Sports Clubs: Capital Funding

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 24th October 2016.

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Photo of Ian Milne Ian Milne Sinn Féin 3:15 pm, 24th October 2016

T3. Mr Milne asked the Minister for Communities for an update on the capital funding currently available to sports clubs. (AQT 388/16-21)

Photo of Paul Givan Paul Givan DUP

There is a range of capital funding that I would like to see released. The greatest priority is the soccer stadia strategy moneys. The Executive have committed to spend approximately £36 million, and we are in the final stages of what the proposal will be. When I am in a position to take the decision, I hope that we will be able to open it up to a public application.

I can highlight some of the thinking for the capital budget over the next four years, as there is great potential to partner with other third-party organisations on our sporting infrastructure. I am particularly keen to see another strand developed for infrastructure for the three main sports: rugby, soccer and GAA. That is a proposal that we are looking at and would like to bring forward. I would also like to see whether there are other ways that we could partner with third-party organisations, potentially councils, that are identifying where the need exists for sporting infrastructure in their communities. Is there an opportunity to maximise the capital budget that will be available to us?

Notwithstanding all that, we obviously have issues with the development of Casement Park. That is an Executive commitment that I want to be implemented. I recently met those responsible for taking forward Casement Park. They showed me the revised plans for the capacity and the way in which it would be configured at Casement. The GAA is taking that process forward. My Department is supporting the process, and we hope to see progress.

Photo of Ian Milne Ian Milne Sinn Féin

Buíochas leis an Aire as a fhreagra. I thank the Minister for his answer thus far. What advice would you give to clubs — GAA clubs, soccer clubs and rugby clubs — to prepare for any future funding that may become available?

Photo of Paul Givan Paul Givan DUP

The Member raises a good point. Moneys can become available in-year, but the pressure is about how you will be able to spend those moneys and meet the necessary tendering processes. If organisations already have an approved business case and planning permission in place, that puts them in a better state of readiness should funding become available. Organisations can link in with official governing bodies to get advice from them, and I encourage people to do that. Councils have a key role to play in developing sporting infrastructure, so, hopefully, they can also provide assistance to sporting clubs as they take forward their plans.