Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire, an Aire Stáit agus oifigigh na Ranna, atá anseo le scrúdú a dhéanamh ar na Meastacháin Leasaithe don bhliain 2007. Tá ráitis aschurtha ar fáil faoin chóras nua chomh maith. Tá sé tráthúil go bhfuil an díospóireacht seo ag tarlú i rith Sheachtain na Gaeilge. Cluinfidh muid na hAirí ar dtús, agus ansin tógfaidh mé urlabhraithe an Fhreasúra agus aon chainteoir eile.
2007 Output Statement for Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Bequests for Ireland and Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.
Tá áthas orm Meastacháin 2007 do Vóta 27, don Roinn Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta, a chur i láthair. Beidh a fhios ag baill an choiste gur i mbliana a fhoilseoidh na Ranna ráitis bhliantúla aschurtha le cur faoi bhráid choistí an Oireachtais den chéad uair, mar chuid de leasú ar an phróiseas bhuiséadach ar chuir an tAire Airgeadais tús leis ina Ráiteas Buiséid i 2005. Tá sé mar aidhm ag an tionscnamh tábhachtach seo gafacht parlaiminte níos leithne i bpróiseas an bhuiséid agus na Meastachán a éascú. Ag an am gcéanna, cuireann sé béim ar an ghaol idir fócas straitéiseach na Ranna agus a gcuid leithdháiltí airgid. Tá sé mar aidhm ag an ráiteas bliantúil aschurtha ceangal a shnaidhmeadh idir na leithdháiltí airgid sna Meastacháin agus ráiteas straitéise na Roinne, agus táscairí aschurtha ard-leibhéil san áireamh, ach iad seo a léiriú ar bhonn leathan agus i gcruth simplí.
Leagann sé amach freisin na hionchuir chláir — leithdháiltí airgid, costais bainistíochta, líon daoine fostaithe ar chláir — agus na haschuir, an méid a cuireadh i gcrích dáiríre i rith na bliana faoi chaibidil agus táscairí gnóthachtála don bhliain reatha. Ós rud é gurb í seo an chéad bhliain den chur chuige nua, is iad na haschuir sa ráiteas ná iad siúd a mholtar do 2007; ní thosnóidh an tuairisciú ar a bhfuil bainte amach i leith na spriocanna go dtí an bhliain seo chugainn.
Tá cóipeanna de ráiteas bliantúil aschurtha mo Roinne don bhliain 2007 tugtha cheana féin do chomhaltaí an choiste. Ós rud é gur bliain idirthréimhseach í an bhliain seo, chuir mo Roinn nóta eolais ar an sean-chruth ar fáil don choiste freisin. I gcomhréir le cur chuige nua an Aire Airgeadais, tá sé i gceist agam, mar sin, agus mé ag cur síos ar roinnt réimse eochrach caiteachais a bhfuil freagracht dhíreach orm féin astu, cloí leis na cinnteidil straitéiseacha atá leagtha amach ins an ráiteas bliantúil aschurtha.
Ansin, scaoilfidh mé le mo chomhghleacaí, an tAire Stáit, an Teachta Noel Ahern, a labhróidh faoi na gnéithe sin den chlár forbartha áitiúla agus pobail a bhaineann leis an earnáil phobail agus dheonach, mar aon leis an gclár i leith mí-úsáid drugaí. Déileálfaidh sé freisin le Vóta 24, a bhaineann le hOifig Choimisinéirí na hÉireann um Thabhartais agus Tiomnachtaí Carthanacha.
Déanfaidh mé cur síos anois ar chlár 1, forbairt áitiúil agus pobail. Tá sé mar sprioc ag an gclár forbartha áitiúla agus pobail misneach a thabhairt do phobail agus éascaíocht a dhéanamh dóibh, le béim speisialta ar áiteanna faoi mhíbhuntáiste, chun dul chun cinn sóisialta agus eacnamaíoch a lorg sna háiteanna sin. Tá €190 milliún, nó 36% d'acmhainní mo Roinne, á leithdháileadh don chlár seo i 2007.
Is mian liom tagairt ghairid a dhéanamh do roinnt de na fo-chláir faoin gceannteideal seo. Is é an chéad cheann acu ná an clár sheirbhísí phobail. Tá €52 milliún leithdháilte don chlár sheirbhísí phobail, a bhfuil sé mar aidhm aige tacú le hobair phobail logánta i gcoinne an mhíbhuntáiste, agus ag an am gcéanna deiseanna fostaíochta a sholáthar do dhaoine ina gceantair féin. Is ionann é seo agus méadú de 34% ar an gcaiteachas i 2006, agus tá €10 milliún breise i gcomhréir le ceangaltais sa chomhaontas I dTreo 2016 san áireamh.
Maidir le cláir forbartha áitiúla agus pobail, tá leithdháileadh €56 milliún á chur ar fáil don chlár forbartha áitiúla um chuimsiú sóisialta, LDSIP, sa bhliain 2007. Is ionann é seo agus méadú 19% ar chaiteachas 2006.
Tá figiúr difriúil sa leagan Gaeilge. Tá €56.1 milliún luaite sa leagan Gaeilge agus €52 milliún sa leagan Béarla.
Sa leagan Béarla, tá €56.1 milliún luaite. Is é an community service programme a bheas ag fáil €52 milliún, agus is é an chéad cheann eile an LDSIP.
Is ionann é seo agus méadú 19% ar chaiteachas 2006. Cabhróidh an méid seo le leathnú an chláir ar fud na tíre. Tá mé sásta go mbeidh muid in ann feabhas a chur ar an gclár i rith thréimhse an phlean forbartha náisiúnta nua le freastal orthu siúd is mó atá ar leataobh agus spriocghrúpaí nua, i gcomhréir le cláir agus scéimeanna eile do chuimsiú sóisialta.
There will be improved co-ordination of local and community development schemes. A total of 21 county and city development boards received cohesion funding in 2006. The current allocation of €2.2 million will be focused on addressing requirements in a small number of areas that have yet to submit agreed cohesion plans. The intention is that in any given area, one body will be responsible for delivering local and community development schemes on behalf of the Department.
With regard to the RAPID programme, which targets the most disadvantaged urban areas of the country, I am pleased that the capital allocation of my Department's programme has been maintained, at €7.8 million. That funding will continue to support small-scale local actions through co-funding with other Departments or agencies. The projected output targets for the community and local development programme include 60 integrated local and rural development structures in place, 31,500 adults supported under local and community development programme services for the unemployed, 1,900 people employed under the community services programme, and 46 RAPID areas, with projects relating to CCTV installations, school enhancement, playground schemes, estate enhancement and traffic-calming measures.
Turning to the rural development programme, a total of €109 million was allocated in 2007 to enable the Department to provide a range of supports and investment programmes designed to support and foster rural communities. CLÁR, with funding of €18.6 million, will continue in 2007 to build on successes achieved to date in regenerating rural areas. Expenditure of some €71 million over 2002-06 leveraged a further estimated €61 million in related public and private expenditure into areas that would otherwise have been at the bottom of the list for infrastructural investment.
The 2007 provision for the current expenditure of the Western Development Commission has increased by 13%, to €2.495 million. Allocations to the western investment fund have increased significantly in recent years, and a further 16 investments valued at €7.5 million were approved in 2006. The fund is being maintained in 2007, with a further €4 million being provided.
Tá leithdháileadh €950,000 á dhéanamh i leith an chiste forbartha tuaithe i 2007 le tacaíocht a thabhairt do thaighde i leith forbartha tuaithe agus do ghníomhaíochtaí thrialacha le forbairt polasaí a éascú. Tá €150,000 den iomlán seo ag dul do Chomhairle na Tuaithe.
Tá cúpla gné ar leith ag baint leis an Mheastachán i 2007 do na cláir LEADER. Tá soláthar do thionscadail a chríochnaigh i rith babhta maoinithe 2000-06 san áireamh i leithdháileadh €26 milliún d'fho-mhírcheann Q2. Tá me ag déanamh soláthair freisin do mhaoiniú eatramhach i leith grúpaí LEADER san idirthréimhse roimh thosú chlár nua forbartha tuaithe 2007-2013, agus gníomhaíocht i leith tionscadail breise san áireamh.
Ta Clár Forbartha Tuaithe 2007-2013 dréachtaithe, tar éis comhairliúcháin forleitheadaigh, agus tá sé seo á phlé leis an gCoimisiún Eorpach faoi láthair. Tá leithdháileadh €5 milliún á dhéanamh faoi fho-mhírcheann Q5 do chostais tosaigh i leith an chláir seo i 2007.
Tá leithdháileadh €44.625 milliún á dhéanamh don scéim shóisialta tuaithe i mbliana, ina n-áirítear maoiniú chaipitil €1.5 milliún. Ó dheireadh 2004 i leith, tá méadú ar an líon daoine atá ag glacadh páirte sa scéim, ó 851 rannpháirtí agus 48 maor go 2,600 áit rannpháirtíochta agus 130 áit mhaoirseachta leithdháilte, mar atá faoi láthair.
Ar na spriocanna aschurtha tuartha don chlár forbartha tuaithe tá: 200 post lán-aimseartha cruthaithe agus 250 gnóthas nua faoi thacaíocht ag LEADER nó an clár náisiúnta forbartha tuaithe; 1,300 tionscadal faoi thacaíocht ag an scéim shóisialta tuaithe, le 2,600 rannpháirtí ag leanúint ar an scéim; agus 190 post faoi thacaíocht ag Ciste Infheistíochta an Iarthair.
