Young players at St Aengus FC, Mountrath
Three Laois communities have been awarded over €126,000 in CLÁR Government funding.
Two sporting clubs and a primary school, all in the same part of Laois, will share in the grants.
Over €2.75 million was announced by Minister Heather Humphreys for 74 community projects nationwide.
The committee for Clonin Sports Field, a rural amenity between Castletown, Camross and Mountrath, has been awarded €40,000 for the installation of a basketball/ tennis court hardstanding area and extension of the ball wall curtilage.
Camross National School has been granted €37,000 towards the provision of an outdoor performance space.
Finally St Aengus FC in Mountrath has been awarded €49,500 for its Phase 1 development of a full size Astroturf pitch.
Minister Humphreys said “our sports clubs, schools and community groups are the lifeblood of Rural Ireland".
“They are a focal point – places where people of all ages come together to socialise and meet up with friends. This investment of over €2.75 million under the CLÁR Programme will support 74 diverse community projects the length and breadth of the country.
“It’s an investment that will improve the lives of our young people – providing them with facilities such as astroturf pitches, playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts and even outdoor pool areas. The funding will also be used to deliver the likes of walkways and sensory gardens, which families and our elderly people can enjoy.
“The funding I’m announcing today is another example of the positive impact ‘Our Rural Future’ is having in towns and villages the length and breadth of the country.
“I want to commend the work of all the successful applicants. They should be very proud of the wonderful projects they have put forward on behalf of their communities and I wish them the very best of luck in bringing these projects to fruition,” the Minister for Rural and Community Development said.
Laois TD Sean Fleming, Minister of State in the Department of Finance welcomes the investment which is the latest to be delivered under Our Rural Future, the Government’s ambitious rural development policy.
"I would like to congratulate these groups on their successful application. Our schools, sports clubs and voluntary community groups do tremendous work in our community and so many people in our towns and villages benefit from the facilities and activities they offer.
"I wish them all the best of luck as they proceed now with this additional funding improving the facilities for their students, club members and their communities," he said.
One Laois Offaly TD expressed concern about the exclusion of some areas from CLAR funding.
Deputy Carol Nolan offered congratulations and support to all groups who had been successful in their applications to the CLÁR Programme, but she also expressed concerned that some areas who had made applications for funding were rejected because they had been categorised as urban rather than rural areas by the department.
“I think we can all welcome and support the fact that these projects will receive a welcome if overdue boost and that such funding will go some way toward creating vital rural infrastructure after years of neglect by this and previous Government,” she stated.
“However, I do not have concerns around the eligibility criteria and the fact that some areas are being excluded from applying for funding because they are ‘not rural enough.’ This is a matter I am currently raising with the Minister and I am also asking her to conduct a review of the fairness of the current eligibility criteria in order to ensure that the maximum number of projects are supported,” stated Deputy Nolan.
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