Dáil Éireann - Volume 484 - 09 December, 1997

Written Answers. - Community Development Programme.

333. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation if he has assessed the environmental and equality impacts of programmes to date in relation to the mid-term review of the Community Development Programme. [21938/97]

334. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation if he has ensured that new programme priorities have been defined in view of new external developments in relation to the mid-term review of the Community Development Programme. [21939/97]

Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation (Dr. McDaid): I propose to take Questions Nos. 333 and 334 together.

The Community Development Programme is the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs, and the Deputy should address any questions concerning the programme to him.

335. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the steps, if any, which are being taken to assess if objectives have been achieved in the mid-term review in relation to local development in Ireland; the effectiveness of the programme to date in 1997 in relation to efficiency; and the outputs in relation to the cost of programmes. [21940/97]

336. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the steps, if any, which have being taken to assess if objectives have been achieved in the mid-term review in relation to local development in Ireland; and the effectiveness of the programme to date in 1997. [21941/97]

337. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the steps, if any, which are being taken to ensure that the technical assistance funds are being targeted towards those experiencing poverty and social exclusion in relation to the mid-term review of Sub-Programme 2 of Local Development. [21942/97]

338. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the steps, if any, which are being taken in order to ensure that groups develop greater links with partnerships to ensure that there is a stronger commitment to a community development approach and a greater focus on the inclusion and support of marginalised groups within the programme in relation to the mid-term review. [21943/97]

339. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation if regional data is being used in the analysing of Sub-Programme 2. [21944/97]

[702] 340. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the steps, if any, the review of the local development programme has taken in order to put greater focus on the promotion of equality and inclusion. [21945/97]

341. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation if he will make a statement on the design and format for the review of the local development programme; and the steps, if any, he has taken to look at the quality of what is being achieved in terms of the overall aims of the programme. [21946/97]

Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation (Dr. McDaid): I propose to take Questions Nos. 335 to 341, inclusive, together.

The mid-term review of the Operational Programme for Local Urban and Rural Development 1994-99 was completed last July. The review was based in the first instance on a comprehensive evaluation prepared by independent consultants appointed by the monitoring committee for the programme. The evaluation was structured as follows: an assessment of changes in the external environment and their impact on the future strategy, objectives and operation of the programme; a review of each sub-programme under a common set of headings; an assessment of institutional arrangements for integrated local development; an assessment of the existing and proposed performance monitoring system (PMS); and presentation of conclusions and recommendations at programme and sub-programme level.

The findings of the evaluation were considered by the monitoring committee in April this year, and by the CSF monitoring committee in July and both committees endorsed their conclusions, including the following: notwithstanding changes which had occurred in the wider environment, that the stated objectives in the programme are still relevant and valid; that all existing sub-programmes and measures should continue to the end of the programme; that all of the funding allocated on the basis of these measures would be spent effectively during the lifetime of the programme; that developing and sharing models of best practice continue to be an important feature of this programme.

The evaluators recommended that there should be a further review of Sub-Programme 2 in Spring 1998 using full year data, which will be available by then for the first time, from a specially designed, computerised performance monitoring system. While the precise terms of reference of the review are still being finalised, they will include assessment of the impact on, and effectiveness for, people within the target groups. As the principal objective of this sub-programme is to counter disadvantage through support for communities which make a collective effort to maximise the development potential of their areas, any analysis of impact will take account of local and regional data. The review will be informed by complementary research and studies into the [703] consultation, inclusion and participation process, and the linkages, networking and synergy developed under the sub-programme. The review will be funded from technical assistance which is provided specifically to ensure effective programme evaluation, including the manner in which it targets funding.

The CSF monitoring committee also decided at the mid-term review to reallocate 1 MECU in ESF funds from within the OP to childcare infrastructure under the human resources OP, and has asked the programme monitoring committee to examine scope for use of existing funds to develop a number of other initiatives, e.g. further progression places for early school leavers.

The follow-up action required from the mid-term review has already been discussed by the Programme Monitoring Committee, at its meeting on 23 October 1997, and will be closely monitored over the remainder of the programme.

The monitoring committee is very conscious of the importance of the gender equality objective within the programme and the centrality of the promotion of equality in terms of combating social exclusion. This objective was included in the mid-term review, and will continue to be monitored and discussed regularly by the monitoring committee in the course of the remainder of the programme period.