an gcóras ISDN i gCarna i láthair na huaire.

Is é an sprioc atá agamsa, mar Aire, faoi CLÁR ar láimh amháin de agus ansin mar Aire na Gaeltachta, go dtabharfar léibhéal ard de leathanbhanda go dtí na Gaeltachtaí éagsúla. Caithfimid é a dhéanamh i gcomhairle leis an Roinn Cumarsáide, Mara agus Acmhainní Nádúrtha. Leis sin a dhéanamh, tharraing mé grúpa le chéile anuraidh ar a raibh an Roinn Cumarsáide, Mara agus Acmhainní Nádúírtha, an Roinn Fiontair agus Fostaíochta, IDA, Enteprise Ireland, Udarás na Gaeltachta agus an Western Development Commission, a bhfuil go leor taighde déanta aige. Ag éirí as sin tá roinnt moltaí curtha faoi mo bhráid le bealaigh gur féidir liom an leathanbhanda a thabhairt isteach go ceantair atá i bhfad siar, bíodh siad san nGaeltacht nó san ngalltacht. Tá súil agam go mbeidh mé ag fógairt rud éigin faoi sin go luath. Is tosaíocht an-ard é. Is é an bóthar don lá amárach é. Tá gá ag an Stát a bheith stuama agus pleanáilte. Caithfimid glacadh le deiseanna agus a bheith opportunistic, mar a deirtear i mBéarla. Má tharlaíonn sé go leagfar píopa gáis go Béal an Mhuirfead nó píopa uisce go háit éigin eile, ba cheart dúinn breathnú ar na deiseanna a thabharfadh sé sin dúinn na feadáin a chur síos le gur féidir an snáithín a chur thríd an-éasca arís. Ba cheart dúinn na deiseanna sin a thapú de réir mar a éiríonn siad. Ní éireoidh siad sin de réir plean ach de reir toscaí eile a thiocfaidh chun cinn. Níl mé in aghaidh aon deis a thapú a thabharfaidh seirbhís leathanbhanda isteach go ceantair iargúlta Gaeltachta agus Galltachta. Ba mhaith liom é sin a leathnú amach. Tá an oiread cúram le dhéanamh agam sna ceantair CLÁR taobh amuigh den nGaeltacht agus sna ceantair Gaeltachta. Is tosaíocht é idir Ghaeltacht agus taobh amuigh den nGaeltacht.

Tá laghdú 30% ar bhuiséad Údarás na Gaeltachta i mbliana. Tuigim gur dúradh leis an údarás go gcaithfear foirgnimh agus monarchana a dhíol. An bhfuil aon scéal nua ag an Aire mar gheall air sin?

Seo dream eile ar tháinig Daidí na Nollag go luath chuige anuraidh. Bhí romh-chaiteachas i gceist ó thaobh chúrsaí tógála agus bhí ar mo chumas €3.5 mhilliún breise a thabhairt dóibh díreach roimh dheireadh na bliana le n-íoc as airgead tógála a bhí déanta acu. Sílim gur thugÍamar airgead breise reatha, más buan mo chuimhne. Is féidir liom é sin a dheimhniú agus na figiúirí a thabhairt don Teachta arís. Bhí Meastachán ag an údarás anuraidh de thart ar €30 milliún. Bhí mé in ann airgead a bheadh ar an údarás a chaitheamh as airgead na bliana seo a thabhairt ar aghaidh go dtí an bhliain seo caite mar bhí an obair déanta luath aige. Ní raibh aon súil aige leis an airgead seo ach le cúnamh a thabhairt dó rinneamar é sin.

Chomh maith leis sin, ag an am sin bhí rud ar a dtugtar H2 agus H3. Bhí na deontais agus na foirgintí scartha óna chéile. Ní raibh mórán éilimh ar na deontais anuraidh agus d'iarr bord an údaráis cead orm €1 mhilliún euro a aistriú ó dheontais nach raibh ag dul a bheith caite go foirgintí. Thug sé sin faoiseamh breise don údarás freisin.

