I acknowledge Deputy Durkan has previously raised this matter and it is one of serious interest to him, as it probably is to every Member of the House.
The sports capital programme is the primary means of providing Government funding to sport and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. More than 10,000 projects have benefitted from sports capital funding since 1998, and €911 million of expenditure has gone into sports capital. The fruits of the sports capital programme can be seen in every community throughout the country. It has left a very positive footprint and we certainly want to continue that trend.
The programme was opened at the start of the year and closed on 23 February. By that stage, 2,320 applications had been received and the total value of the applications was €155 million. With a budget of €30 million, this means it is very difficult to make a successful application. With this in mind, my plan was to try to increase the amount available. At present, we hope to be able to allocate more than the €30 million to ensure as many clubs as possible are as successful as possible.
Departmental officials have been working very hard on the programme and are going through the applications. As the Deputy can appreciate, the 3,320 local and regional applications make this a very difficult task, but the process is nearing finalisation.
It is important to point out that in making capital investment in sports facilities, we are trying to find a way to cater for large-scale projects. The Deputy is aware there is a cap of €150,000 on the local sports capital programme and a cap of €200,000 on the regional programme. In the case of many projects, this is just not enough to enable them to be completed and consequently we are trying to find a mechanism to facilitate such projects in the future.