Ireland has won a United Nations award for its response at community level to the Covid pandemic. The UN received over 350 entries from 58 countries for 10 awards – with Ireland winning one for its Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP).

The programme is supported by the Department of Community and Rural Development and the award win was announced from UN headquarters in New York on June 22nd.

Other award winners came from The Philippines, Poland, Thailand, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, India, Panama, Canada and Ukraine.

“Great recognition from the UN no less for SICAP,” said South Tipperary Development Company, congratulating all involved. Similar sentiments were expressed by others involved in delivering the programme.

CEO of Galway Rural Development, Steve Dolan, said, “In GRD we’re very proud that SICAP has been recognised for this award, an acknowledgement internationally of the positive imact of the programme, especially during the COVID-19.” He thanked GRD colleagues, Pobal and the Department “who displayed resilience and flexibility as we sought to support those most at risk of poverty and social exclusion during the pandemic”.

Minister of State for Community Development, Joe O’Brien, said, “This award, a first for this Department, is testament to the strength of the programme and the hard work and commitment of our DRCD staff, Pobal, Local Government, Local Development Companies and programme beneficiaries,” he said.

SICAP’s budget increased by 10% to €43m at the start of this year and a further €5m was announced in June to support its work with refugees.

The programme supports communities and individuals experiencing disadvantage and has 13 target groups: children and families; women, young people (aged 15-24), emerging needs groups, lone parents, low income workers/households, new communities, people living in Disadvantaged Communities, people with disabilities, Roma, people disengaged from the labour market, unemployed people, and Travellers.

United Nations Public Service Day, celebrated on 23 June each year, recognises the value of public service to the community and highlights the contribution of public service in the development process. For more details about the UN award visit:

BELOW: Mr Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, makes the announcement in New York.

MORE NEWS from ‘Changing Ireland’ of SICAP’s successes and its origins in an era of cuts:

Further information on the programme is provided here on Pobal’s website and by the Department of Rural and Community Development here. For news and historic background, including cuts to State-supported community programmes, the setting up of the SICAP programme and its subsequent expansion and recognition at the highest level, scroll down for more Changing Ireland articles.

The first is a well-researched long read for anyone – student, public servant, volunteer or media producer – who wishes to know what SICAP does, why it does it and what makes it work.

Take a deep dive into a #SicapStory – From Malawi to Wexford

4 SICAP success stories and the LDCs behind them

SICAP report calls for bottom-up approach to evaluation

Minister Ring wants to expand Department amid SICAP success

Is social inclusion our best weapon in the fight against the far right?

Minister Ring launches 5-year anti-poverty programme

“On the cusp of a huge opportunity” Interview with: Ryan Howard in Brussels

Update in relation to former CDPs and the LCDP