Dáil Éireann - Volume 673 - 29 January, 2009

Written Answers. - Departmental Programmes.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the extent to which he will increase or reduce expenditure under the RAPID and CLÁR programmes in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2676/09]

  Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: The CLÁR Programme provides funding and co-funding to Government Departments, State agencies and local authorities to accelerate investment in selected priority developments in areas that have suffered significant depopulation. These investments support physical, economic and social infrastructure across a variety of measures. The measures introduced under the Programme reflect the priorities identified by the communities in the selected areas.

The RAPID Programme aims to ensure that priority attention is given to tackling the spatial concentration of poverty and social exclusion within the 46 designated RAPID areas. In addition, the RAPID leverage schemes support small-scale projects identified locally by the Area Implementation Teams in each of the RAPID areas. These schemes are co-funded by the relevant agencies and fund projects that focus on estate enhancement, graffiti removal, traffic calming, community closed-circuit television, health and sports facilities, and the provision of playgrounds and multi-use games areas.

The provisional 2009 budgets for CLÁR at €18m and RAPID at €7.9m represent a reduction on the 2008 allocations. However, the finalisation of allocations across Departments remains under discussion at Government and it is not possible to say at this stage what the final outcome of those discussions will be. The Minister for Finance will be publishing the Revised Estimates Volume in due course.

I would emphasise, however, that one of the strengths of both the CLÁR and RAPID Programmes has always been the ability to focus on priority needs in those areas. As Minister, I believe that we need to be constantly addressing the new challenges faced by both small rural communities and the most deprived urban communities. The CLÁR and RAPID programmes will be continuously refocused to deal with the priorities for those areas, especially in the current difficult economic climate. Furthermore, in the case of RAPID, the Programme works to ensure, now more than ever, that local service providers work together efficiently to ensure effective results within the constraints of reduced budgets.