Donegal County Council has made a commitment to support and assist Finn Harps FC as they attempt to gain funding for their new stadium.
Three motions were raised at this month’s council meeting after plans for ‘The Donegal Stadium’ in Stranorlar were left in limbo after being left off the latest Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport funding allocation.
There are concerns that the stadium construction, which is estimated at €6.7 million, will be met with further delays and increased costs after it was omitted from the Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Fund.
Cllr Martin Harley today called on Donegal County Council to work with Finn Harps FC, the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport, and the FAI towards the delivery of the stadium.
He asked the council to strengthen the existing funding application by acting as a partner, adding that the current application should not be changed or renewed.
In a response, the executive, which has already invested significant funding in the project, said: “Donegal County Council wholeheartedly supports this project, and is committed to continue to play a part in bringing same to fruition.”
The council also agreed to write to the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport making a “special plea” for funding, following a separate motion raised by Cllr John O’Donnell.
Cllr O’Donnell’s motion was backed by Cllr Patrick McGowan, who added: “There is a lot of politics going on here at the moment, let’s not have the people who have the ultimate responsibility for this failure get off the hook, and this certainly not Donegal County Council.”
Cllr Martin Harley added that he was not “playing politics”, having supported Finn Harps for the last 30 years.
Cllr Gary Doherty raised an emergency motion on the matter to submit a direct call issued by the Finn Harps board.
The motion requested that Donegal County Council engage with Finn Harps FC and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport on the proposed new stadium to ensure that the council will “commit to taking the lead role in administering both the application for funding and the overall project management”.
The board also asked the council to recognise the strategic importance of the new stadium to sport in Donegal, and its relevance in regard to the Local Area Plan for Ballybofey and Stranorlar and the categorisation as a sports hub under the County Development Plan 2018-2024.
The board requested that “there are no further blocks to the funding process and work can begin on the stadium as soon as possible.”
Mr Liam Ward, Director of Community Development & Planning Services at Donegal County Council, stated that the council is willing to meet with the Finn Harps board and continue its support for the development and completion of the Donegal Community Stadium in Stranorlar.