Maidir le forbairt na Gaeltachta agus na n-oileán, is ionann agus méadú 6% ar chaiteachas 2006 an leithdháileadh €95 milliún do chláir i leith chur chun cinn, chothú agus chaomhnú na Gaeilge i measc phobal na Gaeltachta agus i leith fhorbairt na n-oileán.
Tá €4 milliún á sholáthar arís i mbliana don scéim deontais tithíochta sa Ghaeltacht. Beidh deontais iníoctha freisin i mbliana do shealbhóirí cáilithe tithe sa Ghaeltacht atá ag soláthar loistín do mhic léinn atá ag freastal ar choláistí samhraidh aitheanta. Cuideoidh na deontais seo le costas oibreacha a íoc atá faoi bhun i gcomhréir leis na treoirlínte slándála tine a eisíodh ag an Roinn Comhshaoil, Oidhreachta agus Rialtais Áitiúil.
Tá €9.85 milliún á dháileadh ar scéimeanna cultúrtha agus sóisialta sa Ghaeltacht. Tá breis is €5 milliún á leithdháileadh i leith deontas iníoctha do lucht tí sa Ghaeltacht atá ag soláthar lóistín do mhic léinn atá ag freastail ar chúrsaí Gaeilge aitheanta. Is é an mórleithdháileadh eile faoin gceannteideal seo ná €4.15 milliún le tacaíocht le heagrais sa Ghaeltacht a bhfuil caomhnú na Gaeilge mar bhunfheidhm acu.
Maidir le scéimeanna feabhsúcháin sa Ghaeltacht, bhí ar chumas mo Roinne, i gcomhairle leis na húdaráis áitiúla, oibreacha faoi chlár na mbóithre straitéiseacha, a bhí le críochnú faoin gclár ilbhliantúil, a luathú agus a chríochnú i 2006. De bharr an tionscnaimh seo tá clár na mbóithre straitéiseacha sa Ghaeltacht go mór chun tosaigh ar na spriocanna.
Maidir leis na hOileáin i gcoitinne, tá leithdháileadh €27.9 milliún á chur ar fáil i 2007; méadú é seo de 61% ar sholáthar 2006. Cuirfidh an maoiniú seo ar chumas mo Roinne leanúint le forbairt na n-oileán trí réimse beart a chur i bhfeidhm le feabhas a chur ar an bhonneagar eacnamaíoch, shóisialta agus fisiciúil. Gné thábhachtach den chlár seo is ea tosú ar thógáil mór-aiseanna céibhe, idir nua agus feabhsaithe, ar na hOileáin Árann ar chostas a mheastar ag breis agus €50 milliún.
Maidir le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta, léirigh na torthaí ag deireadh 2006 go raibh 7,953 post lánaimseartha i ngnólachtaí a fuair cúnamh on údarás; gur cruthaíodh 1,186 post as an nua, i gcomparáid le sprioc na bliana de 800 sa chlár náisiúnta forbartha; agus go raibh glanmhéadú de 295 ar líon na bpost don bhliain, an tríú huair ón bhliain 2000 gur tharla glanmhéadú.
Tá leithdháileadh €38.944 milliún don údarás i 2007 mar seo leanas: riarachán €11.724 milliún, cláir reatha €4.72 milliún agus cláir chaipitil €22.5 milliún. Caithfear 20%, ar a laghad, den soláthar seo a infheistiú i dtionscadail ina bhfuil ait lárnach ag an Ghaeilge. Ar na spriocanna aschurtha tuartha do chlár forbartha na Gaeltachta agus n-oileán, tá 800 post nua á gcruthú agus tacaíocht ón údarás do 7,950 post lánaimseartha atá ann cheana féin; 12 tionscadal bhóithre straitéiseacha agus 40 tionscadal muiroibreacha; 24,700 mac léinn ag freastal ar choláistí Gaeilge; agus leathnú ar thionscnaimh Ghaeilge sa Ghaeltacht.
Beidh a fhios ag comhaltaí an choiste go bhfuil ról suntasach ag mo Roinnse ag tacú le húsáid na Gaeilge ar fud na tíre lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht. Tá €8 milliún á dhíriú ar an gcuspóir seo i 2007.
Maoiníonn Ciste na Gaeilge eagraíochtaí agus tionscadail a bhfuil sé d'aidhm acu an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn. Sé an leithdháileadh a mholtar do 2007 ná €4.539 milliún.
Tá €731,000 á sholáthar d'Oifig An Choimisinéir Teanga, atá lonnaithe ar an Spidéal, i gContae na Gaillimhe, agus a bhfuil foireann cúigear duine ann le cabhrú leis an gcoimisinéir ina chuid oibre. Tá tríúr foireann breise á leithdháileadh ar an oifig i 2007.
Tá áthas ar leith orm go bhfuil me in ann a rá leis an gcoiste go bhfuiltear ag leanúint sna Meastacháin do 2007 leis an mhaoiniú €1 milliún a soláthraíodh ar dtús i 2006 le cabhrú le soláthar luathaithe do chúrsaí áirithe Ghaeilge sa tríú leibhéal, le freastal ar riachtanais ag teacht as aitheantas an AE ar an Ghaeilge mar theanga oibre iomlán.
Ar na spriocanna aschurtha tuartha don chlár chun na Gaeilge a chur chun cinn agus a chothú tá maoiniú 13 tionscadal atá ann cheana féin agus dhá cheann nua faoi scáth Chiste na Gaeilge. Tá seacht gcúrsa nua le forbairt/cur i bhfeidhm faoi scáth an tionscnaimh um ardscileanna Gaeilge.
Tá ról mo Roinne i leith fhorbairt chomhoibriú Thuaidh/Theas dírithe ar obair dhá chomhlacht forfheidhmithe Thuaidh/Theas, An Foras Teanga, atá comhdhéanta d'Fhoras na Gaeilge agus Bord na hUltaise/Tha Boord o Ulster-Scotch, agus Uiscebhealaí Éireann. Tá freagracht ar mo Roinn freisin, tré mheán Pobal agus an Gníomhaireacht do Chomhrac na Bochtaineachta, ag feidhmiú le cheile mar Border Action, ag seachadadh deich mbeart faoin chlár síochána ins na sé chontae Teorannacha agus dhá bheart tras-Teorannach i gcomhpháirt le Foras Phobail Thuaiscirt Éireann agus Chomhoibriú Éireann. Tá iomlán thart ar €68 milliún á dhíriú chuig obair mo Ranna-sa i leith chomhoibriú Thuaidh/Theas i 2007.
Tá an leithdháileadh €15.683 milliún don bhForas Teanga do 2007, roinnte idir Foras na Gaeilge, le €14.898 milliún, agus Bord na hUltaise/Tha Boord o Ulster-Scots le €0.785 milliún.
With regard to the PEACE and INTERREG programmes, a substantial allocation of €13.536 million is being made available to fund approved projects in 2007. Expenditure under these programmes is now progressing satisfactorily after a slow start in the early part of the decade.
Finally, the provision for Waterways Ireland, at €37.04 million, represents an increase of 9% on last year's outturn. The capital allocation of €11 million includes provision for the new headquarters building at Enniskillen, which will commence this year. The projected output targets for the North-South co-operation programme include: the provision of 490 metres of moorings by Waterways Ireland; 98% of the waterways network to remain navigable between April and October; a range of projects to be supported under PEACE and INTERREG; 20 community projects funded by Foras na Gaeilge; and a number of initiatives by the Ulster-Scots Agency.
Members will, I am sure, be pleased to note that the annual output statement provides a mechanism for the attribution of administrative costs to operational programmes. In this first year, overheads such as the costs of the finance or human resource functions, or indeed my own ministerial office, have been attributed on a pro rata basis across the programme areas. We hope to further develop our capability in this regard under this new system to better address the costing of programmes and schemes in future annual output statements.
As I indicated in my opening remarks, this year marks the beginning of a new approach to the Estimates process debate. I would welcome any suggestions that members may wish to make as to how the annual output statement can be further developed to achieve the objective of increased openness and transparency in the Estimates debate set out by the Minister for Finance when launching this initiative. I will, of course, be happy to expand on any matter that members may wish to raise but, meanwhile, I will pass over to my colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Noel Ahern.
A script has been circulated so I will summarise.
The community development programme and the drugs and young people programme under Vote 27 fall within my remit along with a few other areas under Vote 24.
The script has not been circulated and we are not dealing with Vote 24. The Minister of State can give us the salient points.
Programme one covers community development. Funding this year is €21.697 million and 187 core projects receive core funding. The programme has been endorsed in the new national development plan so during 2007 we will see the emergence of a successor programme that we will put in place in consultation with the stakeholders. We also have a grants package for funded projects under the CDP.
Locally-based community grants are being provided to support a broad cross section of locally based community and voluntary organisations to fund the purchase of equipment and the refurbishment of premises, as well as funding education, training and research initiatives. Under last year's programme we did not apply a closing date to the scheme for refurbishment grants and in the planning of this year's programme, for which €3 million has been allocated, we will look at the impact that had.
