I propose to take Questions Nos. 54 and 102 together.
One of the commitments in the Government's An Action Programme for the Millennium is to recognise the value of sport and leisure to the physical and mental health of each individual, especially in the role they can play in fostering a sense of community identity in even the most disadvantaged areas. Accordingly one of the goals I have set for my Department is to encourage increased participation in sport and recreation, particularly in disadvantaged communities.
A number of measures are under way in my Department aimed at achieving this goal. The Sports Council is being established on a statutory basis. It will have amongst its functions the promotion of sport, and the development of strategies to increase participation in recreational sport and the co-ordination of their implementation through the relevant bodies involved in this area. The various elements of a recreational policy are also being considered including, the role of other Departments, State agencies and bodies involved in the promotion and development of recreation, and the piloting of sport and recreational initiatives in disadvantaged areas.
Grant assistance of a capital and non-capital nature is currently available for the promotion and development of sport and recreation, to a range of groups in the community, from governing bodies to individual clubs and groups.
Some 235 individual projects, spread throughout the country and covering both sport and recreational facilities, were approved for grants totalling almost £5 million in this year's round of allocations under the Sports Capital Programme. The programme has outstanding grant commitments of over £19 million. A sum of £9 million is provided in this year's Estimates to meet anticipated claims in respect of grant approved projects due for completion in the current year. The Sports Capital Programme is now being reviewed and I expect to advertise revised schemes before year end when applications will be invited in respect of the 1999 round of allocations.