Issue 1 - March 2010

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2011 European year of volunteering

The Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, John Curran informed the Dail of arrangements for 2011 European year of volunteering (Dail Eireann, Debates, 9th March 2010, 557), responding to a question by Caoimhghin O Caolain (SF, Cavan Monaghan).  Each European Union member state was required to designate a national coordinating body responsible for participation in the year and in our case it would be Volunteering Ireland, whose member organizations included such groups as the GAA, ICA, FAI, St Vincent de Paul, Tidy Towns and the National Youth Council.  Volunteering Ireland was now establishing a steering committee of voluntary and community organizations as well as state representatives.  It was required to consult widely with stakeholders, civil society, national agencies and community programmes.  The European Commission would determine the grants available, which would depend from country to country on population size and cost of living.  Funding would be 80% EU and 20% from his department.  Each coordination body would submit the application for EU funding and detail its work programme for the year.

Earlier, the Minister for Community Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Eamon O Cuiv, announced to the Dail that he had provided €87,800 to a volunteering recruitment initiative bringing together the Department for Social Development (NI), the GAA, Voluntary Arts Ireland and the Church of Ireland (Dail Eireann, Debates, 9th February 2010, 789).  Later, he announced funding of €2.5m to support volunteering in 2010.  This would go to 22 volunteer centres, including two new ones, in Clare and Longford.  In 2009, the volunteer centres had reported 13,000 volunteers (up 70% on 2008) in 870 organizations.  Of the volunteers, 61% were new and 69% were under 35.  His department also supported Volunteering Centres Ireland, the Young Social Innovators Initiative, Boardmatch and the placement of social science graduates in Focus Ireland (Dail Eireann, Debates, 18th February 2010).