Minister for Sport tours County Grounds with Glenn Ryan and Senator Fiona O’Loughlin

Last week saw the arrival of the Minister for Sport, and Government Chief Whip Jack Chamber TD to Newbridge. He was greeted at County Grounds by some highflyers in Kildare GAA including the newly appointed Kildare Senior Football Manager Glenn Ryan, as well as Mick O’Gorman and Padraig McManus the chair of the County Grounds Redevelopment committee.

Minister Chambers commended the calibre and commitment of the Kildare GAA community, and of the work planned for the re-development of St Conleths park, before setting off on a whistle stop tour of some of South Kildares top sporting organisations.

Speaking about the visit Senator Fiona O’Loughlin said, “I was delighted to be able to extend an invite to Minister Chambers to meet some of the many great sporting clubs and people that call South Kildare home.”

“We had a very productive and constructive meeting with the Minister at County Grounds, and he was very complimentary of the work done to date in terms of the St Conleths re-development project. I was particularly pleased to work with County Board to help deliver the €4.875m of Government funding which was allocated to St Conleths in January 2020 to fund the refurbishment and redevelopment of the site”

“St Conleths park is steeped in history and is an inspirational place for so many GAA fans and players throughout the county, especially those younger players who are dreaming of taking to the field to represent their own club someday. “

“But it is clear that the grounds need a real overhaul, and that the stadium needs to be brought into the 21st century- and Minister Chambers and I were very impressed by the redevelopment plans that are being developed to upgrade the site. The scale of these plans are directly linked to the substantial funding announced by Minister Chambers department”

“However, like almost every other construction-based project in the country, this has also been hit by the skyrocketing cost of construction. There is a real risk here that the increased cost of materials needed to complete this project will negatively impact the finished project, and that the €4.875m will not stretch as far today as it would have I January 2020. And that point was really hammered home, that their ability to deliver on the project was based on their ability to foot the construction bill- and that’s going to be challenging”

Senator O’Loughlin concluded “They estimated that the cost of the delivering the redevelopment project could have increased by as much as €1.1m, and that their funding streams would struggle to meet that kind of increase. I have been calling for some time for the value of construction-based grants to be increased to ensure that the funding allocated is sufficient to complete the intended works, otherwise what is the point. I have mentioned this to the Minister on previous occasions, and I think the meeting at St Conleths cemented that. I will continue to liaise with the re-development committee and Minister Chambers to ensure that the great work done to date, and the ambitious re-development plans are delivered”