Irish Sign Language

Question No. 61 answered with Question No. 57.

Question No. 62 answered with Question No. 49.

Ceisteanna (60)

Clare Daly


60. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the progress made to promote Irish sign language and users of same in community development and wider community engagement since the passing of the Irish Sign Language Act 2017. [51844/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

Lead responsibility for this matter rests with my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality.

I can confirm however, that in terms of implementation of the policy, the network of public libraries is proactive in terms of stocking books and material on Irish Sign Language which is on display on the library catalogue. There are currently 484 sign language books on the catalogue which includes over 270 Irish sign language books

My Department also provides funding to the Irish Deaf Society under the Scheme for Supporting National Organisations (SSNO). This scheme 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 iteration of the scheme runs from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2019 and the funding allocation provided to the Irish Deaf Society under the 36 month period of the scheme is €269,700.

Furthermore, I can confirm that my Department is providing funds (under the Digital Innovation Programme), in the order of some 8,000, to the HSE Tipperary Town Gold Star Disability Awareness Project, which, working in partnership with a number of specialist agencies in the community, including and Tipperary County Council, aims to create and design an interactive learning tool to work with young people and members of the Deaf community in Tipperary. This is suitable for use with young people in post primary schools and anyone who has an interest in learning to communicate through Irish Sign Language.

It would also be the intention to build on the post primary school base to have a basic app available for use in all civic and public offices across the county, for all community and voluntary services. This will ensure that when a client presents to any of these services that the staff have the resource to enable them to communicate, and with the same facility replicated across the county this will ensure consistency and increase access to services throughout the county. This project will involve the local authority, Transition Year students, students of Limerick Institute of Technology,, Tipperary Gold Star Disability Initiative and volunteers from the deaf community.

This project has the potential to significantly benefit the community, deaf and non-deaf alike. It also demonstrates a strong level of engagement across the community, demonstrating a collaborative approach to this important issue.

Question No. 61 answered with Question No. 57.
Question No. 62 answered with Question No. 49.

Social Enterprise Sector

Ceisteanna (63)

Dara Calleary


63. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of progress towards completing the development of a national policy on social enterprise following the announcement in September 2017; the month in which the policy will be completed and published in 2018; and the number of stakeholders consulted to date. [51867/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department is at an advanced stage in developing Ireland’s first National Policy on Social Enterprise.

The development of the policy is underpinned by a research and consultation exercise which was conducted by my Department in partnership with the Social Finance Foundation. The aim of this research was to better understand the social enterprise sector in Ireland and to identify the issues that need to be addressed to enable the sector to develop and grow.

A Steering Group, which included practitioners from the social enterprise sector and key Government Departments, was established to oversee the research. As part of the research project, three consultation workshops were held in Dublin, Cork and Athlone, to obtain the views of stakeholders. An average of 40 people attended each workshop.

In addition, an on-line survey was carried out which was open to all interested parties. A series of meetings was also held with relevant Government Departments and other stakeholders on specific thematic issues, and my officials also have visited and met with many individual social enterprises and social entrepreneurs.

A draft of the Social Enterprise Policy will be published shortly for public consultation, with a view to the final policy document being published in the first quarter of 2019.

My Department is also working closely with the wider Community and Voluntary sector to develop a new Implementation Plan for the Policy Framework for Local and Community Development.

Taken together, the two documents will support the full range of organisations that are providing services to communities or tackling social issues, whether through a social enterprise model or through more traditional community service delivery.

Notwithstanding the timelines for the publication of the policy, my Department is already actively working to support the social enterprise sector. For example, my Department provides funding for social enterprises through the Dormant Accounts Fund, SICAP, LEADER and the CSP programmes. My Department has also recently taken a seat on the newly established EU Expert Group on Social Economy and Social Enterprises, to represent Ireland's interest at EU level.

Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme Administration

Ceisteanna (64)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy


64. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the implementation of the new SICAP programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51673/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

SICAP 2018 - 2022 is a €190m five year national programme that provides funding to tackle poverty and social exclusion. It is overseen by Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs) and delivered locally by Local Development Companies with expertise in delivering social inclusion interventions.

The newly designed SICAP programme is a result of an independent national consultation process. It is more clearly defined than previous programmes and allows for greater flexibility and capacity to address local needs. The programme has to date exceeded its national targets, supporting 28,394 individuals and 2,253 community groups from a range of target groups including children and families, low income workers, long term unemployed, travellers, new communities, roma, and people living in disadvantaged communities.

As our economy continues to improve, It is vital that we continue to focus on the needs of those people at most risk of being left behind. My Department is continuously seeking to make improvements to the effectiveness of SICAP to enable us to do this. Along with Pobal, we have commenced the development of a Distance Travelled Tool, to measure personal progression of individuals availing of supports under SICAP as they move closer to employment or education.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (65)

Dara Calleary


65. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the amount allocated by current and capital expenditure to date in 2018 to schemes (details supplied); and the amount expended on each such scheme to date in tabular form. [51868/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question 622 for written answer on 4th December 2018.

That reply detailed the allocations for the schemes referred to by the Deputy, and set out the most up to date information on the expenditure position for the schemes in question.

