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Dublin: 9 °C Friday 22 March, 2019

Sports minister defends €200k grant to home town soccer club

Michael Ring says Westport United FC fully deserved a grant, while Mayo as a whole didn’t get more than it deserved.

Image: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

THE JUNIOR MINISTER responsible for assigning sports capital grants has defended his decision to award a €200,000 grant to a soccer club based in his home town.

The grant to Westport United FC was one of 615 groups and clubs to share in a €26 million fund for sports development announced yesterday – but the payment for Westport stood out as the joint-largest payment to any body outside of Dublin.

Westport is the home town of junior minister Michael Ring, who was responsible for deciding where to allocate the capital funding, which was over seven times oversubscribed.

Ring told Newstalk’s Breakfast programme that his Department had tried to ensure an equal geographical spread of projects within counties, as well as sharing grants among several sports and to distribute funds equally between urban and rural areas.

“Per capita, what I did this time – I went back over each local authority, [to] see which counties had done badly over the last couple of years, and gave them 20 per cent extra,” he said.

Such counties included Cavan, Carlow, Clare and Cork, he said – but did not include Mayo, which as a whole had received only its fair share of funding.

Explaining the funding for Westport United FC when towns like Castlebar received no funding at all, Ring said the club had merited the funding awarded to it.

“I’ll tell you about Westport United. It’s a community club. This year is their centenary year. They’re 100 years in operation.

They’re Connacht Cup champions, they’re Mayo league champions, they’re Mayo cup champions – they won every single competition that could be won this year, along with dealing with four to five hundred youths.

They have no ground, and never had a ground. The community came together last year, they bought grounds. This is the first time they’ve ever, ever got capital money from the sports capital [fund].

“I have to say, I did this as fair as I could do it. And that’s the one commitment that I gave: I would do it fairly.

“Did I give Mayo more than anybody else? No, I did not. And rightly so.”

Read: Local sports projects to receive €26m in funding – Ring

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Gavan Reilly

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