Tuesday, 22 March 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
517. Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason a child care organisation (details supplied) in Dublin 11 did not receive a funding allocation in either December 2004 or March 2005 in view of the fact that its application reached the final appraisal stage before those allocations were made; the reason further information is now being requested 12 months after the application was made; the reason this did not happen at an earlier stage in the process; when this group can expect a decision on their long standing application. [9289/05]
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): I understand that an application for capital grant assistance under the equal opportunities child care programme, EOCP 2000-06, was submitted by the group to my Department in March 2004. The EOCP is a seven year development programme which aims to increase the availability and quality of child care to support parents in employment, education and training. The group in question has already received staffing grant assistance of €243,460 and capital grant assistance of €25,394 under the EOCP.
The level of demand for capital grant assistance was such that I considered it important to increase the capital provision for the present programme. Following discussions with my colleague the Minister for Finance, an additional capital provision of €90 million was made available over the period 2005 to 2009, in the context of the 2005 budget. Of this amount, €50 million is being made available under the present programme and the remaining €40 million will flow under the next phase of the post-2006 EOCP. This augments the increased EU funding of some €12 million made available last year in recognition of the progress of the programme. This brings the total funding available for the programme to €499.3 million and now includes an increased provision for capital developments for which €205 million has been set aside. Since budget 2005, I have announced a record allocation totalling almost €68 million in capital funding to community-based or not-for-profit groups in two tranches, one in December 2004 and another on 4 March 2005.
The availability of the additional capital funding will enable me to make further capital grant assistance available to groups which address significant child care service gaps and where the project proposal represents good value for money when considered in relation to the current guidelines on building costs. In the light of this, the group in question was advised in December 2004 that while its project had not been prioritised for immediate funding at that stage, it will be reconsidered in the future. I hope to make further significant capital commitments during the remainder of 2005 and thereafter.
The ongoing assessment of the applications in the pipeline will be concluded as speedily as possible to facilitate the development of additional child care facilities and places at the earliest opportunity. Area Development Management Limited is in dialogue with this group regarding its proposal. When this assessment is completed, the application will then be considered by the programme appraisal committee, chaired by my Department, before I make a final decision. In the interim, it would be premature of me to comment further on this application.
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