Council needs to 'shout louder' for Mullingar sports centre funding

Westmeath County Council needs to “shout louder” to secure the funding for a new regional sports centre for Mullingar, according to a local councillor.

Speaking at the recent monthly meeting of Mullingar Kinnegad Municipal District, Cllr Emily Wallace said that while Mullingar's councillors have set aside over €2m in funding from their annual budgets over the past decade, include €390,000 in 2022, “nothing has happened”.

“Why have we not been allocated money? What have we done wrong in our applications? Have we been missing points? Why have we been overlooked? It doesn't make sense.

“It's not good enough. Are we not shouting enough? Are we not getting our TDs to shout loud enough? What do we need to do to get bricks in the ground?” she asked.

Cllr Aoife Davitt said that, at present, Mullingar parents are queueing for hours to sign their children up for swimming lessons or travelling to other towns in the midlands so that their sons and daughter can learn an essential lifeskill.

She also noted that the plans for the sports centre which were drawn up in 2008 when the project was initially mooted will have to revised.

“We have to move with the times and the meet the needs of Mullingar today, not just have a copay and past of the old plans,” she said.

Cllr Ken Glynn and Cllr Hazel Smyth both praised Lisa Corcoran, a local parent who recently started an online petition to gauge people's desire for a new sports centre and along with others is behind an ongoing campaign to get the sports centre delivered for Mullingar.

The Fianna Fail man said he had got a “strong commitment” from Minister for Sport Jack Chambers when he discussed the issue with him on a video call during the pandemic. He also asked that the local authority write to Minister Chambers in a bid to get him to “follow through” on his commitment.

Director of Services David Jones said that in 2019 the council applied for funding for the sports centre under the under the Large Scale Sports Infrastructure scheme but it was unsuccessful. It subsequently appealed the decision and is awaiting a decision.

He also agreed with Cllr Davitt that the plans need to be revisited and said that a new internal “concept group” would be established to look at them.