Dáil Éireann - Volume 540 - 04 July, 2001
Written Answers. - Anti-Poverty Measures.
Mr. M. Higgins Mr. M. Higgins
33. Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the criticisms of the Action Plan Against Poverty and Social Exclusion which have been made by voluntary and community groups; the way in which he intends to address these criticisms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20088/01]
Ms Shortall Ms Shortall
55. Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the actions outlined in the Action Plan Against Poverty and  Social Exclusion to deal with the specific problems of social exclusion being experienced by asylum seekers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20087/01]
Proinsias De Rossa Proinsias De Rossa
63. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if the action plan against poverty and social exclusion contains new actions or spending commitments to tackle poverty and social exclusion here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20086/01]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): I propose to take Questions Nos. 33, 55 and 63 together.
The national action plan against poverty and social exclusion, submitted to the EU on 1 June, provides an overview of a wide variety of initiatives being worked on by the Government to drive forward the social inclusion agenda, touching every aspect of Government.
The plan is primarily grounded in the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness and the national development plan, NDP, and the actions and spending commitments ensuing from these programmes. In particular, the plan reflects the state of the National Anti-Poverty Strategy, NAPS, at present, as a work-in-progress, as outlined clearly to both the social partners and the EU Commission at the time of it's preparation. Future plans submitted to the EU will be consistent with, and contingent upon, the findings of the NAPS review and will also reflect EU developments in this area.
In keeping with the EU guidelines, the plan outlines measures under a number of themes not previously emphasised in the NAPS, including the digital divide, access to justice and culture and family supports. The key issues that form the basis of the plan have emerged from the consultation process and from EU guidelines regarding the contents of the plan, which emphasised facilitating participation in employment and access by all to resources, rights, goods and services; preventing the risks of exclusion; helping the most vulnerable and mobilising all relevant bodies. In particular, the focus on the interaction between inequality and poverty is strengthened in the plan, including commitments to measure persistent poverty across the nine grounds outlined in the equality legislation. The plan also outlines new proposals for research on migrants, an area of policy that will be further strengthened through updating the NAPS analysis to include emerging causes of poverty such as racism.
The plan also refers to proposed research to be commissioned by the Reception and Integration Agency which will identify how the needs of refugees are currently being met by existing services and obtain a complete inventory of organisations and groups, at all levels, which have, or might have the capability to be involved in integration initiatives. The purpose of the research is to inform the development of a comprehensive  strategy for the implementation of integration policy.
The National Action Plan Against Poverty and Social Inclusion, 2001-2003, is the first in a series, running up to 2007, which will outline measures towards eliminating poverty and social exclusion. The development of each subsequent national action plan will provide further opportunities for review of this first plan and for evaluation of the effectiveness of the NAPS and its ongoing development.
Dáil Éireann 540 Written Answers. Anti-Poverty Measures.