Local Independent councillor Jim Tenanty has expressed his delight that the funding for this year’s Sports Capital Programme has been doubled by Minister for Transport and Sport Shane Ross.
The news will come as a huge boost to local sports clubs who have applied for funding under the programme which returns for 2017 having not been rolled out in 2016.
In a statement announcing the funding increase, Minister Ross said that, when it comes to investment in sport, his Department is thinking big. “We will be investing at all levels thanks to the unprecedented funding package for sports infrastructure we secured in the Budget and which will impact right across the country,” he said.
“In order to meet the hopes of as many of these excellent projects as possible, I am delighted that I have secured extra funding to meet the extraordinary demand. In fact, the funding is being doubled from the original €30m to €60m,” he confirmed.
“And while ensuring that local clubs and organisations around the country are taken care of, we also have an eye to the bigger projects to support the playing and watching of sports.”
The Sports Capital Programme targets relatively small, local, projects and this year saw the highest ever number of applications received. More than 2,300 clubs and other sporting associations and organisations have sought grants under the Sports Capital Programme in 2017.
“Given the record number of applications and the limited funding, there will be a significant number of disappointed applicants,” officials from Minister of State Brendan Griffin’s office said earlier in the year, before Ross announced money was to doubled.
Since the economic downturn almost a decade ago, there have been just three Sports Capital Programmes – in 2012, 2014 and lastly in 2015.
€41 million was allocated to the scheme in 2015 with several local sports clubs benefitting. Ardee Rugby Club and Westerns GFC were granted €55,000 and €52,000 respectively. Ardee Celtic were awarded €15,000 in funding while Cuchulainn Archers got €7,000.
Elsewhere locally, Philipstown Community Centre managed to get €500 towards sporting activity at their impressive new facility.
Tenanty has expressed his delight that many more clubs will now benefit from the increased funding. “It’s good for all the sports bodies that have applied for this funding. I welcomed it,” he said.
Elsewhere today, Fianna Fáil TD for Louth and East Meath Declan Breathnach has again asked the Department of Transport Tourism and Sport when an announcement will be made on the Sports Capital Grant.
Breathnach says sports clubs all over the country and in Louth have been left waiting too long to see if they have been allocated funds. “I have been told this afternoon that the Department expects to make an announcement before the end of this month”, the Deputy said.
“I was also told that the Department has received a total of 2,320 applications seeking €155 million in grants, and all of these applications are currently being assessed,” he continued.
While the increase in funding to from €30 million to €60 million will surely be welcomed, almost €100 million worth of funds applied for will be turned down. “We were told on Tuesday that Budget 2018 will see a total allocation of €111 million in current and capital spending for sport next year and in my opinion I think more should be spent on the Sports Capital Grant which provides funding direct into local communities where it’s needed most”, he added.