Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Regional, Rural, Gaeltacht & Island Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív is calling on the Minister for Community and Rural Affairs to ensure that the substantial underspend in CLÁR and Rural Development Programme is spent on rolling out additional supports under these schemes.
Minister Heather Humphreys, in reply to a Parliamentary Question, has confirmed that all funds available under CLÁR have been allocated for the year. However, there is a substantial underspend across a number of programmes in 2017.
Deputy Ó Cuív commented, “I am disappointed that Minister Humphreys has no plans to roll out any further schemes under the CLÁR programme this year. CLÁR provides vital funding to community groups and is used to make vast improvements to villages, towns and communities across the country. I have consistently highlighted the fact that there is a massive underspend in the Department – and I hope the new Minister with responsibility for Community and Rural Affairs Michael Ring to reconsider the decision made by Minister Humphreys.
“It is essential that this underspend does not go unused. It should be earmarked for additional projects under the CLÁR and Rural Development Programme. This could include grant top-ups for the Capital Sports Grant and the introduction of an LIS scheme.
“We need to see the LIS scheme reintroduced as a matter of priority – there are hundreds of non-county roads leading to homes and community facilities such as graveyards and beaches, which are in urgent need of upgrade and repair works. I have been calling on Minister Ring to provide funding for a targeted roads programme to undertake macadam upgrades on regional county roads.
“I find it baffling that the Minister would not spend the full allocation of money available to him this year. Instead of returning these funds to the Exchequer, he should ensure that it is spent on essential rural projects”.