Tuesday, 11 June 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
People living in rural areas have long had the perception that they have been largely forgotten about by successive governments. There is a growing regional imbalance between Dublin and rural Ireland. Over the decades Dublin has received enormous investment with more than €750 million on the port tunnel, €728 million on the red and green Luas lines, €368 million on the Luas cross city, and upwards of €3 billion to be spent on metro north. I could go on and bore the House with more figures relating to past and future investment in the capital. I know the Taoiseach will say that much of that investment is of benefit to the country as a whole.
I do not want the Taoiseach to come back with the usual story that the Government invested €300 million on the N17-N18 Gort to Tuam motorway, as if that alone should satisfy us for another few decades. The people of the west deserved that investment.
On a recent visit to Galway, the Taoiseach visited Connacht Rugby's facilities at the Sportsground on College Road. Connacht Rugby has been very successful in recent years, reaching new heights, including winning the Pro 12 title in 2016. It has just completed a great season earning it a place at the top level of European club rugby. It is unique in a sporting context in the west in that it actively goes out the length and breadth of the province to help develop the game in local communities and schools. It is now embarking on a very ambitious project, costing €34 million, to build a state-of-the-art facility not just for Galway but for the west.
The Taoiseach personally has seen the facilities of Connacht Rugby, as has Deputy Micheál Martin, the leader of Fianna Fáil. He knows they are not suitable for the calibre of team Connacht Rugby has become. The CEO of Connacht Rugby, Willie Ruane, and the head of operations, Karl Boyle, have done excellent work in bringing the project through the planning process to where it is now ready to proceed without delay.
The only issue now is with funding. Connacht Rugby has applied for €20 million from the large-scale sports infrastructure fund. I again stress that the project is not for Galway but for the west, which we rightly deserve. No major investment has gone into sporting facilities in the west on a scale of funding elsewhere.
Croke Park received €103 million and Aviva Stadium got €191 million. Other grounds, such as Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Thomond Park, Semple Stadium, the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick, and Irish Independent Park in Cork, also received funding.
There is another very worthwhile development at Oranmore-Maree GAA club, which is embarking on an ambitious €4 million project. It recently won the all-Ireland intermediate club hurling championship. I compliment the chairman, Mr. Gerry Rabbitte, and the manager, the great Gerry McInerney, on their success.