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Garvaghey Plans brought to Stormont

January 20th, 2010

Tyrone County Board Chairman – Ciaran McLaughlin’s speech at Stormont – Monday 18th Jan

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Ard Stiúrthoir Cumann Luthcleas Gael, Uachtarán Comhairle Uladh, MLA’s, fellow Tyrone Gaels and distinguished guests I want to begin by thanking Barry McElduff and Tommy Gallagher for providing us with the opportunity to visit Stormont today in order to share with you our plans for the Tyrone GAA Training Centre in Garvaghey.

It is good to be at the heart of government in the north when taking about a development that’s at the heart of the GAA in Tyrone.

The decision to undertake the construction of a £6.7m project in the midst of a recession was a courageous one and I would like to congratulate former chairman Pat Darcy and officers within the Tyrone County Board for having the vision to see how this project would build social capital; create jobs, stimulate the construction industry, and provide a positive focus for members of our organisation within and beyond the county.

The Tyrone County Training Centre at Garvaghey will, as you have seen, be state of the art. It will provide a base for our activities for many generations to come. It is our gift to those who will follow.

Over the last two years the Garvaghey Sub Committee alongside Club Tyrone have worked hard to develop a business case to work out how we might fund the centre but also provide resources to secure a viable and secure future. This business case has received wonderful feedback from the National Infrastructure Committee in Croke Park. I welcome Pauric’s positive comments today on funding at national level and I thank Tom Daly at Ulster Council level for his endorsement of the project by conveying it ‘provincial status’.

Tyrone GAA visits Stormont today with our eyes wide open to the fact that the finance minister has asked departments to make significant cuts to their budget next year. Among those departments faced by the cuts to spending are Health and Employment. The Garvaghey project directly benefits Health and well being and will provide over 100 construction jobs over the next three years. An investment in this project is a smart investment. It is a major capital project which will also deliver the full range of the DCAL portfolio in that it will incorporate culture, arts and leisure (among other) components.

Our financial plan to deliver Garvaghey seeks only 15% of capital funding from central government, most likely through SportNI. Tyrone GAA will raise the remaining 85% through other sources such as the GAA itself and Club Tyrone.

The GAA in Tyrone has done well under previous Sport NI programmes, eg Building Sport and Places for Sport. I want to pay tribute to SportNI for the administration of these grants. However, our clubs worked hard for their grants and have delivered well against them. For every £1 invested here by Sport NI our GAA Clubs have provided at least a matching £1. These arrangements have delivered great mutual value. The people of Tyrone need and deserve more of that.

Our funding plan for Garvaghey challenges us to provide £5.66 for every £1.00 of public sector money which might become available through SportNI. The value for money when it comes to the the public purse is unequivocal in this instance.

Unfortunately SportNI are not at present in a position to provide us with a mechanism to allow us to apply for public funding. That is part of the reason why we are here today. The Tyrone GAA Centre in Garvaghey is a real live project. Visit it today and you will see contractors on site in the process of completing the first phase in preparation for the installation of pitches.

The Tyrone County Board, and those members of the Garvaghey sub committee tasked with sourcing public and private funding for the Garvaghey project, were told several times during 2009 that a new capital funding programme for sport was about to be launched. Other members of the NI sport and leisure community were given the same message. It is disappointing to note that some projects which have not even left the drawing board have meanwhile evidently secured funding running into many millions of pounds.

Garvaghey is the single biggest capital sports project currently underway in the north. Already Sport NI has given the County Board indications that it favours the development of regionally-significant and/or cluster-type facilities. This is exactly what Garvaghey is.

The Programme for Government sets down many challenges for people; communities; and organisations right across the north. In its Garvaghey project Tyrone GAA is rising to those challenges. We think it only reasonable that government should rise to them in partnership with us. We’re ready; willing; and able to develop that partnership.