I propose to take Questions Nos. 402, 404 and 421 together.
Assisting childcare providers in extending their existing childcare services, or establishing new childcare services, have always been key areas of focus for my Department's capital programmes.
Each year the Department reviews the capital programmes as a whole and determines the priorities for Early Learning and Care and School Age Capital grants.
The capital strands have been made available to achieve the strategic priorities for 2019 as determined by the Department, having regard to the funding available, developed using analysis of the current state of the childcare sector, learnings from previous capital programmes and feedback and input from stakeholders, including childcare providers and Pobal.
I remain committed to assisting all childcare providers, both community and private, in providing world-class childcare and meeting demand for childcare places, and I anticipate that this year's Capital programme will build on last year's good work in the sector, as well as that of previous years.
The application window for the Capital programmes closed on 27th March 2019 and the appraisal process for applications is currently underway in Pobal. I am unable to comment on this service's capital application, however I would like to assure you that all applications for funding will be appraised in a fair, thorough and impartial manner. In accordance with principles of fairness and equality, no favour will be shown to any individual service or services, and all appraisal will be undertaken on the basis of the content of their applications for funding alone.
Decisions are due to be delivered to applicants in June 2019 in the hope that capital works can begin as soon as possible following this.
The results of the appraisal process, including the final decisions, will be communicated to providers directly following their completion.