There is also an allocation of €3 million for the scheme for the support of older persons. One change introduced last year was that there was no fixed closing date for applications. This was well received by the local groups because they often complained that the week after they put in their annual application, they needed extra funding. There is a fall-off in the take-up of the scheme. It has been going for ten years and it is demand driven. I am not sure if it is a case of the majority of older people having met their security needs or more having mobile telephones. It may be a case that the moneys spent in the past ten years have satisfied the needs. We will continue working with local community groups.
Regarding the White Paper on supporting voluntary activity, the current funding schemes will cease in 2007. Funding was provided for federations, networks and umbrella bodies in the sector, training and supports in the sector and the national anti-poverty networks. The Department is reviewing the current White Paper funding arrangements and will advertise a new scheme soon.
The Department will continue to promote volunteering, with the allocation for 2007 including additional funding of €5 million agreed under Towards 2016. Following the publication of the report of the task force on active citizenship, we will announce how additional funding will be allocated.
I am delighted to have secured an allocation of €50 million for 2007, an increase of 16%, on the allocation for 2006 on tackling drugs. This level of funding is noteworthy as it follows on from large increases in the previous two years. The €50 million provision shows an increase of 87% on the corresponding figure for 2004. The areas of expenditure covered by the provision include the 14 local drugs task forces in Dublin, Bray and Cork, the ten regional drugs task forces, the premises initiative for capital works, the young people's facilities and services fund, the national advisory committee on drugs and the administrative expenses of the national drugs strategy team. The local drugs task forces have 440 individual projects which broadly focus on the areas of prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and research. This year I expect to achieve the full implementation of the 67 projects identified by communities and approved by me under the emerging needs fund. The funding for the regional drugs task forces will be doubled because they are ramping up their plans for a three-year period. It will ensure the drugs problem is being targeted comprehensively on a national basis.
The premises initiative is provided to meet the accommodation needs of community-based drugs projects. It was confined to local drugs task force areas but recently I made it available to regional drugs task forces. An allocation in excess of €17 million is being made to the young people's facilities and services fund. This fund, which has a target group of 10-21 year olds, assists in the development of youth facilities and services in disadvantaged areas where a significant drug problem exists or has the potential to develop. The allocation will cover the continued funding of more than 470 projects.
Between 600 and 700 jobs at community level have been created by these projects. This will ensure that the next generation will know more about drugs and hopefully will stay away from them. All projects begin as pilot projects. After several years, they are evaluated and mainstreamed. Up to €25 million in funding has been mainstreamed from the Department to other agencies such as the HSE and local authorities. This is on top of the €50 million administered by the Department. Last year, it was calculated how much was spent on treatment by the health services, policing and costs to other agencies. The figure came to €200 million to tackle the drugs problem.
The projected output targets for tackling the drugs misuse programme include 200 facilities and 123 services under the young people's facilities and services fund, 322 projects under local drugs task force action plans and 202 projects under the regional drugs task force action plans.
An allocation of €465,000 is being made available for the charitable donations and bequests office in 2007 to meet the salaries and administrative costs of the office. Much progress has been made with the drafting of the charities Bill and I hope it will be published before the Dáil comes back after Easter.
The CLÁR programme has had a massive impact and was one of the cleverest schemes established. Funding is allocated for research into supporting rural development. Will this ask for people on the ground to come forward with new proposals for the CLÁR programme? The small grants given by the community development programme are making an impact on local communities — it is almost the smaller the grant, the larger the impact.
On the reduction in the demand for grant aid from the scheme for the elderly, the rules changed on applications for security measures. In small communities, it may have hindered the process with people concerned about others being nosey. Originally to apply for a grant, one simply identified the older people in the area. It changed when the financial backgrounds of the applicants were sought. In a small community, this was felt to be nosey as volunteers did not want to ask an applicant about income details. I accept the Minister would be hauled before the Committee of Public Accounts if there was no element of accountability in the programme.
The committee would like to be kept informed as to when the Department of the Taoiseach receives the recommendations on the active citizenship task force. I would be interested in more information about the sports development officers. Capital development for sports has been very welcome but volunteering is in decline and we now provide more capital services. Social capital, however, is important so we should look at initiatives involving sports development officers that are aimed at preventing drug use. We will publish two of the reports before the end of March, one on drugs in Waterford and the other on the impact of alcohol advertising in sports.
The point has been often been made by groups appearing before the committee that there is a lack of high dependency beds, particularly for young people, around the country. Has there been interdepartmental co-operation to deliver more beds or to centralise funding? Whiteoaks in Donegal works with addiction to both alcohol and drugs and we have called for the inclusion of alcohol in the national drugs strategy. A sub-committee is looking at that area. Has there been any feedback from it since its establishment in December?
We talk about a link between sport and healthy living and avoiding drugs and alcohol. Could the the Minister help us to get something going with in the arts field that offers useful community engagement, with a small grant for marching bands?
Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire agus an Aire Stáit agus gabhaim buíochas díofa leis an eolas a chuir siad ar fáil faoi imeachtaí agus caiteachas na Ranna.
Tá an oiread sin scéimeanna ann sa Roinn anois le deontais a dháileadh amach agus le hiarratais a chur isteach go mbeadh ar dhuine a bheith ina genius le bheith suas chun data leo go léir. Tá roinnt againn anseo le blianta fada agus níl a fhios againn go fóill an bhfuil aon deireadh leis an méid scéimeanna gur féidir úsáid agus tairbhe a bhaint astu.
Is mór an trua nach bhfuil córas níos simplí againn leis sin a dhéanamh. B'fhéidir go bhfuil daoine amuigh ansin ag a bhfuil cásanna maithe agus nach bhfuil a fhios acu faoina scéimeanna ar chor ar bith. Seans go bhfuil dualgas orm agus ar mo mhacasamhail sin a chur in iúl dóibh ach muna bhfuil an t-eolas againn féin, tá sé deacair bheith eolach fúthu go léir.
Tá clú agus cáil ar an Aire go bhfuil sparán gan tóin aige, cosúil le "Séanna" ag an Athair Peadar. Fuair Séanna sparán agus nuair a rinne sé conradh le duine, is cuma cad a tharraingeodh amach as an sparán, bhí níos mó ann. Is rud maith é sin don Aire, go bhfuil teacht aige ar an oiread sin airgid. Nuair a bhímid ag éisteacht le Raidió na Gaeltachta, is beag uair d'aon lá nach mbíonn deá-scéal do dhream éigin in áit éigin sa tír. Faigheann scoil €1,000 le soilse a chur suas agus dream eile €200 le soilse a thabhairt anuas. Tá cláracha RAPID, Leader agus CLÁR ann. Tá airgead á chaitheamh.
An cheist a chaithfimid a chur, áfach, ná an bhfuil muid ag fáil toradh ceart ar an airgead atá á chaitheamh. An bhfuil sé ag dul chun tairbhe do cheantair tuaithe agus do chathracha na hÉireann? An bhfuil straitéis ann taobh amuigh den airgead a chaitheamh? Is rud maith airgead a chaitheamh ach caithfidh straitéis a bheith taobh thiar de. Daoine atá ina gcónaí faoin tuath, nuair a amharcann siad thart, cuireann siad an cheist an bhfuil rudaí ag dul i bhfeabhas nó nach bhfuil. Tá go leor daoine a shíleann go bhfuil seirbhísí faoin tuath ag dul i gcúl in áit ag dul chun tosaigh. For instance, the Department of Health and Children told us €3 billion was spent five years ago, €6 billion two years ago and €12 billion is being spent this year but has there been any improvement? A lot of money has been spent but has there been any cost-benefit analysis? Are we getting a return on the money we have spent because many people believe services in rural areas are not improving?
In the last five years, 500 post offices have been closed, most of them in remote areas. If rumours are correct, 500 more are to follow in the coming years. These provide essential services for rural communities and many of the elderly and disadvantaged depend on such facilities. They do not have the means to travel to get these services, resulting in extra costs for them. A rural transport initiative is being put in place but will it be sufficient to replace the services people have become accustomed to for generations? Is the Minister satisfied that this money, which we all welcome, is having lasting results for those living in these areas?
Dá rachaimis fríd gach rud, bheimis anseo go deireadh na Casca agus ina dhiaidh sin ní bheimis anseo, cé go mbeidh cuid againn ar ais.
D'fhéadfaimis bheith anseo go dtí 6 Meitheamh.
Ní dhéarfainn go dtarlóidh sin.
Tá dílárú ag dul ar aghaidh i Roinn an Aire féin, decentralisation is proceeding satisfactorily in the Minister's own Department. I am interested in dílárú. Cathain a bheidh earcaíocht á dhéanamh agus daoine a fhostú i nDún na nGall faoi chúram Fhoras na Gaeilge? Tuigim go bhfuil pleananna ag an Aire so cathain a bheith muid in ann bheith ag súil go mbeidh dul chun cinn sa chás sin?
An bhfuil ardú i gcaiteachas ar Fhoras na Gaeilge i mbliana? An bhfuil an tAire sásta leis an dóigh mar atá sé ag gníomhú agus an bhfuil an easpa dul chun cinn sa pholaitíocht ó Thuaidh ag cur isteach ar éifeacht an fhorais? Cuirim fáilte roimh an phríomh-fheidhmeannach úr atá ceaptha, Ferdia Mac An Fhailigh, as an taobh Thuaidh é ach tá eolas maith aige ar an taobh Theas, agus tá súil agam go n-éireoidh go maith leis ina dhualgais nua.
