CLÁR is a targeted capital investment programme for rural areas which have experienced significant levels of depopulation. I re-opened the programme in 2016 and, since then, over 1,400 projects have been approved for CLÁR funding of almost €33 million. This includes more than €855,000 for 55 projects in County Limerick.
This year, I approved 179 projects to the value of €5.9 million under the CLÁR programme. This includes funding for two projects in County Limerick, to the value of €95,000.
The CLÁR programme makes a significant contribution to the rural communities it serves. A modest investment under the CLÁR programme, such as for the provision of a play area or specialist sensory garden, can have a significant impact on a community, by providing a safe location for children, including those with special needs, to play and for their parents to meet.
The programme is helping to make rural schools safer for our children and their parents by funding footpaths and traffic calming measures in the vicinity of those schools.
The CLÁR programme has also supported voluntary first-response organisations who provide an excellent and vital service in many rural areas, often under very difficult circumstances.
It has funded vehicles for organisations who provide transport for service users in rural areas under the Mobility and Cancer Care Measure. This is a vital resource for all those who avail of it.
Overall, I am very pleased with the impact which CLÁR funding is having in rural areas. I regularly see this impact when I engage with communities around the country and see the projects for which the funding has been used.
I intend to launch a further call for proposals under CLÁR next year and details of the programme will be made available when the scheme is announced.