Dáil Éireann - Volume 537 - 31 May, 2001

Written Answers. - Sports Funding.

60. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation if, in view of the fact that there are many minority sports struggling to exist, which would be most suitable for integration in deprived marginalised communities, he will state the plans he and the Sports Council have in mind to provide greater support for smaller sports federations by way of increased grant aid, the provision of development officers, and the establishment of new clubs, equipment, and opportunities for competition. [16136/01]

Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation (Dr. McDaid): The Irish Sports Council, with funding allocated to it by my Department, is working closely with the national governing bodies of sport to help them improve their organisational capacities and structures, to enhance their [960] administrative systems and to introduce more effective planning processes within their organisations.

The council, based on clear criteria, allocates funding towards the core activities of the governing bodies, including administration, strategic planning, coach education, training and competition. Over the last few years a number of individual governing bodies in sports such as gymnastics, hockey, basketball and athletics have merged resulting in more effective, focused organisations, and the council will continue to facilitate the amalgamation and rationalisation of smaller organisations who consider that their structures and sports would benefit from such mergers.

The Sports Council is also putting in place measures to improve the development, promotion and co-ordination of sport at local level. It is currently piloting eight local sports partnerships which, with the active involvement of a wide range of statutory and voluntary bodies, including sports organisations and clubs, would help create greater opportunities for participation by all in sport and ensure that resources are utilised and co-ordinated to best effect at local level. In this year's budget, the Government announced that it intends to double the annual budget for the Sports Council over the next four years to £20 million to assist it in its programmes and activities.

In 2001, the Sports Council has a total budget of £8.5 million available for national governing bodies, which represents a doubling of the national governing bodies budget over the last two years. Under my Department's sports capital programme it is open to sports organisations, clubs and community groups to apply for funding for the provision of sport and recreation facilities. Under last year's programme, I allocated £36 million to some 679 projects throughout the country. I intend to make allocations under this year's programme shortly.