Charities Regulation

Ceisteanna (31)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

31. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development his plans to bring forward legislation to reform the Charities Act 2009 which disallows political activity such as that seen in a centre (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2827/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Charities Regulatory Authority was established on 16 October, 2014 pursuant to the Charities Act 2009. 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. Under the 2009 Act, the Charities Regulator is fully independent in the performance of its statutory functions.

Under the current Act, certain bodies are excluded from being registered Irish charities. The list of excluded bodies set out in section 2(1) of the Charities Act 2009, includes: a political party; a body that promotes a political party or candidate; and a body that promotes a political cause that does not relate directly to the advancement of the body’s charitable purpose.

A registered charity may engage in activities to promote a political cause provided that the promotion of this cause:

- relates directly to the advancement of the charity’s charitable purpose;

- does not promote a political party or candidate;

- is not contrary to the charity’s governing document.

The Charities Regulator published a guidance document in February 2018 to assist charities in this regard. The document contains a number of illustrative examples to show how charities can promote political causes as part of their work to advance their charitable purpose. It also provides examples of the kinds of situations in which charities could potentially find themselves in breach of their legal obligations by engaging in certain political activities.

The ‘Guidance on Charities and the Promotion of Political Causes’ is available on the Charities Regulator website www.charitiesregulator.ie

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. While my Department is currently working with the Regulator on proposed amendments to the Act, there are no plans currently to amend the section concerned.

Community Development Projects

Ceisteanna (32)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

32. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the projects funded by his Department to provide digital communication tools for members of the deaf community in rural areas. [2999/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

In 2018, my Department introduced a new Digital Innovation Programme to encourage Local Authorities to use digital technologies to address issues for the benefit of local communities. A total of €700,000 was allocated to 21 projects arising from two calls for proposals under the Digital Innovation Programme in the second half of 2018.

Under the Programme, €8,000 was awarded to Tipperary County Council for an innovative project, Sign of the Times. With this funding, Tipperary Town Gold Star Disability Awareness Project HSE, working in partnership with a number of specialist agencies in the community, including DeafHear.ie and Tipperary County Council, are designing an interactive learning tool to work with young people and members of the deaf community in Tipperary.

This learning tool will be suitable for use with young people in secondary schools and anyone who has an interest in learning to communicate through Irish Sign Language. The project should be scalable by other Local Authorities in the future.

This project is in the early stages of development, but is expected to be in operation by the end of Quarter 2 this year.

Further details of this, and all of the other projects approved for funding under the Digital Innovation Programme, are available on my Department's website at: https://drcd.gov.ie/about/rural/rural-development/national-broadband-plan/digital-innovation-programme/.

Dormant Accounts Fund

Ceisteanna (33)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

33. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the success or otherwise of the operation of the dormant accounts funding programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3005/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Department of Rural and Community Development was established in July 2017 and took over responsibility for the Dormant Account Fund at that time.

The Comptroller and Auditor General examined the operation of the Fund as part of its 2016 work programme and published its findings in September 2017. The findings focused in particular on the administration of the fund, the low level of disbursements from the fund and whether money in the fund could be better applied.

Since then my Department has worked to ensure these issues are addressed and the money in the fund is put to good use.

As recommended by the C&AG a review of the operation of the disbursement scheme was completed and published by my Department in July 2018. The review sets out 15 recommendations to improve the administration and operation of the Fund. An interdepartmental group has been established to assist in ensuring the recommendations are progressed.

The 2018 Dormant Accounts Action Plan was also published in July 2018, and approved funding of up to €39.7 million for 45 different measures across ten different Government Departments. In line with the provisions of the Dormant Accounts Acts, the measures identified in the Action Plan target social, economic and educational disadvantage; and people with a disability. The approved measures will support a wide range of projects and programmes relating to issues such as social inclusion, assisting migrants, support for carers, speech and language therapy, support for dementia sufferers and sports measures. The majority of measures will commence in 2019, subject to voted expenditure being available within each relevant Department.

Good progress is being made and spend from the fund across all Departments totalled €27.8 million in 2018. This is an increase of 78% on the 2017 spend of €15.6 million. My own Department fully utilised its allocation - with €10.1 million spent from the fund in 2018.

Local Improvement Scheme Funding

Ceisteanna (34, 49, 50)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

34. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if additional funding will be allocated to local authorities for the local improvement scheme for 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3034/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

49. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development when he plans to make an allocation for the local improvement scheme for 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2983/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Ceist:

50. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development when he plans to make an allocation for the local improvement scheme for 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2925/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 34, 49 and 50 together.

