The previous initiative, which was established in 1998, provided a total of €740 million to sports clubs across the country to help them upgrade their facilities, buy sports equipment, build extensions and repair damage caused by weather conditions.
Deputy McConalogue raised the issue with the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs Jimmy Deenihan T.D. during priority questions in the Dáil.
He outlined the success of the Sports Capital Programme since it was introduced and called on the Government to commit to extending it.
Deputy McConalogue suggested that the programme could be adjusted to take into account the tougher economic environment. Grants could be provided towards the capital costs of materials for new facilities, which would allow many sports clubs to make use of the local voluntary labour on offer to them.
“The Sports Capital Programme has been critical in the development of sports clubs, grounds and facilities throughout the country. I started playing sport a good deal later than the Minister, but even at that time, many facilities amounted to not much more than leaky huts. There has been considerable development since 1998,” said Deputy McConalogue.
“As the Minister knows, there is a strong voluntary ethic in clubs and if some type of funding was made available, many clubs could do considerable work from relatively small resources. I am asking for a commitment from the Minister that the Government will reopen the Sports Capital Programme.”
The Donegal North East Fianna Fáil TD received an encouraging response from Minister Deenihan, who acknowledged his positive approach on the issue.
The Minister went on to say “I am convinced there will be a scheme, but I cannot say when”. He also said he would “suggest that the next scheme be more flexible with regard to the input of local labour, which could be considered as the equivalent of matching funding”.
Deputy McConalogue has welcomed these positive comments from the Minister but has vowed to continue to apply pressure to ensure than a new Sports Capital Programmes is delivered.