Government Update on Cork Track Crisis

April 19, 2024

Last week, Run Republic reached out to The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media for an update regarding the current situation in Cork Athletics and the ongoing Track Crisis facing clubs in the county. 

Yesterday, a Department Spokesperson gave the below response;

'The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media operates two capital funding programmes for sport, namely the Sports Capital and Equipment Programme (SCEP) and the Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund (LSSIF). Both of these capital programmes are demand-driven.

'The Sports Capital and Equipment Programme (SCEP) is the primary vehicle for Government support for the development of sports and recreation facilities and the purchase of non-personal sports equipment throughout the country. Grants are available to voluntary, not-for profit sports clubs, community groups, NGBs, and local authorities. Third level colleges, Education and Training Boards (ETBs) and schools may apply for funding provided that they do so jointly with external sports clubs or community organisations.

'Over 13,000 projects have now benefited from sports capital funding since 1998 bringing the total allocations in that time to over €1.15 billion. The Programme for Government commits to continuing the SCEP and to prioritising investment in disadvantaged areas. The 2020 round of the SCEP attracted 3,106 applications with a total of €166.6m allocated to the Programme.

'The latest round of the SCEP (2023) closed for applications on Friday 8 September, 2023 and generated a record number of 3,210 applications. While there is no application in respect of UCC on this occasion, there are over 350 applications from County Cork, seeking €40.5M in total. In respect of athletics in Cork, applications have been received from Bandon Athletic Club, Bweeng Community Hall & Grounds CLG, Carraig na bhFear Athletic Club, Carrigaline Rugby and Athletics Partnership Company Limited, Munster Technological University [Athletics Track facility), Durrus Athletic Club, Muinefliuch National School and St Catherine’s Athletic Club.

'The Scoring System and Assessment Manual for the 2023 round has been published along with a list of all applications received by county including the relevant sport type for each application received. The detailed assessment work has commenced and "equipment-only" applications are being assessed first. I hope to announce these "equipment only" grants next month. Work will then commence on assessing the capital applications with the allocations to be announced later in the year.

'Separately, the National Sports Policy published in 2018 provided for the establishment of the Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund (LSSIF). The aim of the fund is to provide support for larger sports facilities where the Exchequer investment is greater than the maximum amount available under the SCEP. In December 2023,Minister Martin and Minister Byrne announced additional funding amounting to €37.6 million to 27 existing LSSIF projects, bringing the total awarded to date to LSSIF-funded projects to €124 million. This additional funding for projects was provided, in response to delays experienced by grantees arising from the pandemic and construction inflation.

'One of the largest projects funded to date under LSSIF is the “Athletics Ireland and Munster Technological University (Formerly CIT) Community Sport Project” for the development of an Arena (Phase 1), Track Upgrade (Phase 2) and High Performance Athletic Centre (Phase 3) on the Bishopstown, Cork Campus of the University. The project was awarded LSSIF funding of €9.225 million in January 2020 and additional funding in December 2023 of €5,094,830, bringing the LSSIF funding total for this project to €14.3 million for all three phases. Phase 1 is now complete and Phase 2 – Track Upgrade- is due to be completed this summer with preparatory work on Phase 3 progressing.

'A new round of the Large-Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund (LSSIF) will open for applications in the first half of 2024, with the dates, terms and conditions to be published on the Department’s website in due course. While this programme is aimed primarily at the National Governing Bodies (NGB) of Sport and local authorities it was also open to other bodies, philanthropic funders, clubs and voluntary organisations to apply but such applications would necessarily have to be made and prioritised by a Local Authority and/or an NGB. It is hoped that the terms and conditions for a new round of the LSSIF 2024 will be published next month. While intending applicants can review the guidelines and conditions of the programme from LSSIF 2018, these are subject to change in LSSIF 2024. It should also be noted that the scheme does not allow for the purchase of land or buildings. I would encourage all eligible projects to consider applying for this competitive application process when it opens.'

Featured Image: Bandon AC

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