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 Header Item Homeless Persons Supports (Continued)
 Header Item Business of Dáil
 Header Item Topical Issue Debate
 Header Item Sports Capital Programme Administration

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 962 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan] Tusla is part of the Minister's area of responsibility. What is the reason service providers are not linking into the homeless PASS management system, which is the interface between the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government in relation to this? Does the Minister's Department and Tusla have an input into the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government's guidelines?

Deputy Katherine Zappone: Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Those are excellent questions and I will certainly investigate them. I do not know if I have specific answers, but my understanding, having asked, is that Tusla is working closely in particular with the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive with specific reference to women who are pregnant or those who are at risk of or experiencing domestic violence. We have identified some potential solutions, but I will certainly raise the issues the Deputy has raised with me on Tusla and working with the homeless executive.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.

Business of Dáil

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh I propose, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that immediately following the taking of Topical Issues today No. a30, a statement by the Minister for Justice and Equality re justice issues, shall be taken. The statement of the Minister shall not exceed ten minutes, following which each party or group in opposition shall have six minutes each and the six minutes shall consist of alternating questions and answers, each of which shall not exceed one minute. The Minister shall have five minutes for a statement on conclusion and the opening statement. The questions and answers and the concluding statement shall not exceed 57 minutes in total.

  On Thursday, following the motion re European Defence Agency, No. a11, motion re proposed authorisation by Dáil Éireann for the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission to instruct legal representatives, shall be taken and shall conclude within 24 minutes. Speeches shall be confined to a single round of three minutes each by a Government representative and the main spokespersons for parties or groups. Any division demanded shall be taken immediately and all Members may share time. The weekly voting block shall take place on the conclusion of the motion.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan): Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan Is that agreed? Agreed.

Topical Issue Debate

Sports Capital Programme Administration

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy My purpose is to try to ascertain from the Minister of State with responsibility for sport exactly when the sports capital programme will be announced. Applications for the programme opened in January 2017 with a closing date of 24 February. That is over ten months ago. Many small, voluntary sporting clubs in my constituency of Longford-Westmeath and right across the country put a lot of time, effort and hard work into preparing their applications for the sports capital programme but to date there are some which do not know whether they will receive funding. I ask the Minister to give a clear undertaking as to when the official word will become known.

I am also concerned that a number of colleagues have approached me over the last 24 to 48 hours to indicate that certain members of Government parties were ringing around sporting clubs to advise them that they had been successful and to expect a phone call later this week. If that is happening, I am very worried. Funding allocations should be made known in an open and transparent manner to all Members of the Oireachtas. I am aware that there were a large number of applications this year. As such, I welcome the fact that additional funding is being made available for the scheme. It is important, however, that the Minister of State sets out when he will announce the grants and states how many applications were deemed ineligible. Have applicants whose applications were ineligible already been made aware of that fact? If not, why not? One imagines they should have been afforded the opportunity to submit whatever documentation was missing from their original applications.

Finally, can the Minister provide the House with the reason it has taken so long to go through the applications? The committees of local, voluntary organisations, which are made up of people working in a voluntary capacity, must put forward applications in the space of seven weeks while a fully fledged and funded Department has yet to respond ten months later. These clubs are fundraising to ensure they meet the criteria and they have worked hard to ensure they can make the necessary improvements to their sporting facilities. I would welcome a response from the Minister of State.

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Brendan Griffin): Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin I thank Deputy Troy. I agree completely that the sports capital programme is a very positive addition to Irish society. Since 1998, €911 million has been spent on vital sporting facilities in large and small communities. The footprint is very visible in the communities where that €911 million has been spent. It has made a huge difference to sporting organisations, many of which would be otherwise unable to raise funding for necessary infrastructure. I was delighted when the scheme was reintroduced in 2012, having been scrapped in 2008 when the economic crisis hit. We were also able to introduce a scheme in 2014-15 and we have been able to do so again in 2017.

When I came into the Department on 20 June, applications had closed. At that stage, there was a budget of €30 million for both the local and regional schemes, with a breakdown of €26 million to €4 million, respectively. Unfortunately, the overall value of the 2,320 applications submitted for both the local and regional schemes was €155 million. Given those figures, it would have been very difficult to reward in a meaningful way all of the volunteers to whom Deputy Troy referred had we attempted to spread the available funds across all of the applications. The first thing I did, therefore, was to consult with the Minister, Deputy Shane Ross. We dug in and worked very hard in the months before the budget to increase the funding for the programme. We had a very successful outcome in the budget and managed to raise the available funding for the 2017 programme from €30 million to €60 million, which was a considerable increase. It is to be hoped that level of funding will allow us to deliver a positive and progressive scheme on Thursday of this week. It will be very responsive to the needs of clubs around the country and help to clear a backlog which has built up.

As Deputy Troy knows, the breakdown in 2012 was that 48% of clubs made invalid applications. In 2014-15, approximately one third were invalid. Due to changes which have been made to the scheme and the website, we are looking at an invalid rate of approximately 20%, which is a step in the right direction, albeit still 20% too much. I would like to see a 0% rate of invalidation and to bring everyone through the process as a valid applicant. That would give every club the opportunity to have its application tested on its merits. For now, approximately 80% of applications are valid which means we are seeking to ensure that €56 million is disbursed among approximately 1,700 clubs. Grants will be based primarily on the amounts the valid applicants sought and the points they secured through the application process.

The application process is onerous and clubs provide huge amounts of information to the officials in the Department on socio-economic disadvantage, levels of own funding, previous funding received, levels of participation, social inclusion and many other useful metrics.

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