Tá íocaíocht le Ciste na Gaeilge, Bord na Leabhar Gaeilge, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe, Iomairt Cholm Cille agus Bord na Gaeilge. An bhfuil mórán ar siúl acu i láthair na huaire? An bhfuil foilseacháin á gcur amach? Tá amharclann cosúil leis an Taibhdhearc againn féin, Amharclann Ghaoth Dobhair agus níl a fhios agam an bhfuil sí ar lorg aon dheontas má tá a leithéid ann.
Faoi uimhir 10, tá scéimeanna cultúrtha agus sóisialta. Tá lúcháir orm go bhfuil ardú ann do scéim na bhfoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge agus do na mná tí. Cuirimid fáilte roimhe sin agus dá mbeadh breis le fáil acu, chuirfimis fáilte roimhe sin chomh maith. Tá mé i gcoinne fo-mhírcheann G — scéimeanna feabhsúcháin sa Ghaeltacht. Déanadh aschasadh sealadach €21.157 milliúin i 2006. Nuair a thagaimid go dtí Meastacháin 2007, feicimid go bhfuil an figiúr áirithe €10 milliúin. Níor tugadh aon míniú dom. An bhfuil titim i gceist? B'fhéidir nach bhfuil mé in ann na staitisticí a léamh i gceart. Tá an méid airgid dos na bóithre Gaeltachta laghdaithe ó €17 milliúin go dtí €4.965 milliúin. An bhfuil an tAire in ann é sin a mhíniú?
Tá na muiroibreacha an-tábhachtach ar fad. Is é an figiúr atá agam do Mheastachán na bliana seo ná €868,000. Déanadh aschasadh sealadach €2.578 milliúin anuraidh. An bhfuil titim ar sin? Fad atá mé ag caint ar na muiroibreacha, ba mhaith liom tagairt a dhéanamh ar cheann amháin go speisialta — an balla cosanta ar an mBaile Thiar ar Oileán Thoraigh. The foundations were laid some time ago, but the protective wall was not completed. There have been some anxious nights on Tory Island during the storms of recent weeks, when some houses were endangered. Ba mhaith liom fáil amach an bhfuil sé ar intinn ag an Aire airgead a chur ar fáil fá choinne an balla sin a chríochnú. Caithfidh mé a rá go bhfuil dul chun cinn mór á dhéanamh maidir leis na hoileáin — great strides have been made. Ferry and air services are available to most of the islands. Tá mé buartha go bhfuil mé ag caint mar gheall ar fhadhbanna mo cheantar fhéin, which have been outstanding for a long time. While a great deal of progress has been made on Tory Island, which is one of the most remote of Ireland's islands, it does not have an airstrip. It has a new post-primary school, health centre, hotel agus calafort breá den chéad scoth. Cén uair gur féidir linn a bheith ag súil le dul chun cinn a dhéanamh ar an aerstráice ar Oileán Thoraigh?
Tá suim agam sa tionscnamh um ardscileanna Gaeilge. Tá mé cinnte go bhfuil suim ag an Aire ann. Sílim go bhfuil folúntas nó vacuum de chineál éigin ann i láthair na huaire. Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil an AE ag lorg daoine le ardscileanna Gaeilge, mar go bhfuil an Ghaeilge mar theanga oibre agus oifigiúil anois. Tuigim nár éirigh leis an AE daoine leis na cáilíochtaí feiliúnacha a fháil chun aistriúcháin, srl., a dhéanamh. An bhfuil an tAire agus an Rialtas chun díriú isteach ar an bhfadhb sin chun na daoine a chur ar fáil? An bhfuil siad chun a dhéanamh cinnte go bhfuil na scileanna sin ag go leor daoine chun na postanna a líonadh? Is uafásach an rud é, i ndiaidh na Gaeilge a bheith sa chóras oideachais le 80 bliain, go bhfuil easnamh ann go fóill. B'fhéidir go spriocfaidh sé daoine chun dul ar aghaidh agus ard-chaighdeán Ghaeilge a bhaint amach. Ba mhaith liom fáil amach go díreach cad atá i gceist againn fá choinne na deacrachta sin a réiteach.
An t-aon rud atá mé ag iarraidh a rá faoi Uiscebhealaí Éireann ná go bhfuaireamar go léir litir ó SIPTU, atá ag rá nach ionann na rátaí pá dóibh siúd atá fostaithe ó Thuaidh agus dóibh siúd atá fostaithe ó Dheas. I am not sure if I understand the problem properly, but I think there seems to be a difference between the salary scales which apply to those who were recruited from the North and those who were recruited from the South. SIPTU is anxious and concerned about this problem. Is the Minister giving the matter some attention? Does he agree that something has to be done? Is he willing to tolerate the difference between the two and let things be for the time being?
The Aire Stáit mentioned community and local development. He spoke about an imaginative and worthy scheme that will support older people. He has relaxed some of the conditions for the scheme — he has removed the closing dates, for example. We should support schemes when demand exists for them. I seem to recall that the Minister of State suggested that there may be a reduction in demand. I do not know why that would happen. Has there been a campaign to make people aware of the scheme? I am sure many elderly people in remote areas do not have all the facilities which they could avail of under the scheme.
Significant increases have been sanctioned to combat the misuse of drugs. While we may be addressing the problem, I do not think anybody would claim we are having great success in that regard. The drug problem, which is a feature of almost every parish in Ireland, is much worse than it was five or ten years ago. We need to rethink the present strategy because it is not adequately addressing the spreading plague of drugs. We are throwing money at the problem, but we do not seem to be solving it.
I am disappointed that the charities Bill will not be published until after Easter. We were given a briefing on the Bill last year or the year before. Similar legislation has been introduced in other countries. The Chairman and I have examined the operation of the provisions which have been made in another jurisdiction. The proposed deduction is long overdue. The Minister of State means well when he says the legislation will be introduced after Easter. He probably knows more than we do. I have doubts and reservations about the matter. Níl aon rud eile le rá agam seachas na cúpla pointe atá déanta agam.
Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire, an Aire Stáit agus oifigigh na Ranna. Gabhaim buíochas dóibh as ucht an eolais go léir a thug siad dúinn. Nuair a bhí mé i mo chomhairleoir áitiúil óg agus ag féachaint ar leabhar mór meastacháin don chéad uair, dúirt oifigeach sinsearach liom gur cleas tábhachtach ab ea é díriú isteach ar an bpictiúr mór, agus nár chóir dúinn am a chur amú ag féachaint ar na rudaí beaga. Is dóigh liom go raibh an ceart ag an bhfear úd. The Minister, Deputy Ó Cuív, concluded his statement by saying he would "welcome any suggestions that members may wish to make as to how the annual output statement can be further developed to achieve the objective of increased openness and transparency in the Estimates debate". Tá laghdú mór á teastáil i líon na bpáipéar a chuirtear os ár gcomhair. De réir mar is eol dom, ciallaíonn "output" airgead atá caite agus rudaí atá déanta. Táimid ag díriú ar an méad a bheidh á dhéanamh ag an Roinn sa bhliain atá le teacht.
Ba mhaith liom labhairt ar an rud is tábhachtaí sa ráiteas, de réir mar a fheicim é. Conas a d‘éirigh leis an Roinn a chuid cuspóirí a chur in áit? Conas a d'éirigh leis an Aire é sin a dhéanamh i rith na bliana? Tá sé thar a bheith éasca airgead a chaitheamh, ach tá sé níos tábhachtaí agus níos práinní díriú isteach ar an chaoi a dhéanann an Roinn a chuid oibre. Is oth liom a rá nach bhfuil rudaí áirithe ag dul ar aghaidh go maith. My view on the Irish language is that we are not succeeding. The Minister, Deputy Ó Cuív, has a proclivity to put too much faith in the ability of legislation to drive the revival or restoration of the language to a certain level.
I will make some brief points about certain issues relating to the great deal of money being spent in that regard. We do not have any independent measure of the effectiveness of the various projects in achieving their objectives. One of the weaknesses in this instance is that we have not specified our objectives in regard to the Gaeltacht, for example. What specifically is the State trying to achieve as regards Irish language usage in the Gaeltacht? We need an objective way of measuring the success or otherwise of the Department's policies and efforts to develop those areas where the language is still alive to varying degrees.
The Chairman mentioned this committee's examination of the drugs problem. The Minister of State, Deputy Noel Ahern, mentioned the increasing amount of money being spent on combating the problem. Many argue that not enough funds are being provided. If we focus on nothing other than money and resources, we will miss the point. This annual statement is missing the point that we need to concentrate on the success of the nation in dealing with the ubiquitous problem of drug use. While I could raise many issues in this regard, I do not intend to start a debate on the drugs issue. We need objective ways of measuring the success of the various efforts being made. The mid-term review of the drugs strategy was an in-house operation, as I understand it. Money spent in pursuit of various objectives needs to be the subject of regular and independent examination and scrutiny. I do not just mean that accountants should look at the figures; we should consider whether the policies being pursued are working, what is being achieved with them and where we are going in overall terms.
The Minister has mentioned that €2.2 million is to be spent on improving the co-ordination of local and community groups. He explained the achievements in that regard to date. I accept that new structures been put in place, but has there been an actual improvement in the level of co-ordination and delivery? I have yet to be convinced about many of these matters. Major issues need to be considered. It is obvious that none of the schemes being recommended by the Minister will be in place by the time the general election takes place. I will not revisit the debate on whether it will take place before or after Easter.