Maidir leis an bhliain seo agus ag breathnú romhainn agus ag dul ar ais ar an fhreagra a thug mé ar an Teachta O'Shea, níl a fhios agam an beart ciallmhar é leanacht le monarcha i ndiaidh monarcha a thógáil agus na fadhbanna a éiríonn as sin. Le ceithre nó cúig bliana nuair a bhí airgead fairsing, tá mé ag rá go bhfeictear dom gur droch-chóras é go mbeadh a leithéid de Údarás na Gaeltachta ag tógáil a gcuid monarchana féin ar fad. Creidim gur chóras an-chostasach é. Déantar an t-argóint seo go minic faoi fhoirgintí Stáit.

Ag breathnú ar na rudaí atá á dhéanamh ag Fiontar Éireann agus ag na dreamanna dá leithéid, feictear go bhfuil airgead ag pobal na Gaeltachta agus ag infheisteoirí thart ar na Gaeltachtaí sna na comhairlí creidmheasa. Is minic a d'fheilfeadh sé i bhfad níos fearr do na pobail sin go mbeadh an úinéireacht ag dream éigin seachas an Stát. Feicim dhá bhuntáiste leis sin. Tá sé in am go mbeadh infheistíocht phríobháideach i gceist anseo agus creidim más pobal a thógann rud is minic gur féidir é a thógáil níos saoire. Tá figiúirí ar fáil againn a thaispeánann é sin, má chuirtear costais tógála an údaráis i gcomparáid leis na costais a bhíonn ar na pobail a bhíonn ag tógáil ionaid pobail. Mar sin, ní gá go gciallfadh laghdú sa chistíocht laghdú gníomhaíochta. Caithfidh gach rannóg den Stát breathnú amach ar luach airgid.

Chomh maith leis sin, is féidir a rá go bhfuil titim an-mhór - nach bhfuil aon smacht agam air agus briseann sé mo chroí - ar éileamh ó lucht tionscail ar dheontais mar tá lagtrá eacnamaíochta ann. Is cuma céard a dhéanfas mé ní féidir an t-airgead a éileamh muna bhfuil éileamh ón bpobal.

Leis na rudaí sin ar fad san áireamh, tá mé sásta go bhfuil dóthain airgid ag an údarás don bhliain seo. I ngach tuairisc atá mé ag fáil ar ais go dtí seo aontaíonn an t-údarás liom go bhfuil dóthain aige le clár iomlán bliana a chur i bhfeidhm.

Cheap mé go ndúirt an t-údarás ag tús na bliana nach raibh sé in ann cuid des na tograí a bhí beartaithe aige a chur ar bun.

Is é an rud a tharla ná gur ndearna an t-údarás cinneadh ag tús na bliana nach gceadódh sé tograí i mí Éanáir nó i mí Feabhra. Beartas dá chuid féin a bhí ansin. Ar ndóigh, fiú dá gceadódh an t-údarás é sin——

Ní hé sin a dúradh liom.

Is iomaí rud a deirtear. Tá go leor tograí ar na bucáin ag an údarás. Níl an t-airgead tarraingthe anuas fós ag cuid de thograí na bliana seo caite nó na bliana roimhe sin. Sílim féin go raibh fadhb eile ag an údarás, rud a dhírigh mé aird air. Gach bliain tugtar treoir don údarás i litir a chuireann an tAire ar aghaidh ag rá leis nar cheart dó ceadú sa bhliain seo ach 60% de íocaíocht an bliana seo caite a thabhairt ar aghaidh go dtí an chéad bhliain eile. Is é sin le rá, ag deireadh na bliana má tá €24 mhilliún ar fáil ag an údarás de chaipitil i mbliana ní cheart go mbeadh ach €13 mhilliún de thograí ceadaithe nach bhfuil íoctha amach ag deireadh na bliana le thabhairt ar aghaidh go dtí an bhliain dár gcionn. Bhí an riail sin ann le fada ach, ar nós go leor rialacha sa tír seo, ní rabhthas ag cloí leis. Ach, nuair a scríobhann Aire litir - ní mise amháin mar bhí seo ag dul i bhfad siar - ba cheart go gcloídh an t-údarás leis. Cuireadh ar a shúile go raibh an litir sin ann agus gur chiallaigh na focail an rud a chiallaigh siad. Thuig an t-údarás é sin i mbliana agus chuir sé é féin in ord. Ní raibh aon bhaint aige sin le hairgead reatha. Bhain sé le dea-chleachtas go leanfadh an t-údarás treoir na Ranna maidir le ceadú tograí.

