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Ministers Alan Kelly T.D. and Minister of State, Ann Phelan, T.D. launch €28 million programme to tackle disadvantage and social exclusion

Today, 23 September 2015, Mr. Alan Kelly T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, and Ms. Ann Phelan, TD., Minister of State for Rural Affairs launched the Department’s Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP), at the National Ploughing Championships.

The SICAP aim is to address poverty, long term unemployment and social exclusion, through local engagement and partnerships between disadvantaged individuals, community organisations and public sector agencies.

€28 million is being invested in communities through SICAP this year. This includes an allocation of €2 million under the European Social Fund (ESF) Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-2020 and €2 million under the Youth Employment Initiative.
It is an ambitious programme which will help provide the building blocks for local community development in Ireland. Its vision is to improve the life chances and opportunities of those who are marginalised in society or living in poverty.

Speaking at the launch Minister Kelly said:
“As indicators suggest that Ireland is well down the path of economic recovery and growth; it is vital that we ensure that the recovery is a fair one. One from which everyone can benefit. This is where the new SICAP can play a vital role.

SICAP helps by offering a series of practical, tangible services. Through a national network of Local Development Companies, it provides education and training courses in areas such as literacy and numeracy and IT skills. It offers first-step back to education courses. It can be a pathway to gaining recognised qualifications. SICAP can also help people prepare for a job by looking at local employment options and improving interview skills.

It will target those most disadvantaged and excluded in our society and will afford local flexibility to respond to local needs.
I have already become aware of the impact the SICAP is having on individuals, families and communities throughout Ireland. I have seen the difference it can have on some of the programme’s key target groups.

I am certain that it will have a real impact on the ground, providing key supports to those who need them most so that more people are in a position to avail of Ireland’s changing fortunes.”

Speaking at the launch Minister of State Phelan said:

“A key role of SICAP is to empower citizens and strengthen local communities’ capacity to address issues which affect them. For example, groups working to promote equal access to employment for people with disabilities or ensuring fair treatment for all, regardless of race, gender, religion, age or sexual orientation. SICAP will help ensure that all groups are given a voice in their respective communities so that all citizens can engage and participate fully in society.

The contribution of the EU is also very significant through European Social Funding (ESF), to support young people who are at a higher risk of social exclusion with a particular focus on those from disadvantaged communities and from target groups that have been prioritised as experiencing a higher risk of social exclusion.”