Anti-Social Behaviour

Ceisteanna (168, 169)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

168. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of anti-social behaviour incidents reported on public transport services in 2018, in tabular form. [14609/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Robert Troy

Ceist:

169. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the cost arising from anti-social behaviour incidents that occurred on public transport services in 2018. [14610/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 168 and 169 together.

The safety and security of passengers and staff, including arrangements to deal with anti-social behaviour, are matters for the transport operators, in conjunction with, as appropriate, An Garda Síochána.

I have therefore forwarded the Deputy's question to Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann, Iarnród Éireann and to Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), which has contracted Transdev to operate the Luas, for their direct reply.

Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Sports Funding

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

Ceisteanna (170)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

170. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount paid to each sport organisation in each year since 2011; the level of oversight his Department has of same; if his officials have statutory authority to oversee the operations of sporting organisations; if this is solely an issue for Sport Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14682/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Sport Ireland is the statutory body with responsibility for the development of sport in Ireland. This includes responsibility for the allocation of funding across its various programmes and governance oversight of the National Governing Bodies of Sport. Sport Ireland is also responsible for establishing the terms and conditions for its funding schemes and for ensuring that appropriate processes, procedures, controls and accounting mechanisms are in place in relation to that funding.

My officials have no statutory role in relation to the operations of sporting organisations.

I have referred the Deputy's question to Sport Ireland for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to inform my office if a reply is not received within 10 days.

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

Public Transport Initiatives

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

Ceisteanna (171)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

171. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the estimated cost of converting the public rail network fully to electricity in terms of the cost of the trains and the infrastructure required, respectively; the estimated cost of converting the entire State-owned bus fleet, that is, Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus to fully electric by the cost of the buses and the infrastructure cost, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14684/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has responsibility for ensuring the development and delivery of public transport infrastructure including the purchase of rail and bus fleet .

In light of the NTA's responsibility on this matter, I have referred the Deputy's questions to the NTA for a detailed direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

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

Child and Family Agency Data

Ceisteanna (172)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

172. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which the various files in respect of children at risk or otherwise are up to date in terms of follow-up and investigation; if an intervention is necessary to expedite the process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14656/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, is the statutory body with primary responsibility for child protection in Ireland. I can advise the Deputy that a significant action has been taken in relation to record keeping and file management within Tusla.

A National Child Care Information System, (NCCIS) has been developed as a technology solution to record all case history of every child, whether it be the subject of child protection or welfare referral to Tusla, to facilitate the integration and sharing of information on child protection and welfare between the relevant social work departments and to be a pathway to generate reports between local and national level all in real time.

The system allows social workers to record work and track the progress of the case of each child including any concerns that may arise. All case notes, attached documents, relevant information are held on NCCIS as the Master File and the system can be searched nationally by Tusla child protection and welfare staff, facilitating integration and sharing of information across the country. The system also allows social work team leaders and principal social workers to monitor case records.

Effective information governance and quality information are central to improving the quality of services provided to vulnerable children and families. The further roll out of the National Child Care NCCIS to all 17 Tusla areas this year, replacing paper-based systems and legacy electronic systems, will benefit Tusla. For the first time, Tusla social workers are working off an integrated national IT system for child protection and welfare services which facilitates the integration and sharing of information. The system replaces all previous methods of record keeping and my officials will be updated on the roll out, integration and further development of this system.

Children in Care

Ceisteanna (173)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

173. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which accommodation remains available in respect of children at risk, whether through fosterage or institutional care; the degree to which places remain readily available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14657/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has a statutory duty under the Child Care Act 1991 to promote the welfare of children who are not receiving adequate care and protection, and if necessary, to receive a child into the care of the State.

A range of care placements are available to meet the needs of children in care. Children and young people, depending on their identified needs, may be placed in foster care, either with relatives or general foster carers, in residential care, or special care. The majority of children are placed in long term stable placements and currently over 92% of children are placed in foster care.

A key part of the social worker role is to ensure the quality and safety of the child's placement, and to meet with the child on a one to one basis on all visits. There are safeguards surrounding each child's care placement, whether foster or residential care and all placements are supervised by a professionally qualified social worker.

