Questions Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, answered orally.

Telecommunications Services Provision

Ceisteanna (4)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

4. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the work of the mobile phone and broadband taskforce implementation group to date; the way in which it will impact on the difficulties that rural communities are having in obtaining a reliable broadband supply; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3037/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce was established in July 2016, arising from a commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government to identify solutions to broadband and mobile phone coverage deficits.

An Implementation Group, which I currently chair, oversees the delivery of all of the actions arising from the Taskforce’s 2016 report. The Implementation Group has also developed further actions which build on, and supplement, the original Taskforce recommendations.

To date, the Implementation Group has made significant progress in identifying and working to mitigate potential barriers to the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan. Quarterly reports on the progress achieved by the Implementation Group are published on my Department’s website.

The actions completed to date cover a wide range of areas such as legislative issues, policy development and consumer awareness. For example, through the work of the Implementation Group, cooperation between telecommunications operators and local and central government has been strengthened. This is resulting in additional telecommunications infrastructure being deployed more rapidly throughout the country, which in turn is leading to better mobile phone coverage and access to mobile broadband services.

In addition, Transport Infrastructure Ireland have carried out an extensive ducting programme over the last 18 months which will support the roll-out of fibre infrastructure.

Other tangible examples of the work of the Taskforce include the introduction of a standardised road-opening charging framework by the Local Authorities. ComReg has also introduced a licensing exemption regime to allow the use of mobile phone repeaters, which will greatly improve mobile phone services for people living in rural areas.

Community Services Programme

Ceisteanna (5)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

5. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the progress made on the review being carried out of the community services programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2990/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Community Services Programme, or CSP, supports around 420 community organisations to provide local services through a social enterprise model, with funding provided as a contribution to the cost of a manager and an agreed number of full-time equivalent positions. More than €46 million is available to support community organisations under the programme in 2019.

The CSP transferred to my Department from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection in January 2018. While the primary focus for 2018 was ensuring continuity of service, a review of the programme was considered timely given my Department's role and its policy responsibility for social enterprise and for local development and community development.

My Department consulted with key stakeholders and CSP supported organisations on the scope of the review in October and November last year. This consultation helped shape the terms of reference for the review and the procurement of an independent third party to review the programme. Subject to a successful tender process, I expect a reviewer to be appointed before the end of February.

The review will consider how the programme fits with overall Government priorities as well as with my Department’s other community programmes and policy objectives, and will help inform decisions on the future shape and structure of the programme.

The review will take six months and I expect it will be completed in early Autumn 2019.

Action Plan for Rural Development Implementation

Ceisteanna (6)

Joe Carey

Ceist:

6. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the progress made on the development of the Atlantic economic corridor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2991/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Programme for a Partnership Government and the Action Plan for Rural Development both commit to progressing the Atlantic Economic Corridor initiative to create an economic area of scale along the western seaboard, from Donegal to Kerry.

The initiative aims to maximise the assets of the region and to better utilise the economic hubs, clusters and catchments of the area to attract investment, support job creation and contribute to an improved quality of life for people who live in the region.

Minister Ring established the Atlantic Economic Corridor Taskforce in March 2017 to oversee and progress the initiative. The Taskforce, which I now chair, meets every quarter. The Taskforce includes representatives of all of the key public and private sector stakeholders along the Corridor.

Three subgroups have been established to support the work of the Taskforce, focusing on infrastructure, enterprise space and communications. These subgroups meet twice each quarter and are currently implementing agreed work programmes.

My Department also provides co-funding for a dedicated AEC Officer in each of the 10 Local Authorities along the Corridor. This AEC Officer network is a resource to support the work of the AEC Taskforce and its subgroups, as well as to promote the AEC concept more widely.

This year, I have also provided the Western Development Commission with additional funding to strengthen the co-ordination of the AEC initiative.

There have been significant private sector investment and job announcements along the Atlantic Economic Corridor region in the last twelve months, which reflects the fact that the West of Ireland is an attractive place for employers and investors. The work of the AEC Taskforce will further highlight the potential of the region for national and international investment.

Charities Regulation

Questions Nos. 8 to 17, inclusive, answered orally

Ceisteanna (7)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

7. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development his plans to amend the Charities Act 2009 and the regulations thereunder; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2921/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Charities Regulatory Authority was established on 16 October, 2014 pursuant to the Charities Act 2009. Responsibility for the oversight of the Regulator transferred to my Department on its establishment in July 2017.

