Wednesday, 14 November 2001
Dáil Eireann Debate
100. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation if he has satisfied himself that the basis on which lottery funding is allocated is just and equitable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27816/01]
Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation (Dr. McDaid): Under the national lottery funded sports capital programme, which is administered by my Department, grants are allocated towards the provision of sport and recreational facilities for voluntary and community organisations throughout the country. A comprehensive review of the programme was completed by my Department in December 1998 following which a new programme was launched in 1999.
Under this programme detailed assessment criteria were introduced to improve the selection process and a huge increase in funding has been provided by the Government, as indicated by the fact that total funding under the programme has increased by 640% between 1998 and 2001, from £6 million or €7.6 million to over £44.2 million or €56.2 million.
All applications received under the sports capital programme are assessed on an individual basis by officials in the sports division of my Department in accordance with the detailed assessment criteria as specified in the guidelines, terms and conditions of the programme, which are available on hard copy and on the Department's website at www.tourism-sport.irlgov.ie. Among the factors covered by the criteria are the level of socio-economic disadvantage in the area and the extent to which the project will increase participation in such areas; current and planned levels of sport and/or recreational sport facilities in the area and the priority of proposed improvements or facilities in relation to existing facilities; the need to achieve an equitable spread of funds both geographically, having regard to existing facilities, and among different sports and community groups; the extent to which the project will increase the levels of active participation in sport and/or recreational sport; the financial viability of the project, the level of own funding available by the applicant towards the project and the extent to which the applicant will be able to maintain the project after completion and the priorities for their individual sports, as identified by the national governing bodies.
Following the assessment process each application receives a score, which decides its order of priority within its own county. Regard is had to the population levels in each county and to providing a pro rata level of funding on that basis. Up to 2000, using this pro rata process, the number of projects funded in some counties and the level of grant awarded were unlikely to make a significant impact of the provision of facilities in that county. Therefore, for the 2000 programme, I decided to introduce a guaranteed minimum allocation of £200,000 or €253,948 per county.
However, the assessment process must also take into account existing levels of facilities in an area and also the strategic positioning of major facilities which may be required and the quality of applications received for such projects. Applications under the programme are received from organisations for local, regional and national facilities. Each year a number of major regional and national projects are allocated funding, following consultations with the Irish Sports Council, other Departments and the relevant national governing bodies of sport and local authorities, as applicable, in relation to their respective priorities for the provision of sporting facilities. The level of this funding may distort the total allocations to the counties in which they are located.
Recommendations, based on the conclusions from the assessment process and having regard to the amount of funding available for distribution, are made by the sports division to me as Minister, and I make the final decision on projects and grants to be allocated under the programme.
There is no doubt that all counties have benefited tremendously from the increased funding I have secured for the sports capital programme and all have received substantially greater funding from 1998 to 2001 than in preceding years. In 2000 and 2001 alone, I allocated a total of over £80 million or €102 million in sports capital funding for the provision of facilities for the parishes, towns and cities of Ireland. I have allocated over £106 million or €135 million since this Government took office, compared with a total of less than £19.4 million or €24.6 million allocated in the preceding three years, 1995-97, under the previous Government.
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