Tugadh €3.6 mhilliún breise don údarás roimh dheireadh na bliana seo caite. Má bhaineann sé sin as €34 mhilliún, thart ar €30 milliún a bhí aige anuraidh. Má chuirtear an €3.6 mhilliún breise le Meastachán na bliana seo is ionad sin agus €27.6 mhilliún don bhliain seo, ach gur thógamar cuid de ar aghaidh go dtí anuraidh.

My remarks refer to the submission from the Minister of State. I thank him for the information he sent me recently following a question raised in the Dáil. The disbursement plan is currently under preparation by the board and will be published when it is finalised. I understand that approximately €30 million will be involved this year. Will this money be allocated in the near future when the plan is published?

What is the position regarding the regional drugs tasks forces? When will they be put in place?

As regards dormant accounts, we said €30 million would be spent in the first 12 months, not necessarily the calendar year 2003. It will happen when the disbursement plan is set up and it is likely to run from July 2003 to July 2004. The board is still working on the plan and with luck we might approve it before the summer. The money will be available once the disbursement plan is signed off on.

Most regional drugs task forces have now been set up. There is a problem with one or two of the Dublin ones. All the other task forces have had at least one meeting and some have had two meetings. Initially, the task forces will discuss and assess what is available locally through health boards or the Department of Education and Science etc. The only money allocated to them this year relates to administrative costs to allow them to get up and running.

They are not referred to specifically in the documents. Is the money there for them?

This year, each regional drugs task force received approximately €50,000, which was meant for administration. That money was allocated by the Department of Health and Children for administration and set-up cost. If the task forces were to come forward with any detailed plan, the money would not fund it. In any case, it would take the task forces a number of months in order to assess such circumstances. They do not necessarily need to bring forward an expensive plan. It may well be that the mere existence of a co-ordinating regional drugs task force would help to pull a lot of things together.

Molaim an méadú mór i bhfo-mhírcheann E4 a bhaineann le hallaí agus coláistí Gaeilge. An bhfuil plean forbartha ag na coláistí Gaeilge chun áiseanna nua spóirt, mar shampla, a fháil nó chun sean-áiseanna a dheisiú?

An mbeidh toghchán d'Údarás na Gaeltachta an bhliain seo chugainn?

Ní bheidh toghchán ann i mbliana.

Tá a fhios agam sin.

Bhéadh sé i gceist agam nach mbeadh an toghchán ar siúl leis na toghcháin áitÍiúla. Bháfaí é dá mbeadh. D'éirigh go maith leis an toghchán deiridh, mar thoghchán, mar gur tharraing sé aird phobal na Gaeltachta ar an údarás. Beidh i gceist agam toghchán an údaráis a rith as féin agus beidh sé i ndiaidh na dtoghchán áitiúla.

Bhí daoine casaoideach go maith an uair dheiridh. Glacaimid leis go mbeidh na toghcháin áitiúla i mí Bealtaine na bliana seo chugainn. An uair dheireannach a raibh toghchán áitiúil agus toghchán údaráis ann bhí an toghchán áitiúil i mí Meithimh agus an toghchán don údarás i mí na Nollag ina dhiaidh. Mar sin, bheimís ag caint ar toghchán don údarás a bheidh ann go luath sa bhliain 2005.

Beidh mé ag dul i gcomhairle le muintir na Gaeltachta. Tá daoine ann a deir nach bhfeileann toghchán i lár an gheimhridh. Ní aontaím leis sin. Is breá liomsa toghchán i mí na Nollag nó i mí Eanáir. Feictear dom go bhfuil an-atmasféar ag baint leis agus daoine sa mbaile.

Cathain a bheidh an dáta cinnte?

