Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Rural Affairs, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, has criticised the Minister for the Environment for failing to give priority to the RAPID Scheme, which focuses on dealing with social deprivation in the most disadvantaged urban communities in the country.

Deputy Ó Cuív commented: “There is a particular need to focus on the areas of greatest disadvantage in the country, especially in the current economic climate.

“Instead of doing this the Minister has run down the RAPID scheme, which was doing considerable work in urban communities, he also withdrew the funding for RAPID co-ordinators who were the people employed full-time to drive the programme.

“I recently asked the Minister for the Environment what new developments took place in the RAPID programme last year. In his reply, he pointed to developments that were already in train during the term of the last Government; including the provision of €88,000 each to Ballina, Dungarvan, Enniscorthy, Mullingar and Rathkeale, which were admitted to the RAPID Programme in 2009 to improve infrastructure in these communities. The only other development last year was the provision of €1.11 million for RAPID areas, which included the annual Community Sport budget to the RAPID area implementation team and co-funded community based CCTV programme.

“When you consider that there are approximately 300,000 people living in RAPID areas, this funding will have no significant effect and it shows the total lack of interest by the Minister in urban social deprivation. As Spokesperson on Community, I will continue to challenge the Minister this year, in relation to urban deprivation and his response to it.”