Wednesday, 26 April 1995
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. G. Mitchell: The Department of the Taoiseach is the national co-ordinating authority for the Operational Programme for Local Urban and Rural Development. The operational programme comprises sub-programmes as follows: Local Enterprises — the sub-programme is the responsibility of the Minister for Enterprise and Employment; Integrated Development of Designated Disadvantaged and other Areas — the sub-programme is implemented by Area Development Management  (ADM) Ltd., an independent intermediary company established by the European Commission and the Government to manage the global grant for local development. The matching Exchequer funds required under this sub-programme are provided through the Vote of the Department of the Taoiseach. The designated areas under the sub-programme are chosen on the basis of assessment and recommendation by the Interdepartmental Policy Committee on Local Development, which is chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach. In addition community employment in the designated areas is the responsibility of the Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach with responsibility for European Affairs and Local Development and funding for community employment in these areas is channelled through the Vote of the Department of the Taoiseach.
Urban and Village Renewal — The sub-programme is the responsibility of the Minister for the Environment; Technical Assistance — the sub-programme is operated by the Department of the Taoiseach at the direction of the monitoring committee and in association with the implementing Departments and ADM Ltd.
The operational programme is directed by a monitoring committee comprising the European Commission, Government Departments, social partners, the intermediary company, sectoral, voluntary and community bodies. The committee is chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach.
Apart from the specific Operational Programme for Local Urban and Rural Development the Department has an overall responsibility for local development and chairs the Interdepartmental Policy Committee on Local Development which comprises Government Departments, ADM Ltd., FÁS and the Combat Poverty Agency.
In recognition of the Department's duties in relation to local development and the key role of local development in economic and social policy and in the context of the CSF in particular, I have  been appointed Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach with special responsibility for European affairs and local development.
Mr. T. Kitt: The Minister has announced that up to 8,000 new jobs will be created under the local development scheme and has suggested that we should try to learn more about it. How can he do that and not address the fact that the Government has savagely cut 7,000 people from the community employment scheme? It is one thing to issue press releases setting out what the Government will do but now people are being turned away from very valuable schemes from which 4,000 people benefited last year.
What is the Minister going to do about it? Is he concerned that there are a number of agencies — I understand in the Cork-Kerry area there are 30 — dealing with unemployment? That is not necessarily bad but there are four Ministers — two Fine Gael Ministers, Deputies Bruton and Mitchell, one Labour Minister, Deputy Fitzgerald and one Democratic Left Minister, Deputy Rabbitte — dealing with unemployment and there are many new schemes. Who is co-ordinating the effort? The Minister should state if he is responsible. The key question is what the Government is doing about the 7,000 people who are not allowed participate in the community employment scheme.
Mr. G. Mitchell: We provided more than was provided for in the Fianna Fáil Estimates. I have responsibility for local development. The Department of Enterprise and Employment has a separate role. The issue of co-ordination at county level has been considered. A number of groups, including county  enterprise boards, partnership companies, Leader groups, county tourism committees, county managers and so on will be brought together. There will be a county strategic group. EU funding has been secured for each of these groups. Does the Deputy suggest that we send this money back and say we will disband these groups?
Mr. G. Mitchell: We must ensure that the groups reach the targets which they set. It falls to me to ensure that at county level there is a strategic co-ordinating group to bring the various groups together.
Community employment, which is intended to act as a bridge between long term unemployment and eventual re-entry into the labour market, may be extended from one to three years for certain participants.
Mr. T. Kitt: There are four Ministers involved and, as far as I can see, they establish their own fiefdom around their ministerial area. That is a dangerous development. We hear different announcements from different Ministers. The Minister states we are receiving £89 million from Europe. What is he and his colleagues doing about those who are losing out on the community employment scheme? The Minister is aware of the many fine projects in his area. We are talking about people, not press releases or schemes. I was asking if the Minister was concerned about the number of projects and did not suggest that the money should be given back.
Mr. G. Mitchell: In the area of local development the Government will set out to meet its objective of creating in excess of 8,000 real jobs. If the Deputy wishes to raise the issue of community  enterprise that is a matter for another Minister who has a separate budget.
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