Cúig bliana go leith atá san Acht. D'fhéadfainn dul ar aghaidh to dtí an samhradh ina dhiaidh sin arís, is é sin samhradh 2005. Níor mhaith liom go mbeadh moill ar an dtoghchán agus ní chuirfinn siar níos mó ná sin é.

Cathain a socrófar an dáta, chun seans a thabhairt do gach duine?

Ní bheidh sé, ar aon bhealach, sa chéad leath den bhliain seo chugainn. Ag breathnú nach mbeidh an bord in áit ach cúig bliana i mí na Nollag 2004 agus ag glacadh leis go mb'fhéidir go mbeidh fonn ar mhuintir na Gaeltacht go bhfágfaí go dtí an t-earrach é, tá seans go bhfágfar go dtí earrach na bliana 2005 é. Níl m'intinn socraithe air sin. Beidh mé ag glacadh comhairle, go mórmhór ón bpobal. Tá an dá thuairim ann. Tá daoine ann a deir gur cheart gach uile thoghchán a bheith sa samhradh. Is ain-chreidmheach mise. Is breá liom toghcháin sa gheimhreadh. Feictear dom go mbíonn daoine sa mbaile agus go mbíonn plé ar theilifís agus raidió agus mar sin de. Tá gach uile dhuine dá thuairim féin sa gcás sin.

Cad mar gheall ar na coláistí Gaeilge?

Nuair a tháinig mé isteach sa Roinn don chéad uair bhí thart ar £200,000 sa bhliain á chaitheamh air seo. Bhí go leor oibre déanta ar áiseanna spóirt agus caithimh aimsire. Tá i gceist agam leanacht leis seo. I go leor cásanna is leis an bpobal áitiúil an saoráid, cuirtear ar cíos é don choláiste Gaeilge i gcaitheamh an tsamhraidh agus bíonn sé ar fáil ag an bpobal i rith na bliana. Bheadh i gceist leanacht, cuid mhaith, leis an mhúnla sin. Má tá na coláistí le fás agus forbairt caithfear an infheistíocht seo a dhéanamh ach tá sé suas do na coláistí agus do na coistí áitiúla teachta ar aghaidh leis na hiarratais.

Ní cuimhin liom ariamh an Roinn ag diúltú iarratas den scoth, más iarratais ceart-bhunaithe a bhí ann. Bíonn idirphlé íontach maith idir oifigigh na Ranna agus na coistí áitiúla i dtaobh na ceiste seo agus tá a thoradh sin le feiceáil sna saoráidí breátha atá le feiceáil ar fud na Gaeltachta.

Go raibh maith agat, a Aire. Sin deireadh le scrúdú na Meastachán——

Gabh mo leithscéal, a chathaoirligh, tá ceisteanna eile le cur agam.

Ní gá dúinn éirí go dtí 2 p.m.

I have a number of questions I would like to ask. What is the procedure for putting them?

Can the Deputy group them?

I have no difficulty in doing so. However, the question is what is the function of this committee? Is it to rush through questions or to have them answered? The Chairman said she was happy for the meeting to run until 2 p.m. and I have no intention of delaying people unduly, but I have a duty to ask questions. However, if the Acting Chairman does not want me to ask them——

The traditional way in which this procedure operates is that each person gets ten minutes and asks a group of questions together, going around the table and beginning with the spokespersons. Then, after the Minister has replied, questions are taken from people who want to follow up on issues already raised. As a result of the structure the Deputy has proposed, we have gone a different way about that. However, the Deputy had his ten minutes, as I did, at the outset. As a result of this strategy, we have used up this time and not as many questions were asked during the ten minute period as would be usual. However, I have given a great deal of latitude in terms of follow-up questions, which is not normally the case. To be fair to everyone involved, there are other members here who do not have questions at this stage. Therefore, if the Deputy would put his questions in a group, we can deal with them as a final question.

I am not familiar with the Standing Orders of this committee. I asked for a copy of them last week and I would like them to be produced. We have a sacred duty to go through the Estimates for this Department and the Minister has said he is quite happy to take questions. I feel that, from the Acting Chairman's statement, we will not have——

I am giving the Deputy the opportunity to put the questions he wishes——

Yes, as a final question. However, the Acting Chairman is also saying that if a question arises out of that, I will not be able to follow it through.

