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For Oral Answer on : 05/03/2024
Question Number(s): 82 Question Reference(s): 10458/24
Department: Rural and Community Development
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
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QUESTION


* To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of applications received under the 2023 Community Centres Investment Fund-New Builds Measure; when she expects allocations under this measure to be announced; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

– David Stanton T.D.


For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 5 March, 2024.

REPLY


In recent years, we have all come to appreciate our community facilities even more. I know we have all witnessed first-hand the positive benefits that can accrue by making greater use of our community centres.

Community centres are a vital resource for any community. They are where we go for community activities and events, and for social supports and social interaction. They are home to many of our cultural and sporting clubs. They are also where communities come together in times of difficulty and in times of celebration.

The community groups, clubs and charities that run these centres are the cornerstone of our communities, and I know that the Deputies will agree that they need our support.  That is why I have been tailoring my Department’s investment programmes to support these groups.

I have prioritised the development and enhancement of community centres across the country to improve access and provide suitable social spaces. This has been achieved through various schemes administered by my Department such as the CLÁR programme, LEADER, the Town and Village Renewal scheme and the Local Enhancement Programme. It is also why I introduced the new Community Centres Investment Fund with targeted support for these centres.

Under the 2022 Community Centre Investment Fund in particular, over €45.8 million was committed for improvement and refurbishment works on over 860 existing community centres across Ireland. There was a huge uptake of this funding and communities are now enjoying the improvements to the fabric of their community centres as a result of this Government initiative.

I understand many of these projects are now complete and others are progressing well. I’ve had the opportunity to see the work that is being done and I look forward to seeing many more of these revamped facilities opening their doors to the wider community in the coming months.

Following on from this investment, I wanted to assist community groups who are striving to build their own community centre to service their local needs. That is why, in 2023, the focus of the Community Centres Investment Fund moved to new builds.

Last year I announced a new €20 million fund to support communities with shovel-ready projects on green or brownfield sites for the construction of new community centres.

The scheme for new builds was open to applicants in both urban and rural communities.  The minimum grant available was €1 million with the maximum being €6 million. As the grant funding is substantial, and for the purposes of compliance with public financial procedures, the lead party to an application must have been a State-funded body, for example a local authority, a local development company or a state agency.

The deadline for receipt of applications for the new build measure was 3rd July 2023. My Department received 22 applications to this fund from locations all around the country. I’m pleased to note that there have been some really good projects put forward.

I would also like to confirm to Deputy Stanton that there were also two applications submitted for County Cork.


I’m pleased to note that the project approval process is almost concluded. From the outset, I have indicated that the successful projects would be announced in Quarter 1 of this year and my Department is still on track to meet this commitment.


I know that this announcement is eagerly anticipated in these communities and the successful projects will no doubt make a big impact in their respective areas.
 
With regard to extending the scheme further this year, I would like to see the current round of funding finalised and the majority of the projects complete and in use by their communities. I will, of course, give consideration to the need for further rounds of funding and indeed any conditions that might be attached to any further iterations of the scheme in the context of available funding.  
 
In conclusion, my Department is committed to building vibrant, inclusive and sustainable communities and I believe the funding provided under the Community Centre Investment Fund will serve the communities involved for many years to come. I would encourage people to make full use of their community centres; they are a wonderful asset to have and should be fully utilised.