Written Answers. - Departmental Programmes.
339 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the reason areas along the Border in the Northern Monaghan area known as Knockatallon or in the Castleblayney area known as Oram-Mullyash were not brought into the extension of the CLÁR area; if he will give a breakdown of the figures in these two specific mountain-type areas; if he will give a commitment to look again at these hard pressed border areas that have suffered so much over the past generations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3843/03]
An Agreed Programme for Government contains a commitment to annual funding for the CLÁR programme and to consider additional areas for inclusion in light of the 2002 population census results. Arising from the analysis of the 2002 population census, which I commissioned from NUI Maynooth, the Government decided on the additional areas for inclusion in the CLÁR programme and I announced these additions on 17 January 2003.
The critical criterion in the review was to maintain the 50% overall reduction and involved identifying and including any DEDs with a 50% plus population decline contiguous or near to existing CLÁR areas.
In the case of Monaghan, seven additional DEDs were included with an additional 2,705 population benefiting from the programme.
These DEDs meet the criteria of the review in that they are both contiguous to an existing CLÁR area and maintain the average population decline for the revised areas.
The statistics for the areas specifically referred to by the Deputy are:
Knockatallon (Sheskin DED): – 49.43% decline 1926-2002
Mullyash DED: – 54.71% decline 1926-2002
Oram (Church Hill DED): – 40.19% decline 1926-2002
The Sheskin DED showed a decrease in population for the 1996-2002 period, the Mullyash DED remained constant while the Church Hill DED showed an increase in population.
These DEDs were not brought into the revised areas as they were not contiguous or near to an existing CLÁR area.
Although the provision for the CLÁR programme is reduced from the 2002 allocation, I expect that I will be able to complete a comprehensive work programme in 2003. CLÁR funds act as a lever to elicit funds from other sources. The 2003 CLÁR allocation will be sufficient to continue this leverage and so sustain an effective programme.
340 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on whether it would be in everyone's interest that decisions be made on projects at the earliest possible date under the INTERREG Phase 2 and other EU funds, to allow community groups, private businesses and local authorities to carry out work in a properly planned way rather than in a panic to reach unrealistic deadlines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3845/03]
My responsibility in relation to INTERREG, Phase II and other EU funded programmes relates only to those aspects of the various programmes, which are within the remit of my Department. As the Deputy may know, there are a variety of delivery mechanisms for these programmes, involving a broad range of interests. The Deputy may wish to note that the process for selecting applications under the current Phase II and INTERREG IIIA programmes are significantly different from previous programmes. New procedures and systems are required to cater for such changes.
Having said that however, I fully subscribe to the principle that decisions should be made as soon as possible subject to meeting obligations under EU and national legislation.