Mayo clubs and sporting groups will be feeling the pinch of the economic downturn this year with the news that that Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism will not be providing any funding through the sports capital grant programme in 2009. In 2008 at total of 28 groups in Mayo shared in a pot of €1,380,500 in funding for projects which spanned from €2,000 to All Stars Boxing Club in Ballinrobe to €250,000 which was given to the Connacht Branch of the Golfing Union of Ireland. In 2007 more than €2.5 million in grants was handed out around County Mayo.
Mayo TD and Fine Gael spokesperson on sport John O’Mahony hit out at the cut in funding saying: “While I accept we are all in a tight budgetary situation, there should be some allocation for the sports capital grant for 2009. As I pointed out to the Minister in the Dáil, the scheme has been a huge success and abolishing it for 2009 will have dire consequences. The benefits of providing grants such as these are felt way beyond the playing field, exercise yard or sports hall.”
O’Mahony also pointed out that the funding should be continued as sport offers the youth in the country something to get involved in rather than anti-social behaviour. “The sports grant ultimately yields far more for the State than the small amount that is paid out. For example, it costs €250,000 a year to maintain a prisoner in Portlaoise Prison, €100,000 in Mountjoy, and €90,000 in St Patrick’s Young Offenders Institution. It has been shown that young people who are involved in sport are far less likely to engage in anti-social or criminal activity so reducing sports grants ultimately reduces their chances. Alongside this, there is evidence in other countries going through downturns that it is a help to increase funding in such circumstances because the part played by sport helps lift the gloom. While I could accept that there would be a reduction in funding, to think there is no funding at all in 2009 for these sports organisations up and down the country is nothing short of a disgrace.”