Today the government have revealed the 1,700 sporting projects who will benefit from the €56m grant allocation under the Sports Capital Programme. It covers a wide range of sports but is particularly interesting with regards to grants given to GAA clubs in Dublin.
Within the list, ten Dublin GAA clubs received the top allocation of €150,000. There is only one other GAA club in the rest of the country that received this amount.
The quality of applications can often be significant in determining how successful they are.
Dublin's Ballyboden St Endas GAA Club, Ballybougal GFC, Clanna Gael Fontenoy, Clontarf GAA Club, Erin's Isle GAA Club, Scoil Ui Chonaill GAA Club, St Olafs GAA Club, St Patricks GAA Club, St Sylvesters GAA Club and St Vincents GAA all received the maximum allocation of €150,000. In the rest of the country just one club, Louth's Sean O'Mahonys GFC, was allocated the same.
As well as those clubs, Dublin's St Annes got €149,767, Castleknock Hurling and Football Club got €145, 000, Clann Mhuire Gaelic Football Club got €133, 830 and Kevins hurling and camogie club received €121, 208.
In the rest of Leinster, the highest allocation to any other applicant was €125,000, which went to Wicklow's Aughrim Street 9/10th Scout Group. In terms of GAA clubs, it was Longford's Ballymore GFC who got €111, 500. This is also the highest figure assigned to a GAA club outside of those listed in the rest of the country.
This funding comes on top of the GAA's awarded grants, which also overwhelmingly prioritise Dublin. Last year Dublin received €1.463,000 in games development funding. The next highest was Cork with €249,000. The GAA has said this is something they would look at going forward.
As well as a well funded inter-county game, today's funding means 13 Dublin clubs have received more than every other club in the country bar one. The money will go towards improving facilities, new changing rooms, gyms and floodlights.
According to the latest census, Dublin's population accounts for approx. 28% of Ireland's total, with 38% in the entire Dublin greater area (Including parts of Meath, Kildare, etc.) If the argument is that funding should be in line with population, questions must be asked as to why the funding granted to Dublin is still disproportionate compared to that?
The funding granted to Dublin also does not match the number of players registered:
To take GAA games development funding of 31 counties per player to Dublin level would need budget increase from €3,138,907 to €90,673,525.40
— Ewan MacKenna (@EwanMacKenna) September 19, 2017
It does not match population and it does not match players registered. Therefore, what is the basis for granting Dublin access to significantly larger funding?
There's no doubt that on an individual basis, the grants to Dublin clubs may well be justified, and it's unlikely there is an actual bias, and it's more down to better lobbying and organisation, and better proposals. There is also the issue of capital expenditure being significantly more expensive in Dublin. That aside though, the massive difference in numbers suggests there will be an uneasiness around the country and a perception that Dublin continues to get special treatment.
The programme aimed to establish an "integrated and planned approach to developing sports and physical recreation facilities throughout the country." Workshops were organised throughout the country in order to demonstrate how to make an application.
It stated the following as its goals: Assist voluntary and community organisations, prioritise the needs of disadvantaged areas, encourage the multi-purpose use of local, regional and national sports facilities by clubs.
As a whole, the applications were closed in February and with a total of 2,320 received.
In total 26 counties were given grants today. 18 of the most funded projects were GAA clubs in each county.
You can see the full list of all projects allocated funds here.