Deputy Barry Cowen.

Call for Just Transition funding for sport, art and culture

Fianna Fáil TD for Laois-Offaly Barry Cowen has called for a tranche of ongoing and future Just Transition funding to be allocated for sport, art and culture in the region. It is hoped that, in the near future, a Midlands Regional Transition Board made up of local stakeholders, public and private, together with public representatives and overseen by Offaly County Council will be charged with responsibility to adjudicate, administer and ultimately deliver a Just Transition. Deputy Cowen, who spearheaded and initiated the creation of a Just Transition fund, commented: “‘I am acutely aware of the historic role Bord na Mona played in supporting sport and culture in Offaly and beyond. Its contribution in building and maintaining communities ensured local economies flourished and thrived from a sport and cultural perspective. Our success on the playing fields was in no small way linked to such prosperity.

“It is with this in mind that I have asked my colleagues in Government to set aside a tranche of ongoing and future Just Transition funding for sport, art and culture. This acknowledges the role of the various organisations and clubs in our communities but seeks to help and assist them in their ongoing efforts in such difficult economic circumstances. Sports capital grants have been of great benefit in recent years and have allowed our clubs to upgrade and improve their facilities. This fund must assist, as is necessary, to improve upon the national average allocation to date.

“Last week, I met with the Chairman of Offaly GAA, Michael Duignan, together with Kieran Kinahan, Christy Todd and Paraic Egan to discuss matters pertaining to the ongoing success of the Faithful Fields project. It is our hope that the Leinster Championship win by the Offaly under 20’s is the first of many such successes after recent droughts. The Just Transition fund must recognise and assist that role of our sporting and cultural organisations. “I have also written to An Taoiseach, Michal Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, the Minister for Climate Change and the Just Transition Commisioner highlighting the need to ring fence a tranche of funding for sport, arts and culture. This call has the full support of the relevant sporting bodies and wider communities, and I will do everything in my power to ensure it comes to pass.”