Tuesday 25 June 2019

Sports fund of €10m is released just days before polls

Minister for Tourism, Transport and Sport Shane Ross. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Minister for Tourism, Transport and Sport Shane Ross. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Almost €10m in funding for more than 450 sports clubs has been announced by the Government, just days before the local elections.

The Government has already faced Opposition accusations of pre-election stunts after announcements on the rollout of rural broadband and financial support for beef farmers.

Now it has published funding for sports equipment for clubs and organisations in all 26 counties ahead of the local elections on Friday.

The figures will allow Fine Gael and Independent Alliance candidates to tell voters how much funding has been allocated to their areas.

The main Sports Capital Programme grant funding is to be announced later this year, but details of the "equipment only" cash was released last night by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

A spokeswoman for Sports Minister Shane Ross insisted that the announcement was "absolutely nothing to do with the local elections".

She said the allocations had been in preparation for months and that it was published now so that clubs will know that they can invest in the equipment.

But the publication of the figures will raise eyebrows coming so close to polling day.

Fianna Fáil TD Shane Cassells last night accused the Government of "throwing out grants like candy" in a bid to "buy the election".

"These clubs deserve their funding because they are community leaders and we support them and they won't be codded," he said.

"The people of Ireland are savvy and they know a stunt when they see one."

Local clubs got allocations totalling €8.5m, while regional organisations got €1.3m under the scheme.

Among the recipients of the regional awards was Rowing Ireland in Cork, which was allocated €158,800.

The Cara Centre in Co Kerry will get €108,600 for gym equipment.

Athlone Regional Sports Centre in Co Westmeath was awarded €83,900, while Swim Ireland in Dublin is to get €70,350.

Irish Independent

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