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.