This is an issue that I’m working very closely on with local Councillors Tim Broderick & Evelyn Parsons who are determined, as am I, to ensure that our local pool in Ballinasloe remains open to the public, subject of course to public health guidance.
I know that the local Councillors have been engaging directly with Galway County Council on this matter and in turn with the operator of the pool regarding the costings and operation of both Ballinasloe & Tuam pools.
On behalf of the Councillors and the local community I have sought a meeting with Minister Peter Burke TD who has responsibility for County Councils and their funding to see if we can find a speedy resolution to this issue and Minister Burke has agreed to this meeting.
I’m now awaiting confirmation of when this meeting will happen, and I will let you know.
Minister Burke told me that the Government is committed to public swimming pools and that the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe TD, has outlined the importance of swimming pools remaining open during and after this pandemic.
I have also taken the issue of funding during the pandemic for pools up with the Minister for Sport, Catherine Martin TD (see reply below) and while I welcome €2.5m for private pools which are open to the public, I believe that this does not go far enough and support must be provided to publicly owned pools in Ballinasloe, Roscommon, Athlone, Tuam and the seasonal one in Castlerea.
I have replied to Minister Martin requesting that she make such a provision as a matter of urgency.
As soon as I have a further reply from Minister Martin and Minister Burke, I will be in contact again.
In the interim I will continue to work with Cllrs Parsons and Broderick in our determination to keep Ballinasloe pool open.
For Written Answer on : 08/10/2020
Question Number(s): 137 Question Reference(s): 29472/20
Department: Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media
Asked by: Denis Naughten T.D.
To ask the Minister for Tourism; Culture; Arts; Gaeltacht; Sport and Media the funding her Department is providing to allow public swimming pools to continue to operate as a result of Covid-19; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on Ireland’s sport and leisure sector. I regret that the necessary public health restrictions have presented serious challenges for the operators of sports and recreation facilities. These facilities are hugely valuable to communities throughout the country and play a major role in supporting people’s health and wellbeing. I am pleased that in Level 3 of the Resilience and Recovery Plan, all gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools are permitted to open. I hope that they will continue to serve their communities through the winter months.
As part of the July Jobs Stimulus, I announced a special fund of €2.5 million to support the reopening of publicly accessible swimming pools in recognition of the particular challenges pool operators face in reopening to the public. This funding will be administered by Sport Ireland. A grant scheme is currently being drafted. Full details of the scheme and the application process will be announced shortly.