The Deputy said he had a series of questions. Therefore, let us see how it develops.

That is fair enough. Tá mé ag caint anois faoin bhfo-mhírceann a bhaineann le gnóthaí pobail, community affairs. There is a reduction of 17% on the budget from €53 million to €44 million under the heading of local development and social inclusion. How is that impacting on the discussion we had on the local development partnerships?

Will the Minister account for the 33% reduction in expenditure on the CLÁR programme when it was expected to be €14 million, since the outturn was significantly reduced to €9.5 million? I would like to defer my question on the drugs initiative until later because it may require supplementary questions.

Those are good questions. The original allocation last year under the local development and social inclusion heading was €47 million. However, because there were savings elsewhere, we managed to spend €53.58 million and cleared many outstanding matters for ADM before Christmas. Based on the Estimate last year, the cut this year is 6%. Not only is the cut only 6%, if I had stuck with my €47 million and given the money I gave last year this year, I would be up at €49 million or €50 million and I would be saying there has been a great increase but there would be an overhang of expenditure if I had done that. Before Christmas, there were matured liabilities and carry-overs and we cleared them all off. That is where the €53.579 million comes from as compared to a basic Estimate of €47 million. There is a 6% cut and I will not dodge it. We cleared the debts last year - there was €47 million to spend and overhanging extras were dealt with.

There is a 6% cut and ADM took a decision, over which I had no control, to spread that across the different partnerships based on size. In April it was brought to my attention by one of the partnerships that it had been cut by 20%. I replied that was not possible unless someone else had got a huge rise. I inquired why and was told that there seemed to be an expectation among the partnerships that they could do what I could not and could carry money not spent in one year to the next year and that any unspent money in the second year could be carried cumulatively forward to the third year. If I could do that, I would not have front-loaded the pay for matured liabilities into last year. However, it is not the way the Estimates work and, therefore, there has been a monumental misunderstanding.

I did, however, meet planners and was told that some people submitted their bills in time to ADM and I was asked to look at that issue. I went back to ADM and was told that there was only one partnership in that category. It is impossible to win in this game - that partnership is called Cumas Teoranta and is based in Rosmuc, County Galway. It claimed in time but was not paid until this year and has been refunded that extra money out of the current ADM budget. I hope that clarifies the issue for once and for all.

I have made two things absolutely clear to the partnerships going forward to 2004 - they cannot and should not carry forward deficits in 2004 and there is no question of cumulative under-spending being carried forward. If there were, we would be penalising those who spend the money every year in favour of those who cannot get the work done and that would be crazy. They will get what they get this year, we will clean the slate at the end of the year and then ADM will agree a new amount of money for next year according to the plan that is submitted.

The original allocation to CLÁR was €12.7 million. At the end of the year, as there were savings in other parts of the Department, we were able to give an additional €1.4 million, meaning there was a little extra for people at the end of the year. This year, there was a straight cut from €12.7 million, which we had expected, to €9.5 million. I would love to have the €12.7 million but I will be able to do as much work with €9.5 million this year as I did with €14.1 million last year. There is a simple explanation for that - at the end of last year we started a scheme whereby we carried out a lot of tertiary roles in isolated areas and because the scheme started so late in the year, it was 100% funded by CLÁR to the tune of between €5 million and €7 million so the rest of CLÁR only cost €7 million last year.

If such a programme were to be run again, it would be co-funded with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government or the local authorities and to get €7 million would only cost the Department €3.5 million. If I take the basic spend without that programme last year at €7 million, and I go with a €3.5 million programme for tertiary roles, it would only cost €10.5 million this year where it cost €14 million last year.

The Minister is extending the CLÁR programme significantly but with less money and it cannot be done. I appreciate what the Minister is saying about co-funding but I do not see how this is possible.

The CLÁR programme is tight financially this year.

