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 Under the guidelines, terms and conditions of the programme, a sunset clause provision exists for a grant to be withdrawn if within 15 months of the date of allocation the grantee is unable to satisfy the Department that it is in the process of drawing down the grant.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.