Ministerial backing for €5m. Mayo sports master plan

Applications will open for the large-scale sports infrastructure fund (LSSIF) within the coming months, Mayo TD Alan Dillon has been informed.

He welcome the confirmed by Minister of State Thomas Byrne.

Deputy Dillon said there is a significant appetite by Mayo County Council to make an application for a large-scale multi-use sports complex, including a 4G football pitch, Dome, and an all-weather tartan athletics track at a site formerly owned by the HSE in the Knockaphunta area of Castlebar.

"We did not have the opportunity to apply in 2018 and 2019 and it is six years on now.

"Working with the local authority, this could be a really positive facility for Castlebar and Mayo, making it a sporting hub for tourism and attracting people to the county for sporting events.

"I know of the important role sport plays in people's lives in Mayo.

"We cannot but invest in facilities. In Castlebar, we are very fortunate that we have the sports complex at Lough Lannagh."

Minister Byrne said the Department of Sport is still working out the dates and terms and conditions.

He outlined: "They will be confirmed in due course. The programme is aimed primarily at national governing bodies of sport and local authorities but others such as philanthropic funders, clubs and voluntary organisations can apply.

"In general, they have to be prioritised by a local authority or a governing body. We may change that to include education and training boards.

"It is very important that anybody considering applying for the LSSIF is aware of the new rule I was proud to introduce that men and women must have similar access to the facilities.

"This is a critical part of the programme.

"Recipients of funding must have a published policy showing how that is the case in practice.

"I was delighted to visit Lough Lannagh with Deputy Dillon and Senator Lisa Chambers some months ago.

"To be honest, the deputy brought me but he should probably invite all the chief executives of local authorities around the country to see what is in Castlebar.

"It is a fantastic facility. I cannot give any commitments here on the floor of the Dáil to any particular projects but that type of project, which is genuinely community based, municipal, provides a variety of sport and is open to the public, is exactly the type of project we want for the large-scale sports infrastructure fund.

"I will leave that in the hands of Mayo County Council, should it wish to apply, and there will be a fully transparent process in terms of how that particular funding is allocated."

In thanking the minister for his response, Deputy Dillon asked him provide him with a copy of the 2019 application that was submitted by Mayo County Council for the Mayo multi-sport outdoor adventure and sports tourism hub.

"It is critically important that we start working on this application now with the local authority and that we review the previous scoring and application that was submitted to ensure that we have the feasibility report, the operational business strategy, the project programme, detailed cost plan and the cost plan for delivery.

"That is something I will work on over the next number of weeks and months to ensure that we have a strong application for Mayo and that this project can be achievable, and that it can be delivered by the local authority in conjunction with this government," he added.