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No mention of velodrome in Budget, but it’s not all bad news. Here’s why

Posted on: October 11th, 2017

No Irish velodrome in Budget. What does it mean?

Many in the Irish cycling community were left disappointed with the lack of any money set aside in the Budget for our long-promised velodrome. But that doesn’t mean nothing is happening.

 

No velodrome in Budget. What does it mean?

 

Another Government Budget has passed and again no provision has been made for the construction of the new indoor velodrome.

Such a facility has long been planned for the Abbottstown National Sports Campus in west Dublin.

Feasibility studies have been carried out and plans have been drawn up over recent years. A section of the campus has been earmarked for the velodrome.

And the Government has repeatedly said the velodrome will be the next piece of infrastructure on the campus.

So were we really expecting money to be set aside for it in the Budget? And is this another big blow for the velodrome?

In recent years, the current Fine Gael-led Government has answered Dáil questions about the mooted velodrome by saying it would be part of the Budget deliberations.

There was a particular expectation money would be set aside in the estimates in 2015 and again last year.

However, the situation has changed a little of late. And that’s precisely why the absence of any mention of the velodrome in yesterday’s budget is far from a disaster.

Back in July the much maligned Minister for Transport and Sport Shane Ross was asked about the next phase of the Abbottstown campus.

Significantly, he didn’t trot out the stock answer that the funding for the velodrome would, if it was coming, be allocated in yesterday’s budget.

“On July 11th, 2017, I conveyed approval for the commencement of construction on the second phase of the National Indoor Arena,” he said at the time.

“This phase, projected to take two years to complete, will comprise of covered synthetic pitch facilities and ancillary facilities designed primarily for rugby and soccer but capable of accommodating all field sports.

“Funding will be provided from my Department’s capital budgets for 2018 and 2019. Construction activity will commence in the coming weeks.

“In relation to further facilities at the National Sports Campus, I would like to inform the Deputy that funding for the development of a Velodrome and Badminton Training Facility has been sought as part of the mid-term review of the Capital Plan.”

Clearly then, Ross was indicating the money would come from the “mid-term review of the capital plan”. He made no mention of the Budget.

So what does that mean?

In a nutshell, it means the money for the velodrome is now expected to come from a review of capital spending that the Government is carrying out. And it was not expected to come in the Budget.

We asked Cycling Ireland about this yesterday. Chief executive officer Geoff Liffey pointed to the midterm capital spending review as the likely source for the money for the velodrome.

“There was no mention of it but it wasn’t expected to come from this process,” he said of the velodrome’s absence from the Budget.

“There is currently a midterm capital review underway which is looking at major infrastructure projects across various sectors like roads, schools, Luas cross city and so on.”

Liffey said the review had been ongoing for some time. And Cycling Ireland hoped it would be completed by now.

“From this review, they are expecting to announce how much money will be allocated for these major projects up to 2021; I believe in the coming weeks or months.

“Within that large figure there will be an allocation for Sports Capital. And from this the Department of Transport, Tourism will then determine the various projects to be supported over the next few years.”

As Ross has indicated, the money for the velodrome – if it is ever to come – will emerge from the results of the review.

Liffey added it was unclear what impact, if any, a successful Rugby World Cup bid would have on the allocation of money for other projects. But he believed the money for that project had already been ring-fenced.

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