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Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers (Resumed). - Sports Facilities.

Thursday, 28 March 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 463 No. 5

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 10. Mr. Kenneally Information on Brendan Kenneally Zoom on Brendan Kenneally  asked the Minister for Education Information on Niamh Bhreathnach Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach  if she has satisfied herself that sports grounds throughout the country are catering fully for people with disabilities. [6421/96]

Minister of State at the Department of Education (Mr. Allen): Information on Bernard Allen Zoom on Bernard Allen The capital [1387] schemes administered by my Department for the provision of sports facilities include a requirement that the facilities in receipt of grant-in-aid be available to the community.

The recently published “Code of Practice for Safety at Sports Grounds” includes a chapter devoted specifically to the provision of safe accommodation for people with disabilities at these venues.

The code, which is voluntary, recommends that provision should be made at all sports grounds for the safe accommodation of people with disabilities. It recommends also that access requirements for physically disabled persons should be incorporated in the designs of sports grounds and stands and should be accessible to disabled people, including wheelchair users, whether they be spectators or employees.

In addition, the building regulations 1991, issued by the Department of the Environment, place a clear duty on those providing or reconstructing buildings to cater for the needs of people with disabilities. The provision of access for people with disabilities to existing buildings to which the public has access is a matter for the owners or occupiers of the buildings concerned.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I thank the Minister of State for his reply but I put it to him that while the code's standards are welcome they are essentially voluntary. Has the Minister of State given consideration to providing a package of financial incentives, using national lottery funds available to his Department, to encourage the owners of sports grounds to improve their facilities thereby making them more accessible to people with disabilities?

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen Zoom on Bernard Allen I am conscious of the need for organisations and clubs to upgrade their facilities. I have a budget of about £6 million per year for the upgrading of sports grounds and any grant given to an organisation is conditional on getting [1388] planning permission for the development involved. As I have already mentioned, that would require incorporating the regulations. Even though the codes are voluntary. I received widespread support in the consultation process I held with all the national governing bodies. I am confident that in any new developments, the organisations will incorporate such facilities and that in any improvements to existing facilities, the organisations will comply with regulations and will incorporate on a voluntary basis the facilities required for the disabled.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin While accepting the normal grant procedures whereby clubs apply to the national lottery and the Department for funding, would the Minister not give consideration to a separate grant scheme specifically for alterations to make facilities more accessible to people with disabilities, so that there would be a clear scheme which would act as an incentive for owners of sports facilities to take the necessary remedial steps?

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen Zoom on Bernard Allen Within the context of the present scheme, any organisation which makes proposals for this type of development will receive sympathetic consideration from me. Many of the projects already grant aided have incorporated facilities for the disabled but I treat each application on its merits. Many applications for development include provisions for the disabled.

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