‘CLÁR funding no longer targeted to most disadvantaged rural communities’ -Feeley

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‘CLÁR funding no longer targeted to most disadvantaged rural communities’ -Feeley

Fianna Fáil Councillor, John Paul Feeley, whilst welcoming the allocations made under the CLÁR Scheme, noted the huge disparity in the allocation between counties Cavan and Monaghan and also the fact that the projects chosen, not in accordance with the priority list as forwarded to the Department of Rural Affairs by Cavan County Council were all focused in one part of County Cavan which according to the statistics in the 2016 and indeed previous Census are not the most economically and socially disadvantaged communities in County Cavan.

“When the then Fianna Fáil government introduced the concept of the CLÁR scheme, under the then Minister Eamon Ó Cuiv, TD the purpose and intent of that scheme was to redress the traditional imbalance in investment by various government agencies which obviously focus limited resources on areas with a higher population density and frontload investment in the most disadvantaged rural communities. The designation of these areas was done on the basis of those areas which had the greatest percentage fall in population since the Famine. When you consider the census returns of 2016 you will see, in County Cavan that the areas of greatest economic disadvantage remain those in the west of the county yet only two relatively small allocations were made to this part of the county whilst the bulk of the allocations were focused in one particular area of County Cavan and in part of County Monaghan.”

“I have no doubt that the individual projects funded are worthy and will bring great benefits to the communities involved but it would be fair to say that they do not represent the most disadvantaged communities in our county. Furthermore they do not represent the scheme of priorities as lodged by Cavan County Council at the request of the Department who this year asked the local authorities to vet applications and prioritise them. There is very little point in already hard pressed local authority officials dedicating fast amounts of time to working with local communities to develop applications in areas of acute social and economic disadvantage and assessing these applications on behalf of the Department if their work is to be set aside for whatever reason.”

“Furthermore it was hard to believe that details of the allocations could appear on social media and indeed in the local press almost 24 hours before the local authority, which had presented the applications to the Department were notified of the decision of the Minister.”

“It was reluctantly, and only as a condition of the confidence and supply agreement entered into when this government was formed that Fine Gael agreed to reverse the decision of the previous Fine Gael-led government to abolish the CLÁR programme. It is sad to see that scheme used for purposes for which it was never intended and it is a clear demonstration of the total lack of understanding of rural communities and a complete lack of desire to address the fundamental underlying problems in rural communities that these limited and valuable resources have not been targeted at worthy schemes in the most disadvantaged of communities.”

“I have worked closely with two schemes in particular namely; Corlough Development Association and Milltown National School in Drumlane in recent times and these schemes were rated very highly by Cavan County Council who could see very clearly the merits of the scheme and the effort of the communities involved. Both communities and indeed many others are disappointed with the manner in which the allocations have been made under the CLÁR programme of 2017. The others in West Cavan were disappointed with the level of funding provided when compared with other schemes. One can only hope that a new minister with responsibility for rural affairs will ensure that these funds are allocated in a more appropriate manner in coming years.

ENDS

14th June 2017

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