Written answers

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Department of Rural and Community Development

Community Development Projects

Photo of Paul DonnellyPaul Donnelly (Dublin West, Sinn Fein)
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106. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development his views on measures to support community projects as they reopen; and if that support will continue until the pandemic is declared over [38526/21]

Photo of Joe O'BrienJoe O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Green Party)
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Given the role of my Department in supporting the economic and social development of rural Ireland, and community development throughout Ireland, many of our existing funding schemes support the response to, and recovery from, the pandemic in some way. However, a number of specific targeted measures are aimed at directly supporting the COVID response and recovery.

The main focus has been on community development supports with the increase in gross expenditure for that programme area, from €149.73 million in 2019 up to the €202.51 million in 2020, reflecting that.

My Department continues to provide COVID-19 supports to communities right across the country. On 6th May I launched the 2021 Stability Fund, with an allocation of €10 million, targeting organisations which deliver critical services to vulnerable people within their community but which now face closure or loss of service due to the impact of the pandemic. This €10 million investment builds on the €45 million Stability Fund 2020, which supported almost 600 organisations across the country.

The application process for the 2021 Stability Fund has now closed, with applications appraised and assessed in batches to facilitate timely drawdowns. Decisions will be released on an ongoing basis.

I was pleased to announce Tranche One of successful grantees under the 2021 Stability Fund on 9th July, supporting 180 organisations with close to €4.5 million in allocations. Further tranches will follow in due course.

The €4.5 million 2021 Community Enhancement Programme will also provide vital supports to assist local groups to re-open their facilities post COVID-19.

In addition, adjustments to programmes delivered by my Department, such as Town and Village Renewal and CLÁR, have been made, where required, to further support communities during the pandemic.

Photo of Brian StanleyBrian Stanley (Laois-Offaly, Sinn Fein)
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107. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development if her Department has considered introducing a model of community wealth building similar to that implemented in Preston, England and North Ayrshire, Scotland to help develop rural areas. [38306/21]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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My Department is progressing a number of national policies that provide, for both urban and rural areas nationwide, an integrated and strategic way of delivering supports, programmes and schemes, coordinating measures to address imbalances or lack of opportunity, making a real difference to people’s lives. These include the National Policy on Social Enterprise, and the Strategy to Support the Community & Voluntary Sector in Ireland. My Department has not deliberated on introducing the community wealth building systems approach to economic development.

The new national rural development policy Our Rural Future, sets out a blueprint for the development of rural Ireland over the next five years. The policy is supported by 150 commitments across Government, which will address the challenges facing communities and deliver new opportunities for people living in rural areas.

The policy recognises the importance of place-based development and will be underpinned by investment across Government in areas such as the roll out of high-speed broadband, remote working facilities, job creation, town centre regeneration, community development, improvements in regional and local roads, new cycling and walking infrastructure, expanded rural transport services, funding for tourism, culture and heritage projects, and a just transition to a climate-neutral society.

Ongoing dialogue is maintained by my Department with rural and urban stakeholders, in order to identify and respond to issues impacting on individuals and communities. I continue to work collaboratively with my Government colleagues to monitor the issues which impact our urban and rural communities and to support the creation of vibrant and sustainable communities across this country.


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