Wednesday, 24 November 1999
Dáil Éireann Debate
35. Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the strategy, if any, in place in regard to State funding for national, regional and county or local facilities for all sports. [24543/99]
Funding for sporting organisations is made available through the annual grant scheme and the sports capital programme. Under the annual grant scheme for sporting organisations 72 national governing bodies of sport are recognised for funding in respect of their annual activities including costs associated with administration, purchase of equipment, international competition and organisational and athlete development. Responsibility for this funding rests with the Irish Sports Council which was established on a statutory basis on 1 July 1999.
Under my Department's National Lottery funded sports capital programme which is aimed at assisting in the provision of a network of appropriate and sustainable facilities throughout the country, a variety of sporting facilities at national, regional and local levels are grant-aided.
Funding allocated under the programme assists sports clubs and voluntary and community organisations to construct, refurbish, improve and equip high quality, well-designed and sustainable sport and recreational sport facilities.
This Government has signalled its commitment to the increased provision of sport and recreational facilities throughout the country by increasing the Estimates provision for capital expenditure for this purpose from £8.5 million in 1997 to £39.4 million in 2000, which represents an increase of over 350 per cent. The provision  includes a trebling in funding for the sports capital programme from £5 million in 1997 to £15 million in 1999; a fourfold increase in the provision for the swimming pool programme from £3.5 million in 1997 to £15 million in 2000; almost £6 million towards the development of Ireland's first ever 50 metre swimming pool and £20 million support towards the development of Croke Park, the final £6 million of which is due for payment in 2000.
Since the programme was first introduced in 1988, grants have been allocated towards the cost of constructing and refurbishing a range of facilities e.g. community centres, multi-purpose halls, athletic stadia, gaelic, soccer and rugby pitches, sports centres, dressing rooms and other facilities and towards the cost of equipment for sport and athletic clubs and community centres. The sports capital programme was comprehensively reviewed by my Department in 1998. Following receipt of the report of the review group, I announced details of the new programme late last December, based on the review group's recommendations, incorporating revised guidelines, assessment criteria and terms and conditions.
Applications for funding are categorised in terms of local, regional – county or greater catchment area – and national and maximum levels of grant aid apply depending on the nature of the proposed facility. While all applications are treated on their merits, special priority is given to proposals for facilities in disadvantaged areas, in line with Government policy aimed at increasing participation in sport and recreation in these areas.
In July last, following an extensive assessment process on the 1900 applications received, I announced grants totalling approximately £18 million to some 400 local community based projects and to a number of national and regional projects throughout the country.
The swimming pool programme is also administered by my Department. Under this programme, funding is allocated towards the cost of constructing new local authority pools and the refurbishment of existing pools. In recent months I have secured an increase in funding of £36 million over the next three years for the programme – from £3 million in 1999 to £15 million for the period 2000 to 2002.
Under the national development plan announced last week, funding amounting to £85 million will also be available over the seven years of the plan to support the development of multi-purpose sport and recreational facilities by local authorities, particularly in areas which lack them and for voluntary groups developing multi-sport and recreational facilities where no such facilities currently exist.
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