Tuesday, 12 October 2021
Department of Justice and Equality
400. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of text alert groups that have been paid the text alert rebate for 2020 to date by county; and the reason funding issued for the text alert rebate in 2020 has only been paid recently. [49101/21]
The body referred to by the Deputy is a voluntary organisation and registered charity. The body administers the scheme referred to by the Deputy on behalf of the Department of Justice, however, neither I, as Minister, nor the Department play any role in the operations of the body, including efforts it makes in advertising/communicating the scheme to interested parties.
My Department has committed to a review of Community Text Alert Schemes under the Rural Development Strategy. Work on this review is at the early stages within the Department of Justice and no timescale for completion is available at present. However, it is hoped that the Schemes can be moved away from SMS text services to an app based platform in the future, and to extend access to the Schemes.
For the Deputy's information, however, the organisation publishes information on the scheme on its website, including the application process and all relevant deadlines.
403. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the amount of funding provided for the text alert rebate in 2020 by her Department; the amount paid to each group; the amount paid to an organisation (details supplied) to administer the rebate; and the amount recouped from successful rebate applicants by the organisation by way of affiliation fees to the organisation. [49104/21]
As the Deputy will be aware, my Department provides funding to Muintir na Tíre to cover costs incurred by communities in administering the Text Alert Scheme. The scheme is administered on a refund basis whereby communities submit their annual costs to Muintir na Tíre and a maximum refund of up to €350 is provided to the community.
For the last two years, my Department has committed to funding of up to €150,000 toward the costs of the scheme and, based on the number of applications received, it has had an average cost of €120,000 per annum. In January this year, and recognising the increased use of the alert scheme during the pandemic, Minister McEntee approved an increase in the individual cap paid to communities to €450 for the 2020 scheme only.
A further adjustment to the 2020 funding was made to address the fact that the scheme moved to costs incurred between January and December. Previously the scheme ran from September to September. To accommodate this adjustment, I approved an increase to the total budget of the Text Alert Scheme for 2020 from €150,000 to a maximum of €200,000 to cover the additional period between September and end December 2019.
I am advised that my Department provided €188,562.81 in funding for the text alert rebate scheme in 2020. A breakdown of the amount paid to each text alert group is attached. €7,800 was paid to Muintir na Tíre to administer the rebate.
I have sought information from Muintir na Tíre regarding the amount recouped from successful rebate applicants by Muintir na Tíre, by way of affiliation fees to that organisation, and will contact the Deputy directly when that information is to hand.
|Name Of Group||County||Amount to be |
|Borris in Ossory||Laois|| |
|Kilmacthomas Soci||Waterford|| |
|Ferbane Parish||Offaly|| |
|Newmarket on Ferg||Clare|| |
|Kilmurry McMahon||Clare|| |
|Knockanure Valley||Kerry|| |
|Urlingford & Grain||Kilkenny|| |
|Meenleitrim Lough||Kerry|| |
404. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if An Garda Síochána evaluated any other models of alerting or seeking the assistance of the public by way of the Garda communications systems or developing a Garda managed application to send out alerts (details supplied). [49105/21]
My officials have been engaging with Muintir na Tíre in relation to continuing this scheme including reviewing whether newer technologies, including apps, would be appropriate for use.
The Garda authorities have advised that to date, the Garda National Community Engagement Bureau has not evaluated any other models of alerting or seeking the assistance of the public by way of the Garda communications systems.
With regard to developing a Garda managed application to send out alerts, Garda ICT have recently examined the potential of Bulk Outbound texts for community engagement. Work is ongoing between the Garda National Community Engagement Bureau and Garda ICT with regard to the progression of this application.