The general function of the Regulator is to regulate charitable organisations operating in Ireland, in order to increase public trust and confidence in their management and administration. This includes maintaining a public register of charitable organisations operating in Ireland and ensuring their compliance with the Charities Acts. Under the Charities Act, 2009, the Charities Regulator is fully independent in the performance of its statutory functions.

There is ongoing liaison between officials in my Department and the Charities Regulator to review the operation of the legislation to ensure that it is operating effectively. In 2017, on foot of public consultation, the Regulator proposed amendments to the Charities Act 2009 in order to ensure consistency and fairness in the accounting and reporting obligations of charities.

My Department is working with the Regulator to consider these amendments and also to consider whether sections of the 2009 Act which have yet to be enacted require further amendment. This work is at an advanced stage and I intend seeking Government approval in the near future to progress the legislation.

Questions Nos. 8 to 17, inclusive, answered orally.

Rural Regeneration and Development Fund

Ceisteanna (18, 28)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

18. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of capital developments in the County Donegal Gaeltacht that come under the remit of his Department; if funding will be provided to them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3035/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

28. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of capital developments in County Donegal that come under the remit of his Department; and if funding will be provided to them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3036/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 18 and 28 together.

My Department has provided funding through a number of programmes to County Donegal and to the Donegal Gaeltacht.

Under Project Ireland 2040, the Government committed €1 billion to the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF) over a 10 year period to support rural economic development and to help build strong communities. The Fund has been allocated €315m over the period 2019 to 2022, with €55m set aside in my Department's budget for successful projects in 2019.

I announced the first 18 successful projects under the Fund on the 23rd November which will receive €24.4 million.

The projects from the Fund, while unlocking a further €11 million in other funding, are ready to commence in 2019.

Donegal got an RRDF allocation of €1.5m for a successful proposal by Údarás na Gaeltachta for the expansion of Gaoth Dobhair Business Park which will deliver an additional 1,725 sq.m. of modern office space for formative businesses.

I also announced over €1.7m RRDF funding for the restoration, by Donegal County Council, of Swan Park in Buncrana, which was badly damaged by extreme weather in 2017.

My Department’s Library Capital Programme will invest some €29m in 19 projects, as well as the My Open Library service. I announced a €1m contribution in May 2018 for the new library for Donegal Town. I understand Donegal County Council expects to complete construction of the library by end-2020.

My Department recently awarded a grant of €35,000 to erect a mobile phone mast in Malin Beg, Co. Donegal under the Digital Innovation Programme. The funds for this project have been drawn down in full and it is my understanding that work will be completed before the end of quarter 2 of this year.

In 2018 I provided over €630,000 to County Donegal under the Community Enhancement Programme and 146 community groups have been approved under the programme.

The Local Action Group responsible for the delivery of the LEADER Programme in County Donegal is allocated a budget of approximately €9.6 million. Over €4.3 million is approved to 104 project promoters. Of this, €474,949 has been allocated to 22 projects in the Gaeltacht areas of the county. This funding will be drawn down as work is completed.

Other programmes operated by my Department which support Donegal are the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme; Town and Village Renewal Scheme; CLAR; The Walks Scheme and the Local Improvement Scheme.

I refer the Deputy to my Department's website for a full list of projects which give a comprehensive picture of what we are achieving for County Donegal. I look forward to making further announcements in 2019 that will build on our existing schemes to achieve better outcomes for all of those who live in rural areas.

Rural Recreation Policy

Ceisteanna (19)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

19. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development his plans for the development of rural recreation in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2824/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

Actions to maximise Ireland’s rural tourism and recreation potential are implemented across a number of Government Departments and agencies, including Fáilte Ireland, Local Authorities, Waterways Ireland and Coillte.

My Department works closely with these organisations and delivers a number of funding initiatives in its own right that support the development of rural recreational infrastructure in Ireland.

For example, the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme provides funding for the development, maintenance, enhancement and promotion of outdoor recreational infrastructure.

Since I introduced the scheme in 2016, I have approved almost 600 projects for funding of over €41 million. This investment has funded walkways, blueways, trails and other outdoor infrastructural projects around the country.

My Department also administers the Walks Scheme, which currently covers 39 trails, with payments made to approximately 1,900 private land-holders to maintain those trails.

