Cash for soccer clubs in Kelly's constituency at highest level for a decade
Published 22/01/2016 | 02:30
The State cash earmarked for soccer in Tipperary in 2015 was the highest proportion to be given to the sport in the county in at least a decade.
Almost a quarter of the €1.6m in sports grants to Environment Minister Alan Kelly's home county last year was for soccer organisations.
They were allocated €395,000 in 2015, almost half of the €783,000 secured for soccer in the county during the period that Mr Kelly served as a minister.
The Labour Party deputy leader was unapologetic when asked about the matter in a radio interview, saying the figures sounded "on the low side, to be honest ... there's probably more but I'll have to check that out".
Mr Kelly has been embroiled in controversy after his friend, FAI boss John Delaney, canvassed for him in the county last week.
Mr Delaney also spoke of how he had worked with the minister on applications for funding.
Last year's soccer-related funding to the county totalling €395,000 was almost 24pc of the €1,647,256 in grants allocated by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to various sports in Tipperary, including GAA, tennis, golf and boxing.
An Irish Independent analysis of records of the sports capital programme grants in the county shows the proportion given to soccer there had not topped 20pc since 2006 and was less than 7pc in 2007.
Mr Kelly did not respond to a request for comment about the ratio of funding for soccer in Tipperary last year. He was asked about grants to soccer in the county by Newstalk Breakfast's Ivan Yates, who put it to the minister that it was "parish pump, pork barrel politics".
Mr Kelly said the suggestion was "absolutely ridiculous" and argued that the controversy over his friendship with Mr Delaney was "blown out of proportion".
"The simple fact of the matter is John Delaney is a friend of mine, privately.
"There was an outstanding engagement in Tipperary, engagements which were to be fulfilled," he said of their visits to soccer clubs there last week.
Mr Kelly said that he believes reports about the trip "have been quite unfair on John Delaney".
Addressing Mr Yates, he said: "Obviously, you being a former TD for Wexford, you know that you fight for your constituency and fight for your people and I make no apologies about doing that on behalf of my constituency. Everything is fair, everything is above board, everything is done in the right protocols."