Sports Capital Programme Applications

Ceisteanna (199)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

199. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a club (details supplied) in County Cork that wishes to progress with the drawdown of a sports capital grant allocation will be assisted. [25974/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The Sports Capital Programme is the primary vehicle for Government support for the development of sports and physical recreation facilities and the purchase of non-personal sports equipment throughout the country. As a matter of course, officials in the Sports Capital Programmes Division of my Department continually liaise with relevant clubs/organisations from the time of the provisional allocation to the final payment of the grant. In this regard, the officials are always available to discuss any issues that may arise with any sports organisation.

Any clubs which have a Deed of Covenant and Charge in place from previous grants must have a charge with the value of the grant added to the Deed. With regard to the application referred to by the Deputy, my officials instructed the Chief State Solicitor's Office this week in this regard and have been liaising directly with the club to keep them informed of developments and to ensure that all other terms and conditions of the Sports Capital Programme are adhered to.

Air Accident Investigations

Ceisteanna (200)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

200. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the Irish Aviation Authority has investigated an incident (details supplied) or will be doing so; if not, the reason therefor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26029/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The Air Accident Investigation unit (AAIU) is the independent state body responsible for the investigation of aviation occurrences in Ireland and also assists foreign states who conduct investigations into Irish registered and operated aircraft abroad.

S.I. No. 460 of 2009 Air Navigation (Notification and Investigation of Accidents, Serious Incidents and Incidents) Regulations 2009, provides under ‘Occurrences involving State aircraft and foreign state aircraft […] 23. (1) Where a foreign state aircraft is involved in an occurrence in the State these Regulations shall apply’.

The particular incident to which the Deputy refers occurred over international waters on 3 June 2018 at 13.04 hrs UTC. The aircraft, a McDonnell Douglas DC 10 tanker, was on a flight from the UK to the USA. While over international waters, the flight crew advised Shannon that they had shut down one of their three engines and, as they were unable to maintain the assigned flight level for the Atlantic crossing, they requested a diversion to Shannon. The aircraft landed at Shannon at 14.03 hrs UTC without further incident.

The AAIU Inspector-On-Call was kept apprised of the situation by Shannon ATC throughout the aircraft’s flight and landing. As the event occurred over international waters the responsibility for assessing if an investigation by a Safety Investigation Authority (SIA) is warranted, and for conducting such an investigation, rests with the State of the Operator. For completeness, the event as described would not appear to meet the definition of a Serious Incident, and accordingly the AAIU does not consider an investigation by an SIA is warranted.

Road Safety Authority

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Ceisteanna (201)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

201. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding baby seat testing workshops; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26115/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

This is a matter for the Road Safety Authority. I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Sports Capital Programme

Ceisteanna (202)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

202. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the 2018 sports capital grant programme is open for applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26116/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The 2017 round of the Sports Capital Programme attracted a record 2,320 applications. In November and December last, Minister Ross and I announced €60m in allocations to a record 1,800 projects under the 2017 round. A review of the 2017 round of the programme has now been finalised and published on my Department's website (www.dttas.ie). This review highlights aspects of the 2017 round of the SCP that worked well but also suggests some further improvements which are being considered prior to the next round of the programme opening for applications. Some of these changes require amendments to the Department's online application system and work in this regard has now commenced. I expect to make an announcement in relation to the timing of the next round as soon as possible. All clubs and organisations registered on the Department's online application system will be notified at this time.

Driver Test Data

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Ceisteanna (203)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

203. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of persons waiting for driver tests in County Kerry (details supplied); the waiting time for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26117/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

This is a matter for the Road Safety Authority. I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

Ceisteanna (204)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

204. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if a redress scheme for survivors of mother and baby homes is being considered; if survivors' records can be returned to them; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26002/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The question of redress for former residents of Mother and Baby Homes is one which I have addressed on a number of occasions and I am happy to restate the Government's position for the Deputy.

Mother and Baby Homes have not been central to any previous statutory inquiry so the current Commission of Investigation must be given the opportunity to conclude its investigation and to establish the facts of what happened in and around these institutions.

The independent Commission has made no findings to date about abuse or neglect in any of the homes within its terms of reference. In these circumstances, it is not possible for Government to consider a redress scheme in relation to the broad range of matters within the scope of this investigation prior to the Commission submitting its findings and conclusions.

