Dáil Éireann - Volume 568 - 12 June, 2003
Written Answers. - Sports Funding.
Mr. O'Shea Mr. O'Shea
31. Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the progress which has been made with regard to the commitment in An Agreed Programme for Government to work with local authorities to provide at municipal level a range of public facilities such as swimming pools, gymnasia and synthetic, floodlit playing pitches; the number of such facilities that have been provided to date; the amount allocated for  this programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16143/03]
Mr. O'Donoghue Mr. O'Donoghue
Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism (Mr. O'Donoghue): Under the national lottery-funded sports capital programme administered by my Department, funding is allocated to projects directly linked to the provision of sports and recreational facilities at local, regional and national levels. While the majority of the funding allocated under the programme goes to voluntary and community groups, it is also open to local authorities to submit applications for funding. For example, under the 2002 programme grants to the value of over €9.2 million were allocated to 29 projects, either directly to local authorities or to projects where the local authority was working in partnership with a sports club or a community organisation.
It has been a conscious objective of policy, particularly in the past two years, to support a number of multi-sport centres under the management and control of local authorities. Of course, such projects must, like all others, comply with the terms and conditions of the sports capital programme.
Examples of multi-sport centre projects allocated funding under the sports capital programme in recent years include those for Finglas, Ballymun and Ringsend in Dublin. They also include Waterford city, Navan, Carlow, Letterkenny, Ennis, Athlone, Ballina and Portlaoise. Of these, the Athlone sports centre, which includes a swimming pool, has been completed and is open to the public, while those for Ballymun, Finglas, Letterkenny and Portlaoise, apart from receiving funding through the sports capital programme, plan to include swimming pools as part of their overall sports complexes and have applied for funding under the local authority swimming pool programme, which is also administered by my Department, to that end.
The 2003 sports capital programme was advertised in the national newspapers on 23 and 24 March 2003. The closing date for receipt of applications was 25 April. In excess of 1,300 applications were received before the closing date and, of these, 28 have been classified as being municipal multi-sport projects, of which ten involve swimming pools – either pools already funded or those which have applications being processed under the current local authority swimming pool programme.
All applications under the 2003 sports capital programme are currently being evaluated against the programme's assessment criteria, which are outlined in the guidelines, terms and conditions of the programme. I intend to announce the grant allocations for the programme as soon as possible after the assessment process has been completed.
The abridged Estimates for 2003 provide €9 million for expenditure this year under the local authority swimming pool programme. When compared with €3.9 million expended under the programme in 2002, the 2003 allocation rep resents a 130% increase on the previous years expenditure. Expenditure to the end of May amounted to €3.264 million.
Since June 2002, I have approved grant aid of €11.5 million for four swimming pool projects, two replacement pools and two refurbishments. These projects are located in Finglas, Dublin, Tralee Aquadome and Tralee Regional Sports and Leisure Centre, Kerry, and Grove Island, Limerick.
The Government intends, as it committed to do in the Agreed Programme for Government, to put in place a long-term strategic plan to ensure the development of sports facilities throughout the country. The first step in this process has commenced with a review of the existing sports capital programme under the Department's expenditure review programme which is due to be completed by this summer. The purpose of this review is to establish what has been achieved under this programme over recent years with a view to identifying gaps in the existing provision and procedures and setting priorities for the future. A similar review will be undertaken on the local authority swimming pool programme and the results of both will feed into the overall strategic plan for the provision of sports facilities.
Question No. 32 answered with Question No. 14.
Ms McManus Ms McManus
33. Ms McManus asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the number of applications received for grants under the 2003 sports capital programme by the closing date of 25 April 2003; when a decision will be made on the allocation of the grants; the criteria that will be used to decide on applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16142/03]
Mr. O'Donoghue Mr. O'Donoghue
Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism (Mr. O'Donoghue): The national lottery-funded sports capital programme, which is administered by my Department, allocates funding to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national levels throughout the country. The programme is advertised on an annual basis.
The 2003 sports capital programme was advertised in the national newspapers on 23 and 24 March 2003. The closing date for receipt of applications was 25 April. A total of 1,330 applications were received before the closing date and these are currently being evaluated against the programme's assessment criteria, which are outlined in the guidelines, terms and conditions of the programme, a copy of which is issued to prospective applicants with application forms. I am also forwarding a copy of this document to the Deputy for her information. These criteria have been developed to help assess applications so that those offering greatest community benefit are supported. The criteria can be summarised as follows: the extent to which projects increase active participation and result in improved standards of sport – high priority is given to projects which  are essential or integral to sports participation and to projects in disadvantaged areas; the financial viability of the project – higher rating is given to projects with a significant local contribution and those which demonstrate that the applicant will be able to maintain the project after completion; the need to achieve an equitable geographical spread of funds and an equitable spread of funds among different sports and community groups; the extent to which applicants have consulted with other clubs, community groups, schools, the local authority and the national governing bodies in order to prioritise proposed improvements and facilities.
Applications under the programme are received from organisations for local, regional and national facilities. Each year, a number of major municipal, regional and national projects are allocated funding in accordance with the programme's criteria, following consultations with the Irish Sports Council, other government departments and the relevant national governing bodies of sport and local authorities, as appropriate, in relation to their respective priorities for the provision of sporting facilities.
All applications are treated on their merits and highest priority is afforded to projects in disadvantaged areas, the aim being to increase participation. High priority projects include those essential or integral to sports participation or performance, e.g., pitch development, floodlighting, dressing rooms and showers.
Following the assessment process, each application receives a score, which decides its order of priority within its own county. Recommendations, based on conclusions from this process and having regard to the amount of funding available for distribution, are made to me, and I make the final decision on projects and grants to be allocated under the programme. I intend to announce the grant allocations for the 2003 programme as soon as possible after the assessment process has been completed.
Question No. 34 answered with Question No. 14.
Question No. 35 answered with Question No. 8.
Mr. Broughan Mr. Broughan
36. Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the position regarding his consideration of the application from the GAA for additional funding of €39.5 million funding for the development of Croke Park; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16130/03]
Mr. O'Donoghue Mr. O'Donoghue
Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism (Mr. O'Donoghue): The Government has provided financial support totalling €69.84 million up to the end of last year to the Gaelic Athletic Association, towards the redevelopment of Croke Park.
In November, 2002, the GAA submitted an application for an additional €39.5 million in  funding for Croke Park. No provision has been made in the Estimates for my Department for this year to meet this request. I intend to bring the matter to the attention of the Government in the context of my overall report to the Government on the need for modern stadium facilities.
Dáil Éireann 568 Written Answers. Sports Funding.