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 therefore 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 €21 million to Local Authorities across the country under the scheme.

It is clear that there is a continuing demand for LIS funding in rural communities across Ireland, and I have therefore secured a further allocation of €10 million for the scheme in the 2019 Estimates process. I anticipate that I will be in a position to announce details of the 2019 scheme in the coming weeks.

Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme

Ceisteanna (35)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

35. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the expenditure outturn for 2018 under the outdoor recreational infrastructure scheme; when he plans to invite proposals for the 2019 funding programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2985/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (formerly known as the Rural Recreation 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 recreational infrastructure in Ireland.

Last May last, I launched the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme for 2018 under three separate measures, with funding of between €20,000 and €500,000 available for projects of different scale under the scheme.

Arising from applications received for funding under the 2018 scheme, I approved over 230 projects for funding of almost €21 million, including 78 projects for funding of €10.8 million on 8th January this year.

The expenditure outturn under the scheme for 2018 was €5,333,214, which includes payments in respect of approvals made in both 2017 and 2018.

Since I introduced the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure 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.

I propose to launch the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme for 2019 during the first quarter of 2019, to continue investment in projects that will benefit visitors and locals alike in rural areas.

Departmental Budgets

Ceisteanna (36)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

36. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the final capital spend in 2018, including the capital carry over from 2017, by subhead; the provision under each subhead, including the capital carry over from 2017 provided for in the revised estimates volume for 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3031/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The total capital allocation for my Department in 2018 was €95.208 million, inclusive of €7.7 million capital carryover from 2017. The provisional capital outturn for 2018 is €95.115 million. Therefore, there has been virtually a full spend on the capital programme, with 99.9% of the capital allocation utilised. This has ensured investment right across the policy areas of my Department, including additional investment in areas such as libraries development, the local improvement scheme and community facilities.

The table below details the capital allocation and provisional outturn by programme in respect of my Department for 2018; including the capital carryover of €7.7 million from 2017.

These figures remain provisional, and 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)

Capital

Allocation

Provisional Capital

Outturn

95,208

95,115

A - RURAL DEVELOPMENT & REGIONAL AFFAIRS

85,855

73,761

A.2 - ADMINISTRATION - NON PAY

166

151

A.3 - DORMANT ACCOUNT MEASURES

2,006

2,000

A.5 - NATIONAL RURAL DEVELOPMENT SCHEMES

18,083

16,921

A.6 - LEADER - RURAL ECONOMY SUB PROGRAMME

40,000

24,587

A.8 - TOWN AND VILLAGE REGENERATION

15,000

12,754

A.9 - RURAL BROADBAND, REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

600

948

A.10 - LOCAL IMPROVEMENT SCHEMES

10,000

16,401

B - COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

9,353

21,354

B.2 - ADMINISTRATION - NON PAY

136

107

B.6 - RAPID

3,767

3,767

B.8 - PROGRAMME FOR PEACE AND RECONCILIATION

700

-

B.10 - LIBRARY DEVELOPMENT AND ARCHIVE SERVICE

2,750

6,965

B.11 - COMMUNITY FACILITIES FUND

2,000

10,515

Charitable and Voluntary Organisations

Questions Nos. 38 and 39 answered with Question No. 26.

Ceisteanna (37)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

37. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development when the independent review of the charitable status of Pobal will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2825/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

Pobal is a not for profit company which was originally established by Government in 1992 as Area Development Management (ADM) Ltd. Charitable status was granted to the company by the Revenue Commissioners on the 20th November 1996. In 2005 ADM was re-named Pobal. In accordance with Section 40 of the Charities Act, 2009, Pobal was entered onto the Register of Charitable Organisations on 16 October 2014.

The basis for Pobal having charitable status is tied to the objects of the Company, which are specified in its Memorandum and Articles of Association. I am satisfied that Pobal is fully compliant with the relevant legislative requirements including those of the Charities Act, 2009.

Pobal has undertaken a review of its charitable status and in that regard sought independent legal advice on the matter. The review has now concluded and a report was presented to the Board of Pobal at their meeting last Monday, 21st January.

Once the Board has completed its consideration of the report, Pobal will brief my officials in relation to any matters arising.

Questions Nos. 38 and 39 answered with Question No. 26.