There are regular area recruitment campaigns to meet the ongoing need to continue to recruit foster carers as carers retire from fostering. Fostering teams are responsible for the recruitment and assessment of foster carers. When an assessment is complete, a report is presented to the Foster Care Committee who decide whether or not to approve the applicant.

The recruitment and retention of an appropriate range of foster carers is part of Tusla's business plan. Tusla are particularly interested in recruiting foster carers with the skills required to look after children with complex needs, or from a range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The recently published HIQA overview inspection of Tusla foster care services found that a range of approaches were being employed locally to recruit a wider range of foster carers.

For children who cannot live either at home or in foster care, there are a number of types of residential care settings that may be appropriate, of which secure care is one type.

Youth Services

Ceisteanna (174)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

174. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which she remains in contact with the various youth organisations with a view to the provision of necessary dialogue and an ability to respond to the various concerns of the organisations concerned; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14658/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

My Department maintains close contact with the national youth organisations and I and officials from my Department meet formally with these organisations twice a year to share knowledge and information on developments in the youth sector. A separate meeting is held on that day with national organisations in receipt of targeted youth funding to keep them updated on the ongoing work on the Value for Money and Policy Review reforms. The next meeting with the national youth organisations is scheduled for Thursday 11th April 2019.

Youth Officers of the Education and Training Boards provide an important support role to my Department in the co-ordination and administration of youth services at local level across the country. In order to keep my Department informed of their ongoing work, officials hold quarterly meetings attended by all Youth Officers from across the country. These meetings assist my Department in identifying service needs and emerging issues, particularly for vulnerable young people. The Youth Affairs Unit of my Department has set up a working group with five Youth Officers focused on strategic planning for future capital funding for the youth sector.

My Department holds scheduled meetings with Youth Work Ireland twice a year in relation to the important work of this organisation. There is also ongoing active engagement between my Department and the youth constituency of the of the Better Outcomes Brighter Futures Advisory Council. A small number of national youth organisation representatives are members of this Council.

Officials from the Youth Affairs Unit are engaged with programmes run by the National Youth Council of Ireland, such as the Youth Arts Strategic Review and Plan Advisory Steering Group and the National Health Programme Strategic Planning Working Group, both of which receive funding from my Department. Officials from my Department also meet with youth organisations on an individual basis when the need arises.

Child and Family Agency Services

Ceisteanna (175)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

175. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which a satisfactory conclusion is achieved and remains achievable in respect of children referred to the relevant section of her Department for attention; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14659/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I understand the Deputy's question relates to referrals made to Tusla and how these are dealt with.

Tusla's response to all reports of child welfare and protection is detailed in the Tusla Child Protection and Welfare Practice Handbook, which is available on the Tusla website (www.tusla.ie). This covers both the immediate and initial areas of consideration and the various responses Tulsa offer to children and families to ensure child protection and welfare concerns receive the right response at the right time for the right reasons.

A child welfare concern can be a problem experienced directly by a child, or the family of a child, that is seen to impact negatively on the child's health, development and welfare, and that may need assessment and support, but is not presenting as child protection.

A child protection concern arises when there are reasonable grounds for believing that a child may have been or is at risk of being physically, socially or emotionally abused or neglected.

The first consideration when receiving a referral is the immediate safety of the child. All referrals to the Social Work Service of Children and Family Services are screened on the day they are received irrespective of the source.

The Deputy will appreciate that the parents of children referred to Tusla often have serious difficulties themselves. These include problems with addiction, mental health and in many situations, violence in the home. Tusla is dependent, in the main, on services provided by other agencies to assist parents with their difficulties, in order for satisfactory conclusions to be reached regarding the children. Where parents are not in a position to provide safe and appropriate care for the children Tusla may apply to the courts for a care order or may enter into an agreement with the parent for the child to be received into voluntary care.

