Shane Ross won’t ‘get into a battle’ over funding

Shane Ross won’t ‘get into a battle’ over funding
Minister for Toursim, Transport & Sport Shane Ross TD during Budget 2019 Press conference on Brexit in the Govenrment Press Cenre, Dublin. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Transport Minister Shane Ross has refused to be drawn into a battle over Brexit funding with the agriculture minister.

A €650m emergency contingency fund was announced to help farmers, businesses, and the tourism industry in a no-deal Brexit scenario.

While some of this fund has been earmarked, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said he will decide what to do with the remaining €390m in the event of a crash-out Brexit.

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has said that he will be fighting for the “lion’s share” of the remaining fund, claiming farmers will be the most severely impacted in a no-deal scenario.

Asked about this, Mr Ross said: “I am not going to get into a battle with Minister Creed about where the money will go.

We got €40m and in his speech the minister for finance said he was happy to review that as things go forward if it’s necessary.

The €40m allocated to support the tourism industry in the event of a no-deal Brexit is part of an overall allocation of €2.7bn next year for the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Mr Ross said the tourism industry is now facing “trying circumstances” and a supplementary package of €7m will be spent immediately in 2019 on mitigating effects of Brexit.

Welcoming the targeted Brexit measures, Fáilte Ireland said the funds would allow the body to promote this country as a destination, especially in the context of falling UK visitor numbers.

“We will immediately use the €1m allocation to Fáilte Ireland to support tourism businesses along the border counties,” said Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly.

Among the other areas that will receive support as part of Budget 2020 are:

  • €66m for Sport Ireland, which supports elite athletes
  • €34m in capital grants for sports clubs and local authority swimming pools
  • €27.5m for greenways, including €4.5m which will come from carbon tax receipts
  • €90m towards urban cycling
  • Investment in the public transport system which will exceed €1bn for the first time

Mr Ross said his department will also work to enhance regional accessibility in the coming year, investing over €1bn in the maintenance of national and regional and local roads, as well as commencing the construction of new road schemes. “This investment is essential to delivering local services and supporting economic growth in rural and regional areas.”

A total of €38m will be provided to the aviation sector. Of this, €22m will go towards the Regional Airports Programme, including the provision of €5m towards the planned extension of Waterford Regional Airport’s runway.

Minister of state Brendan Griffin highlighted the €125m package for sport next year, which he said will go towards the Grants for Sporting Bodies Scheme, the Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Scheme and the funding of Sport Ireland and the Sports Campus.

We have secured funding to support qualifying teams for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the hosting of matches for the 2020 European Soccer Championships next June, as well as commencing the necessary preparations for hosting the Ryder Cup 2026.

“Overall, Budget 2020 delivers for our tourism and sports sectors.”

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