The Minister has commissioned research on the boundaries of the Gaeltacht. A feature of the history of the Department is that it examines many issues and produces many reports, but I am not sure it concerns itself sufficiently with the effectiveness of the delivery of services. Anybody can give the committee an account of the spending of money and the development of structures. It can be difficult for the Opposition to keep track of the activities of the Department because it is an enabling Department. Its money is distributed to other agencies. It is not always possible to pursue accountability in this regard through the normal process of asking Dáil questions. If we ask questions about the subjects on which the Minister issues statements, we are told we are not allowed to raise such issues. The Department was put together to facilitate a Minister who had an interest in, and commitment to, the Irish language and the Gaeltacht. It was given other responsibilities in order that it could seem like a full Department, but it does not have a coherent remit.
The structure put in place to suit the Minister and the Minister of State was inherited by civil servants who have to work within that framework. A good framework has not been created, however, as this is a difficult Department to deal with politically. It is not always easy for one to get information on the issues one wants to pursue, bearing in mind the strategies in place. I doubt that the Department will survive the changes which will take place after the next general election, which will make the question of how next year's annual output will be put together somewhat academic. It is the interests of taxpayers and everybody else to ensure there is more direct accountability in the Chamber. We need to change the structure in order that we can ask questions on the matters about which the Minister tends to issue many statements. We cannot always pursue him because he is not answerable to the Dáil in respect of some of the issues with which he deals.
If this process is to become meaningful, it has to be about what is and is not achieved. We need to engage in a debate based on good, scientific, objective and independent information. If Opposition Deputies are to be able to make much better suggestions about how matters can improve, we need to be supported in our efforts to ascertain what has and has not succeeded. This exercise is meaningless — no more than a formality that has to be observed once a year — if it does not help the Department, the Minister, the Minister of State and Opposition spokespersons to better serve the people. Essentially, there is not a great deal to it.
Ba mhaith liom díriú isteach ar roinnt de na mionphointí anois. Tá áthas orm go raibh ardú de 295 an bhliain seo caite sa mhéid postanna a chruthaigh Údarás na Gaeltachta. An bhfuil eolas ag an Aire ar na postanna nua a chruthaíodh? B'fhéidir nach bhfuil an eolas sin aige faoi láthair. An bhfuil postanna nua-aimseartha i gceist? Conas atá cúrsaí ag dul ar aghaidh ó thaobh postanna nua-aimseartha a chur ar bun sna Gaeltachtaí? Más féidir níos mó postanna nua-aimseartha le tuarastail maithe ag dul leo a chur ar fáil, beidh seans níos fearr go bhfanfaidh daoine óga sa Ghaeltacht go buan. Tá eagla orm go ndruidfidh siad a bhfuil oideachais ollscoile bainte amach acu ó na Gaeltachtaí.
An bhfuil aon eagraíocht nó tionscnamh i ndáilcheantair Phort Láirge ag fáil airgid ó Coiste na Gaeilge faoi láthair? Tá airgead ón gcoiste sin ag dul go príomha do Bhord na Leabhar Gaeilge, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe agus Iomairt Colmcille. Cé mhéad go díreach atá á thabhairt go gach ceann de na heagraíochtaí sin? De réir freagra a thug an tAire sa Dáil an tseachtain seo caite, tá 43 scéimeanna Gaeilge ceadaithe agus foilsithe aige faoi Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003, agus tá 70 cinn eile á ullmhú aige ag an nóimeád. Tá sin aisteach nuair a smaoiníonn duine go bhfuil 770 eagras ann atá faoi réim an Achta. Cén fáth go bhfuil an mhoill sin ann? Cén fáth nach bhfuil an próiseas ag dul ar aghaidh níos tapúla? Tá triúr breise ag dul go hoifig an choimisinéara. Níl mé ag fáil lochta air sin ach cén fáth go bhfuil siad ag teastáil?
Thug an tAire an figiúr dúinn ar líon na bhfoghlaimeoirí i scéim na bhfoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge a chuaigh go dtí an Ghaeltacht — 24,700. Cad iad na Gaeltachtaí ina bhfuil an chuid is mó coláistí samhraidh anois? Dúirt an tAire liom nach raibh an freagra aige roimhe seo nuair a chuir mé an cheist ach cén maith a thagann as freastal na bpáistí ar an coláistí samhraidh? Conas a fheabhsaíonn seo úsáid na Gaeilge taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht?
Tá tuilleadh ceisteanna agam. Tá €1 milliún curtha ar fáil don Ghaeilge ag an tríú leibhéal agus ba cheart sin a chur ar fáil ag an cheathrú leibhéal fosta. Cén ollscoileanna agus institiúidí a gheobhaidh an t-airgead seo?
Gabhaim buíochas don Chathaoirleach faoi na rudaí deasa a dúirt sí faoi CLÁR. Bíonn ceist á cur cén tionchar atá ag na scéimeanna. An chéad rud a thagann isteach i m'intinn ná líon na ndaoine go bhfuil uisce acu anois de bharr an airgid breise a chuir mé ar fáil do na ghrúpa-scéimeanna uisce nach raibh soláthraithe le huisce cheana. Ní dóigh liom gur gá mórán athscrúduithe a dhéanamh ar rud mar sin mar is buncheart é.
An rud céanna faoi dhaoine ag a raibh droch-bhóithre. Tá a fhios ag chuile duine an tábhacht a bhaineann le bóthar chuig teach. Is ceist do na comhairlí condae déanamh cinnte go bhfuil na bóithre sin déanta go maith ach níl aon amhras ann ach go bhfuil na rudaí sin riachtanach agus ní féidir maireachtáil faoin tuath gan iad. Díríonn CLÁR isteach ar na rudaí sin, ag féachaint ar na rudaí bunúsacha a chur ar fáil don phobal.
The Chairman mentioned the marching bands and I agree. It is an issue that seems to have no home and a home must be found for it.
I will keep banging the drum.
The Chairman should keep banging the drum, although I will not promise to play any instrument because I am tone deaf.
I agree with Deputy McGinley that there are many schemes but if we tried to get rid of any one of them there is no doubt that we would soon be surrounded by people arguing the scheme is necessary. We have tried to simplify schemes. We recently announced some improvements that would make CLÁR easier to access. We changed the one off grants, got rid of the closing dates for refurbishment grants and made access to security for the elderly grants more amenable. We are constantly examining how we administer schemes and disseminate information. Under the CLÁR scheme, the leaflets are useful because there is a compendium of every scheme. Every year we publish the beneficiaries so people can contact them to find out how they applied. It is a useful exercise. The Internet is also one of the best ways to make information available.
We get value for money. I am not saying there is never a case where money is provided but not used perfectly. If we insisted on the total elimination of mistakes or misspending, we would do nothing. Generally, however, there are good processes in place to ensure money is well spent. The bóithre straitéiseacha in the Gaeltacht are a good example. The experience of driving from Gleann Cholm Cille as far as Cill Charthaigh has changed radically and I do not need an expert to tell me that, the local people will tell me. We are now working on the road to Mín na nAoire, we have done many roads in the Gaeltacht Lár, tá muid ag tosú ar an mbóthar go Machaire Rabhartaigh.
As the committee is aware, in the Donegal context, there was an understanding with the county council that it would concentrate on the bóthar cúl na hEargaile if we concentrated on the roads so there was co-operation there and for that reason the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government went into the bóthar cúl na Eargaile while other roads were done with money from my Department. It still left every Gaeltacht area with greatly improved roads. It sometimes creates uncertainty in Dublin if there is an impression that we are not getting results. In Conamara, the Gaeltacht area where there has been investment can be distinguished from the Galltacht. We now must bring the western Galltacht areas up to the same level because there is a notable difference in investment and the same is true in Achill and in Béal an Mhuiread.
Rinneadh tagairt do dhúnadh na hoifigí poist. Tá go leor fadhbanna roimh cheantair tuaithe in Éireann. Bhí plé le gairid faoi tithe tábhairne agus siopaí. Nuair a tháinig mise go Corr na Móna bhí cúig siopa ar an bhFairche agus trí siopa i gCorr na Móna le péire eile ar an Mám. Níl inniu ach trí acu fágtha. Ní raibh aon cheann de na siopaí sin ag déanamh maireachtála a sheasfadh sa lá atá inniu. Bhí go leor acu páirt-aimseartha agus go leor ar chaighdeán íseal. Tá an saol ag athrú. Cloisim go bhfuil caint i nGaoth Dobhair agus i gConamara ar ollmhargaidh móra agus siopaí ag oscailt atá in ann dhul san iomaíocht leis na siopaí sna bailte móra.
Má tá muid macánta faoi cheist na tuaithe, breathnóimid ar an rud atá pobal na tuaithe a dhéanamh. Níl siad sásta anois dhul chuig siopa beag bídeach nach bhfuil rogha ann agus atá i bhfad níos daoire ná siopa 30 míle síos an bóthar sa mbaile mór. Mar sin, mura bhfuil muid sásta glacadh le hathrú, gheobhaidh an tuath bás. Má tá muid ag iarraidh an rud a bhí ann a chaomhnú i gcónaí, seachas rudaí nua agus cur chuige nua a chur ann, beidh deireadh leis an tuath. Cuirim fáilte roimh chuid de na siopaí nua atá oscailte. Feicim i gConamara iad agus tá fíor-ardchaighdeán iontu agus go leor daoine fostaithe iontu. B'fhéidir nach bhfuil an oiread céanna siopaí ach tá beagnach an oiread céanna fostaithe iontu. Tá praghasanna réasúnta iomaíoch iontu fosta.