As I have indicated previously, when the final reports of the Commission are available, the Government will respond to the full account of the Commission’s conclusions on all matters regarding the treatment of former residents.

On the question of access to personal records, I am advised that individuals who have met the Commission’s Confidential Committee may visit the Commission’s premises and hear the recording of their evidence and/or read the notes on their case if these have been written up. Individuals who give evidence to the full Commission may similarly read the transcript of their evidence on the Commission’s premises. If individuals provide personal records to the Commission, it is the policy to photocopy these and return the originals to the people concerned on the day. The Commission does not have a role in assisting individuals in resolving broader questions on their identity or in tracing birth relatives. Persons seeking such information should contact the Information and Tracing services of TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency (www.tusla.ie), which holds records from a number of former mother and baby homes and adoption societies, or assistance is also available through the Adoption Authority of Ireland (www.aai.gov.ie).

Domestic Violence Services Funding

Ceisteanna (205)

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

205. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of plans outlined in her statement (details supplied) on 4 July 2017; and her future plans for similar services. [25944/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has statutory responsibility for the provision of care and protection to victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.

In 2018, Tusla is providing €23.8 million in funding to domestic, sexual and gender-based violence services, an increase of €1.7m over 2017 funding.

I understand that the Deputy's question relates to proposed developments in domestic, sexual and gender-based violence services in 2018 and 2019. I have forwarded the query to Tusla to respond to the Deputy directly on this matter.

Freedom of Information Data

Ceisteanna (206)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

206. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of FOI requests her Department has received since January 2018; the number that were appealed, refused and granted, respectively; the costs that were applied; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25957/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The information requested by the Deputy for 2018 is set out in the following table.

Total Received

65

Fees

0.00

Refused (Of which Appealed/Part Appealed)

14 (1)

Granted

13

Part Granted

15

Transferred

3

Withdrawn 

6

Pending

14

Child and Family Agency Reports

Ceisteanna (207)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

207. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to a delay in the publication of Tusla's review of adequacy annual report for 2016 which is a statutory requirement under section 8 of the Child Care Act 1991; and the reason for the delay. [25997/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I have been advised by Tusla that it is expected that the 2016 Review of Adequacy will be published by mid-July 2018. It is hoped that the publication will be slightly earlier than the 2015 Review of Adequacy, which was published on the 21st July 2017.

Tusla have further advised that the data used in the compilation of the Review of Adequacy does not become available for up to 10 months after year-end, and that the collection, validation and review of the other material used in the Review can add further delays.

I note that Section 8 of the Child Care Act 1991 requires a report to be produced annually. The Act is not, however, prescriptive in terms of the timeframe for the preparation of the report.

I look forward to receiving the Report once complete.

Adoption Records Provision

Ceisteanna (208)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

208. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the procedure in respect of an adopted person who wishes to trace personal information such as their birth certificate and file in respect of their adoption; the number of such information requests Tusla has received in the past five years; the number that have been responded to with comprehensive information including file information on the person; the number on hold pending further information; the number of requests in which information required in respect of a person has been made subject to an application to the adoption contact register; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26072/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

As the subject matter of the Deputy's question relates to an operational matter for Tusla, I have referred the matter to them for a direct reply.

Adoption Records Provision

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Ceisteanna (209)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

209. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of applications in each year since 2013 to the adoption contact register; the number that have been successful, unsuccessful and are pending a reply, respectively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26073/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

As the subject matter of the Deputy's question relates to an operational matter for the Adoption Authority of Ireland, I have referred the matter to it for a direct reply.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Children in Care

Ceisteanna (210)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

210. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children in care with an up-to-date care plan; the number of children awaiting an update of their existing care plan; the number of children awaiting a care plan by local area division in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26134/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The latest figures from Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, indicate that, at the end of February 2018, there were 6,161 children in care. Of these, 5,581 (91%) had a written care plan.

The placement of children in care is governed by the Child Care Regulations 1995 which provide for the welfare of the child, the care practices, care plans, accommodation and safety precautions. The regulations stipulate that all care plans are to be reviewed and updated on a regular basis and sets out the frequency for these reviews to take place. When a child is received into care on an emergency basis the care plan is to be developed within 14 days of the placement.