Child and Family Agency Services

Ceisteanna (176)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

176. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which she remains satisfied regarding the adequacy of the structures available through her Department or bodies under the remit of her Department for children at risk or children that may not be brought to the attention of her Department with a view to achieving a compassionate and early response in respect of issues raised by such children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14660/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, is the statutory body with responsibility for child protection in Ireland. If I, or my officials, become aware of a situation in which a child is at risk, that risk is communicated to Tusla as a matter of urgency.

If a child appears to be at risk of harm or neglect, concerns should be reported to Tusla. Anyone can report a concern about a child to Tusla, and information on how to do so is available on the Tusla website. If a child is at immediate risk or in danger, the Gardaí should be alerted without delay.

Tusla act immediately on notification of an immediate risk to a child. Children who are in a situation of immediate risk may initially be dealt with by An Garda Síochána or by Tusla, but in the main both agencies work together in such cases. Tusla, when alerted to a child at immediate risk, for instance a young child left alone at home or abandoned, will contact AGS if the child needs to be removed from that situation.

Gardaí have specific powers under Section 12 of the Child Care Act to remove a child from a situation of danger, and under Section 13 of to deliver that child into the custody of Tusla. Tusla will at that point carry out an assessment to determine the child's needs. This may in some cases include applying for an Emergency Care Order. In all cases, a plan will be put in place to ensure that the child is safe from harm.

Tusla are implementing a child protection methodology, Signs of Safety, which has at its core the involvement of the child in any assessment and decision making process.

In 2015, the Children First Act placed key elements of the Children First National Guidance on a statutory basis. The Act provides for a number of key child protection required measures including mandated reporting of child protection concerns to the Child and Family Agency by designated persons, compliance with best practice in child protection as set out in the Children First Guidance, and development of an organisation-specific Child Safeguarding Statement. Organisations providing service to children are obliged to identify areas of risk to children in their services and to set out mitigating factors. The Safeguarding Statement is to be made available publicly.

Child and Family Agency Data

Ceisteanna (177)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

177. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of child abuse cases brought to the attention of her Department or bodies under the remit of her Department in each of the past three years to date; the extent to which a full investigation and remedial action was achieved in respect of each case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14661/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I wish to advise the Deputy, that Tusla, the Child and Family Agency is the statutory body with responsibility for child protection services in Ireland. Where I, or my officials, are made aware of child protection concerns, those concerns are referred to Tusla for their appropriate attention.

Table 1 outlines the number of referrals received by Tusla in relation to abuse, for the period of Q1 2016 until Q2 2018*.

Table 1 : Referrals relating to abuse, received by Tusla, Q1 2016-Q2 2018

Year

Referrals relating to abuse

2015

18,235

2016

19,087

2017

20,537

2018 (Q1 + Q2)*

11,806

It should be noted that these figures include situations where several referrals may be made in relation to the same child.

Tusla child protection duty social work teams screen each referral to determine whether if it meets the eligibility criteria for Tusla. All urgent cases are assigned immediately to a social worker.

After screening, a duty social worker carries out a preliminary enquiry, gathering information about the referral, to determine whether the report meets the threshold for harm for child protection. If the preliminary enquiry finds that the family would benefit from a welfare support and that a child protection response is not merited, the case could be diverted for a welfare response at this point. The preliminary enquiry also determines the priority status of each case.

Cases that are cannot be immediately allocated to a social worker are overseen by duty social work teams, and about one fifth of cases may be dealt with as “active on duty” where specific actions by the social work team are taking place, including information gathering and visits to see the child.

Tusla collate data on the number of referrals that proceed to preliminary enquiry and initial assessment. Table 2 lays out the number and percentage of referrals that had a preliminary enquiry and initial assessment.

Table 2: Number and percentage of referrals proceeding to preliminary enquiry and initial assessment

Year

Number of referrals that had a preliminary enquiry

Referrals requiring an initial assessment following a preliminary enquiry

2015

17,761 (97%)

9,956 (56%)

2016

18,753 (98%)

10,154 (54%)

2017

20,252 (99%)

9,110 (45%)

2018 ( Q1 + Q2 )**

11,764 (98%)

3,914 (33%)

*Referral data is reported quarterly in arrears.