As the final processing of payments takes place on a weekly basis, and the information requested needs to be compiled at a scheme level, the previously advised position remains the best information available at this time.

That information is detailed again in tabular form below. I have asked my officials to forward on the position for these schemes in the coming days, once final information following the next round of payments is available and compiled from overall programme expenditure figures.

As I stated previously, I am confident that the programme funding made available to my Department in 2018 will be fully utilised this year.


Current Allocation

Current Expenditure to date

Capital Allocation

Capital Expenditure to date

Town and Village Renewal Scheme





Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme





Walks Scheme





CLÁR Programme





Local Improvement Scheme





Community Enhancement Programme (and all measures under the RAPID subhead)





Community Development Projects

Ceisteanna (66)

Joe Carey


66. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the amount of funding provided in 2018 to men's sheds; his plans to provide such funding to same in 2019 and in future years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51672/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department has provided a range of supports for Men’s Sheds in 2018.

This year I announced a special Men’s Shed Fund under the Community Enhancement Programme. This provided €0.5 million for Men’s Sheds groups to carry out minor capital works or to purchase equipment.

Men's Sheds groups were also eligible to apply for funding under the main Community Enhancement Programme, under which €8.5 million of funding was available in 2018. The final amount provided to Mens's Sheds groups under the main programme is not yet available as the decision making process is ongoing. This Community Enhancement Programme will be open to applications again in 2019.

The Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) provided 22 grants totalling €17,650 to Men’s Sheds groups to date in 2018. This type of support will continue throughout the current iteration of SICAP which runs until 2022.

In 2018, under the LEADER 2014-2020 Programme, ten Men's Sheds projects were approved to the value of €670,685. This funding stream will continue past 2019.

Project Ireland 2040 Funding

Ceisteanna (67)

Martin Kenny


67. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if allocations of funding by his Department are guided by Project Ireland 2040; if not, if funding is allocated on an ad hoc basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51871/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

Project Ireland 2040 is the Government’s overarching policy and planning framework for the social, economic and cultural development of Ireland. It includes a detailed capital investment plan for the next ten years, the National Development Plan 2018-2027, and the National Planning Framework which outlines the broader policy principles and priorities in planning for future population and economic growth to 2040.

As part of Project Ireland 2040, the Government has provided an additional €1 billion for the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund over the period 2019 to 2027. The Fund will provide investment to support suitable projects in towns and villages with a population of less than 10,000, and outlying areas which will deliver on the aims of Project Ireland 2040 and achieve sustainable economic and social development in these areas.

The Fund's key criteria, which proposals for funding must demonstrate in order to receive support, are specifically designed to deliver on the strategic outcomes of Project Ireland 2040 - most notably strengthened rural economies and communities. The applications received under the first call from the Fund, which closed in September, are being assessed in accordance with the aforementioned strategic outcomes and key criteria and the first 18 successful projects which I announced last month will, I believe, deliver fully on the objectives of Project Ireland 2040. Further successful projects will be announced early in the New Year with a second call for applications under the Fund to follow later in 2019.

In terms of the other capital funding schemes administered by my Department, such as the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme, the Community Enhancement Programme and CLÁR, the criteria underpinning funding decisions are tailored to the objectives of the relevant scheme, all of which are consistent with the strategic outcomes set out in Project Ireland 2040.

While the LEADER Programme 2014-2020 is governed by regulations established by the European Union, the themes of the programme - Economic Development, Enterprise Development and Job Creation; Social Inclusion; and Rural Environment - are also in harmony with Project Ireland 2040 and will contribute to the achievement of the National Strategic Outcomes.

Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme

Ceisteanna (68)

Peter Burke


68. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the allocation made under the outdoor recreation infrastructure scheme in 2018; when measure 2 approvals will be announced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51676/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme is part of the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development and provides funding for the development of new outdoor recreational infrastructure or the necessary maintenance, enhancement or promotion of existing outdoor recreation infrastructure in Ireland.

On 28th May last, I launched the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme for 2018, under three separate measures:

- Measure 1: Small maintenance/promotion of existing infrastructure (maximum grant €20,000)

- Measure 2: Medium scale repair/upgrade and development of new small/medium infrastructure (maximum grant €200,000), and

- Measure 3: Repair/upgrade and development of larger more strategic projects (grant of between €200,001 and €500,000).

Since September last, I have announced the allocation of €1.8 million in respect of 128 projects under Measure 1, and over €8 million in respect of 18 projects under Measure 3.

My officials are now assessing the applications received under Measure 2 and I hope to be in a position to announce the successful projects in the coming weeks.

Community Development Initiatives

Ceisteanna (69)

Thomas P. Broughan


69. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the way in which the provision of essential community infrastructure will be supported in the north fringe of Dublin city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51720/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department supports Local Community Development Committees who are responsible for the delivery of the community elements of their Local Economic and Community Plans (LECPs). These plans, adopted in each local authority area, identify local needs, such as essential community infrastructure, in each area including the north fringe of Dublin city.