The Programme for a Partnership Government includes a commitment to increase the number of walks covered by the scheme. In line with this commitment, funding for the scheme was doubled in Budget 2019 - from €2 million to 4 million - to allow this expansion to proceed this year.

My Department has also been working with the State Claims Agency in relation to the development of a National Indemnity Scheme to strengthen the protection for landowners in respect of recreational users on private lands. This is a priority for my Department in 2019 and it is my objective that a scheme will be agreed as early as possible this year.

There has been significant growth in the number of people engaging in outdoor pursuits in recent years, and I want to ensure that the countryside recreation sector can grow in a sustainable way into the future to protect the environment and support rural economies. This will require the input of all stakeholders.

I believe that Comhairle na Tuaite has a role to play in this regard. I have been reviewing the functions of Comhairle and I will shortly be issuing a new mandate to the group which will include a focus on sustainable use of the countryside.

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (20)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

20. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if the funding provided to an organisation (details supplied) under the scheme for supporting national organisations will be renewed in 2019. [3000/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Scheme to Support National Organisations in the Community and Voluntary Sector (SSNO) is a key element of my Department's support for the role of the sector in contributing to the development of strong and vibrant civil society and in improving outcomes for those most disadvantaged.

The 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 three-year scheme concludes on 30 June 2019 and the next iteration of the scheme will commence on 1 July 2019. A total of €16.7m has been allocated under the current scheme to 71 different organisations.

As with the current scheme, national organisations such as the one in question can apply to be considered for funding, which will be allocated through a competitive process. This competition was advertised on 12 December 2018 and the closing date for receipt of applications is 31 January. An appraisal of the applications will be conducted by Pobal on behalf of my Department and final recommendations will be sent to my Department for approval. Applicants will be informed in due course of their success or otherwise in qualifying for funding.

The organisation in question was allocated €269,700 over the 36 month period of the current SSNO scheme.

Local Improvement Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (21)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

21. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of rural roads that have received funding under the LIS in each of the years 2016 to 2018, by local authority in tabular form; and the projected number of road projects to be completed in 2019. [3028/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Local Improvement Scheme, or LIS, is a programme for improvement works on small private or non-public roads in rural areas. The scheme is funded by my Department and is administered through the Local Authorities.

As the Deputy may be aware, there was no dedicated funding for this scheme for a number of years due to constraints on public expenditure. However, I was very conscious of the underlying demand for the scheme in rural areas throughout the country.

I reintroduced the LIS in September 2017 and allocated a total of €17.4 million to Local Authorities for LIS roads in 2017. In 2018, I allocated almost €20 million for LIS roads in two phases.

The table which accompanies my reply outlines the number of LIS roads projects completed in 2017 and those completed under the first round of funding in 2018 to date, broken down by Local Authority. Final figures in respect of 2018 will not be available until all final returns have been submitted to my Department by the Local Authorities.

A sum of €10 million has been allocated for the LIS in my Department's 2019 Estimate, and I intend to announce details of the scheme in the coming weeks. The number and location of roads to benefit from improvement works in 2019 will be a matter for the relevant Local Authority. However, based on previous figures, I would anticipate that the level of funding available would fund the completion of a further 300 to 400 LIS road projects.

County

2017 Number of LIS Roads Completed

2018 Number of LIS Roads Completed

Carlow

20

14

Cavan

10

6

Cork

21

42

Clare

28

13

Donegal

164

56

Galway

57

30

Kerry

41

36

Kilkenny

16

8

Kildare

0

8

Leitrim

18

12

Laois

21

10

Limerick

18

10

Longford

18

13

Louth

8

6

Mayo

89

77

Meath

22

8

Monaghan

21

13

Offaly

20

13

Roscommon

41

40

Sligo

16

10

Tipperary

9

24

Waterford

17

12

Westmeath

23

9

Wexford

18

14

Wicklow

7

6

Total

723

490

Action Plan for Rural Development Implementation

Ceisteanna (22)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

22. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the progress to date on transport initiatives and proposals under the action plan for rural development; and the input has he has had with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport in this regard in relation to road projects and maintenance works to be carried out. [3027/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

As the Deputy will be aware, the provision of transport services is the responsibility of the Minister of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

There are several actions in the Action Plan for Rural Development in relation to transport services that are delivered by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and agencies under that Department's remit. These actions include progressing major roads projects, reviewing public transport policy, improving access to rural transport links and examining the scope for increased investment in regional roads.