Public Participation Networks

Ceisteanna (40, 45)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

40. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the funding provided in 2018 to the public participation networks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2804/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pat Deering

Ceist:

45. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the funding provided in 2018 to the public participation networks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2994/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 40 and 45 together.

Since 2015, funding of up to €50,000 per annum has been allocated by my Department in respect of each Public Participation Network (PPN), provided this was supplemented by a minimum of €30,000 per annum from each local authority’s own resources. This funding is to be used for the cost of the employment of a Resource Worker, and ongoing operational costs such as office accommodation and training.

In addition to individually funding each PPN, my Department has provided indirect funding of up to €100,000 annually for the general support of the PPN process. This funding is used to support training for PPNs, CPD (Continuous Professional Development) events arranged specifically for Resource Workers, training of local authority staff dealing with PPNs, technical and on-going support for the PPN’s national database, production of an Annual Report, the costs associated with holding the Annual PPN Conference and other associated costs arising in association with the National PPN Advisory Group.

One of the recommendations contained in the latest Annual Report and addressed at the 2018 PPN Conference was the need for extra administrative resources to support the PPN development role. Additional funding has been provided by my Department which will enable PPNs to employ a Support Worker in 2019 specifically to provide that extra administrative support.

Additional recommendations relating to promoting public awareness and understanding of the PPNs, to be developed through a Communications Strategy along with a review of the PPN Guidelines, will also be supported by my Department in 2019.

Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme Expenditure

Ceisteanna (41)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

41. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the expenditure outturn in 2018 under the social inclusion and community activation programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2989/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

€37.8 million was provided by my Department for the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) in 2018. The programme runs for five years from 2018 to 2022 with the key objective of assisting the most marginalised in our society.

The programme is locally managed by Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs) and is delivered across 51 separate areas by Local Development Companies with expertise in providing social inclusion interventions.

In 2018, SICAP's targets required those companies to assist 1,954 community groups and 25,189 individuals. The mid-year review of 2018 indicated that the companies were well on course to meet their targets.

Local Improvement Scheme Administration

Ceisteanna (42)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

42. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the local improvement scheme to local authorities nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3001/19]

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.

I reintroduced the LIS in September 2017, after several years when no funding was ring-fenced for the scheme. I allocated a total of €17.4 million to Local Authorities for LIS roads in 2017.

In February 2018, I allocated €10.8 million to Local Authorities across the country under the 2018 LIS scheme. Given the continuing level of demand for this funding in rural communities across Ireland, I also asked the Local Authorities to prepare secondary lists of roads which they could complete if further funding became available for the scheme during the year.

Following on from this, on 26th October 2018, I was in a position to announce a further round of LIS funding of almost €10 million to the Local Authorities. The allocations on a county-by-county basis for both of these rounds of funding are available on my Department's website, www.drcd.gov.ie.

It is clear that there remains a strong demand for LIS funding in rural communities across Ireland and I have secured a further allocation of €10 million for the scheme in my Department's 2019 Estimate. I anticipate that details of the 2019 LIS programme will be announced in the coming weeks.

CLÁR Programme

Ceisteanna (43)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

43. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the criteria applicable for the award of funding pursuant to the CLÁR programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2829/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The CLÁR programme provides funding for small scale infrastructural projects in disadvantaged rural areas that have experienced significant levels of depopulation. The aim of CLÁR is to support the sustainable development of designated CLÁR areas with the aim of encouraging people to continue to live and work in those areas. The funding provided under CLÁR works in conjunction with local funding and on the basis of locally identified priorities.

CLÁR was originally launched in October 2001 to provide for targeted investment in disadvantaged rural areas. 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 recently 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. The review, once completed, will also help to inform future CLÁR programmes.

Decisions regarding the specific measures to be supported under the CLÁR programme this year will be made shortly and I anticipate that the 2019 CLÁR Programme will be opened for new applications in the first quarter of the year.

Departmental Agencies Funding

Question No. 45 answered with Question No. 40.

Ceisteanna (44)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

44. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if he will report on the role of Pobal in the allocation of funding for his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3006/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

Pobal is an agency of my Department which works on behalf of Government to manage and implement a number of publicly-funded programmes designed to improve outcomes for local communities, particularly those encountering social and economic disadvantage.

