Dáil Éireann - Volume 581 - 09 March, 2004

Written Answers - Departmental Programmes.

  115. Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made to date in regard to the implementation of the CLÁR programme; the number of areas for which plans have been submitted to his Department; their total projected budgets; when work on their implementation is likely to get under way; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7697/04]

  192. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he intends to further extend the area covered by the CLÁR programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7733/04]

  436. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs about the CLÁR programme, particularly its potential to assist communities for whom it was intended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7884/04]

  Éamon Ó Cuív:I propose to take Questions Nos. 115, 192 and 436 together.

I introduced the CLÁR programme in October 2001 to address depopulation and the decline and lack of services in rural areas. An Agreed Programme for Government contained a commitment to annually fund the programme and consideration of additional areas for inclusion in light of the 2002 population census data. The Government agreed on additional areas and I announced them on 17 January 2003. Areas in 18 counties are now included in the programme. There is no plan for a further review or more changes to the boundary of CLÁR areas.

CLÁR co-funds, with other Departments, State agencies and local authorities, investment in selected priority developments. They support physical, economic and social infrastructure across a variety of measures such as electricity conversion, roads, water and sewerage, village enhancement, health, broadband and sports projects. They reflect the priorities identified by the communities in the selected areas with whom I consulted.

The measures were agreed with and are, for the most part, operated in tandem with the lead Departments, State agencies or public utilities, as appropriate. This ensures efficiency of delivery and meets the needs of the people living in CLÁR areas. I shall continue the practice for new measures but it will depend on needs identified. I shall also keep the operation of existing measures under review.

[1305] The merits of the practice are reflected in the successful delivery of the programme. Expenditure amounted to €14.14 million in 2002 and to €8.613 million in 2003. It is estimated that these amounts levered out a further €17 million in related public and private expenditure into areas that would not be prioritised for infrastructure investment. The provision for 2004 is €13.49 million. This sum will enable the continuation of investment under existing measures. It will also provide scope for the introduction of further measures as may be identified during the year.

With the ongoing co-operation of other Departments, State agencies and public utilities, CLÁR will continue to deliver on the commitment of supporting rural communities.