Dáil Éireann - Volume 538 - 21 June, 2001
Adjournment Debates. - Sports Capital Programme.
Mr. Broughan Mr. Broughan
Mr. Broughan: Every year since 1997 the publication of the sports capital programme has been extremely disappointing. For the first few years, sports clubs in Dublin and other urban regions received next to nothing as the Minister, Deputy McDaid, thought about new programmes and application forms.
In the last two years many clubs in disadvantaged urban areas have once again been let down and are bitterly disappointed. A key element of the programme this year was that even if one's club was in a disadvantaged area, it had to have a minimum of 20% of the funding for the project. That meant, for example, a club seeking a development costing £200,000 had to have £40,000. However, if it had that amount of money, it probably would not have needed to apply for a lottery grant in the first place. It seems to me this element must be thought out again seriously by the Minister. Because of the 200 or so applications in the four Dublin council areas, about 80 were immediately marked ineligible – about 40% of the applications. It was a disgrace.
This is just part of a wider pattern of discrimination against the metropolitan regions. Dublin, for example, received only £7 million net – not  £9.5 million, as the Minister stated – out of the £40 million for sport nationally. As we now know, none of the eight sports partnerships was allocated to Dublin Corporation, which deals with the most deprived areas.
The situation in the Dublin North-East constituency is even worse. Despite the fact that it forms part of the disadvantaged North-side Partnership Area and recently got three areas in the RAPID Programme, we received a miserly total of £250,000 in funding out of the £40 million available.
While I welcome the fact that Naomh Barróg, a fine GAA club in Kilbarrack, got £15,000 and the Dean Swift Sports Club in Clonshaugh got £100,000, the total amount we received seems derisory when compared with what other similar sized counties received. Counties Clare, Sligo and Louth, for example, received £708,000, £905,000 and £885,000, respectively, that is, almost £1 million each, and rightly so. They were probably entitled to £2 million but then so was Dublin North-East. Even counties such as Carlow, Roscommon and Laois, which have about half the population of my constituency, received £820,000, £850,000 and £943,000, respectively. I do not begrudge them those grants, but why did Dublin North-East get a derisory £250,000?
If one looks through examples of the applications, there is one terrible disappointment for the people of Baldoyle. The magnificent Baldoyle United Football Club, which has been in existence for almost half a century, the famous green and white hoops of which are famous in all soccer leagues, is the only major sports club in the parish of Baldoyle which holds perhaps 12,000 or 13,000 people. Year in, year out, it looks after 600 young men and women. It liaises closely with, and provides a home for, our local senior citizens, who hope to visit me in this House next Wednesday. It also liaises closely with local schools. For the third year in a row, Baldoyle United has gone to the door of the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, Deputy McDaid, and has had it slammed in its face. This is outrageous.
Dublin North-East is represented by three of the Minister's colleagues: a senior Fianna Fáil Minister, a Fianna Fáil Deputy and a Fianna Fáil Senator. Therefore, there are three Fianna Fáil representatives in the four-seat constituency. What is the use in having them at the end of the day if we get a miserable £250,000 pounds out of £40 million, when according to any fair allocation, we were entitled to at least £1 million? The Minister, Deputy McDaid, has failed us once again. He is an affable man, with whom I get on well, but he has let us down in the allocation of sports grants for the most vulnerable constituencies.
Only a few weeks ago we watched him make the case on “The Late, Late Show” for the spending of £550 million, £600 million or, as many of my party colleagues believe, up to £1 billion to  build the centre of sports excellence, Sports Campus Ireland, but eight miles along the M50, the children of Baldoyle United and many similar soccer clubs, boxing clubs and Gaelic football clubs will still have to tog out in ditches.
I ask the Minister, as we enter the last nine or ten months of the Government's term of office, to look at providing a fair allocation of sports capital moneys throughout the country, particularly in my neck of the woods in Dublin North-East and in all the metropolitan areas which seem to do badly in comparison to other areas. On many occasions I have argued with the Minister, Deputy McDaid, that in any one year he could give each of the 42 constituencies perhaps £1.5 million or £2 million. A £40 million programme is useless. There should have been at least £60 million or perhaps £80 million. It would be preferable to provide a programme of that size for Dublin and the rest of the country rather than see the Government spend £1 billion on an illusion in memory of one man.
