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Friday 1 August 2014

Funding for main sporting counties cut in bid to level the playing field

Shane Phelan

Published 04/07/2014|02:30

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Junior Sports Minister Michael Ring
Junior Sports Minister Michael Ring

SEVERAL prominent sporting counties have been warned they will get less sports funding than normal from the Government for the foreseeable future.

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Junior Sports Minister Michael Ring said he was redressing previous "imbalances" in sports funding, which saw some counties do well in the past, while others were starved of state cash.

The big losers as a result will be Kerry, Sligo, Donegal, Limerick and Waterford.

They finished bottom of the table in terms of sports funds per head of population in the latest round of sports grants announced yesterday.

Some 880 sports clubs and organisations will benefit from €40.5m in government cash this year.

The policy was drawn up after criticism that certain counties benefited disproportionately in the past, particularly Kerry when local TD John O'Donoghue was sports minister between 2002 and 2007.

Counties deemed to have received the most funds between 1998 and 2013 received some 14pc less than they would have got if the latest round of funding was calculated purely per head of population.

This money has been used to top up allocations given to so-called weaker counties, with Carlow, Wicklow, Meath, Clare, Wexford, Laois, Cavan and Kilkenny the big winners.

Mr Ring said the policy, first adopted for sports funding two years ago, would remain in place for as long as necessary.

"When we think the imbalance has been addressed we will stop," he said.

Kerry received €202 in sports funding per head of population between 1998 and 2013. In contrast, Carlow, Wicklow and Meath received just €111 per head in the same period.

Mr Ring said he made no apology for the policy and called it fairest for everyone.

The biggest funding allocation for a county went to Dublin, with €8m, but it is ranked mid-table in terms of funding per head of population.

The minister said Dublin could have got €1.1m more, but there had not been enough successful applications made. GAA, soccer, tennis and boxing clubs garnered most grants, but there was also money for American football, fencing and orienteering.

Mr Ring stressed that his native Mayo had not benefited disproportionately.

Irish Independent

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