Thursday, 14 October 2021
Department of Rural and Community Development
79. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the extent to which she continues to liaise with urban and rural communities with a view to addressing such concerns as isolation and the ongoing need for services to address issues arising; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50130/21]
A vital part of the Department for Rural and Community Development's mission is to support the creation of vibrant and sustainable communities across this country. In delivering on its mission my Department delivers a wide range of strategic interventions, funding programmes and policies to support urban and rural communities, including helping to address the issue of isolation in communities.
Funding includes the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP), the Community Services Programme, the CLÁR Programme, the Community Enhancement Programme, and the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.
Addressing the issue of rural isolation cuts across Government Departments, with ongoing actions being progressed including those aimed at enhancing community policing, rural transport links and tackling social inclusion. Many of my Department's policies and funding programmes contribute to addressing isolation issues in communities including through the Seniors Alert Scheme, the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP), and supports for social enterprises to provide vital services to communities that may not otherwise be available.
My Department is also responsible for a number of national policies containing measures to improve the lives of people throughout the country. These include the National Policy on Social Enterprise, and Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities: 5 Year Strategy to Support the Community and Voluntary Sector 2019-2024.
Earlier this year my Department published Our Rural Future, a whole-of-Government rural development policy for the next five years. The policy seeks to strengthen and build resilience in our rural communities and deliver a range of policy measures in order to achieve these objectives. 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.
My Department’s policies are underpinned by broad consultation with a wide range of stakeholders including rural and urban stakeholder groups, young people and the wider public, Government Departments and State Agencies. This engagement process provides important insights into issues impacting on rural and urban communities and in identifying areas for response relevant to the work of my Department. Ongoing dialogue by my Department with rural and urban stakeholders will continue, in order to identify and respond to issues impacting on individuals and communities.
I am confident that the funding supports and policies provided by my Department are delivering, and will continue to deliver, tangible benefits for both urban and rural communities, supporting economic development, and enabling the local and community development sectors to continue to provide valuable much needed services and supports to all communities throughout the country.