*Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF). Photograph: Eamon Ward
West Clare projects submitted as applications for Government funding are to be reviewed in light of potential changes caused by COVID-19.
Applications made on behalf of West Clare projects for RRDF funding are to be re-assessed by Council officials following “changed global circumstances”. It was the request issued by Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) who believed a “strategic review” of current RRDF applications, future applications under the Town & Village Renewal scheme, CLÁR funding and the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure scheme was required.
Rural development officer, Siobhán O’Reilly confirmed that a review of strategic projects within West Clare that are currently at the final draft stage will be conducted. She advised that the third call for category 1 applications in the RRDF is now open until 1st December 2020. Provision of investment to act as “a key driver for economic recovery in the post COVID-19 environment,” is the focus of the third call, O’Reilly outlined.
Having read the response, Cllr Murphy believed it was more “relevant for future projects” and added, “my concern is what is already in the pipeline”. He continued, “There is a responsibility on us as representatives to ensure funding creates a more diversified benefit for the local economy”.
Kilrush representative, Cllr Ian Lynch (IND) commented, “It would be an awful shame if we backed projects now that were approved pre COVID-19 and may not reach their potential,” as he seconded the motion. Cathaoirleach of the West Clare MD, Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG) agreed with the sentiments of both speakers as he backed the “excellent motion”.
Further detail on potential projects will be discussed at an in-camera meeting of the West Clare Municipal District, Director of Service Leonard Cleary said. “Due to the fact that projects have to be shovel-ready, they have to be of a high standard, planning has to be secured or almost approved,” he highlighted. Cleary cautioned, “It would damage our relationship with the Department if projects went up for funding that were not ready”.