The following table lists the number of children in care, and the number of children awaiting a written care plan, by administrative area. I wish to advise the Deputy that this information is published on a monthly basis by Tusla and is available on www.tusla.ie.

The number of Children in Care awaiting a written care plan by administrative area at end February 2017

Area

Number of children in care

Number awaiting a written care plan

Dublin South Central

376

50

Dublin South East / Wicklow

280

43

Dublin South West / Kildare / West Wicklow

416

111

The Midlands

379

47

Dublin City North

546

75

Dublin North

332

98

Louth / Meath

401

8

Cavan / Monaghan

159

32

Cork

810

48

Kerry

156

2

Carlow / Kilkenny / South Tipperary

362

6

Waterford / Wexford

423

8

The Midwest

589

2

Galway / Roscommon

414

0

Mayo

130

0

Donegal

207

27

Sligo / Leitrim / West Cavan

102

23

Social work team for Separated children seeking asylum

79

0

National Total

6,161

580

Child and Family Agency Data

Ceisteanna (211)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

211. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children awaiting allocation to a social worker in each Tusla local office area by the priority status of the case and the average waiting time in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26135/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Information about unallocated cases is published monthly on the Tusla website. There has been a 46% (4,458) reduction in cases awaiting allocation to a social worker since Tusla was established. All cases are screened at point of referral and any case requiring immediate follow up receives same and all other unallocated cases are reviewed by a Team Leader on an on-going basis.

Using the most recent data available (March 2018), I can inform the Deputy that there were a total of 4,689 cases awaiting allocation of a social worker. From this group, 734 were High Priority, 2,971 were Medium Priority and 984 were Low Priority.

Tusla does not publish data on average time waiting by area. However, data on the number of cases awaiting allocation by time band is collated. Using this most recent data available (March 2018), 126 cases were waiting less than 1 week, 421 cases were waiting 1-2 weeks, 248 cases were waiting for 2-3 weeks, 565 cases were waiting 3-4 weeks, 534 cases were waiting 1-2 months, 395 cases were waiting 2-3 months, and 1,896 cases were waiting for more than three months.

The information is provided in the following two tables.

Addressing the number of children who are awaiting the allocation of a social worker is one of my key priorities. I secured funds in Budget 2018 which will allow Tusla to carry out the third year of a 3 year plan to provide for the allocation of a dedicated social worker to all children who need one. Tusla are also funded to recruit family support workers, social care staff and administrative staff to work alongside social workers in supporting vulnerable children and families.

An unallocated case relates to a case about a child that is deemed to need a social work assessment, but has not yet been allocated to a social worker. All urgent and emergency cases receive immediate attention by the local duty social work team. The majority of unallocated cases are new referrals. However, they may also include children living with their families who had an allocated social worker, or to a child in care, where there is now a social work vacancy.

I am informed by Tusla that a case awaiting allocation may be listed as 'active on duty'. Tusla indicate that this may include checking with professionals who see the child regularly, or visiting the child and family at home, getting additional information about the child's situation and, in some instances where a child is in care, organising a Care Plan Review and visiting the child.

I, and my officials, will continue to engage directly with the Tusla Board and Senior Management Team to monitor and review progress in reducing the number of unallocated cases and the waiting time for the allocation of a social worker to a case assessed as requiring a social work service.

Number of Cases Awaiting Allocation (March 2018)

Area

A. No. Awaiting Allocation

A. No. High Priority Awaiting

A. No. Medium Priority Awaiting

A. No. Low Priority Awaiting

Dublin South/East Wicklow

124

15

86

23

Dublin South/West Kildare/West Wicklow

647

176

432

39

Dublin South Central

136

0

49

87

Midlands

345

80

202

63

Dublin North City

384

8

265

111

Dublin North

432

0

240

192

Louth/Meath

273

26

217

30

Cavan/Monaghan

189

5

134

50

Kerry

90

73

16

1

Cork

622

148

440

34

Carlow/Kilkenny/South Tipperary

448

48

313

87

Waterford/Wexford

95

0

50

45

Donegal

372

52

237

83

Sligo/Leitrim/West Cavan

37

0

28

9

Mayo

0

0

0

0

Galway/Roscommon

249

41

199

9

Midwest

246

62

63

121

Total

4,689

734

2,971

984

Number of Cases Awaiting Allocation in Time Bands (March 2018)

