Wednesday, 20 October 2004

Questions (56)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

152 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he has legislative plans for the current Dáil session; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25434/04]

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Oral answers (5 contributions) (Question to Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism)

It is my intention to publish the national sports campus development authority Bill 2004 at an early date. A stamped draft of the Bill has been received from the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to the Government and the views of Departments have been obtained. The text of the Bill will be brought to Government shortly for approval to publish and circulate the Bill, either late in the current Dáil session or early next year.

The Bill provides for the establishment of the national sports campus development authority to oversee the planning and development of a sports campus at Abbotsown. The authority's specific functions, which are set out in section 7, reflect the Government's decision of 27 January 2004. These functions are to develop a sports campus on the site; furnish and equip it; manage, operate and maintain it; and encourage and promote its use by professional and amateur sports people and members of the public. A development plan for the campus must be submitted for approval by the Government before commencement.

In addition, I intend to bring a number of statutory instruments before each House of the Oireachtas to give effect from 1 January next to the establishment of the new statutory boards of the National Library and National Museum of Ireland under the National Cultural Institutions Act 1997. This action will be subject to availability of the necessary financial and human resources involved in giving the two institutions autonomous status.

Will the Bill provide for an indoor arena at Abbotstown? I have asked the Minister questions previously regarding provision in Abbotstown for minority sports which do not attract sufficient numbers to generate the finance needed to create facilities. Many sports enjoyed by small numbers of people compared to national sports lack proper facilities. The proposed sports campus could provide facilities for such sports. Does the Minister envisage that sports with limited participation, which, through lack of numbers and so forth, are unable to generate finance to create facilities, will be facilitated in Abbotstown?

The Bill will set out the functions of the national sports campus development authority as opposed to the minutiae of what will be located at Abbotstown. The authority's functions will be to develop a sports campus on site; furnish, equip and manage it; operate and maintain it; and encourage and promote its use by professional and amateur sports people and members of the public. A development plan must be submitted for approval to the Government. In addition, details of each phase must be submitted for approval before its commencement. We will have an opportunity to discuss the legislation at a later date.

In the interim, as I stated previously, when a decision was made to construct a stadium at Lansdowne Road it was also decided that the campus at Abbotstown would proceed on a phased basis. In that respect, I spoke with Campus Stadium Ireland and asked it to draw up a priority list of what it considered should be located at Abbotstown and cost its proposals. I hope it will be possible to proceed with the first phase of the sports campus at Abbotstown in the not too distant future.

With regard to the sports which will be accommodated at Abbotstown, I fully agree with Deputy Wall that minority sports could be assisted through the development of the sports campus at Abbotstown and that they should be catered for. I have no doubt this will be the case.

With regard to the indoor arena to which the Deputy referred, this may be a candidate for a public private partnership and there is a strong possibility it will be commercially viable. The issue may be examined in that context. In the meanwhile, the main objective is to try to advance the campus by acquiring funding.

The current operators of the national aquatic centre are concerned about the lack of accommodation on site. They believe the lack of accommodation on the campus and in the surrounding area is a significant drawback to hosting major international competitions and facilitating athletes from home and abroad. Are plans afoot to provide accommodation on the site at Abbotstown? Apart from the provision of sporting facilities, does the scheme outlined by the Minister include provision for accommodation?

I do not yet have on my desk the detailed plan of Campus Stadium Ireland. I anticipate that in addition to providing sporting facilities on the campus, the plan will envisage medical and other facilities which may well include accommodation. I cannot be definitive on this matter other than to note that Campus Stadium Ireland was asked to consider all the options and requirements and to prioritise and cost them.

Written Answers follow Adjournment Debate.