Thursday, 16 February 2012
Sports Capital Programme
Question 5: To ask the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport the date in early 2012 on which a new round of sports capital programme will be launched; the amount of funding available for same; the way local sporting organisations should apply for such funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9130/12]
I recently announced that I will be advertising two new rounds of the sports capital programme between now and 2016. I am currently making the necessary arrangements with a view to launching the first round in the coming weeks. The advertisement of the new round and the amount to be allocated will be decided in consultation with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. The programme for Government specifies that sports funding should prioritise projects that further greater participation in sport on a local and national level. This will be the central focus of the new rounds of the programme.
The programme aims to foster an integrated and planned approach to developing sports and physical recreation facilities throughout the country. The programme assists the development of high quality, safe, well-designed and sustainable facilities in appropriate locations and the provision of appropriate equipment to help maximise participation in sport and physical recreation. The programme prioritises the needs of disadvantaged areas in the provision of sports facilities and encourages the multi-purpose use of local, regional and national sports facilities by clubs, community organisations and national governing bodies of sport. Qualifying organisations such as voluntary and community organisations, national governing bodies of sport, VECs, local authorities and, in some circumstances, schools will be able to apply in writing or online using a form that will be made available when the programme is launched.
The sports capital programme has been the lifeblood for many communities, including Dublin North-West. A huge number of projects have transformed areas throughout the country. In this era, with cutbacks and with clubs struggling with different problems, the sports capital programme was never more needed. The programme will be rolled out up to 2016. Do we know how much will be available each year? When will these funds be available? Clubs are looking for essential repairs and new facilities. One of the problems in the past was the complexity of the forms to be filled. Can this be examined? People used to get others to fill out the forms and it was a problem for different communities. I hope we see what money is available in the programme shortly. Does the Minister of State stand by his commitment that money guaranteed to sports capital projects will be paid to the different clubs?
The good news is that the scheme will happen. I am in discussion with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and I have written to him officially and I expect a response in the next few days. The scheme will be up and running in the next three weeks and we will announce the amount of funding for it.
Regarding funding for projects already grant-aided, I will give Deputy Ellis a commitment that the €24 million allocated to the programme this year is available to any project that draws down funding. Once everything is in order, funding for the project will be paid and there has never been a problem with that. In the past, a number of sports organisations ran into difficulty with planning and legal problems. Any project within the rules and regulations will be paid. Over the next number of weeks, we will announce the programme and people will know the amount of funding in place. The application forms will be online and people will also have the opportunity to fill out the forms in written form. The good news is that scheme will open and that we will have a second round between now and 2015. We have not had the scheme since 2008. Along with every other Deputy in this House, people are onto me every day because many organisations want to upgrade facilities or purchase new facilities. I hope we can deal with as many as possible. There will be criteria for the fund and people have the opportunity to make applications.
-----and accusations that certain areas fared better because a Minister lived in the area. Can the Minister assure us that this will not happen? It is very unfair if people hear that one area is being looked after better than another area. There needs to be an even playing field.
Every application will be assessed and all will be treated equally. If I had the full kitty from the Department of Finance, I could allocate money to everyone in the country. Decisions must be made and the funding we will announce will not be the same amount as was available in the past. People can make their applications and I have full confidence in the ability of my Department officials to go through the applications and administer them fairly and equally. I have no doubt it will be done fairly.