Wednesday 18 July 2018

Irish sport to be given investment boost in 'Project Ireland 2040' plan

Minister Shane Ross TD at a Briefing in Sligo IT at the launch of Project Ireland 2040. (Photo: Kyran O'Brien)
Minister Shane Ross TD at a Briefing in Sligo IT at the launch of Project Ireland 2040. (Photo: Kyran O'Brien)

Laura Lynott

SPORT will be a major priority for 'Project Ireland 2040' with investment to offer a brighter future for both elite and amateur athletes.

Minister of Sport Shane Ross, pledged funding for 'top class sporting facilities' across the country and to “expand world class facilities available to our elite athletes.”

Former Olympic gold medalist, boxer Michael Carruth, welcomed the promise of funding support, stating that as boxing is Ireland’s most successful Olympic sport, he was hopeful Government could help produce the Irish gold medalists of the future.

"The funding is great news," Mr Carruth, from Dublin, said. 

"Boxing is the biggest sport for Ireland at the Olympics, so this type of funding could really help with future Olympic contenders and those winning gold.

"I am seeing 16 and 17-year-olds right now, who are unbelievable, better than those that came before but we have 379 boxing clubs nationally and as a working class sport, sometimes there isn’t enough funding to go round.

"Major State investment could give the kids in the sport, the future Katie Taylor’s, the best possible chance to succeed and put Ireland on the map.”

Mr Carruth, who won a welterweight gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, said there were boxing gyms round the country where there hadn’t been investment to build separate male and female changing facilities. State funding, he said, could ensure this was no longer an issue.

He also said sponsorship was another stumbling block for many young athletes but that with State support, this was another matter that could potentially be made less of a hurdle.

Minister Ross said:  "It’s not often that a minister of such a vitally important department, gets to deliver, not just a coherent, well-costed, joined up plan, that takes the needs of the entire country into consideration, but also has the cash to deliver on it.

"We will be focusing on investing in top class sporting facilities at local level for all of our people while at the same time expanding the range of world class facilities available to our elite athletes.”

The funds will be delivered via the Sports Capital Programme to inject finance into all counties and regions. There are also plans to expand Sports Campus Ireland which provides facilities to elite athletes and community amenities.

A new sports infrastructure fund will also be drawn up to ensure funding is directed into the most at need areas.

"Today is a good day," Minister Ross said.

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