Waterford got ‘f**k all’ in sports capital grants – John Halligan

Independent Alliance TD in row with Shane Ross over allocation for his constituency

Minister of State John Halligan: The clash happened at the weekly meeting of Independent Alliance, attended by Mr Halligan, Minister for Sport Shane Ross and Ministers of State Finian McGrath and Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Minister of State John Halligan: The clash happened at the weekly meeting of Independent Alliance, attended by Mr Halligan, Minister for Sport Shane Ross and Ministers of State Finian McGrath and Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

A row has erupted in the Independent Alliance over Shane Ross’s allocation of sports capital grants, with one member of the group accusing the Minister for Sport of giving “f**k all” to his constituency.

John Halligan, the Minister of State for Skills, tackled Mr Ross on the level of funding given to clubs in his Waterford constituency in last week’s round of grants.

Last week’s announcement saw Mr Ross and Brendan Griffin, the Fine Gael junior Minister in his department, detail the final set of allocations for local capital projects under the 2018 round of the sports capital grant.

A total of €37 million was distributed to 994 different projects across 37 different sports. The grants ranged in value from €405 to €605,000.

Sources close to Mr Ross said he and Mr Halligan concluded the discussion amicably

The clash happened at the weekly meeting of the four-member alliance, attended by Mr Ross, Mr Halligan and Ministers of State Finian McGrath and Kevin “Boxer” Moran.

It is the latest spat to erupt in the Alliance and comes just weeks after previous tensions over the budget, when members accused each other of taking credit for policies pursued by their colleagues.

Strained

Relations between Mr McGrath and Mr Ross and Mr Halligan were said to have become strained following claims that Mr McGrath, the Minister of State for Disability Issues, claimed credit for medical card changes.

The four members of the group meet each week and the exchanges are frequently robust. Sources said Mr Halligan was “shouting and roaring” on Tuesday about the sports capital grants, saying “this is not good enough” and that Waterford got “f**k all”.

Mr Ross is said to have pointed out that Waterford clubs were given funding and defended the system of allocating sports grants. He said the scheme is transparent, is points-based and was hugely oversubscribed this year.

Sources close to Mr Ross said he and Mr Halligan concluded the discussion amicably and that there is no lingering ill-feeling.

Sources close to Mr Halligan said “mild words were had” but insisted there was “no blazing row”. However, another figure close to the Alliance said: “Ross didn’t deliver for Halligan – that’s the problem.”

Main criteria

The Department of Sport says the main criteria for scoring grants include the likelihood of increasing sport participation, the level of disadvantage in the area and the funding received by the club previously. A total of 33 Waterford clubs received grants in the allocations announced last week.

The sports capital grants are among the most keenly observed announcements by TDs

It is also understood consideration was given to releasing a statement from the Independent Alliance criticising Verona Murphy, Fine Gael’s candidate in the Wexford byelection, who has made controversial comments about asylum seekers, but the group decided against it.

The sports capital grants are among the most keenly observed announcements by TDs, and it is understood Mr Griffin is also facing criticism from some of his Fine Gael colleagues. One TD said the Kerry deputy is going to get “an onslaught” at the weekly parliamentary party on Wednesday.