Tuesday, 18 May 1999
Dáil Éireann Debate
33. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of universities currently offering sports scholarships or equivalent; the number of these scholarships available; the proposals, if any, he has for expanding or extending the number of places available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11779/99]
Mr. Martin: I understand that each of the seven universities offer sports scholarships to third level students who are particularly talented in a sporting area. These scholarships are funded by the universities with assistance from sporting bodies and private sponsorship. In the current academic year there are 184 students in receipt of sports scholarships and bursaries from the universities. These scholarships provide assistance towards expenses incurred by the students while pursuing  their sport, such as travel and accommodation costs for competitions and treatment of sport injuries.
The Government supports sportspeople through the international carding scheme introduced by the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation. This scheme provides both financial and non-financial support, to assist Ireland's high performance players and athletes realise their potential to perform successfully at the highest levels of international sport. Players and athletes who are over 16 years of age are eligible to apply for assistance under the scheme. In 1998 support funding was allocated to more than 150 sportspersons under this scheme, 90 of whom were players and athletes under 23 years of age in the junior and developmental groups. The cost of funding the national governing bodies and the carding scheme in 1998 was in excess of £5 million.
Mr. Naughten: I am disappointed to hear the State is not directly funding some of these scholarships. Would the Government consider a scholarship for ball-hopping which some of his colleagues in the House may be able to take up in some of the universities?
Mr. Martin: It is a worthy proposal because we would have no difficulty in winning it. On a more serious note, it is important to welcome both private and public finance to sports scholarships. If we could have more private fund-raising for sports scholarships that would be a welcome development as well.
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