Youth Services Provision

Ceisteanna (178)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

178. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which she continues to interact with an organisation (details supplied) and associated bodies with a view to the provision of enhanced supports; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14662/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

My Department administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. The funding schemes support national and local youth work involving approximately 1,400 youth work staff working in youth services and communities throughout the country.

In 2019, €60.4m has been allocated in current funding to support the provision of youth services, an increase of €1.5m on 2018. The additional funding is being used for programmes that target disadvantaged young people and to assist national youth organisations in their work to support local voluntary youth services. Funding to staff led youth services has generally been targeted at areas of disadvantage and not in proportion to the youth population of a given area. Funding allocations for 2019 are currently being finalised by the Youth Affairs Unit of my Department. Letters of allocation will issue shortly.

In 2018, an amount of €539,282 was allocated for the projects and services under Kildare Youth Services, which operates under Youth Work Ireland. My Department provides funding to Kildare Youth Services under the Targeted Youth Funding Scheme in respect of six local youth projects in Athy, Naas, Leixlip, Newbridge, the Curragh and Kildare town and a Youth Information Centre in Naas.

Future development and investment in youth services will be informed by the mapping exercise completed in 2017, which mapped youth service provision across the State as well as an Area Profiling, Needs Assessment and Service Requirement tool currently being used by Kildare Wicklow ETB. This mapping and tool will assist the Department and the relevant ETB in developing a detailed social demographic profile in terms of both population numbers and deprivation levels. My Department is committed to working with Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board to identify need and explore ways to address this need where it emerges.

Departmental Budgets

Ceisteanna (179)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

179. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which she remains satisfied regarding the adequacy of the budget of her Department to meet the likely challenges now and in the future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14663/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The Revised Estimate for Public Services 2019 makes provision for a gross funding allocation of €1.478 billion for my Department which represents an increase of just under €107 million, or 8%, over the 2018 provision.

Approximately half of the Vote is targeted towards public services that protect our children and provide for their welfare. Another significant portion is to continue our journey to build an accessible, affordable and high quality Early Learning and Care system.

Just over half of my Department’s funding is targeted at services within Tusla, the Child and Family Agency to protect our children and to provide for their welfare. Tusla will receive additional funding of €31 million in 2019 bringing its overall allocation to €785 million. In addition to this, I am making a further €3 million available to Tusla for specific developments in 2019 in relation to Family Resource Centres and Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence services.

An additional €59 million is being provided for early learning and care programmes in 2019 which will bring early learning and care funding to just under €575 million. Children, parents and providers are all set to benefit. The increased resource allows me to continue to meet the growing demand for universal and targeted supports. It also enables me to widen the thresholds of the new National Childcare Scheme that I will introduce later this year

In addition to these areas, my Department’s Estimate for 2019 contains provision for almost €63.6 million for Youth Services. These resources will fund youth services throughout the country, including services for those at risk of disadvantage and help address some of the remaining challenges faced by LGBTI+ young people.

Other key areas of expenditure include €26 million for the costs of Irish Youth Justice Service, including operational costs for the Oberstown Children Detention Centre; €19 million for the operational costs of my own Department; €9.5 million for Prevention and Early Intervention Programmes (which now includes the Area Based Childhood Programme and the PPFS Programme); €7 million for the Intervention Programme for Children and Young People; €5 million for the Adoption Authority of Ireland; €4 million for the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes; and just under €3 million for the Office of the Ombudsman for Children.

I am satisfied that the significant additional resources secured for 2019 will enable my Department and its agencies build on the good work achieved to date. The extra funding continues this Government’s commitment to provide high quality services for children and young people.

Child and Family Agency Services

Ceisteanna (180)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

180. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the degree to which her Department and bodies under the remit of her Department have the ability to respond rapidly to issues brought to their attention, with particular reference to children at risk in all areas nationally; if the experience of the past two years is supportive in this context; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14664/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, is the statutory body with responsibility for child protection in Ireland. If I, or my officials, become aware of a situation in which a child is at risk, this information is communicated to Tusla as a matter of urgency.

