Rugby

"Small grants are a political slush fund" | Ivan Yates candidly explains sports funding

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

09:05 14 Jan 2020

Ivan Yates believes that smaller sports funding available to politicians can be used as a "political slush fund" in their constituencies, in the wake of arguments over sport funding allocations.

Yates joined Off The Ball and began by differentiating between bigger infrastructural funding rounds and smaller grants that he believes buy politicians and local advocates a great deal of power.

Sports funding 'slush'?

"There are grants and there are grants. The Lotto slush fund of grants and smaller sports grants - anything under six figures - are entirely political slush funds.

"It is entirely political. Whoever has the ear of the Minister and the Minister's own constituency - whoever is in government - would get an egregious amount of money. There is no doubt about that."

He was also clear to explain why such differences is important, as community-based nepotism happens more regularly than anything on the scale of the Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund.

"National facilities are different. Let us put this 70-odd million in context; it is part of €120bn of national development plan between now and 2040.

"For these national projects, that particular boat sails every five years. I know for a fact, for example with the IRFU being standoffish over the Galway situation, that Michal Duffy of RDS has been wearing a path to Leo [Varadkar] and Paschal [Donohoe] because they set this development plan six years ago."

"The criteria for the bigger projects, this is money well-spent for the state.

"The hosting of national events - like Euro 2020, a World Cup or satellite events - you have to have infrastructure. You have to have it in Belfast, Cork and all the main population centres.

"That is a completely different thing - there is an economic return."

Economic returns

Yates pointed to a €30m project near Leopardstown Racecourse to illustrate his point that the economic case for some national infrastructural projects is very strong.

"There is an economic return because you are showcasing a sport and a thoroughbred breeding industry.

"In my time as Minister, there was the redevelopment at Shelbourne Park. That was not seen as supporting Enniscorthy or Youghal track, but as a national facility in the capital.

"So you are creating bed nights, overnight visitors. It is all part of the tourism cachet of a capital city.

"It is the local stuff that is very political."


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Football Ivan Yates LSSIF Rugby Sports Funding

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