Minister Joe McHugh last night sent a message to the Finn Harps Board meeting which may offer a ray of hope to the stadium project. The Minister had hoped to attend the meeting in person but was unable to do so due to last minute commitments. However he sent his apologies beforehand and forwarded a message to the Board. ‘Sorry I couldn’t be at the meeting, I believe that the Finn Harps Project is critical for the future development of underage football in the County. You have my continued support and I am happy to work with your committee in the time ahead’.
He also attached a note he received from Minister Brendan Griffin, Junior Minister for Sport, which read as follows ‘There is no need for them to wait for the next round. We have sent their application along with the cost benefit material supplied to our Strategic Research and Analysis Division (SRAD). The successful applicants are all being sent to SRAD for further assessment and sign-off. This is a requirement of the Public Spending Code. In other words, while we didn’t recommend a grant for Finn Harps last week, they are at the same stage of the process as the successful applicants. I have no doubt that SRAD will raise queries/concerns and we will have some back and forth with the club before a grant could be recommended but that is not unusual’.
In previous communications from Minister Griffin and the Department it mentioned that the Club may have to apply for future calls for the Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Fund or alternatively appeal if unsuccessful so the absence of this terminology in his latest note could certainly be deemed as progress. Unfortunately, the latest note does confirm again that Finn Harps were not recommended for a grant in last weeks announcement.
“We can only hope that common sense will eventually prevail and that these badly needed facilities are provided for County Donegal’ said Paul McLoone, Project Coordinator for the Donegal Community Stadium Complex. “This could be a superb facility for both Men’s and Women’s soccer in the County with a new stadium and three to four pitches adjacent to the development which could accommodate the football academies, underage and school competitions on a county wide basis. This is in line with the County development strategy which aims to make the Finn Valley catchment area a sporting hub for the County. The young people of Donegal deserve first class facilities and it beholds all of us to provide this be it ourselves as volunteers, elected representatives or paid officials in the various government Departments”
“I appeal to all concerned to make a decision very soon as the structure currently in place will not be fit for purpose much longer and ‘kicking the can down the road’ is not an option. It has dragged on for far too long so I don’t care who gets the credit for getting it done as long as it is followed through to completion. It would be a crying shame if our generation failed the youth of the County by not finishing this development so please decision makers let’s get the stadium built” concluded Mr.McLoone.