If a child appears to be at risk of harm or neglect, concerns should be reported to Tusla. Anyone can report a concern about a child to Tusla, and information on how to do so is available on the Tusla website. If a child is at immediate risk or in danger, the Gardaí should be alerted without delay.

Tusla act immediately on notification of an immediate risk to a child. Tusla, when alerted to a child at immediate risk, for instance a young child left alone at home or abandoned, will contact AGS if the child needs to be removed from that situation.

Gardaí have specific powers under Section 12 of the Child Care Act to remove a child from a situation of danger, and under Section 13 of to deliver that child into the custody of Tusla. Tusla will at that point carry out an assessment to determine the child's needs. This may in some cases include applying for an Emergency Care Order. In all cases, a plan will be put in place to ensure that the child is safe from harm.

All foster care services and statutory residential centres are subject to inspection by the Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA). Private and voluntary residential centres are inspected by Tusla against National Standards. Inspection reports of children's residential centres, fostering services and child protection services are also reviewed and analysed by my officials. The overview of these reports provides me with a level of assurance on the overall capacity of Tusla to identify and provide services to families and children who are at risk.

Tusla also has a dedicated Quality Assurance Team. This team produces monthly, quarterly and annual reports in respect of Tusla's functions, including detailed reporting on child safety and protection services. Tusla provides monthly, quarterly and annual information on children in care, their placement type, care status and allocation of social workers. Within my Department there is a Unit which scrutinises these reports and briefs me and senior officials on issues of note. The reports provide statistical evidence of improvements to child welfare and protection services and highlights challenges and areas where further improvement is required, such as the recruitment of additional social workers.

Officials from my Department meet Tusla management on a regular basis to review the level of service provision, including areas in need of improvement.

Children in Care

Ceisteanna (181)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

181. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children in care; if in institutional or foster care, the number due for transition to alternative status on age grounds; the provisions in place to facilitate easy, safe and compassionate transition; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14665/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I can advise the Deputy that, at the end of December 2018, the most recent date for which information is available, there were 6,026 children in the care of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

Since 1 September 2017 Tusla has been required by law to satisfy itself as to each eligible child or young person’s need for aftercare assistance and to prepare a plan that identifies those needs for aftercare supports. An eligible child is defined as a child aged 16 years or over who has spent at least 12 months in the care of the State between the ages of 13 and 18. An eligible adult is defined as a person aged 18, 19 or 20 (inclusive) who was in the care of the State for at least 12 months between the ages of 13 and 18.

When confirmed eligible, an assessment of need will be undertaken jointly by the child’s social worker and after care service within four months, or six months prior to their 18th birthday. The aftercare plan will be determined by each young person’s assessment of need.

The assessment of need determines the level of support which the young person will require as part of an aftercare plan. It encompasses all categories of need including, at a minimum:

- Education

- Financing and budgeting matters

- Training and employment

- Health and wellbeing

- Personal and social development

- Accommodation.

- Family/emotional support

The assessment of need will determine whether the young person requires an allocated aftercare worker.

Following the assessment of need Tusla will prepare an aftercare plan, if required. An aftercare plan is a written plan that is prepared by the aftercare worker and the young person in conjunction with their social worker and other key people in their lives. These plans can be reviewed at the request of the young person or a person acting on their behalf.

Tusla reports in Q3 2018 that almost half of young people, aged 18 to 22, remained living with their former foster carers. This indicates a strong support in the transition for these young people.

Aftercare services provided by Tusla include:

- An allocated aftercare worker from the age of 17 years up to the age of 21 years and up to 23 years if in education/ training (depending on the assessment of need)

- A drop-in service - which will provide advice guidance, support and signposting when required to all young people eligible for aftercare provision.

- Financial support based on a financial needs assessment and eligibility for those in education or accredited training up to the age of 21 years, or until completion of their course of education up to the age of 23 years.

- Tusla provide a young person in aftercare in education or training with an allowance of €300 per week.

Other financial benefits

- Young people in aftercare are also eligible for the higher SUSI grant. Unemployed young people in aftercare are eligible for the over 25 year old rate of unemployment benefit.

