Dáil debates

Thursday, 10 March 2022

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate

Planning Issues

3:00 pm

Photo of Martin HeydonMartin Heydon (Kildare South, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

It is an interesting one. I can most definitely empathise with Deputy Moynihan's points regarding the importance of community facilities.

I am taking this response on behalf of my colleague, the Minister of State with responsibility for local government and planning, Deputy Burke. The title of this Topical Issue matter was picked up and taken by the planning department. The points raised by the Deputy, however, are much broader than the planning aspect necessarily. I accept completely what he said. I am not going to read response I have here because it talks about public consultation. I think the Department misinterpreted the point the Deputy was going to make or sought to raise on this Topical Issue matter.

The Deputy highlighted not-for-profit community organisations that provide resources for local people and communities and, in doing so, they should be aided and assisted by the State insofar as we can. While planning is one part of that, when we look at the different guises in which they might get that State funding and support, it tends to come with conditionality.

With many streams of State funding, the initial core funding for many of these projects tends to be to get them to a point where they have carried out a feasibility study and detailed design but, at the end of that first lot of money being spent, construction has not started. We do not have that physical building. The second part is the shovel-ready element. We have to get the balance right between supporting communities to deliver what is needed and ensuring what is delivered is right, but not overdo the bureaucracy.

I am very minded that this Topical Issue matter could just as easily have landed on the desk of, let us say, our colleague, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Deputy Humphreys. Her Department manages Our Rural Future through the town and village renewal scheme and community enhancement grants, which are obviously on the smaller scale. That is the funding body for many of these elements. One could also say that sports capital grants are an element of this because sports clubs, by their nature, provide these community facilities as well. Conditionality will always come with the sports capital money but that is something the Department is very good at navigating through. I am sure the Minister of State, Deputy Chambers, could talk at length on that element.

The Deputy made broad points, however. Whether it is through LEADER funding or otherwise, there is conditionality with all this funding. We, as a Government, have put in place much funding here, as well as in the urban side. The €2 billion in urban regeneration funding has been in place for some time. We had the urban regeneration and development fund, URDF, which the Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, announced last year. That was a really significant investment across those larger urban areas. Some of the linkages of that were going into community groups as well.

The Deputy's point is a valid one, however, in terms of a whole-of-government approach to ensure we support community organisations to deliver what is needed. The community facilities the Deputy talked about are so important to our rural communities. I will bring his points on the planning side back to the Minister of State, Deputy Burke, but the points he raised are broader than that one Department. If he has specific examples in terms of blockages he has found in his constituency, I am happy to hear them and perhaps debate them further.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.