Area

< 1 Week

1-2 Weeks

2-3 Weeks

3-4 Weeks

1-2 Months

2-3 Months

> 3 Months

DSE/WW

12

5

17

16

6

19

49

DSW/K/WW

3

13

15

13

47

34

522

DSC

0

0

15

32

30

29

30

Midlands

28

36

47

59

25

51

99

DNC

10

9

4

8

35

19

299

Dublin North

9

14

5

44

127

15

218

LH/MH

19

11

22

14

51

43

113

CN/MN

6

6

10

17

33

41

76

Kerry

1

0

4

10

12

3

60

Cork

17

263

29

149

83

20

61

CW/KK/ST

0

0

0

133

0

104

211

WD/WX

Donegal

SLWC

Mayo

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

GY/RN

15

42

43

51

38

12

48

Mid-West

6

22

37

19

47

5

110

Total

126

421

248

565

534

395

1,896

*Notes

1) Cases of Retrospective Abuse not included

2) Data for Waterford/Wexford is partial

3) Number awaiting in time bands is not available from Donegal, Sligo/Leitrim/West Cavan and Waterford/Wexford

I can also inform the Deputy that Tusla has developed a fully computerised National Child Care Information System to deal with all current referrals. Roll out of this system is due to be completed in mid July. One of the long term benefits of this new system will be the provision of accurate activity recording, facilitating improved service planning and performance monitoring.

LEADER Programmes Funding

Ceisteanna (212)

Michael Collins

Ceist:

212. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the steps he will take to ensure that Leader funding is not politicised (details supplied). [26020/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The decision to approve all LEADER projects is taken at a local level by the Local Action Groups (LAGs) which deliver the LEADER programme. Each LAG is representative of its local area and any decision to approve a project must be taken with a majority of non-public sector representatives present.

There are also multiple checks and balances in place within the LEADER project selection process, together with a robust evaluation process and clear selection criteria.

It is important that the general public are made aware of how LEADER money is being spent and the outcomes being achieved through EU and Exchequer funding under the LEADER programme. Once projects are formally approved, the LAGs have a role to play in publicising these projects and informing the local community about the funding provided for their area. Details of all projects approved by the LAGs are also published on the LEADER pages of my Department's website, www.drcd.gov.ie. Through these measures, the information on project approvals is widely and freely available to the general public.

More than 1,000 LEADER projects have now been approved for funding of over €29 million, with a further 340 projects with a value of €19 million at an earlier stage in the approvals process. I anticipate that approvals under the LEADER programme will continue to increase over the coming months on foot of administrative improvements which my Department has made over the last year in consultation with the LAGs.

Community Banking

Ceisteanna (213, 218)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

213. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development when the public banking report will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24821/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John McGuinness

Ceist:

218. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development his views on the report on community banking; the reason for the delay in publishing the report; if the delay is being caused by a disagreement between his Department and the Department of Finance on the content of the report; if so, the points of disagreement; if the publication of the report will be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26068/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 213 and 218 together.

As the Deputies are aware, officials from my Department and the Department of Finance have been working closely together since last year to investigate the feasibility of a new model of community banking for Ireland, including the German Sparkassen model for the development of local public banks.

The project team carried out detailed research into the concept, with a particular focus on the Sparkassen model, and met with a number of stakeholders. My Department also conducted a public consultation, seeking views on the concept of a community banking model. The invitation to submit responses was open to all, and was particularly extended to main stakeholders and members of the Oireachtas. The consultation ran for four weeks and 16 submissions were received. These have been assessed in detail and the views of the respondents will be reflected in the forthcoming report.

The report has now been completed and the project team has submitted their findings to the Minister for Finance and myself. Both Minister Donohoe and I are in agreement with the conclusions of the report and we brought it to Government for noting last month. I anticipate that the report will be published very shortly.

Western Development Commission

Ceisteanna (214)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

214. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the engagement he has had with the Western Development Commission, WDC; the steps that are being taken to fulfil the commitment in A Programme for A Partnership Government to enhance the role of the WDC; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25379/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Western Development Commission (WDC) was established on a statutory basis in 1999 as part of a response to the severe population decline in the Western Region at that time. The remit of the Commission is to promote the economic and social development of the Western Region, covering counties Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon, Galway and Clare.

