I propose to take QuestionsNos. 124 and 141 together.
The Government has agreed to proceed with the development of state-of-the-art sporting infrastructure at Abbotstown. This initiative will be of lasting benefit to Irish sport. Over time, a network of much needed sports facilities can be built up for the benefit of future generations of sports persons whether amateur, professional or elite.
Earlier this month, I met the board of Campus and Stadium Ireland Development Limited. I outlined the Government's views on the sports campus to it and asked members to provide me with a phased and prioritised proposal, a sporting and business case and annual budgets. The aim is to deliver the component elements of the campus within a realistic time-frame by building on and updating the existing framework plan for the site in consultation with the various interested parties and taking account of developments which have taken place in the meantime.
The scale of the campus is such that it can accommodate the requirements of sporting organisations for high quality pitches and training facilities for both amateur and ranking team sports. This should be of benefit not only to major sports organisations but also to some of our smaller sports whose need for modern facilities is important. I also see the merit in testing private sector appetite for developing an indoor sporting arena. I am aware that many sporting organisations may be interested in relocating offices to Abbotstown. The FAI has already made known its interest in selling its present headquarters in Merrion Square and moving there. There may also be considerable GAA and IRFU interest in exploiting what Abbotstown has to offer for the development of their sports.
The availability of centralised high quality sports facilities will appeal, in particular, to smaller sporting bodies, many of which depend largely on voluntary commitment. Medical and research facilities for elite athletes might be developed at Abbotstown in partnership with one or more of the third level education institutions and this would give a further impetus to the work that the Irish Sports Council is doing to support our elite sportsmen and sportswomen. Campus and Stadium Ireland Development Limited has been given the responsibility for translating this concept into an action plan for delivery and overseeing a programme of development which, over time, will be seen as accomplishing a major transformation in the quality of Ireland's sporting infrastructure.