Dáil debates

Wednesday, 8 February 2006

Priority Questions.

Dormant Accounts Fund.

1:00 pm

Photo of Dinny McGinleyDinny McGinley (Donegal South West, Fine Gael)
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Question 104: To ask the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when funding from dormant funds for all three categories of disadvantage identified as applicable for funding will be released to the community and voluntary sector in 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4728/06]

Photo of Noel AhernNoel Ahern (Minister of State, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Dublin North West, Fianna Fail)
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Disbursements from the dormant accounts fund are designed to assist three broad categories of people — people who are socially and economically or educationally disadvantaged and people with a disability.

Having consulted appropriate Ministers and obtained the approval of Government, I announced details on 4 January last concerning the allocation of €24 million in 2006 for the purpose of supporting programmes and types of projects tackling social and economic disadvantage. Details of the announcement are available on the website of my Department at www.pobail.ie.

The roll-out of the measures announced on 4 January has now commenced. In this regard, an invitation to the 45 RAPID area implementation teams, AITs, issued at the end of January requesting them to submit their priority projects for consideration. This measure provides for the ring-fencing of €11.5 million for priority projects identified by the RAPID AITs. On the other measures proposed, it is anticipated that they will be rolled-out on a phased basis over the coming months as operational arrangements are finalised.

With regard to the other two categories — educational disadvantage and persons with a disability — the consultation process required under the legislation is not yet completed. It is anticipated that further announcements will be made shortly on proposals under these headings when work ongoing in both the Departments of Education and Science and Health and Children is completed, subject to specific measures being submitted and approved by Government.

Photo of Dinny McGinleyDinny McGinley (Donegal South West, Fine Gael)
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I am sure the Minister of State will agree he has a veritable crock of gold at his disposal for the coming year or two and I know he made his announcement on 4 January last. Under the old board, allocations were made on a regular basis. Will applications submitted while the old board was in charge of distribution and allocation stand? Will groups have to submit new applications? The Minster of State mentioned the RAPID groups. Is there a cut off date within which applications must be submitted by those groups involved with the socially and economically disadvantaged? When will applications be invited by the Departments of Education and Science and Health and Children from the educationally disadvantaged and the disability sector? Is a needs criteria established to ensure these grants are allocated on the basis of needs rather than any other basis?

Photo of Noel AhernNoel Ahern (Minister of State, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Dublin North West, Fianna Fail)
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Some €60 million has been agreed by Government with €24 million going to the economically disadvantaged. I do not know whether that is a crock of gold.

Photo of Dinny McGinleyDinny McGinley (Donegal South West, Fine Gael)
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Some €60 million is a crock of gold.

Photo of Noel AhernNoel Ahern (Minister of State, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Dublin North West, Fianna Fail)
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It will go to many worthy projects. The old items dealt with by the previous board have been finalised. Decisions were made and those concerned got funding or did not get it. Anybody who got funding or who did not and who wants to try again will have to apply under the new system.

In regard to the cut off dates, as I said, we will roll out the different programmes as the year goes on. So far, we have asked the RAPID AITs with €300,000 required for the urban ones and €200,000 each for the ones in the provincial towns. They have been asked to send in their priority projects amounting to the amounts outlined. We asked them at the end of January and they must have that data in by late March. The other projects will be rolled out. That is the only cut off date at present within which the specific RAPID AITs must apply. We will give cut off dates for the others as we announce them during the year.

Photo of Dinny McGinleyDinny McGinley (Donegal South West, Fine Gael)
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In regard to the other two categories, will the allocations be made to groups rather than individuals? Does the Minister of State expect the €60 million will be allocated between now and the end of this year?

Photo of Noel AhernNoel Ahern (Minister of State, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Dublin North West, Fianna Fail)
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It is divided up into three sections. The Department of Education and Science is working on its plan and the Department of Health and Children is working on the disability one. We expect the Department of Education and Science plan will be in within three or four weeks but it might take the Department of Health and Children a few more weeks. They will be rolled out as the year goes on. We cannot predict exactly what will be in their two plans. It will probably be roughly what we are doing but we must wait and see what plans they come in with.