Half of all applications for funding 'invalid'


Whatever inevitable feeling of cheer or envy comes with the announcement of the Sports Capital Programme has been at least partly trimmed by the fact that half of all applications for some €26 million in funding were deemed “invalid” and unlikely to secure any financial support for at least another three years.

Of the 2,170 requests for local funding projects, ranging from €800 to €300,000, only half satisfied the required criteria, and of those only 615 will now receive assistance for their various sporting needs.

In detailing the 2012 allocations at a press briefing in the department offices yesterday, Minister of State for Sport Michael Ring said the reasons why so many applications were ineligible would have to be examined, but in the meantime he was adamant that all funding had been distributed as equitably as possible – and that in no way did he favour his own Mayo constituency.

“We’re funding 615 projects, so that’s still almost 30 per cent of the overall applicants,” he said. “It was actually two-thirds of the valid applications. But around 50 per cent of applications, and an average of 50 per cent in each county, were ineligible, even though, this time, we made it easier for organisations to submit those applications, and we gave them more time.

Reasons for rejection

“There were three or four issues, mainly around legalities of ownership. Applicants also needed to have planning permission, or be in that process. Others simply missed deadlines, or were unable to provide some of their own funding. It is a high percentage, but maybe because funding hasn’t been available for a few years, they just didn’t satisfy the right criteria.”

The programme was revived this year, having been dormant since 2008, and the overall request for funding totalled €229 million: the Government won’t revive the scheme again until 2015, although in the meantime Ring was hopeful the €26 million allocated here would make a considerable difference to projects around the country.

“We had 2,170 applicants, the largest amount ever, since this particular scheme first started some 10 years ago. I suppose one reason for that was because we didn’t have a scheme since 2008.

“I tried to distribute it as fairly as I could, and wanted a spread. We did our best to get it right. That’s all we can do. Also, and I’ll be clear on this, is that we looked at the last figures, from 2008, and the counties that did badly back then were given a loading this time, of 20 per cent. And some of those counties would be Carlow, Cavan, Clare, and Wicklow.

“Mayo was not one of them, just in case anyone thinks I was looking after Mayo. Because Mayo came in 11th overall, and I’ll say this loud and clear: Mayo got what it was entitled to get. Not one euro more, per capita.

“And we did ‘penalise’ by 10 per cent counties that had done well in recent years. But there was a very wide range of projects, and we tried to vary it as much as much as possible by sports, and by regions, urban and rural.” Allocations were made by county, first, and population, with the weighting then made for past performance. Dublin, inevitably, gets the largest allocation of the 26 counties, with €6,627,666, followed by Cork €3,088,230), Galway (€1,434,566) and Meath (€1,252,117), down to Leitrim, who got the smallest allocation of just €180,188.

In Dublin’s case, so many applicants were invalid that all those who were valid received at least some assistance.

Mayo projects will get €777,293, including €200,000 to Westport United soccer club, which Ring last year said “badly deserves” a new home: however Ring denied any preferential treatment for his own constituency. “We had €18.5 million worth of projects come in from Mayo. So it won’t be the credit for the ones I gave it to. It will be the abuse I’m going to get from the ones that didn’t get it. I know the expectation is out there, because of previous ministers, that every single application that came in from Mayo was going to be grant aided.”

Funding recipients

Other projects receiving the maximum €300,000 allocation include the new all-weather playing fields in Dublin’s Marlay Park, the Man O’War GFC and McKelvey Celtic FC, also in Dublin; while in Kerry, the Duagh Sports Complex gets €200,000; in Kildare the Maynooth/Barnhall RFC gets €129,000; and in Wicklow, Bray Town Council will receive €190,000 to improve facilities in Ballywaltrim, including Katie Taylor’s boxing gym.

Bray Boxing Club already got a round of €25,000 in funding earlier this year, part of the special €1.25 million in funding that benefited 57 boxing clubs around the country. A further allocation of €4 million will be announced in the coming weeks for non-local projects, such as national or regional facilities, but after that there is no assurances of any further such funding until 2015.

“Sport has been the one bright spark in this country over the last few years,” said Ring, “and sport also brings great benefit to the economy. For every euro we spend on facilities, we get something like €1.26 back.”

He denied reports over the weekend of a €4.6 million cut in Irish Sports Council funding in the upcoming budget, although some cut was likely, and also hoped the GAA’s player-grant scheme could continue.

For the complete list see dttas.ie

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