I thank the Ceann Comhairle for giving me the opportunity to raise this important issue. The Canon Hayes Recreation Centre in Tipperary town is struggling to stay open. The centre has been a vital part of this, and the wider, community for more than 30 years. It has been a tremendous community resource and a monumental success for the development of sport and recreation in this area. The Canon Hayes national sports awards are world renowned. I compliment the management and staff of the centre on the job they do.
Major challenges now exist to meet overheads, such as insurance, which is in excess of €30,000 per annum, light and heat, which is in excess of €30,000 per annum, and the maintenance costs on a now 30 year old building. It is worth noting that when the centre was built, the three excellent secondary schools in the town relinquished their entitlement to the provision of duplicate facilities, such as the provision of a main hall or a gym in their schools.
The centre is now struggling and it has applied for several grants, both correctly and very professionally. It met the Tipperary Leader company and county council officials and was advised to submit a joint application under the county council recreation scheme and the South Tipperary Development Company. However, the county council let it down. The proposal was to upgrade the all-weather pitches with a new surface at a cost of €200,000.
A long process ensued to establish how the project could be funded. It was agreed to look at a co-funding project with South Tipperary Development Company and the community facilities branch of Tipperary County Council. On the advice of county council officials who were apprised of all the plans, the committee was advised to apply for a grant of €40,000 and a maximum grant of €150,000 from South Tipperary Development Company. The committee would have had to provide the remaining €10,000, which it had no problem in doing. However, those involved were completely disheartened to learn that the application for the county council grant was unsuccessful. The disappointment was exacerbated when they heard the reasons for the refusal. First, the project was too big, although it was co-funded. Second, following further questions, they were told that three smaller projects in the county would have to be excluded in order to include the Canon Hayes project.
These matters are with the county council. There is an unwillingness to engage in a joint membership proposal involving the centre and the swimming pool which is under local authority management in Tipperary town. It looks as if the county council has no wish to help or does not want to help.
The capital grants scheme is under the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Shane Ross. The committee was even more disheartened as it had been told to apply and did. The deprivation index for Tipperary town is relevant. We all know the reasons for the score. It is a wonderful town with wonderful spirited people, but they have nothing in the way of employment or supports. We question the scaling and grading. The Eircode was used to identify the site and location. We question why and how the decision was made. The committee has received no satisfactory answers from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport as to why the proposal scored so badly in the deprivation index. Clearly, the Pobal deprivation index indicates that the relevant part of the town is severely challenged. I have no wish to talk down the town; it is a wonderful town with wonderful people. However, they have got nothing but kicks from successive Governments over the years. They have received no supports. There are other excellent community facilities such as the Moorehaven Centre and many other special facilities. They are organised by people in the true spirit of the late great Canon Hayes. It is not fair that this project has been denied funding.