The CLÁR programme provides funding for small scale infrastructure projects in designated rural areas that have experienced significant levels of de-population.
In 2018 and 2019, the programme included funding for Play Areas and Multi-Use Games Areas (MUGAs), which required that facilities supported should be available for wider community use. The objective was that these play areas would be available to all local families and visitors. In the case of schools, it was accepted that the use of play areas by the general public would need to be restricted to times outside of school hours.
Schools funded under the 2018 and 2019 CLÁR programmes were willing to allow their play areas to be available for wider community use, and my Department entered into Funding Agreements with the relevant Local Authorities on that basis. I have no plans to alter the terms of the Funding Agreements at this stage.
In 2020, the CLÁR programme was adjusted to help rural communities respond to COVID-19. Given the changed focus of the scheme last year, the Play Area and MUGA Support Measure was replaced with funding for Community Recreation Areas. The requirements under this Measure differ to those under the Play Area Measure, and so the concerns raised by the Deputy should not arise.
Details of the Measures to be included for support under the CLÁR programme this year will be announced when I launch the 2021 CLÁR Programme.