In reality, rural people are no longer willing to buy all their goods in the local cornershop; they all have cars. Years ago they would have walked; therefore, they were confined to the local shop but now they want top class goods and are used to going to supermarkets. Unless we accept change that reflects people's lives and provide the services those living in the countryside want, the countryside faces a traumatic time. However, I have seen areas where people are providing top class, modern services and making a major investment to draw custom. They offer produce on a slightly smaller scale but with the same quality and range of goods available in shops in cities. They attract customers and survive. The small shop with a low turnover of €10,000 a year in a rural area, except as a hobby, has no great future, particularly as a source of employment. Therefore, we should be realistic.
It is the same for post offices. We debated this issue at a meeting of the party in Conamara and I said the killer for the post office was that every child had an ATM card. That is the reality. If the service being provided is not what young people want, no matter how long the post office is kept open, it will wind up with no customers. Two interesting things have happened. Post offices have modernised and introduced banking services. Obviously, there will never be as many as there were in the past because, like many things, they were built for the horse and cart era but where they offer modern services, they will survive.
It is fascinating that there has been such significant growth in credit union services, with credit unions employing people in rural areas where there were no banking services 20 years ago. They are developing their products and servicing niche markets. One credit union in the heart of the Gaeltacht has its own ATM and card.
We must move forward. When people complain about post office closures, I ask about their own lifestyles. How many of us have our wages paid into the bank automatically? It is unlikely that when we reach pension age, we will insist on receiving a pension book; most of us will have our pension paid into our bank account. There are other services that can be provided, although there will not be the same number of post offices. Flexibility and diversification will identify the new needs people have. That is the future.
Bhí ceist faoi dílárú Fhoras na Gaeilge. Tá moladh tagtha isteach sa Roinn agus tá sé á scrúdú i láthair na huaire agus cuirfear faoi mo bhráid go luath é. Idir an dá linn, tá plé ar bun idir an Roinn, Foras na Gaeilge agus an OPW maidir le háit i nGaoth Dobhair. Tá an Rialtas fós ag seasamh go hiomlán leis an gcinneadh a rinne sé go mbeidh 30 post i nGaoth Dobhair ag Foras na Gaeilge agus tá mé ag fáil an-chomhoibrithe ó Fhoras na Gaeilge agus tá dul chun cinn á dhéanamh.
Luadh Ciste na Gaeilge. Is féidir linn cóip de gach íocaíocht a rinne muid faoin gciste anuraidh a chur ar fáil, tá liosta mór fada acu. Taispeánann sé cé chomh leathan agus atá Ciste na Gaeilge agus an méid atá sé ag déanamh ar airgead réasúnta beag.
Cuireadh ceist an bhfuil Port Láirge le Gaeilge ag fáil airgid ó Chiste na Gaeilge. Níl ansin ach ceist dó féin. Tá ciste gnó ann agus má tá Comhairle Condae Phort Láirge agus an cumann tráchtála i bPort Láirge sásta €1 a chur fáil, cuirfidh mise €3 ar fáil. Má chuireann siad €30,000 ar fáil, gheobhaidh siad €90,000 ón Roinn. Níor chuir siad isteach iarratas a bhí inghlactha ó thaobh chomh-mhaoinithe de chuig mo Roinn. Tá sé an-tábhachtach go mbeidh Comhairle Cathrach Phort Láirge no Comhairle Condae Phort Láirge sásta airgead a chur ar fáil, sin an eochair, agus plean foirfe a bheith ann.
Tá muid imithe ó €7 i 2002 do na mná tí go dtí €10.50 i 2007. Bhí sprioc agam le €10 ach chorraigh mé mé féin le 50 cent.
The Deputy asked a perceptive question. Why has the money for feabhsúcháin Gaeltachta dropped from €21 million to €10 million? It is a good question.
I hope it is a good answer.
It is an answer with good news. Last year I started with a basic Estimate of €15 million, of which €5 million related to work that still had to be done on the Blascaoid, if they ever they reach agreement there. There was an underspend in other sections of the Department; some of the islands programme was held back and in the Estimates there was a huge jump in the Vote for the islands this year. A project was to go ahead on Inis Meán and other moneys were not spent. We had €10 million last year as a core Estimate for the feabhsúcháin and €5 million for the Blascaoid. As the work on the Blascaoid did not go ahead, we obtained permission to spend the money on the feabhsúcháin and last year I was going round like Santa Claus giving money out for road projects.
There was underspending on the islands and we channelled the money into the Gaeltacht. We managed to do two years work in one. Instead of spending €10 million in a year, we spent €20 million. We are lucky to have another €10 million this year. Instead of spending €20 million in 2006-07, we will have spend at least €31 million on feabhsúcháin Gaeltachta. It is fair to say that last year brought the Gaeltacht forward in leaps and bounds. There are many more projects coming on stream; they will eat up the Vote this year and we are back to the same core Estimate that we had at the start of 2006. We are €11 million ahead.
We are willing to do coastal erosion works where we would be protecting houses, roads and piers. We do not invest large sums in coastal protection works for farmland. We would be trying to take on the entire coastline because there are huge areas, particularly sandy areas, vulnerable to erosion and we do not consider it to be the best use of resources. If coastal protection works are needed for basic infrastructure, I ask my officials to re-examine the matter.
Tá muid ag iarraidh an t-aerstráice ar Oileán Thoraigh a bhrú chun cinn chomh sciobtha agus is féidir. Obair an-fhadálach a bhí ann ach níl easpa tola ann ó mo thaobh mar ba bhreá liom an t-aerstráice sin a fheiceáil mar sin an ceann is mó atá ag teastáil in Éirinn mar sin an t-oileán is scoite amach. Tá muid go hiomlán tiomáinte i dtreo an aerstráice sin.
Chuir an Teachta O'Shea ceist faoin tionscadal ard-scileanna. Nuair a bhí an t-iarratas ar an Ghaeilge san Aontas Eorpach á phlé, is mise is túisce a dúirt go mbeidh fadhb le haistritheoirí. Ag an am dúirt Stádas nach mbeadh fadhb ar bith ann. Chuaigh muid ar aghaidh ar aon nós ach tuigimid anois go bhfuil fadhb agus sin an fáth gur chuir muid €1 milliún i leataobh anuraidh le cúrsaí a chur ar bun sna hollscoileanna. Tamall fada a bhí ann an próiseas a chur ag imeacht agus mar sin níor thosaigh sé go dtí an fómhar. Tá seisear ar an gcúrsa ag NUIG, máistreacht san aistriúchán reachtaíochta agus dlí. Is féidir é seo a chur ar fáil. Gabhfaidh muid tríd go han-scioptha. Tá thart ar 30 duine ar an ard-dioplóma san aistriúchán, a thosaigh sa bhliain acadúil 2006-07, ag NUI Maigh Nuad. Tá teastas i gcumarsáid na Gaeilge le déanamh ar bonn píolóta. Táthar ag caint ar 12 duine i Leitir Ceanainn.
Ag Institiúid Teicneolaíochta Leitir Ceanainn. tá baitsiléireacht i gcórais faisnéise oifige, agus beidh 20 duine ann. Tá baitsiléireacht sa riarachán ghnó ag Institiúid Teicneolaíochta Leitir Ceanainn, freisin — tá chuile shórt ag dul go Tír Chonaill — le 15 duine ar an gcúrsa sin. Tá MA in translation studies ceadaithe i bprionsabal ag DCU. We are cranking this up, and matters are always slow at the beginning, mar a thuigfidh an Teachta.
There is to be a postgraduate diploma and MA in EU language and Irish in conference interpreting, which is very important. Tá sé sin ceadaithe i bprionsabal d'Institiúid Teicneolaíochta Phort Láirge. There is to be an MA in advanced applied Irish at Institiúid Teicneolaíochta Bhaile Átha Cliath, agus dioplóma iarchéime i scileanna an aistriúcháin ag Institiúid Teicneolaíochta na Gaillimhe-Maigh Eo.
Tá an próiseas sin tosaithe, agus beidh na cúrsaí ann. Treiseoidh sé don fhómhar seo chugainn. Tá €1 milliún ag dul air, agus táimid ag bogadh ar aghaidh leis sin. Sílim go bhfuil maoiniú eile ann ón HEA.
Maidir le hUiscebhealaí Éireann, de réir mar a thuigim an cheist a d'ardaigh an Teachta McGinley faoi chúrsaí ceardchumainn, is rud comónta é sin trasna na bhforas tras-Teorainn ar fad. Maidir leis an mhéid a dúirt an Teachta O'Shea faoi laghdú mór ar líon na bpáipéar, thiocfainn leis 100%. Members are getting two sets of papers this year, representing the old and new systems. Next year only the new system will be used.
We will be able to measure this year's outputs, as long as the Department is still there. I believe that it should and will be, on which I will expand later. One will be able to measure what we say will be the outputs next year when we are all here for the process. Outputs for the year will be measured against outturn. Obviously we cannot do that this year.
