Local TD John Paul Phelan is encouraging local groups in Kilkenny to apply for the Government’s 2020 Clár Programmme, which has a total fund of €5 million and is designed to help rural communities respond to the challenge of COVID-19.
Deputy Phelan said, “The Clár Programme can be used for small scale infrastructural projects in rural communities where there has been significant levels of population decline. This year it has been tailored to help such communities to respond to COVID-19. Over €115,000 was invested in safety measures and play areas in Kilkenny alone last year. In 2018, Clar investment in the county was €303.000.
“The details of the 2020 CLÁR programme were announced today by the Minister for Rural & Community Development Michael Ring TD, and I encourage local community groups in Kilkenny to apply. All the details they will need, including the application forms, are available at https://www.gov.ie/en/policy- information/91ba52-clar/
The Fine Gael deputy continued, “Since Fine Gael reopened the Clár Programme in 2016, it has supported over 1,400 projects nationally with funding of almost €33 million. It has been a significant support to communities in some of the remotest parts of Kilkenny.
“CLÁR is one element of a €30 million package of co-ordinated and complementary supports that is being launched by the Minister this week as part of his Department’s Rural Development Investment Programme. The other elements of the programme to be opened later this week will be the Town and Village Renewal Scheme and the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme. The Rural Development Investment Programme is funded under Project Ireland 2040.
“It’s great to see the Clár Programme being adapted this year to help rural communities respond to new challenges as a result of COVID-19.
“For example, the Schools and Community Safety Measure, which funds items such as pedestrian crossings and footpaths to provide safe access to schools, has been broadened to allow additional investments to adapt areas around schools and community facilities to help meet new public health requirements arising from COVID-19.
“Funding will be provided under a new measure for community recreational areas where friends and families can socialise outdoors in safe, accessible, community spaces while respecting public health guidelines. This measure will include support for items such as picnic benches/tables, outdoor covered seating or BBQ areas, public lighting, bicycle stands, bandstand/stage areas, etc. These recreational areas will be particularly important for community social interaction in the coming months, in line with the Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business.
“Community organisations providing meals on wheels and other community services will also be supported to purchase kitchen or food delivery equipment. They can also access funds for any adaptations that may be necessary to their existing vehicles as a result of new public health guidelines.
“I was also pleased to hear Minister Ring confirm that we will separately continue to fund vehicles for those vital voluntary organisations that provide free transport for people with mobility issues and for those attending cancer treatments.”
Minister Ring added, “I have introduced a standard grant rate of up to 90% of the total cost of projects across all of the CLÁR Measures this year. This should ensure that the requirement on communities or Local Authorities to source match funding is kept to a minimum.
“With the introduction of these new Measures, my Department will play its part in helping rural communities adapt their local spaces and support their interactions with one another in a safe but inclusive way. I will be announcing further complementary supports in the coming days under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme and the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme as part of my Department’s Rural Development Investment Programme”.