Thursday, 13 July 2023
Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions
53. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she will engage with the various stakeholders involved in the development of a campaign (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35132/23]
The Minister would have seen the passion in the Chamber yesterday when football clubs from around the country with a love of the game assembled here. I am asking about a site just outside my constituency at Alfie Byrne Park, which has been a planned destination for a number of clubs, including East Wall Bessborough Football Club, Belvedere Football Club and I hope Sheriff Youth Club, to develop a pitch that is accessible and has changing rooms and all the amenities a basic footballing facility needs.
The Minister and I are determined to see continued investment in sports facilities to ensure we achieve our ambitious targets for sports participation. In this regard, the sports capital and equipment programme, SCEP, is the primary vehicle for Government support for the development of sports and recreation facilities and the purchase of non-personal sports equipment throughout the country. More than 13,000 projects have benefited from sports capital funding since 1998, bringing the total allocations in that time to more than €1.15 billion. The programme for Government commits to continuing the SCEP and to prioritising investment in disadvantaged areas.
The 2020 round was a record one and the total allocation was €166.6 million. After that, the Department commenced a full review of all aspects of it. This review was published and is available on the Department’s website. Once the review was finalised, I asked my officials to draft the guide to making an application for the next round. This work is now complete and yesterday the Minister and I published the new guide to making an application for the 2023 SCEP. We announced the programme will be open for applications from next Monday until 8 September and I look forward to seeing a high level of applications for sports projects from right across the country.
As well as being open to individual sports clubs, applications are also accepted from local authorities. I understand Dublin City Council has previously received significant SCEP funding for sports facilities in the vicinity of Alfie Byrne Road, including all-weather pitches used by some local football clubs. Under the new 2023 round, projects, which are clubs basically, can apply for up to €200,000. The maximum valid grant available for projects deemed to be of regional significance, which a local authority facility generally would be, has been increased to €0.5 million. Funding is also provided under the large-scale sport infrastructure fund, LSSIF, which is designed for projects where the funding required from the Exchequer is greater.
We hope to have another round of that later in the year.
Regarding a new sports facility at Alfie Byrne Park, it is open to Dublin City Council to make a future application under either the SCEP. If any local sports clubs has a lease on it, it can apply as well.
I thank the Minister of State for his very comprehensive answer and for getting into specifics regarding Alfie Byrne Road. The site referenced by Minister of State for which Dublin City Council requires funding is just around the corner from Clontarf so there are all sorts of complications given the different GAA clubs and the multitude of football clubs that play on a pitch that is not fit for purpose. The all-weather nature of the pitch is a bit outdated.
The Alfie Byrne Road site is different. Any weekend, one will find hundreds of families there as well almost half a dozen politicians, including the Minister for Finance and members of the Minister of State's party, myself and others and promises have been made to the community that they would advocate for the development of that site for football pitches and sensory buildings. I would like someone to bring the different stakeholders together - even for one or two meetings - to see what the direction might be and what the best way to approach this is. Could the Minister of State or someone from his Department have that stakeholder meeting - even just once - as we would all benefit from that? We would have a common direction because there is excitement but also confusion. It is not just in the constituency. It involves the north central Dublin footballing community, so it would be beneficial if we had that meeting.
If Dublin City Council owns it, it can definitely apply for funding. I am more than happy to meet with it and the groups there. The fact that it serves disadvantaged areas effectively means it will be top of the list and a higher priority than other projects. We would be very keen to do that. I am certainly happy to meet the stakeholders. However, the people who put in the applications are the owners and the owner is Dublin City Council. If the long lease holders are there, they can apply themselves as well. The reality is that while my office is more than willing to help, Dublin City Council is probably in the best position to gather people together. I will meet them any time about the programme but Dublin City Council is in the best position to gather people together and get this up and running. Whatever help the Deputy needs from us, we will provide it but they only have from next Monday to 8 September under this round of sports capital funding. If they apply, the fact that it is serving a disadvantaged area, and let us be honest, the inner city is without facilities, will certainly help them. There are no two ways about that.
We have met the FAI and are encouraging it to support clubs looking for sports capital funding. I also met the Irish Amateur Boxing Association, IABA. I really want this association to help clubs to apply for funding for boxing. I know there are quite a number of them in the Deputy's constituency. Some national heroes come from his constituency. I want to put on record that I am really encouraging boxing clubs to apply. The IABA wants to help them as well and we are available to help clubs.