As the Deputy will be aware, I reopened the CLÁR programme in 2016, following a number of years when the scheme was closed for new applications. More than 1,400 projects have been approved for funding of almost €33 million under the programme since then.
The type of projects that have been supported include safety measures around schools and community facilities, the provision of play areas, supports for emergency first responders, and a measure to provide vehicles to transport people to cancer care and respite centres.
This is much-needed funding for small-scale capital projects in rural areas that have experienced significant levels of population loss. Although the amount of funding available to individual projects under CLÁR is modest, I know that it makes a huge impact on the rural areas it serves. I have visited many of the projects and I have seen first-hand the difference that these projects make to local communities.
I expect that the CLÁR programme will be opened again for new applications in 2020, and I will make decisions in the new year regarding the measures to be included in the programme.
I will also conduct a review of the programme to take account of the 2016 census data and to consider any factors, other than depopulation, that should be taken into account in designing future CLÁR programmes.