Under the national lottery funded sports capital programme administered by my Department, funding is allocated to projects which provide sports and recreational facilities at local, regional and national level. Since June 2002 a total of €114.45 million has been allocated to 1,357 projects throughout the country under the 2003 and 2004 sports capital programmes. The projects funded through the programme form the backbone of sporting infrastructure in the country and provide the means for greater public participation in sporting activities. These projects include facilities such as development of natural playing surfaces, synthetic and all-weather surfaces, floodlighting, indoor sports halls, changing facilities and a vast range of sporting equipment.
In terms of municipal public facilities, it has been a key objective of sport policy, particularly in recent years, to support a number of multi-sport centres on a regional basis throughout the country, most of which would be under the management and control of local authorities. Of course, such projects must, like all others, comply with the terms and conditions of the sports capital programme.
A total of 26 such projects in urban centres have been allocated a total of over €14.7 million under the 2003 and 2004 programmes, providing facilities in areas such as Finglas, Ringsend, Ballyfermot, Monkstown, Mahon in Cork, Limerick, Dundalk, Trim, Thurles, Killarney, Waterford, Sligo and Youghal.
My Department also administers the local authority swimming pool programme, which provides grant aid towards either the capital costs of new pools or the refurbishment of existing pools. The closing date for receipt of applications from local authorities under the current programme was 31 July 2000.
Since June 2002, grant-aid has been approved for the following swimming pool projects: Finglas, aquadome Tralee, Tralee sports and leisure centre, Grove Island in Limerick, Clonmel, Churchfield in Cork city, Tuam, Ballymun in Dublin, Cobh, Youghal, Ballyfermot in Dublin and Drogheda. Four of these projects are open to the public and eight are under construction or about to start construction.
The National Aquatic Centre at Abbotstown was completed in March 2003, on time and within its budget of €71 million. It provides international standard facilities for swimming and diving as well as extensive leisure water facilities. Commitments in regard to the provision of sporting facilities are outlined in the programme for Government which are being implemented nationwide.