'World-class' stadium to go ahead


The prospect of a national stadium being built at Lansdowne Road or another location near Dublin city centre is left open by the Agreed Programme for Government.

Contrary to expectations, the programme pledges to "start work on the construction of a world-class national stadium" without mentioning Abbotstown as the definitive site.

No mention is made about scaling down the stadium from 80,000 to 60,000 seats. Instead, the programme pledges to "build facilities, both locally and nationally which will serve the needs of sporting bodies".

It says that the Minister for Sport, working with Campus and Stadium Ireland Development, the national sporting bodies and the Office of Public Works "will bring forward the plans and implementation proposals of these policies in the most cost effective way as soon as possible".

In an apparent move away from the Abbotstown concept of a centralised "campus of sporting excellence", the programme places renewed emphasis on investing in "sports facilities around the country, through the National Lottery and Exchequer funding".

It also promises a national audit of local sports facilities, with a long-term strategy to improve them and pledges to work with local authorities to provide "a range of public facilities, such as swimming pools, gymnasia and synthetic floodlit playing pitches".

While committing the government to supporting a high-performance strategy to improve Ireland's performance at the 2004 Olympics, it also pledges to create a community-facilities fund to support developments not covered by existing schemes.