Progress Reports on the implementation of measures contained in the Action Plan are published twice a year on my Department's website. The most recent, Third Progress Report, which was published in November 2018, outlines the progress on all actions due for delivery in the first half of 2018, or which are being implemented on an ongoing basis over the course of the three year Action Plan. It would be a matter for the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to provide the Deputy with more recent updates on the status of specific actions relating to the transport.

My own Department provides funding to Local Authorities for the Local Improvement Scheme to carry out works on private or non-public roads in predominantly rural areas. Over 1,200 roads have benefitted from investment by my Department of over €35 million under the Local Improvement Scheme since 2017.

The LIS was previously funded by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, but due to constraints on the public finances, no specific funding was ring-fenced for the scheme for a number years prior to my Department re-launching it in 2017. There is, therefore, a huge built-up demand for the scheme in rural areas.

In this context, I wrote to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport in February 2018 enquiring if his Department could provide match funding for the LIS to help meet the demand. However, the Minister's 2018 budget had already been allocated with a focus on funding for regional and local roads under the charge of the Local Authorities.

I was later in a position to re-allocate savings from elsewhere in my Department's Vote to the LIS in the second half of 2018 and will continue to fund the scheme in 2019 through my Department's Vote.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (23)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Ceist:

23. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the expenditure outturn in 2018 under all budget headings for which he is responsible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2926/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department had a current expenditure allocation of €144.02 million in 2018. The provisional current expenditure outturn is €142.36 million.

The capital allocation for my Department in 2018 was €95.21 million, which includes a capital carryover of €7.7 million from 2017. The provisional outturn for capital expenditure stands at €95.12 million.

Therefore, in total, €237.48 million was spent in 2018 from an available allocation of €239.23 million. This represents virtually a full spend, with the small saving resulting mainly from savings in the administration costs of my Department.

This expenditure and investment in rural and community development programmes is delivering real benefits on the ground. Initiatives such as town and village renewal, LEADER, SICAP and CSP are all supporting the economic and social development of people and communities right across the country, and will continue to do so in 2019.

I have set out in the table the provisional outturn by programme in respect of Departmental expenditure in 2018. A provisional appropriation account will be submitted to the Comptroller and Auditor General by the 31st March 2018. The final audited account will then be published in September 2019.

2018 - RURAL & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT (GROSS €000) PROVISIONAL

Current Allocation

Current Outturn

Capital Allocation

Capital Outturn

144,024

142,357

95,208

95,115

A - RURAL DEVELOPMENT & REGIONAL AFFAIRS

15,229

13,860

85,855

73,761

A.1 - ADMINISTRATION - PAY

4,644

4,208

-

-

A.2 - ADMINISTRATION - NON PAY

1,748

716

166

151

A.3 - DORMANT ACCOUNT MEASURES

2,320

2,320

2,006

2,000

A.4 - WESTERN DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION

1,516

1,442

-

-

A.5 - NATIONAL RURAL DEVELOPMENT SCHEMES

3,600

3,506

18,083

16,921

A.6 - LEADER - RURAL ECONOMY SUB PROGRAMME

-

-

40,000

24,587

A.7 - TIDY TOWNS COMPETITION

1

1

-

-

A.8 - TOWN AND VILLAGE REGENERATION

-

-

15,000

12,754

A.9 - RURAL BROADBAND, REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

1,400

1,667

600

948

A.10 - LOCAL IMPROVEMENT SCHEMES

-

-

10,000

16,401

B - COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

124,243

124,403

9,353

21,354

B.1 - ADMINISTRATION - PAY

3,618

3,231

-

-

B.2 - ADMINISTRATION - NON PAY

1,351

550

136

107

B.3 - SUPPORTS FOR COMMUNITY AND VOLUNTARY SECTOR

12,687

14,974

-

-

B.4 - SICAP, LOCAL/REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT SUPPORTS

43,230

43,185

-

-

B.5 - LOCAL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEES

1,905

2,123

-

-

B.6 - RAPID

2,233

1,911

3,767

3,767

B.7 - DORMANT ACCOUNTS MEASURES

5,750

5,750

-

-

B.8 - PROGRAMME FOR PEACE AND RECONCILIATION

3,028

3,986

700

-

B.9 - IRISH WATER SAFETY

1,014

1,254

-

-

B.10 - LIBRARY DEVELOPMENT AND ARCHIVE SERVICE

1,102

1,097

2,750

6,965

B.11 - COMMUNITY FACILITIES FUND

-

-

2,000

10,515

B.12 - COMMUNITY SERVICES PROGRAMME

46,190

43,525

-

-

B.13 - SOCIAL INCLUSION UNITS

550

531

-

-

B.14 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION NETWORKS

1,550

2,206

-

-

B.15 - OTHER SERVICES

35

79

-

-

C - CHARITIES REGULATORY AUTHORITY

4,552

4,094

0

0

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (24)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

24. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if he is satisfied that allocated funding is having the desired effect in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3004/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department delivers funding and a broad range of supports to Cork City and County which promote rural and community development and support vibrant inclusive and sustainable communities. The projects funded also provide for enhanced connectivity and improved amenities and promote tourism and job-creation initiatives. I am satisfied that the funding allocated by my Department is having a very positive impact in the communities concerned. The Government’s commitment to supporting rural Ireland is underscored through Project Ireland 2040. The new Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF) will provide an opportunity to deliver more integrated and ambitious projects nationally and in County Cork

Funding through the following schemes and programmes is being delivered in County Cork:

- 2018 Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme €3.2m

- Volunteer Centres €123,800 funding for 2018& 2019

- Public Participation Networks (PPNs), two Public Participation Networks (PPNs) supported in Cork City and County

- Seniors Alert Scheme, 10 new organisations were approved, 2,700 new participants were approved for the Scheme.

- Community Enhancement Programme, €1.12m to Cork City and County under the Community Enhancement Programme supporting 161 community groups.

- Social Enterprise Measure – Dormant Accounts Fund, €152,766 funding allocated for 2018 & 2019

- Digital Innovation Programme (DIP), €8,000 was allocated to Cork City Council to investigate the feasibility of a home swap initiative.

- Broadband Officer Funding (BBO), annual funding allocated to both Cork City Council & Cork County Council annually since 2016 to assist with the employment of a Broadband Officer.

- Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, allocation of over €2.1m for the conversion of a prominent heritage building in Kinsale, Co Cork into a local public library.

- LEADER, three Local Action Groups responsible for the delivery of the LEADER Programme in County Cork with a combined allocation of almost €14 million.

- Community Policy, a contribution of €146,495 (Cork City €67,361 and Cork County €79,134) in 2018 to support the new Local Community Development Committee arrangements and the implementation of Local Economic and Community Plans in particular.

- Community Services Programme (CSP), €2.6 million towards the cost of employing approximately 105 full-time equivalents and 17 manager positions in 29 community based organisations and social enterprises based in County Cork.

- Libraries, in 2018 my Department provided funding of over €417,000 to libraries in County Cork. This funding included the purchase of ICT technology, digital services and facilities in public libraries and a contribution to the lease for the Douglas library building.

- CLÁR, in 2018 my Department allocated €1.2 to CLÁR projects in CLÁR areas in Co. Cork.

- The Local Improvement Scheme, or LIS, in 2018, my Department allocated €1.7m for such works in Co. Cork.

- New Outdoor Recreational Infrastructure, in 2018, my Department allocated almost €600,000 under the ORIS.

- Walks Scheme, The scheme currently covers 5 trails in County Cork, with payments made to approximately 600 private land-holders to maintain those trails.

- Town and Village Renewal Scheme, since 2016, a total of €53 million has been allocated to over 670 projects throughout Ireland, including Cork.

Further details can be found on my Department’s website.

Irish Language

Ceisteanna (25)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

25. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if his Department has submitted a language scheme for approval to the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; when it is hoped to adopt a language scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2823/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

Section 15 of the Official Languages Act 2003 provides for the preparation by Public Bodies of a statutory scheme detailing the services they will provide through the medium of Irish.

I can confirm that my Department's first Language Scheme which will be effective for the period of three years from 2019 to 2021, has recently been approved by my Department, and has been forwarded to my Colleague Seán Kyne, Minister of State at the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht with responsibility for Gaeilge, Gaeltacht and the Islands, for confirmation before being implemented by my Department.

