The CLÁR programme provides funding for small scale infrastructure projects in designated rural areas that have experienced significant levels of de-population.
The areas originally designated for CLÁR were selected in 2001 based on the level of population decline in each area between 1926 and 1996. The Cooley Peninsula was also included on the basis of the serious difficulties caused in that area by Foot and Mouth disease at that time. The average population loss in the original CLÁR areas over the period 1926 to 1996 was 50%.
In 2006, an analysis of the 2002 Census data was carried out by the NIRSA Institute (National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis) at Maynooth University and the programme was extended to include areas with an average population loss of 35% between 1926 and 2002.
A full review of the CLÁR programme has been initiated by my Department with the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA), NUI, Maynooth. This will examine the most recent changes in population patterns throughout the country on the basis of 2016 Census data. The review will also consider whether any factors other than depopulation should be taken into account in determining CLÁR areas in the future.
I expect the review to be completed in the coming months. Once completed, and following consultation with relevant stakeholders, the review will help to inform the design of future CLÁR programmes.