The first allocation of cash-seizure grants go to gangland-plagued communities in Dublin and Drogheda, but also around the country.
And at a launch in Dublin, she and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe took the opportunity attack Sinn Féin over an alleged lack of political accountability.
The first allocation of cash-seizure grants, totalling €2 million, go to gangland-plagued communities in Dublin and Drogheda, but also around the country.
The aim of the fund is to reinvest the proceeds of crime seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau in local projects to "build stronger, safer communities", with more than 20 community projects set to benefit from grants ranging between €5,000 to €150,000.
Some €2 million was allocated to the Community Safety Innovation Fund under Budget 2022, which will increase to €3 million next year under Budget 2023.
Minister McEntee said: “This reflects the successes of An Garda Síochána and the Criminal Assets Bureau in identifying and seizing the ill-gotten gains of criminals.
“People across Ireland are working tirelessly in their communities to prevent crime from taking hold and make their local areas safer. Working together, we will build stronger, safer communities.
“By putting this money back into the community, we can show that there is a direct link between the activities of law enforcement and improving community safety.”
She added: “What we wanted was innovative new ways that we can keep our community safe and ensure that people feel safe.”
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe also paid tribute to local initiatives at the grants launch in Dublin’s North Inner City.
He said: “We've made an awful lot of progress from a policing point of view from an investment point of view, and also in supporting local schools.
“But there's always more to be done and new things to be tried.”
Meanwhile Ms McEntee said that her Defamation Bill will be published by the end of the year. She said there were a number of elements “which we hope will prevent that kind of chilling effect” caused by vexatious legal actions and attempted gaggings.
She said she would agree with the Taoiseach about political parties “sending legal letters, not just to other colleagues, but many news outlets. I do think it does have a chilling effect. And I think that we all need to reflect on that.
“What I hope to have is measures in the bill that will in some way address some of that — and not just individuals or parties, but obviously larger businesses or other organisations who wish to try and dampen or to stop inquiry, whether it's investigative journalism or whether it's something that's in the public interest as well.”
Mr Donohoe commented: “We have Sinn Féin for the first time in their political history now making a case to be in and to lead the next Government.
“We have to reflect on the really serious issues that are raised if you have a political party that wants to be leading a Government of our country or not be willing to subject themselves to the same questions of accountability.”
He added: “If Sinn Féin economic policies have been implemented over the last number of years we would not be in a position where our country would be able to deal with the economic effects of a pandemic, and then able to help our country deal with the huge and serious effects caused by the rise in the price of energy.
“I can understand why Sinn Féin want to dodge those questions. Sinn Féin are bringing forward with a price cap proposal to deal with the cost of energy at the same time that many other Governments have moved away from it.
“I hope over time, that if they are serious about trying to play a role and lead into Government of this State, that they will be consistent then in answering questions about what they want to do if they're in Government.”
Applications for the Community Safety Innovation Fund opened in April this year.
A total of 124 applications were received by the deadline of June 8, which included NGOs, groups co-funded with local authorities, and community organisations working on safety and youth justice issues.
One beneficiary, meanwhile, of the CAB funds redistribution is the Meath Travellers Workshop, which engages with young members who may be vulnerable to falling into crime.
Other projects across Ireland which will be granted aided are listed below: