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Dublin: 9 °C Friday 23 March, 2018

'Breathtaking inequality': Shane Ross under fire over €150,000 funding for private school in his constituency

Ross earlier this week confirmed funding to resurface the hockey pitch at Wesley College.

MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT Shane Ross has come in for criticism after announcing €150,000 in funding for a fee-paying school in his constituency.

The minister made the announcement on Twitter earlier this week, stating he was “delighted to confirm” the funding for the school.

He also announced €150,000 for resurfacing of the all-weather pitch at another fee-paying school Loreto Beaufort. Applications for both of these schools, which are among 1,800 projects receiving funding from the Sports Capital Programme, were initially rejected, but were later awarded through the appeals process.

One woman who responded to the minister said her local secondary school has no sports hall and has to block book the community centre for PE.

Another response said this was “good news for the students and parents who can afford to fund such things themselves”.

“Our school is trying to tarmac a yard, but is relying on parents funding it,” they added.

Sinn Féin councillor for west Dublin Paul Donnelly also responded, pointing out that there are two schools in Darndale that have no sports hall and have to use a community hall instead. He said children in the school beside his office play football on the grounds of the school on tarmac.

Donnelly described the funding decision as “breathtaking inequality” as he pointed out that Wesley College already has four rugby pitches, two astro-turf hockey pitches, two cricket pitches, two outdoor basketball courts, one soccer pitch, a gymnasium and a sports hall.

Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster today criticised the allocation of large sums of money into private sports facilities, like the fee-paying schools, and a private gold club which charged fees of over €8,000 and which is also receiving €150,000 in funding.

She said this was being done while local public sporting clubs and facilities in disadvantaged areas go without.

“Clubs in middle class areas that charge membership fees of several thousand euros year do not need the funding. If a club can charge €8,000 annual fees from members, then it should use that money to improve facilities. The rest of us shouldn’t have to pick up the bill,” Munster said.

“We need a thorough investigation to look at where this money is going. Clubs like this don’t warrant funding from this programme when there are so many other local sporting clubs which provide invaluable service in communities across the state.

“The very purpose of these grants is to help voluntary community sports groups. This flies in the face of the whole ethics of the project and what it was set up to do in the first place.”

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