O Cuiv to review aid programme to rural areas


A review of the programme designed to address rural areas of special disadvantage, the CLÁR (Ceantair Laga Árd-Riachtanais) programme, is to be announced in mid-January.

Although details have not been revealed, the review is expected to broaden the base beyond the 16 areas currently included.

Apart from the Cooley Peninsula, which was included because of the severe effects of the foot-and-mouth outbreak, the other 15 areas in the current programme, along the Border and on the west, north-west and south-west, were targeted for funding because they had suffered the greatest depopulation since 1926.

The average population loss in these areas was 50 per cent.

The review is likely to be based on the new census findings.

"CLÁR cuts through all the red tape and is a one-stop shop for the 16 areas. It has revitalised whole communities", said a spokeswoman for Mr Ó Cuív, the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Some €13 million has been spent on roads, water, sewage, and telecommunications and health facilities in the CLÁR areas.

A further €40 million has been accessed through a variety of other departments.

Working closely with local authorities, health and education services and industrial bodies, which provide co-funding, small but significant amounts of money are targeted.

Mr Ó Cuív has made the CLÁR scheme a priority for the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. There have been calls to include not just infrastructural programmes, but also social programmes, such as providing special funding to attract doctors into rural areas in west Cork, for example.

Recently, some €180,000 was announced for Class III local roads in the CLÁR areas of south and west Kerry.

Mr Ó Cuív has said social disadvantage in CLÁR areas is related to the lack of very basic facilities and amenities.

"A road to your house being probably the most basic.

"I am determined to try and ensure that we will within a very short period of time be able to say that there is no person in the country left without a proper road to their house," Mr Ó Cuív said.