· Government needs to bridge the gap from the proposed €40m to the over €200m sought.
· National Sports Facility survey needed to identify facilities that need upgrading.
Labour Rep Chris O’Dwyer has welcomed the record number of applicants for the Sports Capital & Equipment Programme 2020. With over €200m sought by applicants throughout the country,
O’Dwyer has highlighted the urgent need for the Department to invest more than the €40m pledged to the grant for this year and backed the call from Labour for a National Sports Facility survey to take a strategic approach at updating facilities in clubs, schools and local authorities across the country.
“It’s great to see the level of ambition sports organisations have across the country with a record number of applicants for the grant after the deadline of 1st March. This is a vital segment of funding which will change the lives of all players, volunteers, and participants. In a year like no other for our sports clubs and societies, this funding is more important than ever and will be a welcome boost to morale. The Department must now seek to inform applicants of the status of their application in the quickest possible time.
“What is clear is that the level of demand is way more than the amount of funding available. This will mean some clubs will lose out or not be able to implement the plans they had hoped.
“That’s why we’re calling on the Minister to increase the proposed funding available of €40m. Now is the time to invest in sports in this country, and we need to be as ambitious for clubs as they are. If the Government are serious about achieving the aims of Project Ireland 2040, they must invest now.
“Indeed, with club houses throughout the country closed, there is an opportunity for the Government to take stock of where sports facilities are throughout the country. I would like to see the Department roll out a National Sports Facility survey to identify facilities that need upgrading and address this as soon as possible.
“We look forward to seeing the first set of allocations announced before the summer, and priority must be given to sporting organisations in disadvantaged areas, those that work towards increasing participation including for females and disabled users, and those which will provide facilities that will be shared with the wider community.
“Sport is critically important for the mental health and physical wellbeing participants and spectators. I urge the Department to make all funding available as soon as possible to lift communities throughout the country at this difficult time for everyone.”