Tuesday, 10 February 2004

Questions (225, 226, 227, 228)

Seán Crowe

Question:

301 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on a requirement to receive funding under the sports capital programme that the accounts of an applicant be up to date and the annual returns lodged. [3594/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism)

The various requirements which have to be met by organisations seeking funding under my Department's sports capital programme are set out in detail in the guidelines, terms and conditions of the programme, which have been prepared for the information of applicants. There is no requirement that the accounts of an applicant be up to date or annual accounts lodged.

The financial viability of a project is among the key assessment criteria used in considering applications for funding. It is essential to have confirmation that, in addition to funding provided under the programme, the club or organisation in question has sufficient funds or commitments to funding to complete the project within a realistic timeframe. In addition, it is necessary to have assurances on the extent to which the applicant will be able to maintain the project after completion, given realistic projections of income from the project. Accordingly, an applicant must furnish, with the application form, proof of the organisation's own funding contribution in the form of a recent statement from the financial institution in which their funding is held as well as written confirmation of any proposed loan or overdraft facility with a financial institution.

I am satisfied that the requirements to be met by organisations are appropriate and adequate to enable an effective assessment to be carried out on their applications in accordance with the published criteria of the sports capital programme.

Seán Crowe

Question:

302 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the reason funding was given to the Firhouse Community and Leisure Club in 1999; and the purpose for which this money was to be used. [3595/04]

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The national lottery-funded sports capital programme, which is administered by my Department, allocates funding to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. The programme is run on an annual basis.

Firhouse Community and Leisure Club Limited applied for grant assistance under the 1999 sports capital programme. All applications were evaluated by my Department in accordance with the assessment criteria for the programme published in the guidelines, terms and conditions for that programme. In July 1999, this organisation was allocated a grant of €126,974 towards the extension of an existing sports and leisure centre. Full payment of the grant was completed in June 2002.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

303 Mr. O'Dowd asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the reason a significant amount of money allocated under the sports capital programme grants as far back as 2000 has not been drawn down; his plans to remedy this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3226/04]

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Under my Department's sports capital programme, grants are allocated to sporting and to voluntary and community organisations for the provision of sporting and recreational facilities and equipment. Through the programme, this and the previous Government have provided unprecedented levels of funding for sport and its infrastructure in this country by allocating almost €267 million in funding to over 3,500 projects since 1998. Under the guidelines, terms and conditions of the programme, a sunset clause provision exists for a grant to be withdrawn if within 15 months of the date of allocation the grantee is unable to satisfy the Department that it is in the process of drawing down the grant. In a number of cases each year delays arise on the part of the grantees themselves for a variety of reasons. These include supplying legal, financial and other documentation requested by my Department.

Through ongoing consultation by my Department with the legal and technical advisers to the programme, the CSSO and the Office of Public Works respectively, improvements have been made in dealing with those aspects of grant draw-down. The rate of grant withdrawals by my Department has accelerated in recent years. A total of 131 withdrawals valued at over €3.9 million were made during 2003 and already in 2004 withdrawals to the value of over €800,000 have been carried out. It is my intention that the rate of withdrawals will be increased still further, while taking into account that there are circumstances in which a timeframe greater than provided in the sunset clause provision is required to enable the grantee to deliver the project. An example of such circumstances might be if the project involved was in a highly disadvantaged area or of significance in terms of a large integrated multi-sport project.

It should also be noted that there are a considerable number of projects for which 95% payment has been achieved with the remaining 5% of each retained pending the receipt of a certification of completion of the defects liability period of the project by my Department in each case. This is in line with my Department's procedures for sports capital funding. The certificate of completion is generally available about a year following the second last payment for the grant.

John Perry

Question:

304 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, further to parliamentary Question No. 200 of 25 June 2003 (details supplied), when a decision will be made on an application in County Leitrim; the amount of funding which will be granted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3724/04]

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The national lottery-funded sports capital programme, which is administered by my Department, allocates funding to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. The programme is advertised on an annual basis and a separate application for funding must be made for each year for which an applicant requests funding.

Following an evaluation of all of the applications received under the 2003 programme, I announced details of the projects for which funding was being allocated in July 2003. The application from the club in question was unsuccessful and the club was advised accordingly on 5 August 2003. The 2003 programme is now closed and no further grants will be allocated under this programme. The 2004 sports capital programme was advertised in the national newspapers on 30 November and 1 December 2003. The closing date for receipt of applications was 16 January 2004. A total of 1,302 applications were received before the closing date, including one from the organisation in question. All applications are currently being evaluated against the programme's assessment criteria, which are outlined in the guidelines, terms and conditions of the programme. I intend to announce the grant allocations for the programme as soon as possible after the assessment process has been completed.