I was interested in what the Deputy said regarding legislation for Irish. I only introduced one Bill, which was the first ever dedicated to the question of Irish-speakers' rights. In time, it will be seen as something fundamental to the position of the language and as an absolute necessity, given the language's constitutional position. The Constitution was screaming out for such legislation, with its reference to the right to legislate exclusively for one language or the other.
One should never forget that without the legislation, we would quickly have reached a point where the courts would have ruled that the presumption was that one had the right to every conceivable service in Irish. Obviously that was not practical, so one can consider this as conferring rights or as taking them away. In a sense, it limited rights by using a constitutional provision, curtailing the rights of Gaeilgeoirí quite considerably.
However, I hope that, as a quid pro quo, where they already had that right, delivery will be much better, with less fighting necessary to ensure that it is afforded. It was a fundamental and necessary Act, which in time will be seen to have done the same as we did regarding disability and so on, namely, providing a bedrock of rights for those who wish to use Irish.
One can judge the effectiveness of projects in a quantitative or qualitative way. Quantity and measurements are important, but that does not tell the whole story, and I often find that a good human test can be conducted along the lines that the Chairman suggested. I can go to a community whose people say that the rural social scheme was the best thing that ever happened to it, regarding both those on the scheme and the work that they carried out. If people think that it is the best thing that ever happened to their community, I can measure how many are on that scheme, but only they can tell me what has changed in their quality of life. That is not measured as easily, but that does not mean that it is not real.
What are the objectives regarding Irish and the Gaeltacht? There is a major debate on that, but my very clear view is that An Roinn Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta, in its Gaeltacht mode, has two roles. Údarás na Gaeltachta and the Department run basic schemes to do with roads, water and so on, providing services through Irish that would otherwise be provided through English. There is no fundamental reason, in such an area, that ordinary services not particularly connected with language, which all citizens receive, should not be provided by a dedicated agency dealing with the public in the language of the Gaeltacht.
I make no bones about it that some of the schemes are about basic necessities such as water, piers, roads and so on. However, I also know that what bedevilled the Gaeltacht for years was its perception as a nice place with thatched cottages and untarred bog roads. It was cute to visit in summer, but God help those who had to live there in winter. I am proud of the fact that the Gaeltacht has moved far beyond that image, both internally and externally. Speakers now live in a part of the country with vastly improved services, which in some parts, for the first time in the State's history, are better than those in certain non-Gaeltacht areas. Living in the Gaeltacht is no longer synonymous with some Knocknagow fantasy land of the 19th century.
Exactly, and I can therefore fully justify our spending on Gaeltacht infrastructure. The people of the Gaeltacht have much better féinmheas mar gheall ar an obair a rinneadh maidir le cúrsaí bonneagair. Murach go ndearnadh é sin, ní dóigh liom go bhféadfainn a bheith ag caint ar an teanga.
The second thing that I believe is that if those providing the physical infrastructural improvements are also involved in the language, the message is twice as strong. If we allowed everything physical to be done by other agencies and concentrated on the language, in Gaeltacht psychology, one would not be as central to people's lives as under the present arrangements, which cost the State nothing, since one way or the other, it would still have to provide such services. Therefore, I have always supported the concept that more and more of the basic services should be provided by Gaeltacht-based units working through the language. For that reason I decided that among the new Meitheal or Leader partnership companies, there will be one specifically for the Gaeltacht right across the country.
The record when I leave the Department will show that I probably set up more language-based schemes that any Minister over the past 30 years. Tá scéim na gcampaí samhraidh, scéim na gcúntóirí teanga, scéim na gcuairteoirí baile, agus scéim mhór pleanála teanga ann. Leag muid riail síos ag an údarás go gcaithfí 20% den airgead ar thionscnaimh theanga-lárnaithe. Tá ollmhéadú ar airgead an údaráis i leith na teanga. Tá an t-údarás ag déanamh cuid mhaith le scéimeanna teanga dearfacha ar fud na Gaeltachta. Taobh istigh den Roinn, chuir mé eagar ar na scéimeanna faoi Chiste na Gaeilge, ainneoin go bhfuil mórchuid den airgead ag dul chuig an bhforas. Tá an coiste gnó ann, agus tá an t-airgead ar fad ann atá muid a chaitheamh ar na hollscoileanna thar sáile. Mar shampla, tá scéimeanna maidir le cúrsaí logainmneacha sna hollscoileanna. Tá an t-uafás scéimeanna nua ann, agus an t-uafás daoine ag baint leasa astu. Tá scéim eile i dTír Chonaill, comhoibriú atá bunaithe idir muid féin agus Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann atá ag iarraidh, den chéad uair, dlús a chur leis an bhfoclóir Gaeilge-Gaeilge, an ceann stairiúil, rud a theastaíonn go géar sa tír seo, agus rud atá ag tíortha eile. Maidir leis an staidéar teangeolaíochta, tá díomá orm gur thóg sé a fhad agus a thóg sé é a chríochnú, ach dúirt an dream a bhí á dhéanamh gurbh é sin an méid ama a thógfadh sé. Níl aon aimhreas orm ach go bhfuil jab críochnaithe déanta acu leis an staidéar teangeolaíochta. Tá sé sin ar fáil anois, agus fuair mé coicís ó shin é. Tá 1,000 leathanach ann.
Cé mhéad leathanach?
Míle leathanach. Thóg sé cúpla seachtain orthu. Níl sé cosúil le comhad le trí leathanach ionas gur féidir cinneadh a dhéanamh. Tógfaidh sé cúpla seachtain orm an cinneadh is gá, atá molta agus curtha faoi mo bhráid, a dhéanamh. Ba mhaith liom beagáinín staidéir a dhéanamh air. Go bunúsach, is é an rud a bheas i gceist ná an próiseas atá siadsan a mholadh ó bheith ag léamh na gcáipéisí, is é sin, an próiseas sin a leathnú. Mar chuid de sin, foilseofar é seo. Beidh muid ag dul i gcomhairle leis an bpobal, agus ansin feidhmeofar é.
Is cuimhin liom go raibh daoine ag rá cúig bliana ó shin nach dtarlódh an tAcht teanga, mar bhí toghchán ag teacht, agus bheadh aon toradh socraithe sa gcaoi is nach mbeadh sé achtaithe roimh an toghchán. Ní raibh sé sin fíor, áfach. Bliain i ndiaidh an toghcháin, bhí sé achtaithe go hiomlán. Níl aon aimhreas orm. Más rud é go bhfuil ciall ag pé duine a bheas ina shuí sa suíochán ina bhfuilimse an bhliain seo chugainn, bainfidh sé leas as ceithre bliana oibre ar thionscnaimh leis an staidéar teangeolaíochta, a d'éirigh as Coimisiún na Gaeltachta. Tá na 19 moladh a bhí ag an choimisiún curtha i bhfeidhm anois. Is cuid eile de phróiseas fadálach é seo, agus níor cheart go dtiocfadh stop leis díreach mar go dtagann an toghchán.
The Deputy asked whether the cohesion process would effect change. I believe it will, and one very fundamental and measurable change will be that, for the first time, every area across the State will be included in the LDSIP. That in itself is a great win. The more I travel around the country opening offices for groups, the more I am convinced that a single community office should be able to deliver to any citizen in Bally-anything services under Leader, the rural social scheme, the LDSIP and so on. People should not have to run from office to office. That also allows us to have increased numbers of outreach offices in more isolated areas, since they will be multi-functional.
The Deputy asked regarding the boundaries of the Gaeltacht, which is an obsession. I understand that there are comprehensive proposals in the staidéar regarding how to deal with different types of Gaeltacht, and I will examine them carefully. Its authors have reached the conclusion that Gaeltacht boundaries are not the black-and-white, in-or-out issue that some people thought them. I certainly would be interested in people's reaction to their proposals, which I understand are quite radical. As I said, I cannot give——
When is it intended to publish the report? Will it be issued within the lifetime of this Government?
I would anticipate that. There will be no pulling back, and people should not think I am afraid to publish it. Tá mé ag dul thar sáile le haghaidh Lá Fhéile Pádraig, agus beidh deis agam é a léamh ar an eitleán. Ní bheidh éinne ag cur isteach orm, no mobile telephones, and I will have five or six hours on the aeroplane, since I am travelling to the USA. I will probably get the best session of peace and quiet for a long time to sit down with the report and study it in detail. I will bring it to America and back.
Go n-éirí leis an Aire.
I have the briseadh síos de Chiste na Gaeilge. Cén sórt post? I have seen some factories, and the jobs are new, although I cannot give the Deputy a breakdown. Another thing is that there has been a méadú ollmhór i bhfostaíocht na Gaeilge de bharr an Achta teanga. Is iontach an rud é, agus is caighdeán an-ard atá i gceist leis na poist sin.
It took so long to prepare the scéimeanna faoin Acht teanga because of the nature of the process. However, when they are all done, they will not have to be done again, only needing to be refreshed, since one will have the basic schemes. It is simply one of those things. I was also asked why there are now three more staff in oifig an choimisinéara. Tá an freagra an-simplí: líon na ngearán agus na gceisteanna agus ualach na hoibre. Tá breis foirne ag teastáil, agus taispeánann sé go bhfuil a leithéid riachtanach.
