Westmeath and Longford last in line for Lottery health funding

Westmeath has been at the bottom of the heap when it comes to the allocation of National Lottery grants, it emerged this week.

Westmeath and Longford had the lowest number of successful grant applications from the Department of Health in the country between 2011 and 2013, while James Reilly was Minister for Health.

Westmeath had just three successful applications, with a total value of €28,500, while Longford had four successful applications but with a total value of just €20,000.

At the opposite end of the scale, Dublin North, Dr Reilly’s constituency, had 19 successful applications, worth almost €500,000. Meanwhile €461,000 was allocated to 17 projects in Co Mayo.

The total amount awarded under the National Lottery fund was €3.3 million per year between 2011 and 2013. In 2013, 680 applications were received, of which 140 were successful.

Reacting to the news that the Longford-Westmeath constituency fared worst under the funding, Deputy Robert Troy said he was “extremely disappointed but not surprised” by the figures.

He is calling on the new Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to conduct a review of how the Department of Health deals with the awarding of National Lottery funding, and to outline the policy on Ministerial involvement in awarding funds.

“Many organisations in the Midlands will not be surprised by these figures; they know the Midlands has not been a priority under Fine Gael and Labour for the last three years,” said Deputy Troy.

“There is huge disparity in how Lottery funding has been allocated over many years and I think it is important to strengthen and streamline the process so that organisations in communities across the country know exactly what criteria are applied in determining which groups are awarded funds into the future.

“It’s clear Westmeath and Longford have not fared well during Minister Reilly’s tenure in the Department of Health with total funding awarded coming in below €50,000 between 2011 and 2013. This is very disappointing and I find it hard to believe that this is reflective of the standard of applications made for funding and the merit of the work undertaken by organisations applying for support,” concluded Deputy Troy.

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