Thursday, 15 September 2022
Department of Rural and Community Development
331. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the extent to which she expects to be in a position to address issues of both urban and rural deprivation in the coming year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45367/22]
333. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the degree to which she continues to liaise with local and community groups in order to ensure the greatest availability of their needs at any given time with particular reference to the next twelve months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45369/22]
334. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development if she will outline her expectations concerning the extent to which she hopes to provide funding to various rural community groups throughout the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45371/22]
337. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the degree to which she expects to continue to support community investment throughout the country in the coming year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45374/22]
338. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the degree to which she expects to continue to support community investment throughout County Kildare in the coming year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45375/22]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 331, 333, 334, 337 and 338 together.
A vital part of my Department's mission is to support the creation of vibrant and sustainable communities across this country. In the 2022 Revised Estimates, my Department was allocated €378 million. This funding ensures that we are in a position to further assist communities in Kildare and throughout the country seeking funding and other supports for important local activities and projects.
The Programme for Government places a strong emphasis on balanced regional development through a range of measures. My Department supports this commitment through targeted investment that supports rural regeneration, facilitates new working opportunities and fosters regional enterprise growth. We will continue to invest in, and support, communities in Kildare and across the country - through our wide range of schemes such as the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, LEADER Programme, Town and Village Renewal Scheme, Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme, Local Improvement Scheme, CLÁR Programme, Islands Capital Programme, Community Enhancement Programme, Connected Hubs initiative, Libraries Investment Capital funding, PEACE IV Programme and the PEACE PLUS Programme.
My Department also provides strategic interventions, funding programmes and supports which target and address issues of social and or economic deprivation in rural and urban communities throughout the country.
Funding of €2 million was secured to design and implement a new Empowering Communities Programme (ECP) in 2022 aimed at specifically targeting area-based deprivation through a community development approach. This initiative, in part, stems from a Programme for Government commitment to expand the Dublin North East Inner City model and will be informed by other initiatives such as the Community Development Pilot Programme, the Place-Based Leadership initiative and the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme which operates across the country.
€40,000 in Dormant Accounts funding has also been made available to 4 Local Community Development Committees to act as exemplars in reaching out to those furthest from participation and the decision making processes. It is anticipated that the learnings gathered will inform enhanced engagement with marginalised groups by local decision making bodies, to ensure better outcomes for all members of our communities. In addition to the pilot programme, information and resources are being provided to all local authorities to support their engagement with marginalised communities. National events will showcase good practice in relation to engagement strategies, with inputs from experts and national advocacy and representative organisations.
Information on all of the funding and supports available through my Department are available online on the Gov.ie website.
My Department is also responsible for a number of important policies, including the National Policy on Social Enterprise, and Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities which is a 5 Year Strategy to Support the Community and Voluntary Sector 2019-2024.
Our Rural Future which I launched in 2021, is a whole-of-Government rural development policy which contains more than 150 commitments for the social and economic development of rural Ireland. The policy will assist rural Ireland to recover from the impacts of COVID-19, enable long-term development of rural areas, and create more resilient rural economies and communities for the future. Extensive consultation underpins the policy, and in shaping the 2022 Work Programme my Department consulted widely, including hosting a series of three Rural Ideas Fora and the first ever Rural Youth Assembly.
All my Department’s policies are underpinned by extensive consultation with a wide range of stakeholders including rural and urban stakeholder groups, community groups, young people, 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 which are relevant to the work of my Department.
Ongoing dialogue is maintained with rural and urban stakeholders in order to identify and respond to shortcomings and issues impacting on individuals and communities. I will also continue to collaborate with my Government colleagues and will monitor the issues which impact our urban and rural communities in order to respond to emerging needs.
I am confident that the funding supports and policies provided by my Department 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.