Dáil Éireann - Volume 508 - 06 October, 1999
Written Answers. - Social Economy.
Mr. Rabbitte Mr. Rabbitte
49. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the input he had to the National Development Plan discussions with regard to the strengthening of the social economy in areas of deprivation, particularly those areas which will shortly be part of the European Union Objective One In Transition East and South Region. [18890/99]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): Lead responsibility for the policy function on the social economy is a matter for my colleague, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. My Department was represented on the social economy working group set up by the Tánaiste under Partnership 2000 to undertake a detailed examination of the potential of the social economy.
The Government in July 1999 approved the introduction of a social economy programme through the phasing in of a dedicated social economy programme with effect from 1999 and the establishment of a national monitoring committee representative of the social partners to oversee the development and implementation of the social economy programme. My Department will be represented on the monitoring committee. The intention of the social economy programme is to  support imaginative, locally based initiatives in disadvantaged communities.
This Government is committed to a strategic approach to poverty and social inclusion. Investment in community development and capacity building is a key priority to ensure that socially excluded groups and local communities can be active participants in identifying and meeting their own development needs. The national anti-poverty strategy was published in April 1997. The strategy set out to reduce poverty and social inclusion both in general and in a number of key policy areas. Immediately on taking up Government, we established a Cabinet committee on social inclusion to deal with issues of poverty and social inclusion. To date great progress has been made in meeting targets set out in the strategy. One of the Government's key objectives is the building of an inclusive society and this objective will be reflected in the contents of the National Development Plan, to which my Department – along with other Departments – has contributed.
The National Development Plan is currently being finalised and it would be not be appropriate for me to discuss the specific contents at this stage. However, I can assure the Deputy that the social economy and social inclusion will be priorities in the context of the National Development Plan. The plan will also address the specific needs of the regions.
Dáil Éireann 508 Written Answers. Social Economy.