Ring pledges fairer use of €30m sports grant fund
JUNIOR Minister for Sport Michael Ring has pledged that sports clubs in ministers' constituencies will no longer be the biggest beneficiaries of the new €30m grant fund.
Under the previous sports grant scheme, the Kerry South constituency got nearly double the national average in sports grants when local TD John O'Donoghue was Sports Minister.
But Mr Ring said that, going forward, every application to the new €30m grants scheme would be judged on its merits.
"We want to target facilities that will be shared and used so we do not have facilities throughout the country lying idle for the summer months, at weekends or during the week," he said.
Sports clubs will be able to get grants of up to €300,000 for playing surfaces, indoor sports halls, sports equipment and floodlighting. But there will no longer be grants for club stands, bars, kitchens or car parks, because this is not seen as increasing participation in sport. The final deadline for applications is June 1.
The previous Fianna Fail-led government turbo-charged the spending on sports capital grants in the run-up to the 2007 General Election, with €173m committed in 2006 and 2007.
But as the economy went into recession, it meant all available funding went into paying out these grants and no new grants have been made for the past four years.
Mr Ring predicted that the State would get better value now than the "inflated costs" under previous sports grants schemes.
"We expect costs to decrease by 30pc. Many clubs took on schemes and never finished them or drew down the funding because they ran into difficulties," he said.
Clubs in disadvantaged areas will have to make a smaller contribution of 5-10pc to the costs compared to 15pc for clubs in other areas.
Yesterday, Labour Dublin North West TD John Lyons said he welcomed the focus on helping clubs in disadvantaged areas because all evidence showed that better-off people played more sport.
Meanwhile, Mr Ring also declared his support yesterday for hosting the Rugby World Cup here in 2023. He said that if the IRFU decided to make a bid, the State would have to support it.