The Commission has achieved a lot since its establishment, and I believe it has an important role to play in the Government’s emphasis on achieving more effective regional development through initiatives such as the Regional Action Plan for Jobs, the Action Plan for Rural Development, the development of Atlantic Economic Corridor and the National Planning Framework.

Minister Ring appointed a new Board to the WDC in August 2017 and has delegated responsibility for oversight of the Commission to me. I met with the new Chair and the Acting CEO in November 2017, and last month I met with the new Board to discuss issues of priority for both the WDC and the Department.

There is also on-going engagement between my Department and the WDC at executive level to deepen the Commission’s involvement in the regional development agenda and to benefit from their experience.

In this context, the WDC has been involved in an increasing number of initiatives. For example:

- The WDC is represented on the Monitoring Committee for the Action Plan for Rural Development and on the Implementing Committees which oversee the delivery of the Action Plans for Jobs for the West and North-West regions.

- The Commission is also represented on the Taskforce which I chair to progress the development of an Atlantic Economic Corridor area along the western seaboard. The WDC has been a key contributor to sub-groups of this Taskforce.

The Commission also continues to implement initiatives to support the development of SMEs and emerging sectors in the western region. I recently launched a new €2 million fund for the Commission to encourage the film, television, animation and games industry in the West of the country. I look forward to continuing to work with the new Board as they seek to support the regional development agenda.

Regional Development Initiatives

Ceisteanna (215)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

215. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the Atlantic economic corridor; if he will report on the recruitment of officers in this regard; the role envisaged for these officers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25380/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The objective of the Atlantic Economic Corridor proposal is to maximise the assets along Ireland’s western seaboard to attract investment, support job creation and contribute to an improved quality of life for those who live there.

The Atlantic Economic Corridor Taskforce was established in March 2017 to progress the proposal. I chair the Taskforce which includes senior representatives from the business sector, key Government Departments, other public bodies, and Third Level institutions. The Taskforce has met five times since it was established, and will continue to meet on a regular basis.

A number of sub-groups of the Taskforce are also working to progress specific aspects of the overall proposal, such as examining infrastructure needs and enterprise property assets, and developing a communications strategy.

Local Authorities are playing a key role in the development of the AEC, and in particular are helping to ensure a cohesive approach is taken across the corridor. My Department is providing funding of €30,000 to each of the 10 Local Authorities along the AEC to support the appointment of a dedicated AEC Officer to help drive the project in each area. The Local Authorities are currently in the process of assigning these officers.

It is envisaged that the AEC Officers will have a particular focus in supporting the work of the Taskforce's sub-groups. They will also play a role in the overall communications strategy which will promote the benefits of the corridor and raise awareness of the AEC as an attractive region to invest in and to live in.

LEADER Programmes Administration

Ceisteanna (216)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

216. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the administrative process after LEADER funding is sanctioned; the evaluating stakeholders for same; the rationale for the stakeholders in the drawing down of moneys; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25942/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

LEADER is a multi-annual programme for the period 2014-2020 which has a total budget of €250 million over the programming period. LEADER is administered by Local Action Groups (LAGs) which deliver funding in accordance with Local Development Strategies (LDS) that have been agreed for each LAG area. The LDS is developed and driven by rural communities, through the Local Action Groups (LAGs), setting out the vision and objectives for the area. Funding is allocated to each LAG for the full duration of the Programme to give greater flexibility to the LAGs to manage their resources.

Each LAG is responsible for deciding how its allocation is distributed to LEADER projects over the duration of the programme, based on the objectives in their approved LDS. Projects are reviewed in accordance with agreed criteria by an Evaluation Committee established by the LAG before being submitted to the Local Action Group members for final decision. Each LAG is representative of its local area and any decision to approve a project must be taken with a majority of non-public sector representatives present.

No works can commence on a project until formal approval has issued. The process of implementing the approved works is a matter for the project promoter in consultation with the LAG and/or the LAG's Implementing Partner.

Payment claims are submitted to my Department by the LAGs when projects are up and running and have incurred expenditure. The approved works must be completed by the project promoter prior to any final or phased payments being made.

