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Rural and Community Development | Assisting rural and community groups with social and economic deficiency

* To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the extent to which she hopes to continue to assist rural and community groups directly and indirectly with particular reference to addressing particular areas with social or economic deficiency; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

– Bernard J. Durkan T.D.

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 15 December, 2022.

To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the extent to which she proposes to assist urban and rural community groups throughout the country through the various schemes available to her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

– Bernard J. Durkan T.D.

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 15 December, 2022.


A vital part of my Department’s mission is to support the creation of vibrant and sustainable communities across this country.  Budget 2023 provides a 4% increase in my Department’s allocation, which will deliver significant support for rural and community development next year.  The increased budget provision for 2023 of over €390 million will provide over €200 million in funding for rural development and €190 million in funding for community development.

The Programme for Government places a strong emphasis on balanced regional development. My Department supports this commitment through targeted investment that supports rural regeneration, facilitates new working opportunities and fosters regional enterprise growth. We will continue to invest in, and support, communities across the country through our wide range of schemes such as the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, LEADER Programme, Town and Village Renewal Scheme, Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme, Community Centres Investment Fund, Local Improvement Scheme, CLÁR Programme, Islands Capital Programme, Community Enhancement Programme, Connected Hubs initiative, Libraries Investment Capital funding, PEACE IV Programme and the PEACE PLUS Programme.

My Department also provides strategic interventions, funding programmes and supports which target and address issues of social and or economic deprivation in rural and urban communities throughout the country.

The Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP), managed by my Department, is Ireland’s primary social inclusion funding intervention, delivered locally by Local Development Companies (LDCs) to help those in the greatest need access supports to enable participation in communities.

My Department’s Community Services Programme (CSP) currently supports over 420 community organisations to provide employment opportunities and local services through a social enterprise model.  The CSP focuses on communities where public and private sector services are lacking, either through geographical isolation or social isolation or because demand levels are not sufficient. Under Budget 2023, funding for the Community Services Programme will increase by €3.5 million to over €52 million in 2023. This will help ensure that organisations providing community services are funded on a more sustainable basis and that these important services continue to be provided throughout the country.

Funding of €2 million was secured to design and implement a new Empowering Communities Programme (ECP) in 2022 aimed at specifically targeting area-based deprivation through a community development approach. The ECP programme is currently being embedded and will be supported again during 2023 in fourteen areas around the country that were identified using the Pobal HP deprivation index which are experiencing significant disadvantage.  

€100,000 in Dormant Accounts funding will be available in 2023 to build capacity, as well as providing resources and toolkits to support the engagement of marginalised communities in consultation and decision-making processes.  This will build on the 2021 and 2022 funding measure that supported research to identify methodologies and develop strategies and resources to support the inclusion of those most marginalised in decision making processes at all levels. This should ensure better outcomes for all members of our communities.  

My Department is also responsible for a number of important policies, including the National Policy on Social Enterprise, and Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities which is a 5 Year Strategy to Support the Community and Voluntary Sector 2019-2024.

Our Rural Future, which I launched in 2021, is a whole-of-Government rural development policy which contains more than 150 commitments for the social and economic development of rural Ireland. It provides the framework to achieve the vision of transforming the quality of life and opportunity for people living in rural areas. Since publication implementation of measures continues to be strong.

My Department continues to engage with rural and urban stakeholders to identify issues impacting on communities and respond to emerging needs. I am confident that the funding supports and policies provided by my Department will continue to deliver tangible benefits for both urban and rural communities.

Information on all of the funding and supports available through my Department is available online on the website.

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