Wednesday 22 November 2017

Capital grant fight goes into extra-time

Minister of State with responsibility for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring
Minister of State with responsibility for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring

There was good news for over 2,000 clubs on Thursday when the deadline to apply for a grant under the sports capital programme was extended by minister Michael Ring.

For the first time in the history of the scheme, applications are only being accepted online but Ring took the decision to extend the deadline from 5pm on Friday last to Monday, March 10 at 5pm following severe technical problems last week.

Officials in the Department of Sport's Killarney headquarters are bracing themselves for an avalanche of applications. Given that 3,000 or so clubs registered to apply, officials are expecting at least 70 per cent (2,100) of those to follow through with a full application.

Ring has €40m at his disposal but given the huge volume of applications expected, this will not go very far. From the Stands believes that the minister has been exploring ways of increasing the fund to reward as many clubs as possible.

Ring has been emphasising to colleagues that the sports capital programme creates jobs and brings a return to the Exchequer. Specifically, he has been arguing that because the money is spread across the whole country it reaches right down into small communities – and gets there quicker because most projects start up within months of being selected – in a way few other areas of government investment can.

It could yet be double delight for some clubs this year.

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Tributes were paid in the Seanad last week to Dr George Sigerson, the man the country's premier inter-varsity Gaelic football tournament is named after.

On Tuesday, Trinity Senator Seán Barrett sought to congratulate UCC on its recent capturing of the prestigious cup. But during his brief but telling contribution, Barrett remembered that Sigerson, a noted scientist, writer and politician, was also the first chairman of the Seanad.

"I congratulate UCC on winning the Sigerson Cup, which was established by one of the predecessors of the Cathaoirleach, Dr George Sigerson, who was the chairman of the First Seanad of the Irish Free State on 11 and 12 December, 1922 before the election of Lord Glenavy," Barrett said.

Sigerson was also a prominent figure in the late 19th century Irish literary revival, Barrett told members. Dr Sigerson, a native of Strabane, was a professor of zoology at University College Dublin. He donated a trophy for the intervarsity competition in 1911 and presented it at the first celebration dinner at the Gresham Hotel in May 1911.

According to records, WJ O'Riordan of UCC accepted the trophy on behalf of his winning team. The day after Dr Sigerson died in 1925, members of the Upper House paid warm tributes to him.

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As a recent meeting between Dáil members and representatives of the Irish Sports Council and the National Sports Campus Development Authority was winding up, John O'Mahony sought information on how much is being spent on legal and consultancy fees.

O'Mahony and the other members of the joint committee on Transport and Communications, which is chaired by the Fine Gael TD, have since been furnished with the ISC's figures. Legal fees for the last three years were: 2011, €121,647; 2012, €120,844; 2013, €136,706. Consultancy fees were: 2011, €60,366; 2012, €99,411; 2013, €102,227.

While it is difficult to make a proper judgement on this spending without knowing the full details, the general observation is that both legal and consultancy fees have risen over the three-year period at a time when semi-state bodies are being told to reduce spending in these areas so that money can go directly into what it is intended for. The view is that now more than ever is the time to maximise the money spent on sport.

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DONNYBROOK will host a Barbarians-style match between a combined senior team from Clongowes, Belvedere and Gonzaga and a combined Blackrock, St Michael's, St Mary's and Templeogue side at 6.30 on Thursday, March 20 to raise funds to enable Jack Kavanagh to complete his education in Trinity College.

Jack suffered a spinal injury and is paralysed from the chest down but remains determined to fulfil his potential. He deserves all the support he is getting.

John Greene and Daniel McConnell

Sunday Indo Sport

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