Pobal operates on the basis of a framework agreement with my Department and programme-specific service level agreements with individual divisions, with an agreed programme of work with each division for any work it is requested to undertake. Those programmes include the LEADER Programme; the Social Inclusion and the Community Activation Programme (SICAP), the Scheme to Support National Organisations (SSNO), the Seniors Alert Scheme (SAS), the Community Services Programme (CSP). In addition, Pobal is responsible for the management and administration of the Social Enterprise Measure of the Dormant Accounts Fund (DAF) on behalf of the Department.

Each programme that Pobal provides supports for differs, as does Pobal’s level and type of involvement in each. Pobal’s role depends on the requirements of the division with responsibility for the respective programme and does not involve the allocation of funding on behalf of my Department in all cases. For example, in some cases Pobal will work across the programme lifecycle as with SICAP. Pobal does not allocate SICAP funding which is done directly by the Department through the Local Authorities.

Pobal supports to the LEADER 2014-2020 Programme are for ICT and Pobal also undertake certain Article 48 checks under the programme. Pobal has no function in the allocation of funding to individual LEADER project promoters. The responsibility for allocating funding under the LEADER Programme rests with the relevant Local Action Groups.

As referenced above, Pobal manages the Community Services Programme on behalf of my Department. As part of this process, recommendations are made to the Department following evaluation of applications received on the allocation of funding. The overall responsibility for decision making under this, and all other programmes Pobal has a role in, rests with my Department.

Question No. 45 answered with Question No. 40.

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (46)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

46. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development his plans to allocate funding in 2019 to agricultural shows; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2996/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

In December 2017, I announced financial support of €812,000 for Agricultural Shows to be held during 2018, to help alleviate financial difficulties suffered by a number of these shows in recent years, primarily due to adverse weather conditions.

This allocation was made in coordination with the Irish Shows Association (ISA) and resulted in approximately 120 shows under the umbrella of the ISA in the Republic of Ireland receiving assistance of between €3,500 and €7,000, depending on the size of the show.

On 7th August 2018, I announced further financial support of €600,000 for agricultural shows. This funding will be distributed, once again, through the ISA. Under this allocation, approximately 120 shows will each receive up to €5,000 towards the running costs of shows being held in 2019.

I had the opportunity to visit many agricultural shows throughout the country during 2018 and I have seen first-hand the impact these shows make to the vibrancy of local communities. I was therefore very pleased to be in a position to provide additional support for the 2019 shows as they are an integral part of rural communities' calendars.

I will review the scope for further funding of the Agricultural Shows year-on-year, depending on overall funding priorities and budgetary availability.

Community Development Projects Funding

Ceisteanna (47)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

47. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development his plans to allocate funding in 2019 to organisations (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2997/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department provided a range of supports for Men’s Sheds in 2018, and many of these will continue to be available in 2019.

Last year I provided a special Men's Shed Fund under the Community Enhancement Programme. This made €0.5 million of ring-fenced funding available to 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 €12.5 million of funding was available in 2018. The issue of whether or otherwise I will be in a position to allocate funding to Men's Sheds in 2019 will be considered by me at a later date. In any event, they will continue to be eligible to apply under the main programme.

My Department also has responsibility for the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) which provided 31 grants totaling €23,703 to Men’s Sheds groups in 2018. This support will continue to be available throughout the current iteration of SICAP which runs until 2022.

Additionally, in 2018, under the LEADER 2014-2020 Programme, 10 Men's Shed projects were approved to the value of €670,685. This funding stream will continue past 2019.

Voluntary Sector

Questions Nos. 49 and 50 answered with Question No. 34.

Ceisteanna (48)

John Curran

Ceist:

48. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the progress made in developing a national volunteering strategy; the consultative process involved; the timeframe for developing such a strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2896/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department is currently in the process of developing a national strategy on volunteering in consultation with all stakeholders.

A Call for Input (CFI) paper was launched in December 2018, as a first step in the development of this strategy. The CFI has been circulated to a wide range of stakeholders and is also posted on my Department's website www.drcd.gov.ie . This paper is designed to inform stakeholders about the proposed development of the strategy, to seek their views on what constitutes volunteering and what the strategy should contain.

Submissions on the matter are requested to be returned to my Department by 14 February 2019, following which they will be collated and fully considered in order to inform the development of the draft strategy.

As part of the consultative process, it is also proposed to establish a National Advisory Group on Volunteering, representative of all stakeholders, to provide further input into the development of the draft strategy.

It is envisaged that the draft Strategy on Volunteering will be completed before the end of this year, following which there will be a further opportunity for the public to input on the matter before the strategy is presented to Government for approval.

Questions Nos. 49 and 50 answered with Question No. 34.