Fermanagh councillor queries DCAL funding for GAA clubs

Raymond Farrell was 'dismayed' at the discrepancy in funding for GAA and football clubs
Raymond Farrell was 'dismayed' at the discrepancy in funding for GAA and football clubs

The amount of public money allocated to GAA clubs in comparison to local football clubs has been questioned by an Ulster Unionist councillor in Fermanagh.

Raymond Farrell has said he is “dismayed” that recently released Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) figures for 2014/2015 show that 10 Gaelic clubs shared £765,225 for pitch and floodlight improvements, while eight football clubs shared a total of £170,750.

Mr Farrell, who sits on Fermanagh and Omagh Council, said: “I am in one sense dismayed yet in another sense not in the least surprised at this revelation of grant aid awarded by the Sinn Fein DCAL Minister Ni Chuilin to such bodies as the GAA.

“Soccer funding has, to say the least, been pitiful in comparison and begs the question how such a popular cross-community sport has come out of this so badly.”

Mr Farrell has also complained that funding for disability sports has been adversely affected by “a disproportionate amount of funding going elsewhere”.

The top GAA grant went to St Joseph’s GAC (£207,000) for a grass pitch and floodlights, while the top football award (£55,000) provided a pitch upgrade for Castlewellan FC.

In response to Mr Farrell’s request for information, a senior DCAL official said that funding awards are “based on eligibility and projects attaining high assessment scores”.

Commenting on the current round of grants of between £10,000 and £100,000 – closing July 15 – he said they would help clubs “develop their sporting facilities or purchase sporting equipment”.

The official also pointed out that around £36million has been approved by the NI Executive “to go towards rectifying the long-standing deficit in stadium provision” in Northern Ireland.

“The department is working closely with the IFA to ensure that any future funding programme is aligned to the IFA Facilities Strategy and the wider government priorities,” the official added.