Mr. D. Wallace Mr. D. Wallace
Mr. D. Wallace: I thank the Deputy for raising the matter in the House this evening. The current Sports Capital Programme was reviewed in 1999. For the purposes of the review, particular attention was paid to the sports policy objective of trying to assist with the creation of opportunities for all to participate in sport and recreation through access to facilities and activities especially for young people in disadvantaged areas.
The outcome of this review resulted in a number of objectives and criteria being established to focus the efforts of the programme in bringing the greatest benefit to where it is most needed. The main objectives of the programme are to develop an integrated and planned approach to the development of sport and recreational facilities; to assist voluntary and community organisations with the development of appropriate facilities in appropriate locations which will maximise use in terms of participation in sport and recreation; to prioritise the needs of disadvantaged areas in the provision of facilities and to encourage the multi-purpose use of facilities at national, regional and community level by the clubs, community organisations and national governing bodies of sport.
Applications under the programme are assessed in accordance with several detailed criteria, which include the following: the extent to which the project, in terms of growth targets, will increase the level of active participation in sport-recreational sport and-or result in improved standards of sporting performance and how such increases can be measured; the extent to which the project, in terms of growth targets, will serve to increase participation in disadvantaged areas; the financial viability of the project; the level of socio-economic disadvantage in the area and the current and planned  levels of sport and-or recreational sports facilities in the area; and the need to achieve an equitable geographical spread of funds and an equitable spread of funds among different sports and community groups.
This year £40 million has been allocated under the programme and, of this amount, Dublin has received £9.5 million through the issue of 89 grants. Nationally, 370 disadvantaged projects were grant aided to the amount of £23.5 million and included in the total amount for Dublin is a figure of 58 grants amounting to £6 million for disadvantaged areas.
Grants under the scheme are not categorised or classified according to political constituencies, but by county. Assessment of the projects is in relation and comparison to all the other projects for that county. However, I can confirm that several projects have been allocated funding in the general area of Dublin North-East, for example, £200,000 to the North Dublin Schoolboys and Girls League; £150,000 to Naomh Barróg GAA Club; £150,000 to Craobh Chiaran GAA Club; £100,000 to Dean Swift Sports Club; £10,000 to St. Luke's Boxing Club; and £150,000 to St. Paul's College, Raheny.
Generally in Dublin, it is clear from the allocations made under the 2001 Sports Capital Programme that organisations in disadvantaged areas of Dublin have been extremely well supported. Apart from the grants mentioned earlier, there are many other grants to organisations in the county, for example, £500,000 to the Ballymun Regeneration Project; £500,000 to the Finglas Youth Resource Consortium Project; £350,000 to the Donore Community Project; £150,000 to the Inchicore Sports Complex Steering Group; £300,000 to St. Agatha's Hall Development Association; and £200,000 to Tallaght Athletic Club.
Overall, a total of £102 million approximately has been allocated under the Sports Capital Programme under the present Government and £96 million approximately has been allocated since the review, that is, since 1999. One must compare that figure of £96 million with the total of just £18 million allocated over a three year period from 1995 to 1997 by the previous rainbow coalition Government. Dublin has received approximately £27 million in sports capital grants in the three years 1999 to 2001, inclusive. In the three years under the previous Government, it received a total of just £4.26 million.
It is not just through the sports capital programme, that Dublin, and specifically disadvantaged areas of Dublin, has received considerable funding. Under the young people's facilities and services fund, which is also operated by my Department, a total of £3.4 million has been allocated to date to fund 27 projects in the Dublin north-east task force area alone. A sum of £1.8 million was allocated initially with further fund ing of £75,000 and £1.5 million allocated in 2000 and 2001 respectively, to cover shortfalls that arose in respect of capital projects being developed in the area. Under the new task force plan, Dublin north-east has been allocated £687,500 in respect of 12 projects. All of these  figures serve to illustrate that sport and projects in disadvantaged areas in general, in Dublin and all over this country, have never been better served than by the Government.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.40 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Friday, 22 June 2001.
Dáil Éireann 538 Adjournment Debates. Sports Capital Programme.