These facilities are funded from a range of sources; including via schemes and programmes provided by my Department which provides a range of supports to communities nationwide, by helping citizens to participate in the development of their communities and by providing funding to improve facilities.

For example, the Community Enhancement Programme which will fund capital projects to the total value of €12.5m in 2018 can contribute towards the renovation of community infrastructure. My Department also provides funding under the LEADER programme, which can support the development of Community Centres outside of the five main cities.

Rural Regeneration and Development Fund

Ceisteanna (70)

Dara Calleary


70. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of applications made under the rural regeneration and development fund; the number of applications granted funding; the funding approved in budget 2019 for the scheme in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51869/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The first call for applications for the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund closed at the end of September. €1 billion is committed to the Fund over a 10 year period to support rural economic development and help build strong communities with €55 million allocated to the fund in Budget 2019.

290 applications to the Fund were received by my Department, 125 Category 1 applications and 165 Category 2 applications. Applications for the Fund are currently being examined by the Project Advisory Board, made up of representatives from key Government Departments and external experts, which was established to oversee the assessment process. Category 1 "shovel ready" projects were prioritised in the assessment process and Category 2 projects - those which need development funding to become potential Category 1 applications in future calls for applications - are now being considered.

I announced the first 18 successful projects under the Fund on the 23rd November. The projects will receive €24.4 million from the Fund while unlocking a further €11 million in other funding, and all are ready to commence in 2019.

The announcement on the 23rd November was just the beginning of the process and further announcements of successful Category 1 and Category 2 projects will take place early in the New Year with a further call for the Fund taking place later in 2019.

Climate Change Adaptation Plans

Ceisteanna (71)

Catherine Connolly


71. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development his plans, timeline and targets to meet the terms of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51854/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment is responsible for the overall coordination by Government of mitigation planning in the area of climate change and my Department will play its part in supporting the plans, initiatives and targets set out by my colleague, Minister Bruton, in this regard.

While my Department does not have a direct role in relation to climate action targets, we are actively participating on a number of levels in the structures that have been put in place by Government on this issue and are keen to contribute to the overall national effort on climate action.

Supporting the development of resilient and sustainable communities is at the heart of my Department's mission and as part of that we are working with local communities to help Ireland's transition to a low carbon and climate resilient society through the wide range of programmes, supports and initiatives we deliver.

These include the LEADER programme's Rural Environment theme, which will see almost €24million invested in projects during the period to 2020 under the sub-themes of Protection & Sustainable use of Water Resources, Protection & Improvement of Local Biodiversity, and Development of Renewable Energy. Thus far, 69 projects have been approved for funding under this theme by Local Action Groups.

My Department also provides supports through the Dormant Accounts Fund, through the Social Enterprise and Social Innovation Fund measures, and the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme. These include grants to applicants providing home insulation services, reducing our food waste, sustainable energy actions, bee-keeping and training in thermal insulation installation.

I have also allocated funding supports to those who are exploring the potential of renewable energy and to local projects in that sector.

Additionally, programmes such as the Town and Village Renewal Scheme and Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme support the diversification of the rural economy and the effective use of communities' areas of natural heritage, creating employment opportunities associated with local tourism projects such as greenways and blueways and through funding for enterprise hubs and other projects.

My Department will continue keep each of the schemes and programmes we administer, under review, to ensure they complement the overall objectives of climate change mitigation.

Estimates Process

Ceisteanna (72)

Éamon Ó Cuív


72. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the capital expenditure to date in 2018 by subhead of his Department compared to the allocation in the Estimate; if he is satisfied that all allocated capital will be spent by the end of 2018; if he has applied to the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform for permission to carry over capital money to 2019; if so, the amount requested; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51846/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Revised Estimates for 2018 in respect of the Department of Rural and Community Development sets out gross capital expenditure of €87.5 million. This is supplemented by €7.7 million capital which was carried forward from 2017.

As of the 7th December, €73.7 million of my Department's capital allocation has been spent; there remains €21.5 million in capital expenditure to be spent before the end of the year. This expenditure is detailed by programme in the table provided below.

Close monitoring of expenditure is a matter of significant priority for my Department so as to ensure full use of our allocated resources, and that value for money is delivered in respect of our funding.

I have already identified areas where some capital programmes are unlikely to spend their full allocation this year. For example, whilst LEADER activity is ramping up and a healthy pipeline of projects have been approved, the programme will not require its full allocation this year.

I have been proactive in reallocating resources where possible. For example, I have already expanded the Community Enhancement Programme this year, increased investment in Libraries, and provided additional support to fund the Local Improvement Schemes. I have also supported the development of Coillte trails, Tidy Towns, Agricultural Shows and Men's Sheds Organisations.

The progress being made with regard to payments is clear. Almost €35 million in capital expenditure was paid out over October and November.

I can confirm that I anticipate full use of capital moneys, and have therefore not applied to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to carryover capital money to 2019. I will continue to closely monitor expenditure over the final weeks of this year to ensure that our resources are fully used, delivering for all communities and for rural Ireland

Capital Expenditure to date

1. Capital Expenditure to date

Full Year - 2018

YTD - Actual

V42 – GROSS (€’000s)