Dáil Éireann - Volume 581 - 09 March, 2004

Written Answers - Departmental Programmes.

  167. Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the way his Department is developing alternative and innovative solutions to assist in dealing with problems associated with urban living and excessive and unbalanced growth as stated in his Department’s statement of strategy. [7674/04]

  Éamon Ó Cuív:I refer the Deputy to Question Nos. 432 of 3 December 2002 and Nos. 431, 432, 433 and 434 of 27 May 2003 in which I set out details of the many schemes and initatives operated by my Department to assist rural and urban communities. Together, these schemes constitute an integrated approach in addressing problems associated with urban living and excessive and unbalanced growth, together with other Government measures such as the national spatial strategy. Some of the key measures administered by my Department are outlined as follows.

The RAPID programme aims to ensure that priority attention is given to tackling the spatial concentration of poverty and social exclusion within the 45 designated areas, through targeting state resources available under the national development plan. Plans have been prepared in all areas and Departments are considering the proposals from these plans. A new dedicated fund of €4.5 million capital funding is being made available in my Department’s vote in 2004, to support small scale localised actions in RAPID areas, through co-funding with the relevant Department or agency. I propose to announce full details of how this money will be spent shortly. In addition, funding of €1.5 million is available to ADM to meet administration expenses and to provide support to area implementation teams to support them in the preparation and implementation of their plans. All of the RAPID areas and many of the partnerships and community groups support urban communities. Details of the areas covered by LDSIP and RAPID are available on my Department’s website www.pobail.ie.

Clearly, unemployment, drugs misuse and youth problems are difficulties which are manifest from urban living and unbalanced growth. In this context the bottom up approach inherent in measures funded by my Department under the local development social inclusion programmes and the community development programme, and drugs programmes are key mechanisms for bringing forward alternative and innovative solutions.

The Leader programmes are innovative EU programmes put in place to encourage the implementation of integrated, high-quality [1334] strategies in rural communities with particular emphasis on community type projects. Total public funding of some €150 million the period 2000 to 2006 about half of which is EU funding. One of the key aims of Leader is to maintain and develop local rural communities and creating opportunities for rural people to live and work in their local area.

My Department’s responsibilities include the rural development aspects of the joint cross-Border programmes, PEACE and INTERREG Ireland-Northern Ireland and INTERREG Ireland-Wales as well as the farm relief services measure of the national development plan. The rural measures under these programmes aim to foster the economic and social development of rural communities. In so doing, these programmes directly contribute to balanced growth in rural areas and thereby strengthening options to live and work in rural communities. These measures provide a total of €43 million in the period 2000 to 2006.

Finally, the CLÁR programme, for which €13.49 million is being made available in the Vote of my Department in 2004, seeks to help redress depopulation and lack of services in rural areas. The measures contained in the CLÁR programme support physical, economic and social infrastructure across a range of areas including electricity conversion, roads, water and sewerage, village enhancement, health, broadband and sports projects.

Question No. 168 answered with Question No. 162.