Certain checks require to be carried out by the LAGs prior to the payment claims being submitted to my Department. A number of mandatory regulatory administrative checks must also be conducted by, or on behalf of, my Department before payment is issued to the LAG in respect of a project. These mandatory administrative checks are currently undertaken by Pobal.

Freedom of Information Requests

Question No. 218 answered with Question No. 213.

Ceisteanna (217)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

217. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of FOI requests his Department has received since January 2018; the number that were appealed, refused and granted, respectively; the costs that were applied; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25969/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department has received a total of 30 requests under the Freedom of Information Act in 2018 as of 11 June.

Eight of these requests are currently being processed by my Department.

Of the remaining 22 requests, 13 were part-granted or granted in full, six were refused and three were withdrawn. Two decisions were appealed for review, with one decision upheld and one varied.

There have been no fees charged in relation to these requests.

Question No. 218 answered with Question No. 213.

Action Plan for Rural Development

Ceisteanna (219, 220)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

219. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the extent to which he expects to be in a position to offer assistance to rural and community groups throughout the country in the course of 2018 under various headings applicable to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26169/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

220. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the proposed scale of expenditure by his Department in assistance towards community groups in the various regions throughout the country in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26170/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 219 and 220 together.

The Department of Rural and Community Development was established last year to deliver on the Government’s commitment to bring a greater degree of coordination and cohesion to all of the work of Government in so far as it impacts on rural Ireland and on communities in regions throughout the country.

My Department delivers a variety of schemes that provide supports for groups in rural and urban communities in line with commitments in the Programme for Partnership Government and the Action Plan for Rural Development.

These schemes and programmes include the following, provided with details of 2018 funding allocations:

- LEADER programme: €40m

- Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP): €38m

- Community Services Programme: €46m

- The recently launched Community Enhancement Programme: €4.5m

- Town and Village Renewal Scheme: €15m

- CLÁR Programme: €5m

- Seniors Alert Scheme: €2.3m

The 2018 Budget for schemes and programmes delivered by my Department is in excess of €220 million.

All schemes are open to applications from eligible groups during the application timeframes set for each scheme or programme. Further information on all schemes and programmes and on the Action Plan for Rural Development, can be found on my Department's website www.drcd.gov.ie.

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (221, 223)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

221. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the extent to which his Department has set out criteria for qualification for financial assistance by various applicants throughout the country in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26171/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

223. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the criteria for qualification for assistance by voluntary or statutory groups in 2018 or thereafter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26173/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 221 and 223 together.

My Department operates a number of funding programmes and schemes that are open to applications from eligible parties across a range of sectors. All are designed to assist rural and urban communities in need.

The new Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) launched in January 2018 will run for a five-year period until 2022.

SICAP focuses on reducing poverty and promoting social inclusion and equality in Ireland through supporting communities and individuals using community development approaches, engagement and collaboration. SICAP is overseen and managed by the Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) in each local authority area. The Department has engaged Pobal to work on its behalf to manage and oversee the delivery of SICAP nationally. More information about the programme can be found on the Pobal website.

I recently launched the Community Enhancement Programme (CEP), which replaces and builds the good work of two existing schemes (Communities Facilities Scheme and RAPID). The programme has a budget of €4.5m for 2018. This is an increase funding for each Local Authority area compared with their combined RAPID and CFS funding for 2017. LCDCs will continue to administer the programme at local level and are at present seeking applications. They will be advertising locally for suitable projects and will provide details on how to apply in each area. The closing date for applications is 30 July 2018.

The CLÁR programme provides funding for small scale infrastructural projects in disadvantaged rural areas that have experienced significant levels of de-population. The scheme is funded by my Department and delivered, for the most part, by the Local Authorities in consultation with groups in local communities. The 2018 CLÁR programme will see funding provided under three measures:

Measure 1: Support for Schools/Community Safety MeasuresMeasure 2: Play AreasMeasure 3: First Response Support Measure

The deadline for applications under the 2018 CLÁR programme passed on 30 April 2018, but the criteria used for Measures 1 and 2 are available from Local Authorities, while the criteria and application form for Measure 3 are available on my Department's website.