Rural Regeneration and Development Fund

Ceisteanna (26, 30, 38, 39)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

26. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of applications made under the rural regeneration and development fund to date per category; the number of applications granted funding per category; the funding approved for the scheme in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3030/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

30. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the projects approved to date in each county under the rural regeneration and development fund; when the next tranche of projects will be approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2826/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

38. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the way in which the rural regeneration and development fund will be delivered in the north west area of County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3003/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Hildegarde Naughton

Ceist:

39. Deputy Hildegarde Naughton asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the allocation made to date in respect of the rural regeneration and development fund; when he plans to make a decision on the remaining applications submitted; when he plans to invite applications for funding purposes in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2987/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 26, 30, 38 and 39 together.

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.

280 applications to the Fund were received by my Department, 126 Category 1 applications and 154 Category 2 applications. In total, 66 applications were for projects located in County Cork, 17 in Category 1 and 49 in Category 2. 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 also being considered.

I announced the first 18 successful Category 1 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 details are set out in Table 1.

A further announcement detailing successful Category 1 and Category 2 projects will take place early in 2019, with a second call for the Fund taking place later in the year.

Table 1. Successful RRDF Applications by County

County

Number of Successful Applications

Total RRDF Funding

Carlow

1

€654,820

Cavan

1

€867,174

Clare

1

€1,023,300

Cork

1

€2,157,375

Donegal

2

€3,228,042

Galway

2

€2,276,887

Kerry

1

€1,270,000

Kilkenny

1

€561,750

Laois

1

€1,200,000

Limerick

3

€7,167,477

Mayo

2

€2,895,062

Sligo

2

€1,115,752

Total

18

€24,417,639

Community Enhancement Programme Funding

Question No. 28 answered with Question No. 18.

Ceisteanna (27)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

27. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if the allocation of €132,385 for County Longford and €136,571 for County Westmeath under the community enhancement fund is set to increase in 2019; the way in which the allocation to each county was spent in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2828/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

I launched the Community Enhancement Programme (CEP) in 2018. The Programme provides grants to community groups to enhance facilities in order to address disadvantage as identified in each local authority's Local Economic and Community Plan.

Last year I allocated CEP funding to local authorities taking into account the level of disadvantage and population in each area with an initial provision of €132,385 to Longford and €136,571 to Westmeath. Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback from communities across the country, I subsequently allocated an additional €8 million to the Programme. Longford and Westmeath received additional funding bringing their total allocations to €226,909 and €148,104 respectively. In addition, Longford and Westmeath received €7,246 and €18,841, respectively, under a ring-fenced Men's Shed fund.

I am currently considering the approach for the 2019 Programme.

Detail on approved projects for 2018 in each county are available on my Department's website on the following two links:

https://drcd.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/CEP-Jan-2019-Project-approvals.pdf.

https://drcd.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/Mens-Sheds-Funding-Jan-2019.pdf.

Question No. 28 answered with Question No. 18.

CLÁR Programme

Question No. 30 answered with Question No. 26.

Ceisteanna (29, 231)

Hildegarde Naughton

Ceist:

29. Deputy Hildegarde Naughton asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the progress to date on the review of the CLÁR areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2988/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

231. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the progress to date in respect of the review of the CLÁR areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3387/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 29 and 231 together.

The CLÁR programme is an important part of the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development and provides funding for small infrastructural projects in rural areas which have suffered high levels of population decline.

The programme was first launched in October 2001. The areas originally selected for inclusion in the programme were those which suffered the greatest population decline from 1926 to 1996. The Cooley Peninsula was also included on the basis of the serious difficulties caused in that area by Foot and Mouth disease. The average population loss in the original CLÁR regions over the period 1926 to 1996 was 50%.

In 2006, an analysis of the 2002 Census data was carried out by the NIRSA Institute at Maynooth University and the programme was extended to include areas with an average population loss of 35% between 1926 and 2002.

The CLÁR programme was closed for new applications in 2010. However, I re-launched the programme in the second half of 2016, using as a base-line the areas identified in the work carried out by NIRSA. Over 1,200 projects have been approved for funding of €25 million under CLÁR since I re-launched the programme in 2016.

I have initiated a review of the CLÁR programme which will examine CLÁR areas by reference to the 2016 Census of Population data. It will also consider whether there are any other factors that should be taken into account in designating areas for eligibility under CLÁR in the future.

The review process began in November last with a targeted consultation meeting with a number of experts who are recognised for their background in rural development issues. A more detailed focus group consultation will be held in the coming weeks which will help to inform the next steps in the review process.

I envisage that a wider stakeholder consultation will also take place before the review is completed. Once completed, the review will help to inform the design of future CLÁR programmes.

Question No. 30 answered with Question No. 26.