Comhairle na Tuaithe

Ceisteanna (182)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

182. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the reason Comhairle na Tuaithe has not met since the middle of 2018; his plans to reconvene same; and his views on the role of the advisory body. [14552/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

As the Deputy will be aware, my Department was established on 19th July 2017. Since then, I met with the members of Comhairle na Tuaithe on 13th February 2018, and Comhairle met on two further occasions, 16th May 2018 and 5th July 2018.

The group was also due to meet on the 16th October 2018. However, due to members' diary commitments, this meeting had to be postponed.

My meeting with Comhairle on 13th February was to hear directly from the members their views on the recommendations of the independent review of Comhairle and the Countryside Recreation Strategy which was finalised in March 2016. I also heard the members' views on the future direction of Comhairle and on the development of the outdoor recreation sector in Ireland generally. That meeting was very constructive in helping me to formulate proposals for the future development of the sector.

My officials presented initial proposals to the Comhairle members at the meeting of 16th May 2018 and, through my officials, I received detailed feedback from the members on those proposals. I have considered that feedback in the context of a wider focus on the development of the rural recreation sector and I will make a final decision regarding the future structure, operation and mandate of Comhairle na Tuaithe shortly.

I anticipate that my officials will arrange a further of meeting of Comhairle na Tuaithe in the coming weeks to outline my decision.

Departmental Schemes

Ceisteanna (183)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

183. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the towns selected and the number of units in each town for the pilot scheme to encourage persons to return to living in town centres launched in October 2018. [14672/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

Early last year, I established a Steering Group to examine the introduction of a pilot scheme to encourage people to return to living in town centres.

A lot of consideration was given by the Group to the best approach to developing a model which would deliver on the objective of increasing town centre living.

The Steering Group noted that some schemes which have specifically attempted to focus on the renovation of vacant properties have had a disappointing take-up. It is clear that if we are to successfully encourage people to return to living in town centres, an integrated solution involving all aspects of town living and supporting infrastructure needs to be considered.

The Steering Group therefore agreed that a pilot scheme, which takes a holistic approach to town centre living, should be developed in a small number of towns initially, with a view to a wider roll-out over time. This approach goes beyond simply identifying specific property units, and will allow a number of Local Authorities to develop and test different models which they feel are appropriate to a number of selected towns of different sizes and in different locations.

The learnings from this approach will help to provide an indication as to what might work well for similar types of town on a wider scale.

Six rural towns were invited to participate in the initial pilot scheme which was launched in October 2018. These are:

1. Boyle, Co. Roscommon

2. Callan, Co. Kilkenny

3. Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo

4. Banagher, Co. Offaly

5. Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan

6. Cappoquin, Co. Waterford.

My Department has made funding of up to €100,000 available to each participating Local Authority of which €75,000 has been paid to date. The funding will assist the Local Authorities to engage with their communities and local businesses, and arrive at practical solutions that can be delivered to achieve the objective of increasing the number of people living in our rural towns.

Representatives from each of the six Local Authorities involved in the pilot have had a number of meetings with my Department with a view to developing the detailed schemes. It is envisaged that the solutions identified through the six pilot towns could lead to the development of more substantive proposals for funding from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund in due course.

LEADER Programmes Data

Ceisteanna (184)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

184. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the amount allocated to each LAG under the 2014 to 2020 Leader programme; the amount expended under the 2014 to 2020 Leader programme in each LAG based on the latest data; the spend as a percentage of the amount allocated to each LAG to date based on latest data; the amount expended to date on project costs by each LAG based on the latest data in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14708/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

LEADER is a multi-annual programme with a total budget of €250 million over the period 2014-2020. €220 million of this funding has been allocated to the Local Action Groups (LAGs) throughout the country who deliver the LEADER programme. This core funding is allocated to the LAGs for the full period of the programme.

The remaining €30 million is available for thematic schemes to be delivered at a national level and is allocated as projects are approved.

Table 1 below provides details of:

- The core allocations to the each of the LAGs under the LEADER 2014-2020 programme;

- The total expenditure to date by LAG which includes project costs, the administration costs of the LAGs and the cost associated with their engagement with promoters to develop projects;

- The total expenditure to date expressed as a percentage of the LAGs' allocation; and,

- The total expenditure to date incurred in respect of projects.

