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Providing strong community supports helps to empower and develop communities that value the health and wellbeing of all.

In seeking to fulfil this vision, the government commits itself to the following principles:

  • promoting community participation with a strong system of local government
  • creating robust local collaboration structures by engaging with local communities
  • supporting voluntary activity and active citizenship by promoting economic development, training and education opportunities and advocating for equal opportunities and social inclusion

Community Supports

In order to create a vibrant, sustainable and inclusive society, communities need to be empowered to develop and sustain their own wellbeing.

The Framework Policy for Local Community Development is built around 5 core objectives:

  • engaging with communities to give local people real influence in the development of policies and strategies that address their communities’ needs
  • working with partners to facilitate greater use of existing infrastructures and resources and create dialogue between communities, local and community development bodies, local statutory structures and local government
  • planning for local and community development to create change at a local level, and ensure that resources are matched with locally identified needs and priorities
  • effective delivery of interventions at local level
  • evaluate the performance, monitor the impact of interventions and review the decisions made regarding resource allocation to those who need them most

The Community Enhancement Programme is a community support which aims to streamline funding to communities in need. Its mission is to provide funding to improve facilities available to communities.

Business, Training and Education

The government seeks to provide a coherent policy framework to support the development of the social enterprise sector in Ireland. Promoting education and training programmes that will support economic stability is a key aim.

The Dormant Accounts Fund is a major source of funding for community initiatives and supports. These funds will also be used to support Social Enterprise. A National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland has been published and is available here .

The Community Services Programme provides local social, economic and environmental services through a social enterprise model, providing a contribution towards the cost of staff in these organisations. It meets local service gaps and provides services and facilities that would not be available otherwise.

Public Libraries are a free, nationwide service for everyone and play a major role in the provision of business training and education.

They deliver a national literacy and reading programme, Right to Read and a national Work Matters programme for individuals and local enterprises. They also provide employment supports for locally-based entrepreneurs, start-ups and job seekers. You can access these services here.

Local Government

A strong local government is a key to achieving thriving communities. Local governments facilitate engagement and public participation.

Giving citizens a greater say in local government decisions that affect their own communities is a function of Public Participation Networks . These networks aim to strengthen democracy by allowing diverse views and interests to be considered as part of the decision-making process.

Local Community Development Committees have been established on a statutory basis to bring a more co-ordinated approach to local and community development. These committees use the expertise and experience of public and private actors within the area to provide effective and efficient services, especially to those most in need of those services.

Local authorities cover local issues and regulations. Some of the issues local authorities handle include burial regulations and dog control.

See the full list of local authorities in Ireland here.

Voluntary Activities

The government recognises that society becomes stronger through active citizenship and voluntary participation. Voluntary activity is an essential sign of a society where people are concerned for each other.

Voluntary activity is encouraged through:

However, it also recognises the worth of every type of volunteerism and voluntary activity, so it does not believe that it should seek to regulate or be involved with every type of voluntary activity.

Social Inclusion

Social inclusion is central to supporting communities and individuals. The government encourages communities and target groups to engage with relevant stakeholders in identifying and addressing social exclusion and equality issues.

This will develop the capacity of local community groups and support sustainable communities.

The Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) aims to reduce poverty and promote social inclusion and equality. It does this through local collaboration between the Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs) in each Local Authority and the Local Development Companies (LDCs) who deliver the programme locally. The LDCs work with the most disadvantaged and the hardest to reach people in communities to help improve their life opportunities and access services such as personal development supports, life learning opportunities and to access employment.

Supporting the elderly is a major part of social inclusion. The objective of the Seniors Alert Scheme is to encourage community support for vulnerable older people in our communities, so they can live securely in their homes with confidence, independence and peace of mind.

Winter readiness is a challenge for individuals and communities across Ireland each year. Be Winter Ready's mission is to make sure people are safe during the winter months. This involves winter preparations, first aid courses, and supports like the Senior Alerts Scheme and CLÁR, which provides funding for small-scale infrastructural projects in rural areas.

The Peace IV Programme is a cross-border programme that supports peace and reconciliation and promotes social and economic stability in Northern Ireland and the border regions of Ireland (Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Sligo). The programme is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body on behalf of the Irish and UK governments.

Publications (131)

How you can volunteer

3 April 2020; Department of Rural and Community Development; Publication;

The Community Call

2 April 2020; Department of Rural and Community Development; Publication;

Government launches initiative to phone older people to check on wellbeing during COVID-19 crisis

2 April 2020; Department of Rural and Community Development; Press release;