Tuesday, 21 October 2003
Dáil Eireann Debate
128. Ms Enright asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his Department will renew the CÁIT initiative to encourage greater usage of information technology; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24142/03]
Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Éamon Ó Cuív): Two CÁIT programmes were launched to enable those excluded from the benefits of information and communication technologies to engage in a meaningful way with the new technologies. Funding of €7,44,516 was committed to 121 projects since December 2000. The CÁIT programme has enabled organisations to purchase IT hardware and software according to the individual, specific needs of their communities. Although the programme has come to an end, this equipment remains a fully accessible resource within communities. It will continue to minimise the burden of equipment and infrastructure costs, one of the key barriers preventing access to information technology. The CÁIT programme has directly led to the development of a pool of highly skilled volunteer tutors who have an in-depth understanding of the psychological and tangible barriers late adopters face in engaging with information technologies. A multiplier effect has been generated, as computer literacy skills continue to transfer throughout communities.
While the CÁIT initiative has now closed, the Government's information society strategy, NEW  CONNECTIONS, sets out a commitment to capacity building and to the development of supports to enhance ICT capacity among community and voluntary organisations. I have taken the view that an effective way to deliver access to IT to those who had previously benefited from the CÁIT programme is through existing community development organisations, including partnerships. Within this framework, the work previously carried out by CÁIT can be further advanced.
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