Dáil Éireann - Volume 503 - 21 April, 1999
Written Answers. - Green Paper on Voluntary Activity.
Mr. Gilmore Mr. Gilmore
73. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the number of submissions he has received on the Green Paper on the Community and Voluntary Sector; when he will publish a White Paper; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10323/99]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): The Green Paper on Voluntary Activity was published in 1997 with a view to initiating a consultation process with the voluntary and community sector leading to publication of a White Paper.
A steering group has been brought together to advise and assist the Department on a consultation process in relation to the White Paper and to advise on issues and directions for the White Paper. The members of the group have been selected on an individual basis to give of their individual expertise and experience in advising the Department.
The group's terms of reference are to advise on the consultation process with the voluntary and community sector and with relevant statutory agencies in relation to the White Paper; participate in same; that is, provide speakers as appropriate; and mediate and comment on feedback and advise on issues and directions for the White Paper.
My intention was that the White Paper be published before the end of 1998. However, at the steering group meeting on 28 May 1998 members of the group expressed concern that this might be too tight a timeframe to allow for adequate consultation with the voluntary and community sector and asked that this timeframe be extended so as to ensure that time is available for the widest range of voluntary and community groups to be involved in discussions and debate about the forthcoming White Paper. As my primary concern in the preparation of the White Paper is to ensure that it reflects the issues that are of real importance to the sector and that there is genuine  consultation in this regard, I have agreed to this request.
The consultation process with the voluntary and community sector provided for a three phase approach. The first phase provided for information seminars and invited submissions from interested parties. The second phase involved a series of joint regional workshops for the voluntary and community groups and the statutory agencies. The final phase will provide for a national seminar to which people who have been involved in the initial phases, will be invited to respond to the conclusions arrived at by the steering group.
The first and second phases of the consultation process have now been completed. In this context, 78 submissions were received by my Department and 56 regional seminars have taken place in different locations around the country. The final phase is now being planned. The steering group is currently engaged in parallel discussions with a wider group of people from the voluntary and community sector and with senior officials from the relevant Departments with the intention of developing a consensus on the key features of the White Paper in relation to consultation and participation mechanisms and funding issues. Following completion of the consultation process with the voluntary and community sector, it is envisaged that the White Paper will be published before the end of summer 1999.
Dáil Éireann 503 Written Answers. Green Paper on Voluntary Activity.