The Local Improvement Scheme (LIS) is a scheme for carrying out improvement works on private/non-public roads. It is funded by the Department in conjunction with the County Councils who administer the scheme and carry out the works. Applications are submitted to the County Councils who prioritise projects within their allocation and forward them to the Department for final approval. The criteria for eligible roads are set out in the memorandum governing the scheme. Generally, they are non-public roads, often leading to houses and important community amenities such as graveyards, beaches, piers, mountains, etc. or other non-public roads that provide access to parcels of land, or provide access for harvesting purposes (including turf or seaweed) for two or more persons.

Funding of €15m has been earmarked for the 2018 Town and Village Renewal Scheme. Local Authorities are required to advertise for expressions of interest from towns and villages in their area and proposals from a group may be considered if the application displays a strong economic benefit to the community. The deadline for the submission of applications to the Department by Local Authorities is 30 June 2018.

The LEADER programme provides funding assistance to address the challenges facing rural areas over the course of the programme period, particularly under the themes of economic development and social inclusion. Applications from various groups for funding can be made directly to the relevant Local Action Groups. Promoters interested in accessing assistance under the LEADER Programme should, in the first instance, submit an Expression of Interest to their Local Action Group (LAG)

The Department also has lead responsibility for developing the relationship between the State and community and voluntary sector. The Scheme to Support National Organisations (SSNO) provides multi-annual funding towards core costs of national organisations in the sector, with a focus on organisations that provide supports to those who are disadvantaged. The current three-year scheme runs to 30 June 2019, and all funding has been fully allocated for 2018.

Further information for potential applicants on these and all other funding programmes and schemes is available on my Department's website www.drcd.gov.ie

Departmental Funding

Question No. 223 answered with Question No. 221.

Ceisteanna (222, 226)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

222. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the extent to which application forms have issued for applications for financial assistance by various voluntary or statutory bodies throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26172/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

226. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the extent to which his Department has received applications for assistance from various voluntary or statutory bodies throughout the country with a view to addressing specific issues of deprivation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26176/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 222 and 226 together.

My Department funds a range of programmes and schemes that provide financial assistance to eligible voluntary or statutory bodies throughout the country. These schemes provide much needed assistance to urban and rural communities in need.

These include the LEADER and CLÁR programmes; the recently launched Community Enhancement Programme; the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP): and the Community Services Programme.

All schemes delivered by my Department are open to applications from eligible parties during the relevant application timeframes set for each scheme/programme.

Full details of how to register or apply for financial assistance under these schemes can be obtained on my Department's website [www.drcd.gov.ie ] along with more detailed information on all various funding programmes and schemes.

Question No. 224 answered with Question No. 9.

Question No. 223 answered with Question No. 221.

Departmental Strategy Statements

Ceisteanna (225)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

225. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the mission statement for his Department including its various aspirations and objectives achievable over a specific time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26175/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Mission Statement of my Department, as set out in its Statement of Strategy published at the beginning of 2018, is: “To promote rural and community development and to support vibrant, inclusive and sustainable communities throughout Ireland”.

The Department of Rural and Community Development was established last year to facilitate the achievement of this mission through:

- creating conditions to support increased economic opportunities and local employment in all areas of the country

- delivering schemes and programmes that support the revitalisation of towns and villages

- improving access to services and social networks that ensure a high quality of life

- enabling communities disadvantaged by location or social issues to reach their full potential

- supporting communities to have a voice to shape their own future

In addition to the schemes and programmes being delivered, my Department is also working with our colleagues across Government to drive the rural agenda and to deliver policies and initiatives that consider the needs of all communities, regardless of location or demographics.

The Statement of Strategy also outlines the key strategic goals for my Department over the three-year period it covers from 2017-2020, with a view to assisting all communities to have the opportunity to grow and develop economically and socially.

These are to:

1. Work across Government to advance the economic and social development of rural areas in order to enhance the quality of life for people who live in rural Ireland.

2. Contribute to enhanced regional development, with a view to strengthening the potential of all regions to contribute to economic recovery.

3. Support local communities to develop, empowering them to identify their needs and aspirations and providing them with the opportunities, skills and confidence to influence, shape and participate in decision-making processes which affect them.

4. Support the Community, Voluntary and Charity Sector to strengthen its capacity to contribute to civil society and support the growth and development of philanthropy.

The full Statement of Strategy for my Department can be found at www.drcd.gov.ie.