Kerry's Fitzgerald Stadium in line for major funding, says Varadkar 

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said a capital investment is on the cards for the Killarney stadium after visiting there with his fellow Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin last Friday.
Kerry's Fitzgerald Stadium in line for major funding, says Varadkar 

INVESTMENT: Fitzgerald Stadium is set to be revamped in an effort to make it a state-of-the-art venue. Pic: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Fitzgerald Stadium is in line for major Government funding, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has revealed.

Varadkar yesterday said a capital investment is on the cards for the Killarney stadium after visiting there with his fellow Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin last Friday.

In response to a query from Deputy Griffin during questions on policy and legislation in the Dáil, Varadkar replied: “Having visited Fitzgerald Stadium with Deputy Griffin, I can see there is a major need there for capital investment.

“Kerry is a leading county in both sport and tourism and it needs a modern, state-of-the-art stadium. We can all agree on that. I know the people of Kerry will put money on the table and be able to raise a lot of money, but they will need a bit of help from the Government too. I think that will be forthcoming in due course.” 

Varadkar mentioned the number of sports capital projects that have received state backing but have been put on hold due to inflation costs. They would include Navan’s Páirc Tailteann and Newbridge’s St Conleth’s Park but he has indicated further funding could be made available for those redevelopments to kickstart them.

He said: “The large-scale sport infrastructure programme is being discussed at the moment between the Departments of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and Public Expenditure and Reform. We have a difficulty in that a lot of allocations were made for some really important projects around the country but very little of that funding has been drawn down so far, largely because of the increase in construction inflation.

“Our first priority is to try to find additional funds to get some of those projects going. The worst thing is to allocate a lot of money and then see none of it drawn down. If we can square that circle and provide additional funding to get some of those projects going, we can then open the fund up to new applicants.” 

The Kerry County Board are said to be considering building a new roof on the O’Sullivan Stand and increasing the size of the covered area. This past summer, local independent councillor and former Kerry senior football team kitman Niall “Botty” O'Callaghan called for a significant redevelopment of the stadium to attract more events, describing it as being “worth its weight in gold”.

In asking the question yesterday, Deputy Griffin referred to Varadkar’s visit to Kerry last week. 

“The Tánaiste saw the condition of the stadium, which requires substantial investment. In that context, I want to ask him when the next round of the large-scale sport infrastructure fund will open. It is an excellent fund for projects of that scale and a stadium such as Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney, the home of Kerry football, certainly would be in line for an application under the fund. It is important that the next round be progressed.”

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