Dáil Éireann - Volume 500 - 09 February, 1999
Written Answers - Local Government Reform.
Mr. Sargent Mr. Sargent
382. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation his views on the future policy implications for local development in Ireland having regard to the development of local governance, rural development and equality issues. [27283/98]
Mr. Flood Mr. Flood
Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Sport and Recreation (Mr. Flood): The Government is committed to the restoration of real power and decision-making at local level, as part of its major programme of local government reform. To this end, it established an inter-Departmental task force for the integration of local government and local development systems last year, of which I was a member.
The task force produced a report containing recommendations which are laying the groundwork for a closer working relationship between the local government and local development sectors and also for a more integrated framework for the development and delivery of public services at city-county level. These recommendations were endorsed by the Government, which include, inter alia, the replacement of city-county strategy groups by more comprehensive city-county development boards in January 2000.
The development boards will comprise representatives of local government; State agencies at local level, local development agencies and the social partners, including the community and vol untary sector. Together, they will draw up city-county strategies on economic, social and cultural development which will form the policy framework for all relevant agencies operating locally. The new, integrated system will mean more focused and inclusive local governance, with real and meaningful local input.
As regards rural development in particular, the Department of Agriculture and Food is currently preparing a White Paper on the subject, which will set out Government policy in this area for the medium to long-term. It is expected that the White Paper will be published in the next few months. I am advised that, in preparing the White Paper, regard will be had to the work of rural partnerships and community groups, funded under sub-programme 2 of the operational programme for local, urban and rural development (LURD).
With regard to equality issues, which are primarily the responsibility of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, ADM Ltd., manages, on an agency basis, the equal opportunities childcare programme on behalf of that Department, which is focused on areas of disadvantage. The partnerships have, as a result, also been involved in the development and implementation of the programme as a whole.
In framing proposals for a future local development programme, under the national development plan, 2000-6, my Department will take full account of the experience and results of the current operational programme and of the role of other Departments and statutory agencies in the local development field.
Dáil Éireann 500 Written Answers Local Government Reform.