Fianna Fáil TD for Longford-Westmeath Robert Troy says new analysis undertaken by his party reveals that Westmeath has fallen well behind the national average when it comes to Sport Capital Grant funding.
Despite claims that major funding had been secured for sports clubs and communities across the county by the Fine Gael-Labour Government, the figures clearly show that the county received less than €2.5m under the programme between 2011-15.
Deputy Troy explained, “These figures are a major cause for concern and point to a serious under investment by the last Government in sports facilities and clubs in Westmeath. Since 2011, Westmeath has been allocated just €2.4m – compare that with the €9.6 that the Taoiseach’s own county of Mayo received. We received well below the county average of €8.5 and there has been absolutely no explanation for this.
“On average each year, Mayo received €7,375 for every 1,000 residents, while Westmeath has been allocated just €2,830 (only 38% of what Mayo was allocated) for the past five years.
“Clubs in Westmeath that make an application for a Sports Capital Grant have also been much less likely to be successful than elsewhere, with only 49% of applications being successful compared to 60% and 70% in other counties.
“Before the General Election, promises were made by the Fine Gael-Labour Government that Westmeath GAA would receive €50,000 in funding. However, at a meeting with Minister Patrick O’Donovan in July it was confirmed that the money would not be forthcoming.
“The Sports Capital Programme provides access to vital funding for sports clubs and communities across the country. It helps them upgrade facilities, buy new equipment and run initiatives to get more people involved in the organisation and build community spirit. The fact that Westmeath has been falling behind in these allocations is particularly worrying, but what’s worse is the fact that the new Minister still has not made any announcement about Sport Capital funding for 2016.
“This is an extremely important programme and it should not be allowed to fall off Minister O’Donovan’s agenda. He needs to make an announcement about the scheme as a matter of priority, and there needs to be a concerted effort by clubs in Westmeath to ensure that they get their fair share of funding”.