The figures do not include expenditure under national-level thematic schemes which operate on a competitive bid basis.

There was a significant increase in both project approvals and expenditure in 2018. I am confident that the progress now being made by the LAGs in approving projects, along with the administrative improvements introduced by my Department, will result in a continued increase in project approvals and payments under the LEADER programme during 2019.

Table 1: LEADER expenditure data as of 24th March 2019

Local Action Group

Total Allocation

Total Spend

% of Allocation Spent

Project Spend

Carlow

€6,416,803

€1,461,568

23%

€871,066

Cavan

€8,522,286

€1,337,606

16%

€630,488

Clare

€8,920,225

€2,032,250

23%

€613,914

Cork North

€5,091,846

€1,429,607

28%

€514,484

Cork South

€3,831,303

€834,268

22%

€213,124

Cork West

€5,015,674

€1,095,573

22%

€196,938

Donegal

€12,913,878

€3,728,230

29%

€2,122,541

Dublin Rural

€6,370,438

€1,165,923

18%

€401,712

Galway East

€7,655,851

€1,088,380

14%

€38,024

Galway West

€4,540,033

€633,852

14%

€143,852

Kerry

€10,219,868

€2,756,655

27%

€1,127,766

Kildare

€5,261,600

€656,202

12%

€110,037

Kilkenny

€7,791,573

€1,981,479

25%

€674,184

Laois

€7,124,587

€1,421,471

20%

€699,089

Leitrim

€5,998,475

€1,111,097

19%

€433,716

Limerick

€9,276,594

€2,307,910

25%

€796,036

Longford

€7,597,623

€856,749

11%

€111,398

Louth

€6,101,862

€1,129,107

19%

€389,346

Mayo

€11,121,432

€2,380,966

21%

€692,008

Meath

€6,903,124

€1,007,676

15%

€113,876

Monaghan

€7,592,720

€1,196,205

16%

€516,742

Offaly

€8,036,764

€2,010,154

25%

€1,050,077

Roscommon

€8,852,659

€1,209,569

14%

€325,312

Sligo

€7,655,648

€1,449,975

19%

€791,919

Tipperary

€10,103,443

€1,796,796

18%

€649,777

Waterford

€7,522,796

€2,507,106

33%

€1,598,618

Westmeath

€7,384,206

€1,163,426

16%

€348,887

Wexford

€9,840,141

€1,439,575

15%

€576,777

Wicklow

€6,336,549

€1,006,628

16%

€211,000

Grand Total

€220,000,000

€44,196,002

20%

€16,962,709

LEADER Programmes Data

Ceisteanna (185)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

185. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of projects approved to date by each LAG under the 2014 to 2020 Leader programme in tabular form. [14709/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

LEADER is a multi-annual programme which has a total budget of €250 million over the period to 2020. €220 million of this funding has been allocated to each of the individual Local Action Groups (LAGs) who deliver LEADER. The remaining €30 million is available for schemes to be delivered at a national level and is allocated as projects are approved.

Table 1 below provides a breakdown of the number of projects approved by each Local Action Group to date.

The level of project activity under the LEADER programme has increased significantly since the start of 2018, and 1,784 projects have now been approved for funding of over €61 million. A further 389 project applications, requesting an additional €23.5 million, are at various stages in the approval process.

Table 1: Total LEADER Approvals by LAG as of 24th March 2019

Local Action Group

No. of Projects Approved

Carlow

24

Cavan

47

Clare

115

Cork North

46

Cork South

18

Cork West

24

Donegal

104

Dublin Rural

46

Galway East

41

Galway West

27

Kerry

190

Kildare

21

Kilkenny

54

Laois

57

Leitrim

54

Limerick

72

Longford

44

Louth

57

Mayo

103

Meath

34

Monaghan

38

Offaly

111

Roscommon

39

Sligo

81

Tipperary

112

Waterford

45

Westmeath

49

Wexford

95

Wicklow

36

Grand Total

1,784