Maidir le líon na gcoláistí Gaeilge, níl mé cinnte. Tá ceann i mbeagnach chuile Ghaeltacht na tíre, agus socróidh muid go gcuirfear liosta de na coláistí aitheanta thart. Tá siad faoin Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta, agus tá mé cinnte go bhfuil liosta acu a gheofar freisin don Teachta. An ndéanann sé leas? De réir mar a thuigim, tá staidéar le déanamh air seo chun double-check a dhéanamh air, agus tá na téarmaí á bplé faoi láthair leis an Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta.
There have been many cost-benefit analyses, mar shampla, ar scéimeanna feabhsúcháin and the local drugs task forces. That on island investment is almost complete, and we will be going through the LDSIP this year. The value-for-money audits are useful, and we certainly learn a great deal about how to improve the programmes. However, I honestly do not believe there are any programmes in the Department surplus to requirements, and the committee members would be the first to comment if I stopped any.
In fairness to departmental officials, they try to run a slim, trim shop regarding the programmes, and we also endeavour to make them user-friendly. There always should be two tests of a programme, one being a cool, systematic analysis on a value-for-money basis. The other test is getting out and about to ask the end users. That is also a valid test, which I would never underestimate.
Deputy O'Shea asked regarding the Department, and I am disappointed that after five years he should feel my sole interests are Irish, the Gaeltacht and the islands. I am amazed to discover as I go around the country that some people feel it is only the islands.
That is not quite what I said, but I will not dispute that.
I am equally interested in every section of the Department, as the time I spend on various issues and the work on my desk prove. I put just as much enthusiasm and effort into the RAPID programme, which is far better now than when I inherited it. We have made a great many radical changes, and visiting RAPID communities is one of the great pleasures of the job. The community services programme will be of major importance. We have transformed the entire concept of the rural social economy and are moving forward in that regard.
The cohesion process bringing together rural development and LDSIP bodies comes under my direct responsibility in the Department, and it is fair to say we have made progress. The rural programmes will get three times as much under the next iteration of Leader. The rural social scheme was in my party's last election manifesto and has been a great success on the ground.
CLÁR was never meant to exist in its current form, since it was originally envisaged as rural RAPID. It is fair to say I was presented with half an idea, which for better or worse I fashioned into something else. I have been very hands-on regarding all the programmes, and some might say too much. However, they have done a great deal to address very real problems.
If someone abolished this Department, the fundamental challenge that all Governments in all jurisdictions face would be missed. Most Departments work on the basis of vertical responsibility, for example, the Departments of Health and Children, Education and Science, Transport, Environment, Heritage and Local Government, and so on.
Applying that methodology to every jurisdiction in the world, we know that even though in theory all citizens have equal access to all services, certain communities thrive more than others and certain people appear to benefit more than others. When I travel abroad and people ask me about the concept of my Department, I tell them it is very simple. I ask them if they know of a country where there is not urban deprivation, rural isolation or where island communities are not always at the back end of receiving services. I ask them if they know of any country that lumps responsibility for all the people and communities that always appear to be at the bottom of the pile under one Department to ensure there is a strong advocate for those groups within government on a cross-cutting basis and that they do not become the fall-out in the vertical process.
When I consider RAPID, CLÁR, the Gaeltacht and the islands and what the LDSFP and the CDP do for individuals and communities on the bottom rung, anybody interested in true equality who would decide to dismantle all the infrastructure we have put together would miss the big picture in terms of what this Department is about. We have brought small communities whose members have always lost out to the fore and given them a place in the sun. We have only started the work. As someone said to me one day when he came in to talk about this subject, if we do not give this project 20 years, we will not make any change. He was fundamentally right. Therefore, seeking instant results from the many schemes we have introduced is not to understand the nature of the social problems we are trying to tackle. I will hand over to the Minister of State.
A number of questions were posed, including questions from the Chairman. Deputy McGinley spoke about the security of the elderly scheme. That scheme is going well. The demand might not be as great as it was when it started ten years ago but we are working with local community groups. In terms of the changes made to the scheme, we scaled it down somewhat. The maximum any community group can apply for now is €30,000 where five years ago they could apply for €200,000. The scheme comes under the community section but a few commercial interests were farming it, so to speak. Applications could come in from a group in Donegal yet the names were from Dublin, Wexford or Waterford. That was not in accordance with the community spirit. Limiting the application from any particular community group to €30,000 and requesting the group to get a form signed by the individual recipient is true community spirit and it keeps the Department in touch with the person sending in an application. It means we will not get a lorry load of applications from people throughout the country. We made that change for good reason.
Is the Minister continuing to evolve the areas that will apply under the scheme? I met somebody recently who was concerned about the number of elderly people being attacked. Even if there are only six cases in six months, there is a feeling that the danger is greater. Are there new ideas that could be embraced?
I am sure there are. We have included in the scheme smoke alarms, outdoor security lighting and locks and bolts on doors. The personal pendant alarm is the main one. In terms of the most requests, there is still an annual monitoring charge. That is between the applicant and whoever provides the monitoring service but we are working with small groups. We have removed the deadline. The closing date was a major annoyance for people and we have removed that. We are working fairly well with them.
Deputy McGinley spoke about the charities legislation. We are working on that. I was not trying to be smart in my reply. We had a briefing on it in March last year when we got the heads of the Bill passed by Cabinet but it is a very long process. The formal jargon is that the Bill will be published before the end of the Dáil session but in saying that the end of the Dáil session could be the first day of the next session. I hope it will be published if not before Easter then during the Easter break. It is a long drawn out process to get legislation through the Parliamentary Counsel's office but we are nearly there.
The Chairman mentioned the grants. I do not know if she was talking about the grants we give to community development programmes, which is approximately €1.4 million, or to community groups for refurbishment projects and so on, which is a few million euro. There is a limit of €40,000 on the refurbishment grants and that goes down well. If we had more money we would like to give a larger amount but it is confined to smaller type local community projects rather than community halls that might be run by bigger groups.
On volunteering and active citizenship, I saw a provisional date for the task force which was before Easter. We currently spend a few million euro on volunteering and we have got an extra €5 million from the recent agreement but the for the past few years we have been spending money. We fund approximately eight volunteer bureaux, Volunteer Centres Ireland and Boardmatch. We give substantial funding to Young Social Innovators. It is not our scheme but one run by Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy and her friends. They are social awareness projects for transition year children. We also fund a third level volunteering project in Dublin Institute of Technology. We have been trying to encourage volunteering and active citizenship by doing it at different levels, including second and third level students, and when we get the extra money we will await the report on active citizenship. Its recommendations might use up all our money but there are many extra volunteer groups and bureaux being established throughout the country who could benefit from our funding.
On the question of drugs, it is easy for different people — I do it on occasion — to tell us what is wrong in terms of the drugs problem but the difficulty is for somebody to tell me how to put it right. Deputy O'Shea spoke about the mid-term review and said it was very much in-house. It was not. In fact, in everything we do on drugs we involve people from the community and the voluntary sector. There are no officials locked away in a room looking at the stars and deciding on drugs policy. We had a wide consultation programme as part of the mid-term review. We were in the Tower Hotel in Waterford one night — the Deputy may have been there — when we had a wide consultation on the issue with various groups in attendance. Much good work is being done but we are facing an uphill battle. The supply of drugs has greatly increased. The seizures by Customs and Excise and the Garda have increased significantly but the price of drugs on the street is down and that is an indication of the problem we are facing. We are doing much good work with the couple of hundred youth workers. We have approximately 30 sports development officers. We are keeping many young people away from drugs. We are making them aware of the dangers of drugs. We are pointing them in the direction of the alternative healthy life pursuits they should follow but it is difficult to know all the answers.
A study called the ROSIE study was published a few months ago which tracked 300 or 400 people who were drug users for a year and monitored the progress they were making. The results were very favourable. It concluded that progress was being made and that the money was being well spent and so on.
The Chairman spoke about high dependency beds. There are probably only about 40 beds, between private and community beds. There are 8,000 people on methadone and a bed for a fortnight is not the only or main way of being detoxed of drugs. There are parents who seek to get their son or daughter into a detox bed for a fortnight but there are only 40 such beds approximately. The HSE controls most of them; some are community beds run by private trusts. This option works for some but there are 1,300 people on community employment schemes who are recovering drug users.
There is no point going to a hospital bed or into a residential setting, be it for two weeks or two months, and coming out on the first Friday night only to be back with one's friends and end up back where one started. There are several types of rehabilitation project but most of the better ones are focused on rehabilitating and detoxing in the community, with the support of one's family, the provision of after care and so forth. Detox beds are necessary for certain specific cases and I do not deny that there is a shortage.
One of the results of the mid-term review was the working group on rehabilitation. There had been criticism that we had put 8,000 people on methadone and saw that as a solution in itself, which it is not. It is a step along the way. That group's report has now been finalised and we hope it will be dealt with by the interdepartmental group on drugs tomorrow. It will then be sent to the Cabinet sub-committee on social inclusion. Subsequently, it will be published. We hope we can have it funded and implemented.
One of the recommendations in the report is that an extra 25 detox beds should be provided. However, there is far more about providing for a continuum of care and doing more for the 8,000 people on methadone, which is a halfway house and not a solution. Many good things are happening but with the supply of drugs worldwide increasing hugely, we will not get rid of the problem soon.
We could discuss these issues for many days. I thank the Ministers and their officials. A number of issues arose and their responses were full. In view of the expanded Estimates process specified in the December budget, I propose to send a transcript of these proceedings to the Minister for Finance and to the Select Committee on Finance and the Public Service.