People are very happy with the programmes and proud of them but this is impossible

There is a challenge here similar to that of the loaves and fishes. I did, however, look at how this year was progressing. We still have the €2 million co-financed programme on strategic roads. We are funding LIS again, the water and sewerage schemes in addition to new schemes. Through careful management, we will get a surprising amount of work done this year and we have some new programmes, particularly in relation to broadband, that I will be announcing soon. It is a question of careful management and ensuring the other agencies come up with their share of the money.

Could the Minister give us a list of all the savings made last year, where they came from and where they went? We could then understand what happened in a more complete way.

All this information will be included in the appropriation accounts when they are published, but I will get the list for the Deputy as soon as possible. I believe in running the show as openly as possible. The Deputy must accept, however, that we have €300 million in a budget. It is equivalent to buying a house at €30,000 and having a few hundred pounds left at the end of the year; that would not be bad budgeting and a person would spend it instead of giving it away.

Similarly, I do not envisage savings being huge this year, it is much tighter financially. Also, because there was a unified budgeting situation from the beginning of the year, and we can monitor how we are spending throughout the year, when there were savings at the end of last year, the obvious thing to do was to spend the money in solving problems where there were matured liabilities - the overspending by Údarás na Gaeltachta on buildings, the matured liabilities in the ADMs and the work on Gaeltacht roads. It was wise to use the available money to clear these.

Tá ceist amháin eile agam don Aire Stáit. I keep asking about the budget for the drugs initiative. The Cabinet Sub-Committee on Social Inclusion has a budget of €14.4 million but when the other money is included, there is a serious shortfall in funding of about €7 million between the Department's needs and what it received. We have already asked about regional drugs task forces and the Minister has clarified that they are not being cut, but can he confirm that money allocated to each of them is being spent? It is not referred to here.

I did not refer to it because it is administered through the Department of Health and Children and the health boards, but all that money is administration start-up money of €50,000 per regional drugs task force.

I thought this money was coming from the Minister of State's budget. It is going to the health boards, but is coming from the Minister of State's Department.

That is the way it is administered. We give money to the health boards through the Department of Health and Children. The health board co-ordinators are asking for the regional drugs task forces. The initial plan was different but we revised the strategy or the method of distributing the funding. The overall amount of €7 million, it was €16.15 million in the heading, is less than we asked for but we have discussed this before. The national drugs strategy team carried out a survey on the number of projects involved and found that there are about 250 projects under the 13 or 14 drugs task forces but, as of six or eight weeks ago, at the last IDG meeting, only about 60% had commenced. They said, or estimated when asked about the others, that by July that might up to about 90%. In many respects that has helped because the slow rate of start-ups has favourable implications for the spending during the year because many of them are assessed only on half-year spends.

If all the projects had started and were ready to roll on 1 January last, we might have been in a more difficult financial position.

Can the Minister of State confirm again that the money that was in the budget for the regional drugs task forces will in fact be spent on the regional drugs task forces this year? I am talking about the budget from the Minister of State's Department, forgetting about everybody else.

There was no big money provided for the region——

It was the equivalent of the money for An Foras Teanga, I am saying that by way of comparison. It was a little over €1 million, I do not have the document here——

All that was provided and allocated was €50,000 per drugs task force. Some people might have said——

It was about €2 million overall.

We have not mentioned any sum like that whatsoever. Some of the regional drugs task forces may have felt that, based on the model of the original drugs task forces in Dublin, when they evaluated what was available locally they found the gaps and came forward with a plan. Some may feel that they could come forward with some plans but it would take many months before they could do that. Any plan would have to be considered in the context of the budget for next year but it would be very wrong of any regional drugs task force to think that the model would be the same as prevailed in Dublin a few years ago because already the word coming back from the regional drugs task forces is that the big problem is alcohol not drugs. There are already services in this area which are provided by the health boards, through GPs and so on. In many cases it will be a co-ordinating role. I am sure that some of them will come back looking for additional funding, but it would be wrong to look at what happened in Dublin where there was a major problem and no services on the ground.

Sin deireadh le scrúdú na Meastachán. I thank the Minister, the Minister of State and the officials for the documentation they have provided and for the detailed answers to the questions asked by committee members.